All views expressed in the texts on the blog are the personal thoughts of the authors and are not synonymous with the position of the Foundation.
People who know me a little closer may be surprised by this “coming out”. After all I usually associate with criticism of faith and with rationalism, undermining the historicity of the New Testament based on a comparative analysis of Mediterranean mythology, or the lack of source material proving the truth of any key events described in that work, as well as significant distortions regarding the historical background. Still, I feel Christian.
What makes a Christian? Baptism? Sacraments of a given branch of Christianity? Deep faith? Such things can certainly give such a sense, in a religious meaning. However, I do not share this feeling myself and I have not participated in any way and I do not participate in the rites of any of the trends of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, I am undeniably a Christian. Without faith and sacraments, without prayer and religious community.
So what is Christianity for me, of which I feel part? It is a huge cultural stratum, in which everyone who grew up in the spirit of European culture is soaked. It’s millions of references, it’s a lot of art, architecture and style.
Do I have to believe in the New Testament or believe in the characters outlined in it, to admire the beauty of the basilicas of Rome, to read Goethe with pleasure? To know and respect the cultural context of works of sculptural, painting, literary, visual and musical art?
We may disagree with religion, disregard its mythology, point out the abuse of hierarchs and clergy of any faith. However, it is impossible to deny that Christianity, along with ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, is currently one of the most important pillars of the cultural heritage of broadly understood European culture, after all reaching far beyond the ‘Old World’. Nomenclature, archetypes, imagining the physical and spiritual world of the bible of both “wills” left a significant mark on culture – from high culture to mass culture. Hebrew mythology, along with the New Testament mythology are present almost everywhere. Not only in old scores, writings and poems, but also in relatively contemporary works. Tolkien, Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, Pratchett, Rowling and Jacek Kaczmarski – it is impossible to fully absorb their work without knowing the Christian cultural context, which they skilfully used regardless of their own religious beliefs. And this is not even the tip of the cultural iceberg. We have Christian references in early and contemporary music, advertisements for everyday objects, and jokes.
In my opinion, an Atheist, Buddhist, Native Believer, Own Believer, Nihilist, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, Rastafarian, Hindu, Jew, a human simply not interested in any religion, or someone who adheres to another religious thought should be acquainted with the bible – at least once read it in full. Enrich its context, discover numerous cultural flavors. Being a man of culture and not knowing the myths of Rome or Greece, ideally Egypt and Mesopotamia too, is unthinkable. After all, they are sources of millions of cultural references and loans. A context which when ignored makes one culturally disable. The fact that those religions have left behind only myths, and practice, if it exists, does not enjoy wider interest, does not matter for a deep significance for our culture.
Someday, religious Christianity will probably disappear, leaving behind only myths … and a huge cultural impact. Just as today we all constantly draw on the culture of Greeks and Romans, so we will continue to draw on Christian culture. Even when the Vatican will turn into an open museum, churches of all kinds will became cafes, concert halls and libraries, and only Christian mythology remains after the Christian religion. And in this possible future, it will still be worth getting to know the bible – with trumpets against Jericho’s defenders, a paradise garden, underwater travels in big fish, love and cruelty, dozens of literary styles contained in it, and beautiful “the Song of Songs”.
I am a Greek amid the deceptions and truths of democracy ornamented by Corinthian columns, I am a Roman struggling with the life among the ruins of the Forum Romanum, and in thought among the soaring arches of Gothic churches and cathedrals – I am a Christian.