The Köln Dom is a reminder of the power of faith in a pre-modern world lit only by fire and plagued by poverty, disease, misery, and early death
Physical and social conditions in the Middle Ages certainly reinforced magical thinking. But are people much different today?
Most of us are still illiterate, especially in the languages of science and technology, but also in economics, psychology, and even history and geography. We crave mystical leaders and put unquestioned faith in preferred narratives, supported by semi-fictional media. We imagine endless apocalyptic scenarios that justify delusional visions that we seek to impose on others. And, of course, some of us take advantage of these human tendencies to control us and advance their own agenda.
Perhaps we are doomed to magical thinking until (if?) some post-human brain evolves.
As I've said before, there are only three positive things the Christian religion has contributed to mankind - Architecture, Art and Music.
Fantastic essay Michael, great way to enter into your second year on Substack.
"On this latest visit I noticed that... , modern eyes in the sky have been added, just in case..." That's part funny and profound. A lovely essay.
Composer Robert Schumann travelled up the Rhine with his wife Clara to see the installation of a new cardinal. The fourth movement of his third symphony, known as the Rhenish, is a tribute to the cathedral.
Excellent piece! I think we still see this need for correlation in politics (both sides), media and medicine. With so many unknowns and what if’s, I think there is a need to have an over-arching meaning behind it all. Just my two cents.
Excellent article, Michael. The fertile ground for religion and other superstition is the lack of control or the perceived lack of control over the events in our surroundings, especially harmful events.
I am annoyed with people imposing their magical thinking onto me. When I have been ill, religious friends have proclaimed they will pray for me, even to the extent of putting my name on their weekly list of prayers to a specific saint (Catholic ). They seem to actually believe that "sending" their thoughts to Nobody is going to help Me. : O. One woman was alarmed that she hadn't known I had been ill. She said "if I had only known you were sick, I would have prayed for you" : O. This is weird on so many levels.
if Europe is conquered by Islam as it was conquered by Christianity we can expect another dark age..... now the best part of Christianity was probably what Christianity needed to assimilate from the Europeans in order to convince them of the value of this new religion... Christianity brought the fear of god and the worthlessness of man into society and through fear and superstition was able to control the population while making some very rich and others very poor.