The old saying “there is nothing common about common sense” has never rung so true as it does today. We live in a course and relativist age where the noble drive for fairness and balance has been misdirected toward conflating opinions with facts, and where common sense lies buried beneath a rubble of truthiness. That being the case, it might be a good idea to return to the writer of Common Sense, Thomas Paine, for a little refresher on reasonable thinking.
Wrongly accused of atheism by the orthodox Christians of his time (and, later on, a strident Teddy Roosevelt), Thomas Paine is among the many American figures who form the bedrock upon which currenthas its house. With regards to an afterlife, Paine held the reasonable position that we can hope for happiness after this life but shouldn’t presume to guess what lies in store for us:
I consider myself in the hands of my Creator and that He will dispose of me after this life consistent with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend and I hold it presumptuous to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter.
It was by leaving the afterlife to God, and the dead to bury their dead1, that Thomas Paine was able to follow Christ, carrying the kingdom of God within himself, to fulfill the living hour of his time.
To get more Common Sense Christianity posts delivered direct to your email box, please sign up for The Living Hour’s Daily SBNR Motivationals by putting your email address into the box on the right corner of this page. For an example of a common sense Progressive Christian metaphor, please go to: And the moon rose over an open field.
- To another man Jesus said: “Follow me.” “Let me first go and bury my father,” said the man. But Jesus said: “Leave the dead to bury their dead; but go yourself and carry far and wide the gospel of the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:59-60 [↩]
The 20th century Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a remarkable figure in that he was both a highly trained scientist and defender of the Christian faith–someone who realized that the entire structure of Christ’s mythology had to be reworked to fit new scientific discoveries. Having forged that new structure through the crucible of his own experiences and knowledge, he not only strengthened his faith in humankind’s divinity but his faith in the Father’s kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven.
Unlike most of his Catholic contemporaries, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin did not see the world as something inherently corrupt (as being in a fallen state) but as inherently good. By viewing the world in such a way, Teilhard was less likely to experience those crises of faith that so often afflict more orthodox Christians, whose Christ mythology demands that they leave reason at its doorstep. For Teilhard not only are you and I “the light of the world” (Matt. 4:14) but the world is a light unto itself.1 The following quote is a profound summation of his faith:
If, as a result of some interior revolution, I were successfully to lose my faith in Christ, my faith in a personal God, my faith in the Spirit, I think that I would continue to believe in the World. The World (the value, the infallibility, the goodness of the World): that, in the final analysis, is the first and the last thing in which I believe. It is by this faith that I believe. It is by this faith that I live, and it is by this faith, I feel, that at the moment of death, mastering all doubts, I shall surrender myself.
To read about Tarrou, Albert Camus, Carl Jung and whether one can be a saint without God, please go to: The Godless Saint.
Please subscribe to The Living Hour’s free Daily SBNR Motivationals by entering your email address into the “Opening the Small Gate” box in the right corner of this web page. Thisseries is written for Unitarians, Agnostics, and all who seek a richer life.
- Throughout my life, through my life, the world has little by little caught fire in my sight until, aflame all around me, it has become almost completely luminous from within – Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu [↩]