Religion - "An intrinsic and distinctive trait of human nature. It is a human being's
necessary response to the challenge of mysteriousness of the phenomena that he
encounters in virtue of his uniquely human faculty of consciousness." - Arnold
Syncretism is an amalgam of different beliefs that consolidates schools of thought.
In its most potent form it involves the merging or assimilation of several originally
discrete traditions, particularly in theology and religious myth, achieving an
underlying unity while inviting an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism in
artistic and cultural expression is known as eclecticism and turns up in the activities
associated with governing a country as syncretic politics.
Modern theology is evolving to become a plastic concept that each of us can
partially reconstruct from our personal myth-dreams. Our roles as custodians have
preoccupied clerics, scientists and environmentalists. This verse by T.S. Elliot
indicates that we profit little from our mistakes:
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
Perhaps God symbolizes an ultimate reference point, enabling us to achieve order
and coherence amidst constantly shifting and incomprehensible realities. At the
very least, faith can bring a sense of continuity to our quotidian lives and actions on
forking paths to a more humane world. In his book, "The Quest for the Historical
Jesus" (1910), Albert Schweitzer achieved clarity, without diminishing stature or charisma:
"Jesus continues to give meaning to the world because a mighty spiritual force
streams from Him and flows through our time also... it is not Jesus as historically
known, but Jesus as spiritually arisen within us, who is significant for our time...
Not the historical Jesus, but the spirit which goes forth from him... which
overcomes the world."