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English as a Second Language/the halo of the value of tears


Hi Shannon.
Hope all is well with you.

Could you please tell me what does "the halo of the value of tears" mean here? A halo with no value, or what?

Marx also said religion is the heart of a heartless world, the soul of a soulless condition, the halo of the value of tears, an illusory sun, and the sigh of the oppressed.

Many Thanks

Hard to say, since it's highly interpretative.  However, a halo appears in religious iconography to illustrate the person or individual is saintly or close to God, that is -- holy.  To make matters worse, I think the original text was "vale of tears" and the author has it wrong.  This is from Marx: "The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion." (Karl Marx, Contribution to Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843).  

Last June, Mark Murphy, in his blog "Dirty Looks," wrote a commentary in the article, "Religion and the Vale of Tears."  He suggests that Marx "understood that religious forms of meaning and expression were a source of solace to the masses. They were also in his opinion a source of false consciousness, a false consciousness in the shape of a ‘vale of tears of which religion is the halo’. The ‘vale of tears’ metaphor (Marx knew his theology and his latin, valle lacrimarum) was a brilliant way of describing the attraction that religion offered to people and its hold on their emotional lives." (, Accessed: Jun/4/13)  This seems like a logical interpretation to me of Marx's text and should help you understand the author's reference (even if he had a typo in his original text).


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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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