11 May 1958
It’s still dark out but the birds are beginning to twitter. Noree Schmidt and I talked yesterday afternoon.
I did not realize that while talking with her at the time, but something she said evidently stuck with me. It was this statement in an hour and a half’s conversation: “Christianity is the basis of all religions.” She is not very learned, but she is groping. I vaguely said [that] Christianity, opposite to her statement, was not the basis of all religions. On the contrary it was an outgrowth of the religious beliefs up until the time of Christ.
This early morning I cannot fall asleep. The contrariness, the incorrectness of her thinking, evidently has lain in my subconscious mind.
All right, how do I sum to thinking Christianity up when placed in the setting I stated – outgrowth of earlier religions thinking to the time of Christ?
From the two years of reading I did in New York when I was trying to decide whether I was a Christian or not (it suddenly dawned on me at that time Christianity was based on the ideas Christ expressed) I finally decided if I were to be anything, I would be a Christian. Incidentally, after my recent readings on religions of the world from the study guide of the Encyclopedia Britannica Jr. fly because I’m not sure Christianity is the answer. Maybe I believe more in the Confucian views, the Taoist basic philosophy, or even the very practical Jewish philosophy.
Back to my subject: logic teaches “cause” and “effect”.
Again, as I recall my New York searching my decision I might just as well be a Christian came because my reading indicated Christ taught a “positive” philosophy. Many of the former religions (and I would need to check this) seem to suggest a “negative” philosophy. I wish I could recall the exact names of the religions – but, prior to Christianity, the idea was the Brahman (?) thought Nirvana (and I would have to check all this) Accept the fate handed to you. Do not fight for a place under the sun. I remember the Indians (?) The Hindus (?) Who sit and let their limbs atrophy. Those are these religions consider them holy men.
It reminds me of the joke Bill told me the other day, something about what does the priest think about when he observes himself in shorts? The answer is supposed to be “the unemployment situation” – referring to priestly celibacy as an ideal.
But to go on, as I suddenly said to that (why in the hell can’t you just be simple Eleanor?) she made such a fuss over this in the hospital I suspected she was still much of the old Eleanor Pope (from this) who would wipe lipstick on Margie’s stockings and throw napkins into Kurt’s coffee cup when she got bratty and someone crossed her). Christianity, one must remember, had only one uniquely new idea to offer the world. Prior to Christ, people were accustomed to slavery – consider Egypt, the slave-built pyramids etc.
Christ and the present teachings are based on the old Hebrew, adding the thought that slavery and social oppression by the powers that were in Rome, was wrong.
In China there was an irreverence for the individual to. Even in Greece, democracy was only for the privileged apex of the pyramid. The rest of the population had no vote.
In other words, then, and even into the history of our own country and recent history. (Hitler) (Stalin). There is the elite class and the slave class (the Negro . . .). Carryover from early slavery which stems from the cradles of civilization.
Christ developed a new philosophic concept – and practiced it!! It was a new thought in the history of mankind.
Christ was the Karl Marx of the day. He came boldly forth and said: Every individual is important… Out the window went these atrophying limits bunk. His call was this: Come, stand like a man; let no man make a slave of you. You have a divine spark; the creator is interested in all his children. Do not suffer social oppression: rebel!!
Well he was a revolutionist against the law of the day. What could Pontius Pilate do? Christ opposed the laws of Rome. Just as a judge today must give tickets for speeding regardless of the circumstance, Pontius following the orderly procedure of the law of that day and could not let revolutionary ideas stand in the way. He had no time to make a new law to fit the occasion (like prohibition laws which were repealed in our country and Roosevelt making the selling of liquor no longer a crime). He had to pronounce Christ guilty and sentence him to death (consider the Rosenberg trial in our country only recently). Pontius Pilate was just a judge trying to live within the letter of the law of his day. I’m sure his counterpart sits in every court in the world of today in some form or other. So, to summarize, Christ brought forth a new idea: as Galileo, Copernicus, Einstein, etc. brought new concepts to mankind which changed the course of human history. Only in Christ’s case it was a philosophical concept of tremendous magnitude. The individual was divinely created and had value in the eyes of God. Revolutionary!!
It is this concept that has stayed through the ages. It influences politics. It was the forerunner of democracy. Plant a truth in a man’s head – let that man digest it and understand it and lies can never be told him.
How far this idea of the value of the individual has gone! Unfortunately, especially in America, too often the spiritual concept is gone, leaving only the material concept.
Present day democracy is not up until now the talents of the Bible — let every man use the potentials within. It has become if you have a dollar and I have $0.50 you give me $0.25 so we can be equal with fin-tailed cars regardless of talent. It is a new kind of suppression, a new form of would be slavery having nothing to do with using our talents to the best there is in each of us like the “Juggler and the Virgin” story.