The strength and weakness of religions lies in their having people as a reference: for example the person of Jesus, or God himself as a person. These people, forced to concentrate on themselves a lot of different aspects, cannot help but be contradictory: they are both good and bad, severe and sweet, powerful and weak, patient and grumpy. I can think of for example one of the most curious contradictions, when Jesus at Gethsemane in Mark 14:41-42, tells his disciples two things, one the opposite of the other: “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go”. Sleep, rest, rise up, let us go! The apostles could reply: “When you’re decided on what to do, let us know”.
On the other hand, a religion not based on people will be less human, more abstract, cold, theoretical. But I think the world cannot be humanized by inventing non-existent people to turn to, as the risen Jesus or God. At this point the people who remain are the self and others.
Philosophers have said opposite things about it: Sartre said “Hell is other people”, Hobbes that “every man is a wolf to another man”, while Levinàs considers the other as a meeting place with which to make the best of our being. In this sense, the other is to be considered bad not because he is, but because he is capable of it. It doesn’t matetr that I or you have not committed the crimes committed by Hitler: what matters is that we are capable of doing so; not because we are bad, but because the good is capable of betraying his own goodness. This does not mean we cannot have confidence; rather, it will be good to infer that the issue of confidence is a bad issue, because it is based as well on trying to stick labels on people’s forehead. So we have to throw in the trash the question about the goodness or badness of man and the question of confidence. Instead, what we must keep in mind is that in any case our life will be affected by the other and also by that other which is ourselves. We are on this planet and for a number of years we will have to walk in the company of our self and others selves more or less close. Then we will no more be, the turn of others will come.
Faced with this situation, what can we can leave to posterity better than having died, throughout our lives, for the bad? Dying for the bad is the radical critique of every law of nature, the greatest revolution that ever existed in this world. Then everyone will try to figure out his own personal way, his own specific way of practicing in life this dying for the bad, which is not only the person, but also any other thing that is perceived contrary to our own good; it is the universal spirituality, as opposed to human spirituality.
But where is sweetness of humanity in all this, where is the beautiful experience of love? What is the relationship between the good things and Jesus’ cross? If we think, even any experience of beauty contains within it hypocrisies of evil: a beautiful meadow is made of flowers that are struggling fiercely with each other, sex is an attempt to move on our DNA in competition with that of others, a kiss to the children is the same, every act of good for others is also polluted by our hypocrisy. Therefore, the cross is not only dying for the evil that the other is, but also accepting the dive with all our being in the hypocrisies of love, because we don’t know, we cannot imagine how much and what newness of life we can create in this world by going through, each one in our own way, its contradictions; they, after what I have described, give me the feeling of beginning to look a little less contradictory, because they are united by their being contradictions in a world made of human spirituality and universal spirituality that relate one another.
It seems to me that such a thing can be taken as a program of life, a spirituality on which it is worthwhile to reflect, meditate, act, grow.