The greatest cancer that there is, is loneliness. Man's [sic] imagination if it cannot find satisfaction in a personal relationship with someone looks for it elsewhere. Which is where religion comes into being, it is the imagination looking beyond itself for meaning and companionship so it projects the other, someone outside of ourself.
Religion then to him is all the power of the imagination. He went on to talk about how in a relationship you are meant to make the person happy, this is the purpose of our existience each of us is to make others happy and this is how we are fulfilled. It is all about happiness, one person can make you happy. If in a relationship someone is bowing down to another that is their god. He said that being a vicar then is the same, to make people happy that is the power of imagination and religion is a construct of this. It is good news to me that I am not called to make people happy but to proclaim Christ.
In the discussion I said for me it all comes down to Jesus, if he is who he says he is then he calls us to know him and obey him.
He said whenever people are loving and caring, then this is what they are meant to do the purpose for which the imagination finds. The more I think about his argument the more it keeps coming back to God. God is Love (1 John 4.8), the author of love, so once more it seems to me that we worship that which is created, looking for love can be an idol just as much as a carved statue. I also asked: is happiness the ultimate goal in life?
If happiness is the ultimate purpose should we be kind and just exterminate those who aren't happy, put them out of their misery? Doesn't joy have something far more eternal and fulfilling than something that is momentary and fleeting. People let each other down...
When questioned about what he believes about evil, he says it is those who want attention and happiness who don't have it. I don't think for a moment he was suggesting to give them a hug! I said the church exisits because it was first loved and forgiven and it now welcomes all to meet with Jesus. I believe as people encounter Christ they will be transformed.
James 1.27 [NRSV]- "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world"
The joint emphasis of God is that we care for those in distress out of a heart that keeps Jesus at the centre and a heart that stays pure in the face of the temptation to be just like everyone else or those who just ignore it.