Alex Jacob wrote:
Hello there Chris. To refer to those 'archives' is to refer to our 'Occidental Selves' in a pretty substantial sense. The Mediterranean culture that makes up the material of those archives (Judea, Rome, Greece and the melding pot of Alexandria) is 'what we are'. The way I see things is that in essential senses the Western self is a Christian and Catholic self. That is how I interpret Body of Christ: it is the essential, visible and invisible, spiritual body in which we exist. In my way of seeing things, that will include those even who deny their core unity.
On that last part, that seemed to me (while undergoing my journey from Lutheran to Catholic) to be the difference between a 'parish' and a 'congregation'. I was part of a Catholic parish even if i wasn't a Catholic. I like that; the congregational model seems now (to me) too much like a club with membership rules - and a good way to avoid neighbors you don't happen to like associating with.
I tend to relate myself to [no] given 'spiritual system' and to see any one of them as a sort of language. If you learn to grasp the symbols, the language, and if you can see and feel the meaning of the symbols and if they mean something to you, you are on the inside of that 'language' system.
Well, hello there, Joseph Campbell
But i'm half kidding. That seems a mere assertion: that religions and their 'symbols' (you're including creeds, rites, all that?) are like languages is to say (1) religions are human conventions merely and (2) while one language may be better than others, most will 'do the job' equally well. This analogy needs proving.
[btw, i added a word to the quote above, because i *think* that's what you meant: you're not bound to one spiritual system in particular, but you see them all as useful to you: like a kid in a perfectly multi-lingual home has no particular native language.]
An example: 'strawberry' and 'framboise' within their languages do much the same thing (i'll get the same thing, roughly enough, if i order 'strawberries, please' in an american restaurant and 'Framboises, si vous plait' [sp] in a French one. But 'Yahweh' and 'Moloch', while two names for a supreme god (one Hebrew, the other Phoenician) have very different and incompatible properties. 'Oh Yahweh, come to me' and 'O Moloch, show yourself', if followed through, would bring very different things to my presence. And one would be wonderful (if 'awful' in the old English sense) and the other would be horrible. God demands his disciples love one another; Moloch demands death to your enemies, and regularly demands the sacrifice of first-born sons to be placated. So the analogy of religions with languages seems fails pretty spectacularly.