I don’t hate the idea of religion as much as I used to; maybe I’m getting old. If you are passionately anti-religion, and suspicious of the zeal and dogma of followers, then it seems to me you are falling into the trap of fearing those with a different belief system, and that’s the same fear that the religious have of non-believers. I don’t foresee our society going back to a time of subservient women and leeches for medicine and parsley, sage, rosemary and jumping off ladders for inducing abortions even though a surprisingly large number of Americans are fighting with their guns and bibles to have it so.
We are too comfortable with our technology, and we have it because of science. Those who want to be told what to do, and would rather be led into a rewarding after-life than have to duke it out alone against one senseless misery after another, need their comfort, need their air-conditioning and grain-fed beef, need their wi-fi and beta-blockers. Not all of us are chosen to be non-believers. Those who believe in science will have the education to pull the plug on churches and popes if they so choose.
As much as the mere mention of JC has filled me with revulsion and the heebeejeebies, I also have to concede that there are some goddamned beautiful cathedrals, and some effing beautiful paintings of the Virgin Mary, and some gloriously composed Magnificats and Alleluias hung on that cross. Every day that I teach music to my students, I spend hours trying to explain that not everything is explainable. You’ve got to put soul into it. You have to believe in it. I can’t tell you how to make it beautiful, but if you try to make it beautiful, it approaches beauty.
Could we have created the Western canon without JC? What is the point of asking such a question–it is what it is. God is most definitely absent from what I see hanging or installed in the Guggenheim today, and so is, coincidentally or not, beauty.