There is no religion existing today that has not rebelled or distanced itself from its religious roots, including Christianity and Islam. It appears that part of every religious community, at some time or another, becomes dissatisfied with its concepts, structure, revelation or theology and yearns to fill those gaps. As a result a new religion, or an overhauled one, comes into existence often with a person who declares a new and unprovable personal revelation of truth.
Category Archives: Migrant Soul
I am mystified by the discussion that assumes we are to find a way as a culture to tolerate the views of extreme Muslims. Why? If we don’t do that for anyone else why Muslims? It is about fear, plain and simple. We are trying to accommodate them to save our flesh. That is not the way of the West, hasn’t been, shouldn’t be.
There is no question that many religions in the West have taken the brunt of wild-eyed cartoonists and writers who represent their profession with secured boldness. Though many are disturbed by it, the sarcastic and searing taunts of the press have not been suppressed by our government or by our laws because we want to maintain our hard-fought freedoms. Why, for example, is it not appropriate to support Muslims with their ideas about displaying an image of their divine leader, Mohammed? It is appropriate. However, it is not appropriate for them to demand of others who do not adhere to their faith that they be prohibited from displaying his image.
Muslims, within their jurisdiction, can do as they please about this idea. No displaying of the prophet Mohammed by Muslims, but to expect us to adhere to their rules as non-adherents is asking too much. We are a Democracy not a Theocracy. (It is clear that many Muslims don’t believe that or are trying to convert us to a theocracy.) As long as we are a democracy we are free to post, print or preach whatever we desire. I will gladly support Muslims and their desire to enforce their laws but only amongst themselves. For all others? Islamic rules and regs are not ours to obey unless forced, and that is not the way of Democracy.
“I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.” -Wison Mizner, Playwright
Though I believe in God, it is not a belief in the God of Scripture. Too many “holes” in Scripture to satisfy my inquiring mind. It may indeed point me in the right direction but I find it not only unreliable but full of plagiaristic thought and re-writing of some of history’s interesting solutions. I much prefer to trust the minds of men and women who conjecture on the basis of what we now know of our universe than those men and women who trust the minds of ancient spiritual guides who, in turn, contributed to a book allegedly “inspired” by God. It is all unprovable, either side of this argument, but I prefer to invest most of my thinking in current ideas rather than those that show little support in logic.
I am “non-religious”, not an atheist as some suppose, since after reading what I have written many wonder if I believe in “God”. I just don’t have a name for the concept, “God”, nor do I have an origination story or theological mystery tour to stretch your faith. (I have no proof of what I believe and I wonder if my belief in “God” is supportable as I have increasing doubts.) I just can’t accept an inflexible point of view that says, “I know what you need, and I know what you should know and here it is, you can have it too.” Religionists present yet another obstacle to finding “truth” as they claim to have succeeded exclusively in finding it.
There is a core belief that when certain topics arise, particularly around politics or religion, they are best ignored. It is assumed that if you go into those deep waters you will soon drown in unsubstantiated facts and opinions. Based on certain prejudices that are sure to overwhelm a fact-based encounter, these prejudices reveal one’s animosities and cultural influences. When pressed for their argument’s support an emotionalized reaction is often what you get with name-calling and sarcasm about one’s ancestral heritage. Pedigrees are often questioned and identification with a non-affiliated group is put to a stringent litmus test. Why does it have to end this way? Either, “you do (this) or I will do (that).” Fill in the blanks. Apparently, conformance is comforting.
What does conformance look like in a group? It is the picture of satisfaction, no worries, straight thinking – think the same, stay away from conflict, always have an answer even if it might be a trite one. They say; “No matter, we have faith. Faith in what we believe. We have enough faith to carry us through any question or criticism about our belief system.” That is the essence of conformance. You either accept it or you are considered an enemy to a way of life and thought.
In most cases positive human interaction and the appearance of social harmony is dependent on thinking similarly. This kind of phony congruence becomes a roadblock to new ideas and solutions for it is often in disagreement that learning takes place. I learn when someone picks apart my argument, takes on my thinking, challenges my thought processes and conclusions. So, why are we threatened by questions calling out our thoughts, revealing our thinking errors? Because we are uncomfortable being wrong! It can be embarrassing, especially when an idea from outside the group penetrates the group in spite of strong resistance.
Thinking is the core of our conscious being. It is where we process the data that presents itself in various forms to our organs of perception. And, since we take our conclusions seriously, while observing them up close and personal, they become an intimate part of us. The result of this process is that we find ourselves becoming defensive when challenged, the worst kind of hindrance to an open mind. Being on the defensive is uncomfortable and emotionally draining.
So, what does one do in the pursuit of truth and clarity? If that is your desire be prepared to accept the possibility there will be those who will distance themselves from you as it is you and your ideas that make them uncomfortable. Refusing to conform, some of the greatest thinkers have even sacrificed their lives for the truth as they understood it. That takes a great deal of stamina, confidence and a clear mind with the realization that it will be uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, and perhaps lethal.
From time to time a scene from classical painting emerges on the Internet depicting the trials of the Christian Savior. Given the story line of his final days, it is often a scene from the torment he received at the hands of the Roman government. He taught that He was the Son of God which was viewed as an act of blasphemy. The paintings are usually gory, blood being the major feature, while bruises and cuts make for a sobering latticework of rip-torn flesh. There may be a thorny crown forced across his brow with drips of crimson traced upon his forehead and a face twisted in agony as if he had just been beheaded. Grim, sad and very graphic, these depictions of the Christ cause one to wonder just how painful the course of salvation must have been. It is believed that Jesus died for our sins. And as despicable as those sins are, so also should the look of the dying Savior be as well. No doubt about it, the artists have captured it.
More contemporaneously, the movie going public have nearly tasted the blood of an exhausted Christ while watching screen antics produced by a Jew-hating actor/director. There were even undisguised whimpers and weeping during the scenes of great passion and throughout the movie called, “The Passion.” The fascination with blood, guts and gore are not the exclusive domain of the warrior but appear to have a charm for the Christian as well. Many Catholic churches sport the cross with a dying Christ portrayed centrally in their mass and visuals that make plain what the grand sacrifice accomplished for humanity.
A question comes to mind: to what purpose is the blood, guts, and gore presented? Is it to entice one to look more directly at the message? Am I to be impressed with an interpretation that has as its purpose, shock? To what objective would a visual portrait or a moving picture show convince me and my will to become a follower of this bloodied Christ? Is it the canvas or film drama that convinces?
A fascination with drama of this kind begs the question, why? Why do we need to see this? Why do we need religious symbolisms forced upon us displayed as crucifix, bleeding heart, or nails thrust through the palms of the Savior’s hands? If “gross” is appealing the Christian church has an ample portion what with a ceremony that displays the body of Christ in one of three forms depending on the resident theology. We are presented with “gross” as if it were a Sunday drive to Grandma’s, a pure, simple, and trusted journey. But, is it really? For years witnesses recounted the Golgotha debacle without writing it down allowing further elaboration to make the story as fascinating, creative and original as one could imagine. If the story be true as claimed and that the message produced personal wonders of salvation and healing, then why would it be necessary to frighten or disgust someone viewing these macabre classics for the first time? Don’t we have enough violence as part of our culture? And, why would Christian hands wish to add blood to their reputation?
Throughout America there is an inextinguishable belief that one random day blue skies will break open with trumpets, angels and such to manifest in a cloud of glory a spiritual being who will take up with Him buried bodies and live souls into a permanent residence called heaven. It is a place unlike any other and its appearance is greatly enhanced by manipulated imaginations of eager and loyal saints. These saints are saints because they have freely given their lives away for redemption of promises etched in a holy book while accepting these promises as fact. The promise of a returning monarch becomes a distinguishing mark of faith for those who believe the message from the messenger is unmistakably and profoundly true. Yet, all of this theology is without corroborating evidence sustained through any length of time. Unfortunately, the life of their Christian hero, conceived without his parents enjoying sex as part of his conception, and who performed miracles that crowds of witnesses have attested to, met his end on a hilltop between two thieves in a most humiliating event; crucifixion. The “proofs” of His resurrection have been lost in time but the faith these dear people have in a resurrection from the dead lingers and is the cornerstone of their hoped-for salvation.
The various religious musings of preachers, teachers, evangelists, prophets, priests and the like have broadened the message to include faith healers, snake handlers, televangelists and wannabes. All of these men and women must base their message on dubious, faith-based, irrational claims while focusing the attention of believers on a hope that takes them away from this world, to a place called, “Escapism.” And, isn’t that what this is all about? So, lets make up a future in a heavenly place where the cares of this world are left behind and we can live forever in a protective element. One day, so the belief goes, those who have given their lives to the Creator will have an eternity to reside on cloud pillows with nothing to do but stretch out their limbs for anything they desire and walk on gold-covered streets studded with diamonds, pearls and sapphires, all the while living with an eternal being most call, God.
All of the above is believed because someone told them it was so, or, their trust in the message comes from a subjective experience called “real.” That is the hardest part for me to accept. And, I must do it on what is called “faith.” No matter what question I might pose to formerly fellow believers their answer lies within the following: “You’ve got to have faith, Ed!”
Many of us were taught to believe in Santa Claus. And we did, until one of our friends began to humiliate our thinking with deprecating words about our Santa. We got the message and began to turn away. It wasn’t easy because we had an emotional attachment to the idea of a beneficent figure giving out candy and toys after springing from an undamaged chimney. The same kind of experience is often the usual with religious beliefs. But, somehow, we are unable to see it as fantasy and the escapism it represents. That is either because it is clearly true, even while there is very little to support that idea, or, it is because there is too much invested by others, especially those who have built large empires around their faith and would lose an income, a job, or a sense of importance, if it were not deemed to be true. Perpetuating the myth is necessary for the false promise of another life in a grand place of heavenly hope while not having to deal with the vagaries of life that hit us with little or no warning. Or, it is self-serving. I believe there are religious types who would not even be religious or spiritual if their job did not depend upon it.
Perpetuating a fraud if it gets you the necessary elements to a life worth living is all that matters? Foundations are important. This one appears to be crumbling.