Saturday, March 12, 2011

Religion as Wish-Fulfilment: Freud (6)

Freud writes that, ‘filial rebelliousness also emerges, in the later products of religion, often in the strangest of disguises and transformations’ (Freud, The Complete Psychological Works, vol.13, p.145).

Do we, in our own contemporary contexts, as well as in these tribal societies, attempt to “bargain” with a god we have created in our own image, “purchasing” ‘the right to guilt-free rebellion’ (Merold Westphal, Suspicion and Faith, p.114)?

Are our religious beliefs and practices re-enactments of our hostility towards and our desire to control or cheat God?

Does belief in Christ’s atonement for our sins reveal a wish to displace blame and disown responsibility? Does this belief allow us to “buy” our continued revolt?

Does the practice of Eucharist both renounce and re-enact the torture and execution of the father? Does this ceremonial allow us to symbolically renounce our guilt, yet symbolically re-enact our triumph, over breaching the prohibition “thou shalt not kill”?

Do we insolently refuse to ethically renounce “some freedom” by substituting for this the ritual renunciation of “some thing”? Does our participation in religious beliefs and practices function as a bribe for rebellion?

To the extent that it does function in this way, perhaps our religious beliefs and practices are indeed formed from our needs, wishes and wants. From our fears and anxieties. Our ambitions, aspirations or pride. Our anger or envy. Our cynicism or mistrust. Our resentment, bitterness or spite.

But if religious beliefs are wish-fulfilments and religious practices are strategies to manage guilt and mutiny...

...what happens to my faith?

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