Am I a Christian Existentialist?
by Hilding Lindquist
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
edited: Saturday, September 17, 2005
Posted: Saturday, September 17, 2005
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Am I a Christian Existentialist?
Am I an atheist who is a Christian Existentialist?
I have been reading Sartre. Specifically--for purposes of this discussion--I have been reading a translation of Sartre titled, EXISTENTIALISM AND HUMAN EMOTIONS, and, quoting the publisher's notes: "The section on 'Existentialism' is taken from the book of that name, translated by Bernard Frechtman; all other selections are from Being and Nothingness, translated by Hazel E. Barnes."
Sartre writes, "To be man means to to reach toward being God. Or if you prefer, man fundamentally is the desire to be God."
I am immediately plunged into the consideration, What God do I want to be?
But in that swirl of thought, I consider this from Sartre, "... through the I think (; therefore I exist) we reach our own self in the presence of others, and the others are just as real to us as our own self. Thus, the man who becomes aware of himself through the cogito also perceives others, and he perceives them as the condition of his own existence. He realizes that he can not be anything (in the sense that we say that someone is witty or nasty or jealeous) unless others recognize it as such. In order to get any truth about myself, I must have contact with another person. The other is indispensible to my own existence, as well as to my knowledge about myself. This being so, in discovering my inner being I discover the other person at the same time, like a freedom placed in front of me which thinks and wills only for or against me. Hence, let us at once announce the discovery of a world which we shall call intersubjectivity; this is the world in which man decides what he is and what others are."
What comes to mind is that in a world where all desire to be God, what do I choose the definition of "God" to be?
Putting it another way, How do we humans become God? What God do I want us to become? The answer FOR ME is in nuturing the potential in the other person ... and this is what I believe Jesus' message to be ... hence am I a Christian Existentialist? Should I use the term "Christian" with today's mixed baggage of meaning? I don't know. I'll think about it.
I would add that I believe in nuturing the other person by sharing ... and particularly in sharing the creative experience, the uniquely human experience of applying our imagination to "What might be" and selecting from the infinite range of options, "What ought to be," and then making it, "What is."
To go a bit farther in this, Sartre writes, ""Existentialism isn't so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn't exist. Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing. There you've got our point of view. Not that we believe that God exists, but we think that the problem of His existence is not the issue."
What is a homo sapien? We are the creatures with the imagination to become the God we choose to be. In choosing what I ought to be, I choose my God. In choosing my God, I choose God.
I am an atheist because I do not believe that God exists prior to human existence, and that "God" is the outcome of our ability to imagine what ought to be.
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|Reviewed by Ian Thorpe
|Hmm - deep. It is not necessary to believe in God to be a Christian of course - and anyone who disagrees with me on that may have looked at the Bible but they have not READ it. Jesus was not a Jew but an Essene and what we know of them suggests that they were a Brahnamistic sect rather that Hermetic Jews. In this case then, the God of Jesus is the purely meditative, abstract god of Buddah and Gandhi, and not the physical presence riding round the sky in a chariot of fire as described by Ezekiel.
The Ancient learned men of British, Irish and Norse culture also held Brahmanistic beliefs, they belived in The One, the universality of which we are all a manifestation.
So mythologically and historically you are on solid ground here.
|Reviewed by Betty Torain
|This is a very informative article. Existentialism is a subject that we should not be afraid to study. However, I prefer to just say I am a Christain who have different choices and I must take responsibility for my behavior and feelings. Thanks, Betty|
|Reviewed by Sandy Knauer
|Extremely interesting article, Hilding. So much to think about in here. I love the final paragraph, as it explains my beliefs. I fear the idea that everyone is trying to become the God who wants others to bow at his feet in adoration while he strikes out entire civilizations of people as a lesson.|