The future of religion

(The following was translated from German to Dutch by someone else, and from Dutch to English by me. It may have lost something in the translation. There’s also a horrible mixed metaphore in there that I somehow totally failed to manage to steer around.)

[…] Which of these is the most perfect, the best, the highest, truest, purest, the absolute religion? And should we hope that this one will conquer and usurp all other religions in the end to become the true world religion, so that there will be one shepherd, and one flock? We already know, every higher religion claims to be the only true one, and also believes — if any thought is given to it at all — in its own immortality and conquest, and in its calling to become the world religion. Only the tragedy of the Germanic-Scandivian mythology mentioned the “twilight of the gods,” and only in sensing its impending doom at the hand of Christ’s cross.

What is true of these thoughts and expectations? I am not a prophet. But I think that when we have to understand “l’Irréligion de l’Avenir” to mean that mankind, or at least the developed part of it, will no longer have religion, then I cannot share that belief. The longing for the eternal with all the idealistic feelings it produces will always exist, because it belongs to man’s psychological inventory, and a progressing culture cannot change that. […] For a time it looked like religion could only be something for the uncivilized, good enough for the common people, whereas we the civilized would wean ourselves entirely from it. It seems however that in our time the opposite is taking place, and that — parodoxically as it may sound — religion runs the danger of being repressed by the masses, and having to find refuge among those who know that religion as an expression of higher ideals is something deeper and more delicate than being a true believer and being a fulfiller of church duties. […] Religion is endangered! they yell, while in reality it is merely this or that sect or formula that is being attacked or that turns out to be out of date. […] It cannot be assumed that one of the currently existing religions will eat all the others and remain as the one true world religion.

(Theobald Ziegler, 1918)

2 responses to “The future of religion”

  1. Stephen says:

    I’m listening to the LibriVox version of Jose Conrad’s “The Secret Agent,” and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of reading for Chapter 5. I was very surprised to find that the reader was Dutch. Congrats on your excellent English.

  2. brankl says:

    That’s very kind of you to say. I myself was entirely unhappy on how it turned out, and blamed it on the text. I had a hard time figuring out what the author was trying to say (in a “what’s my motivation?” kind of way).

    Thank you.

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