Eco on God
I confess. If I hadn't married Tim a month after I turned 21, I more than likely would have travelled to Italy to marry Umberto Eco. His The Name Of The Rose both made me want to write and realize that I will most probably never write as well as I want. It was also one of the precipitating factors in my brief flirtation with Catholicism. He has a beautiful, brief new article on God, Man and Society in the London Telegraph.
Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.
They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest.
I know that Eco left Catholicsm many years ago. His continued respect for the role of religion is refresing, to say the least.
I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.