The play was reviewed and analyzed by the Dutch philosopher Ger Groot,4 a well-known writer and prototypical secularist. He puts himself squarely behind Raphael. I quote: “Sachel’s motives are repugnant to me, and that from the bottom of my heart.” Groot considers Sachel’s urge to cling to his Jewish soul to be a hindrance to an enlightened world. Groot sees Raphael as “a typical idealist of the Enlightenment, a character we all would like to be ourselves.” It is Raphael “who is on the right side of history.” In Raphael’s own words, “The true God had still to come, the God of the new community, the community without Gods, without wickedness, without slaves.”
Reason as the universal source of light, religious faith as a dimmer of that light—is that a tenable point of view? I think it is not. I hold that reason is not the universal source of light, that complete enlightenment of the mind requires that faith, the faculty of believing, come to full development as well. In spite of this viewpoint, I consider myself to be an enlightened person.
I will clarify this point of view, but before that I will briefly discuss what I understand by the constructs I am referring to: religiosity and religion.
Religiosity and religion
I define religiosity as the affinity for the religious root-idea. That idea holds that apart from the world that we perceive with our senses, a supranatural world exists. Man of faith feels the urge to reach out for that metaphysical world. He wants to provide life with a vertical dimension. He is receptive to the concept of God and knows feelings, thoughts, and experiences that are linked to that concept. Religiosity presupposes imaginative power. Not for naught, that latter term relates ability to imagine, with vital strength.
Religion, on the other hand, refers to a set of religious doctrines; actually to a philosophy, a way of interpreting the human existence, with the God-idea as focal point. Religion provides the urge “to think upward” (an image used by the philosopher De Rijk) with content and form. Religion is the formalized, structured, and often (unfortunately) codified expression form of religiosity. Religiosity is the substructure, religion the superstructure.
Religion is presented in various frames. On one extreme, one finds what I have called a coagulated, codified set of rulings one is obliged to believe or to practice. This set of rulings often inhibits rather than encourages reflection and is likely to induce feelings of sin and shame instead of generating joy of living.
On the other extreme, one finds a view of life that captivates; is without difficulty incorporated in one’s life; prompts discussion; stimulates reflection as to purpose and meaning of one’s life; and provides no certainties, only possibilities.
Religion may enrich a life or corrupt it. One may reject the system or embrace it, partly or entirely. It can be an influence for good or for evil. All to often the latter has been the case. This has gotten religion a bad reputation.