Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Purity and Sin

[A time and place of purity gets introduced to sin.]

In the writing of my last post, on running, I struggled with the concept of purity:
There's no purity about running, in my opinion. Rather, running allows one to circumscribe purity--to enable a personal vision of how a purely human life might be lived.
My original version of the above was along the lines of running being a pure kind of activity, just a person out in the world. But of course this is not entirely true. A person wears shoes and special running attire, and the world is often the social world of the road or even the trail. Purity is but a conceit.

And that's the thing about a concept such as purity: it represents an ideal or a theoretical construct. It's a term for setting context, not a term of practical reality. It thus sets the context for other concepts. Sin, for example, amounts to a transgression or violation; its meaning relies on and relates to the meaning of purity. Whereas purity sets a line between the ideal and the real, sin crosses that line and even breaks it. The sin is the rejection of the natural, of established order, of differentiation. Sin explodes purity.

Sin is a profoundly evil idea, then. But more than this it is taught with evil intent. The teaching that says "you are a sinner" instructs people to know themselves as out of sync with the universe, as divided against one's family and community, and as polluting the world. Some teachings suggest that sin can be redeemed, purchased or managed--by the teachers, of course, and for a price. Always for a price.

So, I'll reject and dismiss both purity and sin in the same motion. They are distractions. They are dangerous. And the person bringing in these terms seeks to bring you in line. Such a person is attempting religion's primary purpose: imposing conformity. Such a person wants you to respect her or his authority. I won't do it. You don't need to, either.

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