“Belief” is only a small part of religion — it is the costume covering the deeper working elements of identity and community. The human mind generates all sorts of intuitions and feeling to create and protect the security and comfort it finds with its constructed identity and community. These constructs then grabs whatever decorative reinforcement it finds convenient (damning rationality, of course): theology, symbols and language are clear examples. This is why I find our habits of language so revealing of our religious habits — they are fed by the same fire. So we can either see religious thinking in secular life, or we can recognize that the religious mind and the secular mind share far more than we’d imagine.
Take the recent US superbowl where Coca Cola did a commercial featuring a multilingual version of “America the Beautiful” with languages including English, Spanish, Keres Pueblo, Tagalog, Hindi, Senegalese French, and Hebrew. This video pissed off a lot of people to whom American Football and the Superbowl are part of their religion and it is an exclusivist religion — they know what America is, and that song was the song of an apostate. Twitter exploded with accusations like:
- This is America. English, please.
- We speak English is America
- I won’t be drinking coke anymore.
I don’t want to talk about football, about America, about patriotism or about racism. This post is all about my first paragraph, the second paragraph was just an example.
Question to readers: How would you change or correct my first paragraph?