O.K., I've now read the interview. Parts of it are very insighful. I will try to quote without overdoing it and violating the copyright laws:
"And there, for the first time, I was confronted by other faiths. I mean, I
never thought of Judaism really as anything but a kind of prelude to
Christianity, and I’d never given Islam a thought at all. But there are
you in Jerusalem ...and you realize the profound connection between them
as well as their significant differences.
And I started doing other television work, like you, doing interview
programs, and having to find out about Islam, Buddhism. And slowly, I
started realizing there were all kinds of different perspectives on
religion that had passed me by in my convent."
This is exactly what I've tried to say in this Forum over and over. It is one thing to say that
"I just can't buy into G_d or religion as defined in __________________" It is entirely different
to say that "I am an atheist." The latter is too presumptuous unless one has truly done some hard
studyi of many of the quite different religious perspectives over a long period of time.
And then there is this:
"That Jesus is overlaid with many, many different--
there’s the devotional Jesus. In fact, each of the gospels has a very
different Jesus. That’s the wonderful thing about the gospels is each has
-- each evangelist has his own particular take."
Which tells us, whether we
are Jews or Christians, how to approach the Bible. It is an anthology of quite
diverse writings composed by quite different people over a long period of time
in different societies.
And this quotation tells us with some accuracy how true knowledge is obtained, although I
have the reservations noted below about the particularity of it:
" Science not in the sense of physics or chemistry but
"sciencia," knowledge, knowledge that comes from compassion. You have to
put yourself, your post-Enlightenment, Oxford-educated self on the back
burner and enter empathetically in a scholarly manner into the lives of the
people like the Prophet Mohammed or like the great mystics of past.
Some of the spirituality, some bizarre to us. We say how
crazy. Come on. This is ridiculous. Who could possibly believe this?
That’s because we look at the world in a different way.
When you have recreated in a scholarly manner the cultural, educational,
sociological, political things all going on that produced this
spirituality, you must keep asking yourself, said Louis Massignon, "But
why? But why?" And not leave it until you could imagine yourself in
similar circumstances feeling the same."
Good so far, more or less, but then we come to the party you have been talking about, Karen. or at least to a mixture of that part with other things that remain good.
I'll tell you what I think my problem is with some of this, Karen. It seems to me to mix together two entirely different sorts of concerns of human beings.
On the one hand there is a personal concern with concrete other individuals. The danger there is that one becomes too abstract. The focus should always be on the individual, not The Poor, The Minority, etc. Injustices and other wrongs are not done to groups, they are done to individuals - real live particular, concrete individuals. There is a book that touches on this that I mostly disagree with, but that makes this point forcible, The Tragedy of American Compassion. One of the themes in that book is that compassion and charity can become evil if they become institutionalized and abstract. Similarly, I think that compassionate discourse can easily become evil if it is not directed toward a particular concrete individual.
On the other hand, there is a concern with abstract truth. This kind of concern is corrupted if allowance is made for the concrete and individual. Throughout history it has been recognized, for instance, that law becomes evil and corrupt when it is applied differently to particular individuals based on who they are. This is what, it seems to me, that the second set of quotations above are properly about. One does not, for instance, "understand" Marxist Leninism or whatever other ideological or religious or other systematic point of view one is considering by asking "why does this person believe this." One understands by systematizing the point of view and get inside those premises looking out.
In any case, the book you recommend is probably worth reading and I will acquire a copy and read it.