Where I Cram My Ideas


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Insight into Faith



"A faith is not acquired by reasoning. One does not fall in love with a woman, or enter the womb of a church, as a result of logical persuasion. Reason may defend an act of faith - but only after the act has been committed, and the man committed to the act. Persuasion may play a part in a man's conversion; but only the part of bringing to its full and conscious climax a process which has been maturing in regions where no persuasion can penetrate. A faith is not acquired; it grows like a tree.

From the psychologist's point of view, there is little difference between a revolutionary and a traditionalist faith. All true faith is uncompromising, radical, purist; hence the true traditionalist is always a revolutionary zealot in conflict with pharisaian society, with the lukewarm corrupters of the creed. And vice versa: the revolutionary's Utopia, which in appearance represents a complete break with the past, is always modeled on some image of the lost Paradise, of a legendary Golden Age...

Thus all true faith involves a revolt against the believer's social environment, and a projection into the future of an ideal derived from the remote past. All Utopias are fed from the sources of mythology; the social engineer's blueprints are merely revised editions of the ancient text."


Arthur Koestler penned these words in the 1949 book The God that Failed. It was a collection of six essays by famous ex-Communists. I found the text to be very relevant today. The author's membership of the Communist party was the result of an acquired faith - a 'region where no persuasion may penetrate.' What a sad prophecy of fundamentalism in our society. Now I need to read further, to understand how he broke the hold of this 'future ideal derived from the remote past.'

2 comments:

Jane said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention again. I've been meaning to read it for years. That quote is brilliant.

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