My religious beliefs - such as they are - are basically puritan. I am in this regard totally insufferable. I also believe in Original Sin. I don't just mean I pay lip service to the idea - namely that we need a Savior to free us from sin - because it wraps my theology in a nice little bow.And:
I mean that I actually think the human capacity for sin is well-nigh unsurmountable. Not even think. I feel it. Is this altogether logical? Well, I can't say for sure. But the world furnishes me with evidence on a daily basis that, at the very least, I'm not insane to feel it.
Where I differ with orthodoxy, or rather where I have a fundamental problem with people's views on religion and God is that there seems to be a prevalent mindset at work: "I want to feel good about myself."
So you get a lot of spiritually unfit people - Jesus called them hypocrites! - feeling good about themselves because they made an outward show of piety or some such. But if God and Truth are the same, this is completely ridiculous: you shouldn't feel good about yourself! Nor, should you feel bad about yourself, I should add.
The purpose of the religious exercise is more to feel, how can I phrase it... accurately about yourself. To be able to see your human nature as it is - fallen, corrupted, imperfect - and not as you'd imagine it or wish it. Only when you understand yourself can you do anything about anything. The religious discipline - and that's definitely the way to think of it - is there to guide you and provide you with a mean on how to go about reaching a better understanding.
Why the discipline? Well, absent it, you're just left with yourself talking to yourself. Possibly even deluding yourself. The discipline itself can take many forms, of course, not just in terms of different religions themselves, but different aspects of each religion...
Interestingly enough, it is precisely because I believe these things - and can't recall a time when I didn't - that I do not wish them imposed on anyone else. If I admit that my own understanding is inherently flawed, corrupted, and fallen, why would I dare inflict my specific outlook on other people, and in doing so, set myself back from my own path? It just doesn't make sense. It leads to the worst kind of hypocrisy.
You know why I like the concept of Original Sin... ? Because it reminds us that we shouldn't go around feeling good about ourselves. And why shouldn't we feel good about ourselves? Well, look at the world today. More specifically, look at what the United States has done in the past six or seven years. Most - if not all - of our policies have been based on the premise that we are a good people, that good people will do good things if given power, and we should feel even better about ourselves for it.
We see where this has gotten us. I say we need to stop feeling good about what we do. We need to stop promoting ourselves as virtuous, inherently good people who can do no wrong. This is called pride. Until we rid ourselves of these self-glorying conceptions (and their parallel delusion that only mysterious bad people who are not us are behind all villainy), our nation will only suffer. So stop feeling good about yourself.
These still sum up my views fairly accurately. Nice to know I've always been so theologically dour!