Homo religiosus, a term coined by Mircea Eliade, represents a being who craves the transcendent. I contend there a lot of these kinds of homos running around our culture.
I listen to a lot of people who want a supernatural explanation for what happens to them. The proliferation of information, as well as the hideous tendency of Western culture Christians to give answers without hearing questions, gives people the opportunity to look at a lot of different religious tenets, not just Christianity. You know that.
For those who will join us in witness (which I am now calling “dialogue beyond our control”), we have the obligation to point them beyond what the philosophers call “reductionism.” In the same way that Kantian philosophy augers the advent of the isolated individual, the reductionist takes the supernatural through Kantianism to define religion (and religious experiences and religious people) in purely naturalistic terms.
As Newport has it, this is the “attempt to explain the higher orders of existence according to the lower ones”
(John Newport, Life’s Ultimate Questions, copyright 1989, p. 330). Reductionism (surprise) reduces religion to that which scares off the boogey-man and keeps the masses in their opiates.
If you are still reading, you are a brave, brave fellow (or fellowess). For years I talked to people outside the covenant community, wondered how to reply to their ideology and got frustrated by my lack of ability.
Then, somethings came along to deliver me.
The dangers of isolationism, individualism and consumerism began to dawn on some in our society who could not always have said these are the things that were killing us.
The same people began to see that the mere fact that I believe something and it seems to soothe me does not make it the truth of God, unless I am God, in which case all of you are in deep, deep trouble because I carry grudges.
So, fresh air! Now, I find myself able to say to my rabbi friend, my atheist pal and others who do not fit my usual culture that the Christian, religious lifestyle is really pretty good after all. We can build community, open ourselves to others unlike us and not have to feel that if they come over to us we win, which means they lose.
There is a window here, friends. Homo religiosus is out there. Let’s open up our heart to him before he is replaced by homo maledictus.
Peace and love.