Tag Archives: Religion

Forced Islamic Studies

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.


Welcoming Death As An Absolute End?

Most theologies, be they Christian or otherwise, are established to deal with death, pain, and the business of living. We do our best to avoid death and yet, knowing that we will one day succumb to it we construct a hereafter that comforts our souls. We do this even though we have no proof of what a “heaven” is supposed to be. We live as if we will live forever and will one day visit the stalwarts of faith and family we have learned to love. Some of us are convinced of this. 

I am currently reading “Socrates Cafe”, a stimulating book. Within it I found the following quote by Walter Kaufmann that got me to thinking. Perhaps it will jar your thoughts a bit as well.

“Let people who do not know what to do with themselves in this life, but fritter away their time, hope for eternal life. If one lives intensely, the time comes when sleep seems bliss. If one loves intensely, the time comes when death seems bliss. The life I want is a life I could not endure in eternity. It is a life of love and intensity, suffering and creation, that makes life worthwhile and death welcome. There is no other life I should prefer. Neither should I like not to die. As one deserves a good night’s sleep, one also deserves to die, Why should I hope to wake again? To do what I have not done in the time I’ve had? All of us have so much more time than we use well. How many hours in a life are spent in a way of which one might be proud, looking back? For most of us death does not come soon enough. Lives are spoiled and made rotten by the sense that death is distant and irrelevant. Not only can love be deepened and made more intense and impassioned by the expectation of impending death; all of life is enriched by it. Why deceive myself to the last moment, and hungrily devour sights, sounds, and smells only when it is almost too late? In our treatment of others, too, it is well to remember that they will die: it makes for greater humanity.”
-Walter Kaufmann


Life Without God?!

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2015/01/a-year-without-god-leads-ryan-bell-to-life-without-god/


Truths of Religion

“The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.”

– Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary 1764


Mockery of Religion

“Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things…one of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority.” -Christopher Hitchens


My Statement of “Faith”

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.

Having been a part of the religious scene for years it is clear to me how easily duped we are to believe in something we have no proof of, has caused an abundance of divisions, and “territorialized” people into believers and non-believers. Furthermore, my belief in “God” equates to the larger perspective which includes an awareness of “God” in everything. I speculate at times whether or not consciousness is “God”. So, my belief in “God” does not necessarily match up to the Christian/Judaeo tradition of a being existing somewhere in the beyond or in one’s “heart”. If there is a “God” he/she/it could be anywhere and in anything. Do I hear an “Amen”?

Need for Religion?

“The idea of a good society is something you do not need religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death.” -Gore Vidal


Comfort in Conformance

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.


Religious Pornography

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?


Religion A Curse? from H.L. Mencken

“I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind–that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.

I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious. . .

I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.

I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech . . .

I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.

I believe in the reality of progress.

But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.”

—HL Mencken, journalist and freethinker, Mencken’s Creed