Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An Opiate For The People? Why Not! After All Karl Marx Was Right!

No!  I am not advocating legalizing opiates!  I am advocating responsible religion!
Religion does not have to be the opium of the people;
it can be the poetry of the people.
[Samir Selmanovic: Religion Needs Atheism]

Chocolate to Morphine: Understanding Mind-Active DrugsPeople like drugs - especially opiate based drugs - for the same reason Carl Marx called religion the opiate of the people.  The following excerpt from -
 [by Andrew Weil, MD and Winifred Rosen]
- -
provides amazing insights:

"DRUGS ARE FASCINATING because they can change our awareness. The basic reason people take drugs is to vary their conscious experience. Of course there are many other ways to alter consciousness, such as listening to music, making music, dancing, fasting, chanting, exercising, surfing, meditating, falling in love, hiking in the wilderness (if you live in a city), visiting a city (if you live in the wilderness), having sex, daydreaming, watching fireworks, going to a movie or play, jumping into cold water after taking a hot sauna, participating in religious rituals ... changing consciousness is something people like to do. Human beings, it seems, are born with a need for periodic variations in consciousness. The behavior of young children supports this idea. Infants rock themselves into blissful states; many children discover that whirling, or spinning, is a powerful technique to change awareness; some also experiment with hyperventilation (rapid, deep breathing) followed by mutual chest-squeezing or choking, and tickling to produce paralyzing laughter. Even though these practices may produce some uncomfortable results, such as dizziness or nausea, the whole experience is so reinforcing that children do it again and again ...  Since children all over the world engage in these activities, the desire to change consciousness does not seem to be a product of a particular culture but rather to arise from something basically human. As children grow older they find that certain available substances put them in similar states. The attractiveness of drugs is that they provide an easy, quick route to ... states of consciousness marked by feelings of euphoria, lightness, self transcendence, concentration, and energy. People who never take drugs also seek out highs. In fact, having high experiences from time to time may be necessary to our physical and mental health, just as dreaming at night seems to be vital to our well being. Perhaps that is why a desire to alter normal consciousness exists in everyone and why people pursue the experiences even though there are sometimes uncomfortable side effects."

Feelings of well being.  Pain relief. altered awareness. Self transcendence.  Relief from anxiety, depression, boredom, lethargy, even insomnia.  These sound like a list of things the practice of religion often brings.  In fact, think about it, in Christ, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we Christians experience most of these altered states of being.  You can also find biblical examples of, or calls to pursue, these changes in our condition or perceptions.  Many are listed as fruits of a genuine relationship with God and/or spiritual transformation.  Fascinating!

Seems religion has a chance to be a lot less destructive opiate than any drugs we use!

So Why Not!

Why not claim, exclaim, and share with others our God given "altered states of consciousness," altered state of being?

Why not study these "opiates" of religion and discover how God has provided them to take care of basic human needs?  Needs that are part of our created being?  Needs created by the fall?

Why not encourage one another to embrace and experience these biblical, divine gifts of our faith?

Why get so offended by Karl Marx, and those who quote him? 

 After all Marx got it right!  And religion, true religion, is a lot less destructive than most of the other ways we humans pursue these same goals, these same altered states of being.

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