There was a man who invented the art of making fire. Hetook his tools and went to a tribe in the north, where it was verycold, bitterly cold. He taught the people there to make fire. The people were very interested. Heshowed them the uses to which they could put fire: they could cook, couldkeep themselves warm, etc. They were so grateful that they had learnedthe art of making fire. But before they could express their gratitude tothe man, he disappeared. He wasn’t concerned with getting theirrecognition or gratitude; he was concerned about their well-being. Hewent to another tribe, where he again began to show them the value of hisinvention. People were interested there too, a bit too interested for thepeace of mind of their priests, who began to notice that this man wasdrawing crowds and they were losing their popularity. So they decided to doaway with him. They poisoned him, crucified him, put it any way you like.But they were afraid now that the people might turn against them, so theywere very wise, even wily. Do you know what they did? They had a portraitof the man made and mounted it on the main altar of the temple. Theinstruments for making fire were placed in front of the portrait, and thepeople were taught to revere the portrait and to pay reverence to theinstruments of fire, which they dutifully did for centuries. Theveneration and the worship went on, but there was no fire.
Where’s the fire? Where’s the love? Where’s the freedom?This is what spirituality is all about. Tragically, we tend to lose sightof this, don’t we? This is what Jesus Christ is all about. But weoveremphasized the “Lord, Lord,” didn’t we? Where’s the fire? And ifworship isn’t leading to the fire, if adoration isn’t leading to love, ifthe liturgy isn’t leading to a clearer perception of reality, if Godisn’t leading to life, of what use is religion except to create moredivision, more fanaticism, more antagonism? It is not from lack ofreligion in the ordinary sense of the word that the world is suffering,it is from lack of love, lack of awareness. And love is generated throughawareness and through no other way, no other way. Understand theobstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happinessand they will drop. Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness willdisappear.
Anthony de Mello
(Somehow I lost this post – it crashed the blog!)
Keith said: I love this! It speaks to the mimetic theory of ReneGirard too. Girard believes that social chaos leads to the scapegoating of anindividual – usually an outsider and that because ridding the society of theoutsider has such a profound peace-making effect the scapegoat is instantlyturned from guilty party into a god to be worshipped.