I read an interesting book review the other day:
KARL MARX famously proclaimed that religion is “the opiate of the masses.” As such he was making a functionalist argument about the nature of religion, namely, that it serves a purpose. Thus much like opium can help a sick person, so, too, can religion; with its stories, rituals, and communal structures, religion can help ease the horrors of industrial capitalism. At the same time, however, Marx believed that religion, much like opium itself, clouds the mind and thereby obscures the higher purpose of overthrowing capitalism.
It's an interesting observation. If you think about it, through the ages we've had many movements that captures an era's imagination: the crusades, Protestantism, Pilgrims, Manifest Destiny, Colonialism, Slavery, the Industrial Revolution.
Up to that point in history, when we needed a break from the harshness of reality, we as humans could generally go receive solace from our religions.
However, the thinking that Marx's quote represents must have been wide-spread...as this last century has played out, churches have dwindled, been repurposed, sold off, and religions have regrouped.
Seemingly, Churches aren't, currently at least, doing it. They don't provide the required comfort needed to calm the world.
If I'm right, then what is the opiate of the masses now?
Is it the horror-show of the US presidency? Is it the hate and xenophobia on show there? Is it social media where every single thought is read out in lurid and breathtaking detail? Is it worship of money? Is it nothing more than actual drugs including opiates, alcohol and so on?
A significant portion of our troubles might stem from the thought that we feel we have nowhere to go to get away from the horrors of modern life.
It would be great if we could find a way to comfort the world that didn't cause people to hate one another, didn't make people kill one another, didn't make people do drugs or ruin their lives and the lives of others.
Would our world improve if only we all started going back to church to see what wisdom we can find and apply in our own lives?