Man's Best Friend is Dog(ma)
I had a checkup at my cardiologist's today. I always enjoy my visits with Dr. F., because he affirms me. He expresses admiration for the strong pulses in my ankles. (This is absurdly pleasing to me.) He also notes that I have good medical and exercise habits. *Preen*
And then we talk serious numbers and stuff. Everything's good. Tinker a bit with one medication. Order a routine cholesterol screening for my annual Insurance Annoyance. See you in nine months. Routine stuff.
Today, I've been re-reading Dorothy Sayer's Creed or Chaos,
a collection of essays and speeches the central burden of which is that dogma is more centrally important than values or morals. Religion -- including Religion's effect upon Society -- stands or falls based on how closely it mirrors the actual facts of existence; that is, on whether its dogma matches reality or not. She has harsh words for religious leaders who try to protect their followers from dogma, or who think they can have the affective benefits of Religion, personally or societally, without wrestling with dogma.
So, I was relating this to my visit to the doctor. Yes, it's nice to be asked how one feels by someone who takes account of the answer. And a good and pleasant manner goes a long way. Compliments are a better spur to action than criticism. Still, making a visit to the doctor enjoyable is not why one goes to the doctor. There's real science involved, which expresses itself in real numbers that describe one's biological reality. The goal is not merely to "feel good," but to enjoy objectively better health.
Similarly, while I want people to enjoy church -- indeed, to feel the joy of the Holy Spirit bubbling up like a fountain within them -- this only comes from tending to the realities of one's relationship to God-in-Christ. That relationship is properly described in terms of dogma. Helping people understand Christian dogma and how it conforms to the reality of their lives in turn enables them to order their lives after the new reality Christ brings about in them and in the world. Religion without dogma -- indeed, Religion without the correct
dogma -- is mere feel-good-ism, and doesn't do anybody much good in the long run.