Casting their nets wider, the Renaissance thinkers concluded that the ancients had given worthwhile responses to many of the same issues as Christians and that they should not be dismissed simply because they were non-Christian.*
For a course I’m taking called Comparative Literature – From Homer to Picasso: Western Culture Across the Ages, I’m currently reading about the period in history known as the Renaissance. My textbook is dry reading, but when I apply my brain, with the help of some note-taking, music, coffee, and candles, I do usually learn something.
It just occurred to me, while reading a section titled “Thought and Philosophy” of the Early Renaissance, that I am in the Renaissance period of my life.
As most of my readers know, I was raised in a conservative Christian home, which later became less conservative, but never quite liberal, and definitely not secular. As foundational as it is to have solid moral values, I feel that I missed out on the chance to understand the moral code that I was expected to follow, or its importance. I was ignorant of the alternative, other than a sort of sense of fear of what was other than our lifestyle.
“The world” was generally condemned as inherently and uniformly evil, because it wouldn’t fit inside the doors of the church. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the ignorant like I was, there were many dark, seeping cracks in the would-be fortress walls, letting in all varieties of secret sin and evil, that were in reality the uglier for their secret nature.
I couldn’t help believing that there must be a better way of establishing and reinforcing a moral code than with fear and secrecy. So much was this opinion reinforced through almost every interaction with the institution called church that I had to leave it! And so began my personal renaissance.
Renaissance: rebirth, revival
None of this is new to those who have followed this site for a few years, but I guess when I came across the passage I quoted above, I realized that this thing I’m doing with my life is not a new concept, but rather an ancient one. I’m finding that people have questioned philosophy and religion and humanity since the beginning of time, and I believe that it is only through doubting and asking and searching that truth can hit home.
Also, I wonder if there can ever be a universal belief system, or if we all must go through our own periods of renaissance and learn to love and respect and accept each other despite our differences. Certainly I was not taught that in the church, though “love your neighbour” was a much-repeated motto.
I am finding that the world is teaching me some valuable lessons that I didn’t have the capacity to learn while in the Christian bubble of my former life, though I am eternally grateful for the moral foundation it gave me. Now to continue sifting through all of the fragments of beliefs and ideas to see which are necessary and which aren’t. For me, that is.
And I continue to cast my nets wider!*Matthews, Roy T., and F. Dewitt Platt. The Western Humanities. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.