I just finished reading Dune by Frank Herbert. I have never read such a well-written, complex, original sci-fi. I recommend it to all.
One of the themes that I picked up from the story was the idea that religion makes a man small, simple and controllable. Here’s aquote from Muad’Dib, the protagonist and a kind of prophet: ‘When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual.’
Muad’Dib also mentions how his friends slowly become less than friends as he ascends to his religious station. He seems sad when he realizes that his friend, Stilgar, has become less that what he could have been because of his worship of Muad’Dib.
I think he’s right, in a way. When we worship something we run the risk of falling short of what we are capable of. It all depends on what we worship. Shai-Hulud, the God of Dune, is hardly mentioned at all by the people who claimed to follow him. Muad’Dib took the center stage. He was the focal point of the religion. But in the end he was a man. Even though he had powers that he people could not imagine, he was still a man. His people worshipped something that was only a little greater than them. This limited them. They could not grow to being full people, full individuals. So it it with the religions of today. Any faith that worships a mortal is tied down. Any person who worships the finite, be it a prophet, an idea, an ideology or a goal, is limited by that thing he worships.
But I contend that Christ is different. The God of the Bible is infinite and when we worshop him truly and in Spirit we find that we are not limited because of it. Law and duty do not make us less than individuals. It makes us more.