I have moved this from the end of the two-page, "Hypocrites, all of ye" for three reasons. One, this is not about hyprocrisy; Two, it would get lost buried at the end of a two-page site; and three, I see this discussion is about what we can derive about Bradbury's religious views from his own words, stories and poems -- as opposed to the question of HOW inspirational he is, or what OUR religious views are. Because of that, I think it should be in the Resources section.
Bradbury speaks often of God and Christ, but typically not in very specific terms.
In a short poem in "The Chapbook," he seems to say that all religions (at least deistic religions -- Buddhism being somewhat problematic as some derivative Buddhist sects believe in A God or Gods, while others don't) believe in the same God. They just give different names and discover Him in different ways.
"The Muslims started counting
The Buddhists counted, too.
The Baptists summed a total,
With just one God in view,
But each did name a naming
For some Jehovah 'twas,
For some Yahweh or Allah,
All from one primal Cause. . .
We hear His name repeated,
One God who is The All."
( From "Eccentrics Must Truly Have Loved God. They Made So Many Of Him")
In this, Bradbury seems to imply that the important thing is not the individual manifestations or namings (not that they aren't important to the various followers) but the underlying "thing" that is the source (or object) of all these seekings and namings.
In an essay called, "Christ on Improbable Planets," he gives his interpretation of three of his "religious" stories: "The Man," "The Fire Balloons," and "The Messiah." According to his summaries, these stories speak to religion as being more about what is inside the person than what is perceived as the external, trans-personal object of worship/belief. In this essay, he cites GB Shaw and Kazantzakis (in the work, "The Saviors of God") where they turn the question of creation around -- in these words, "God cries out to be saved! We, it seems, must continuously and forever mouth-to-mouth breathe Him into existence. . ." In this essay he cites some lines from another poem in this book ("If Man is Dead, Then God is Slain"), and quotes these lines (among others) from that poem:
"We fly much like each other,
We walk a common clay.
I dreamed man into being,
He dreams me now to stay --
Twin mirror selves of seeing,
We live Forever's Day. . .
If man should die I'd blindly
Rebirth that Beast again;
I cannot live without him.
Man dead? Then God is slain.
My universe needs seeing,
That's man's eternal task;
What is the use of being
if God is but a mask?"
In this same essay, Bradbury states this: "We all go on the same Search, looking to solve the old Mystery. We will not, of course, ever solve it. We will climb all over it. We will, finally, inhabit the Mystery, even as Nemo inhabited his 'Nautilus' to course the deeps."
In a poem called, "They Have Not Seen The Stars," Bradbury identifies the ability to truly see "the stars" as a significant distinguishing characteristic between man and all other life forms on the earth. Man's ability to actually "see" these things is what amounts to his mission. Man is to be the "seeing" creature. (My little editorial slant in that last line.)
The most condense gathering of Bradbury's views on religion appear to be gathered (although in an apparently somewhat haphazard way) in "The Chapbook For Burnt-Out Priests, Rabbis and Ministers".
As I read through this book, I realize (or assume or interpret) that Bradbury does not seem to see the world in terms of traditional orthodoxies and doctrines; but that, like many Diestic Existentialists, he is able to use the traditional languages, images and metaphors of religion to try and point us toward many of his beliefs.
On the other hand, I have yet to see him disparage or belittle anyone's sincere religious beliefs in any way. Hyprocrisy, cruelty, dishonesty . . . these he attacks in interviews and stories, but I don't see attacks on those who adhere to a more traditional or conventional religious view than his.
By the way, I make no claims here to having a comprehensive or authoritative understanding as to WHAT Bradbury's religious views are. He has not codified them in any fixed way -- not in anything I've read. This posting, and others, is just my best shot, at this point, as I read through this book and see religious issues continually arise on these postings. I definitely have my own opinions and beliefs, but I wanted to try and pull together a couple things in Bradbury's writings that reflect on some of the discussions on this thread. I have tried to be fair to what is in the book, but I am still trying to figure it out. It is not a long book, but Bradbury writes about religion in ways that make it difficult to pinpoint his views. Frankly, I think this is intentional -- partly because he seems to avoid the traditional orthodoxies, and partly because he wants us to bring some of our own feelings, ideas and interpretations into our readings of his poems and stories.
[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 01-31-2003).]
Regarding "Eccentrics Must Truly Have Loved God. They Made So Many Of Him," I feel quite reasonable and justified in proposing that God, Creator and Maintainer of the Universe, is too big to be contained in any one church--that's why they made so many RELIGIONS! Bradbury's seeming implication that man's perceptions can change God is limiting God, but makes sense in a way as it must appear to man that he can influence God.
Hmm! Seems that you should have moved, also, my comments to your comments, too.....
Briefly, Bradbury is a Unitarian...
They DO NOT accept Jesus Christ as a Saviour. If some do, they certainly arn't talking about Jesus in scriptuire....they formed one in their heads.
I have talked personally with Ray, believe me, more than once.......Sorry....He doesn't get it. He may write poetically and wonderfully about Christ....but does not understand redemption or the experience of an 'exchanged' life: ..Christ's for yours!
I didn't feel like I should move someone else's comments. Seemed like too much editorial intrusion. You could copy them and insert them in a reply to pull them into the dialog here.
I understand Bradbury is a Unitarian, but don't know how much of one. Does he attend frequently? Does he ever lecture there? Does he read Unitarian writings? Is it that important to him? What parts of it does he agree/disagree with? Emerson once argued that we diminish each other when we automatically judge someone by their affiliations. We assume they don't think for themselves, but that they automatically and fully comply and/or accede to what the affiliation implies. Bradbury seems like an independent enough thinker that, while knowing that the is Unitarian tells us SOMETHING about his religious views, it doesn't tell us everything about them.
The value of "The Chapbook", in my mind, is that it is a collection (admittedly ad hoc) of his writings on religion. Looking at those and then looking into his ideas on religion in his fiction may help come to some understanding as to what he thinks religion is for, how it works, and what makes aspects of it valid in our lives.
It's clear he doesn't accept a traditional, orthodox view of the atonement of Christ, but that only tells me what he DOESN'T believe about religion. What DOES he believe and how does it show up in his literature? Or, in reading his literature, what can we deduce from those works about his religious views?
Much of Bradbury's writings has a kind of religious sensibility that a lot of people respond to. That seems to mean that there is value in trying to understand what he is trying to say about religion in his writing.
[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 02-02-2003).]
I think that perhaps, the approach that Bradbury most takes to Jesus Christ might not focus on Divinity at all, as Mr. Dark implied.
In the story "The Man", especially, he uses Christ to tie into a message of how humanity is a entity that constantly seeks and expands. In The Man, we see the focus on people who pursue an image of truth and goodness, rather than look inward for it. This pusuit is shown as misguided and never-ending.
Bradbury seems to be telling us that the absolute, unpolluted truth of Christ's teachings are already within all of us.
Part of that, also, is this question:
Are there no easy solutions?, or is the solution so easy that we constantly look beyond it in the hopes of something more grandiose?
Okay, finally. Does he believe in God or not?
Can you explain his whole position about this question?
All I can tell you is what he said when I asked what sort of God he believed in: "We're all one." That, and that whatever his beliefs, they do not fit into traditional orthodoxy.
Spiritual Aspects of Creativity in the Next 100 Years -By Ray Bradbury
I agree that "The Man" (in A Medicine For Melancholy in my library) deals with this quest thing. Using the terms that the quest is either inward or outward seems to apply to Bradbury's sense of religion except: (1) A lot of the "good" searching man does in Bradbury is outward (space, etc.), (2) In This story, "The Man," there actually is a "man" (the references to 2000 years of searching, and to the healings, etc., make this a clear reference to Christ -- as opposed to a generic religious figure). So that, while peace is an inward experience, in this story, at least, the finding of peace is tied to the Christ and his teachings. But is does get a bit more complex.
Interestingly, when Captain Hart realizes the person who had been there was Christ, his search for Christ becomes totally external, and thus mises the point. So the inward/outward division is both true and false in this story.
But a lot of perspectives on religion come out of this story.
The original question in the story is posited by Captain Hart when he asked why man always seeks, always searches, is always on the go? Martin speculates that man is seeking peace, as there is none on Earth. So at this point, the seeking seems okay as manifest in an external pursuit. Captain Hart responds that Darwin has done away with traditional beliefs and a belief in a divine power. The scientific process has replaced it.
When they land on the planet, Captain Hart is offended that no one seems to care that they have arrived. Martin indicates it is because a "remarkable man appeared -- good, intelligent, compassionate and infinitely wise!" The people on the planet had been waiting for him for a long time. When he arrived, nothing else seemed important. So in the story, what we see is that this central figure (who clearly represents Christ) has appeared and that that appearance transcends EVERYTHING else going on on that planet.
Captain Hart is suspicious that it is a rival Earth ship, but in either case, his response is that he doubts this "religious" event. He immediately tries to define it ("This man who got here before us, what was his name?") and subject it to empirical scrutiny. Of course, part of the point of the story is that real religion is not subject to scientific scrutiny. It is also hard to say that the scope of God/religion can be circumscribed by our pathetic language. Can we really define an infinite God within the confines of a finite language? But this is what Captain Hart wants -- linguistic definitions and scientific scrutiny.
Martin recognizes that if the Captian can't understand what happened, there is no way he can tell him. In the story, there are people who understand the religious event (intuition? Spiritual sensitivity?) and people who don't. Those who don't will not be made to understand it by words, because religion transcends words. To attempt to encircle the infinite in language is doomed to failure. God is known some other way.
Again, the Captain's focus is on what the man looked like ("it is not important," says the mayor), and what evidence can be offered to prove the healings. When none is offered, the Captain scoffs and belittles it. Without scientific verification, there is no truth.
When the captain challenges the faith of these people, Martin intercedes. He trusts them and tells the captain that their faith is more powerful and meaningful than his rigid cynicism.
". . . they've got something you'll never have -- a little simple faith, and they'll move mountains with it. . . This is what I came looking for. I didn't know it, but this is it. This is for me. Take your filth somewhere else and foul up other nests with your doubt and your -- scientific method! . . . These people have had an experience, and you can't seem to get it through your head that it's really happened and we were lucky enough to almost arrive in time to be in on it."
Martin argues for the phenomenalogical reality of the religious experience. This is a fundamental difference between religion and theology/philosophy. Religion is about real, subjectively lived experience. While thought and reflection are both important parts of religion; religion is rooted in a personal experience. The Captain can't have this because part of that religious experience is in being open to it's possibility. He lives in a world of scientific abstraction, but religion is ingrained in the world of real and personal experience.
The question of belief and free will is in this story also. The Captain won't believe, and Martin accuses him of not wanting to believe. That 'not wanting' is what prevents the belief. In Martin's case, this fulfills what he was looking for. He shares in the faith of these people. He chooses to open himself to thier experience and he can participate in that faith experience with them. The Captain is not interested in this. He yells at Martin to wake up and realize that we live in the real world. The real world, as defined by Captain Hart, is that we are "real, dirty people". This vision is simply not open to the religious experience.
The subjectivity of the religious experience is pointed out by the Mayor when he tells Captain Hart that, "Each finds him in his own way". Each person's encounter with God will be different. The religious experience is real, but it is also subjective. Hart and Martin and the Mayor are having varying experiences of the same event. This subjective variance (in the story, at least) seems correct. Because the religious experience is grounded in the subjective encounter, it will vary from person to person.
When the Captain begins to believe that this event occured, he is still unable to internalize it with an interior experience, so he begins an almost Ahab-like quest to find the physical person. He will travel until he finds him. But as the Mayor points out, Captain Hart will always miss him. He will miss him because the physical being of the body of Christ is not subjectively important. He can be experienced inside each person. The physical whereabouts don't matter. But Hart can't see this. He must get to the physical body. This will never get him to a personal encounter with God.
As Hart leaves the planet, of course, we find that "the Man" has not left, and Martin and the others go off to meet him with the Mayor. The point of the story, though, is that the religious encounter has already occured, because it is a matter of the interior, subjective experience of God -- not a physical meeting of a person himself. The awe, the reverence, the peace, are internal.
A very thoughtful interpretation of "The Man" Mr. Dark. Would you consider Captain HART to be an ironic name, then?
And Jesus said...
"I am the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning, and the End. No one comes to the Father except thru Me...."
I hadn't thought of the name being ironic, but I bet you're right. Also, that makes me wonder if Martin refers to Martin Luther -- who sought to get away from an externalistic Christianity to one that is more grace/spirit/experientially driven.
I really enjoyed the posting above from Mr. Dark, I think it captures the essence of what I found Ray to express in his words concerning religion and the seeking of God. I also moved this posting from another topic for the same reason, it was buried there on page three:
I avoided entering this segment of discourse for a long while, because I saw it contained so many references to personal beliefs, and longings to see Ray Bradbury as one's fellow traveler in both personal life and belief. I am glad that Ray, through his words, sparks such feelings for becoming more God-like in us, the readers, but I am bothered to see that some would "pray" for Ray to see the world in the light of only their candle. However, I would propose here a different view, that of a person concerned with all the world's people, who seek truth and god in many different ways.
I really think Ray's stories, echo much of what John Lennon tried to say in his song "Imagine". What a better world if words, labels, membership in groups, "The Way", yes, religion, had less importance, and were diminished in absoluteness, and we saw ourselves as just tiny units of a vast universe of possibilites for good. Then we could come to see that we live our brief lives here on Spaceship Earth, one member of a vast universe of earths, as travelers, observers and more, as custodians of our time and place, with a mission to pass on our passion for living to each new generation, so that Mankind will continue to observe and to learn, and, thus, seek God.
Ray has stated he believes we must go forth from the Earth into the universe, to be there as Mankind for the future, certainly one among other 'kinds we will meet someday, so that God also will continue to exist and the universe can make sense. Without Mankind to experience the journey, what purpose for the universe? That is the most spiritual of thoughts and surpasses the bounds of any religion.
Love is all you really need.
Just four letters:
L earn, O bserve, V alue, E verything.
[This message has been edited by patrask (edited 03-06-2003).]
Hey, I see you posted the identical lengthy post in another Forum Category. Since I am not exactly sure how you duplicate the same post elsewhere, I have answered your post here (which is 'over there', too)...in the Forum...
'Inspired By Ray'
...under the heading of ...
'Brave New World'
...my posting 84, to your posting 83
...got all that?
Nard: To do this, I just go to the original post, select the text I want to move, then do a copy. Then I go to the string I want to move it to, select 'post reply', but the cursor in there, and then hit paste.
It works pretty much like it does in Word.
Nevertheless, the focus of this string is not whether Ray is right or wrong, or whether or not we agree with him. What this string is trying to look at is what we can extrapolate about Ray's views on religion from his published writings.
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