Back on May 9, Michael of the 2 Blowhards kindly linked to this site. I happened to notice that his post from the previous day was entitled "Chesterton's Orthodoxy", about his experience of reading that wonderful book. Mr. Blowhard is not a Christian, so the review seemed far more generous, and even insightful in places, than I would have expected. If he also got some things wrong, that's not my concern here. What interested me was his claim that he delves into Judeo-Christian stuff every so often, not out of a desire to be convinced of its truth, but out of sheer curiosity.
As he says:
Western monotheism has never worked for me in the most basic sense. Forget about ideas and beliefs, let's talk showbiz. I don't get it, emotionally or imaginatively...I not only don't get monotheism, I find it unappealing. It seems to me designed to lead to perfectly predictable dissatisfactions and unhappinesses...[he doesn't say what those are, but never mind]...Anyway, a fun book, even if it didn't answer my main question, which boils down to: "What do people really find appealing about Western-style monotheism? What emotional / imaginative thing does it serve?"He says - as did Chesterton of Christianity - that his "own soul and imagination are stirred and satisfied by Buddhism, Hinduism, Vedanta, and yoga," for they seem to him "simply descriptions and explorations of how I've always found life to be."
How this could happen to a self-described inhabitant and devotee of Western Civ I have no idea, but prefer to take him at his word. I've been wondering, though, how readers of, and contributors to, this site (ours) might answer his question. I should say I don't really like the way it is framed, especially the connotations that attach to words like "emotional" and "appealing." I've known a lot of people who, when they base a decision on such grounds, end up getting rid of very important things, like a religion or a marriage or...Western Civ. And when he talks of "Western-style monotheism", we know what he's talking about even as we wonder if such a thing actually exists. The word "style" has that ephemeral feel to it, of a thing that goes in and out of fashion, of a matter of taste freely chosen from the buffet of alternatives, to which we took with gusto because it seemed congenial to our way of life. But if the religion was revealed rather than chosen, then it chose us, not the other way about. It made the West, and much in our manners and morals issued from it. (This is part of its appeal, as Mr. Blowhard admits.)
Further, I don't think most of you think of yourselves as "monotheists", even though you are, but as Christians, Jews or (I can hardly say it) Muslims. (Those are the only monotheisms I know of, and they weren't all available at the same time in history.) I doubt you go to church, or fall to your knees, or retire to the treehouse, or whatever it is you do, to glory in your 1st amendment freedom to express your monotheism. There must certainly be metaphysical monists out there who claim only that reason has led them to the conclusion that there is a God who made a really big universe, beyond which they will not go, thus avoiding the spiritual cascade that ends in worship. But for those of you who feel, in the parlance, "convicted" by your faith, I assume there must have come a point when God became more than a monad. I am not really interested in conversion stories, but more in what you realized as a result of it. Slightly rephrasing Mr. Blowhard's question: Can you articulate some essential thing about your faith, your belief, your (all right) monotheism, that grips you and maintains you in it from day to day? Something that is, perhaps, more than mere comfort?
Any who have the leisure to answer will be appreciated.