Monday, October 09, 2006

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

A post on Mia's blog has me thinking about religion. I have more negative feelings about religion than positive ones. Why? Well, for starters, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Holocost, September 11th, preists molesting little boys, televangelists, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the British-Irish conflict, the Shiite-Sunni conflicts, countless other wars, "ethnic cleansing" events, bombings... I should probably stop now.

I realize that it's probably a logical fallacy to disparage all religion due to the actions of some, but in my mind, logic and religion needn't go together. I strive to think for myself and keep open mind, and (with the rare exception), religion tends to advocate deferring to authority and dogma - leave the thinking to somebody else.

While I don't hold most organized religions in high regard, I respect virtue. I know, I know, without religion, virtue becomes a mushy, maleable subject, but regardless of religion, I think most of us know real virtue when we see it.

To tell you the truth, I generally don't even like to discuss my religious beliefs with any but my closest friends. Especially since most people have never heard of The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Religion is like politics - in many contexts, discussions are more likely to lead to conflict than to enlightenment. You're not going to change somebody else's beliefs, and they're not going to change yours.

Since we've been busy doing all these crazy, weird things like canning tomatoes, buying scythes, and milking goats, a friend jokingly asked me how long before I "go Amish". I said I couldn't do it because it involved too much religion.

But in the aftermath of the dreadful shootings at an Amish schoolhouse, I was touched by something I read in a blog Lori directed me to:
...[The Amish community] had invited the widow of the murderer to attend the funeral of one of the little girls that he had slaughtered, and that, at their insistence, a fund had been set up for her and her family.

Further reading on the subject revealed that dozens of Amish people attended the funeral of the gunman who murdered their friends.


I can only aspire to be that virtuous. Maybe I should consider going Amish after all.

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At 10/10/2006 4:52 AM, Anonymous Amish Furniture Online said...

I think the amish are Virtue personified. Its hard to fathom how they manage to stick to their beliefs and their way of life even in these times. We all have a lot to learn form them. Hats off to these people.

At 10/10/2006 6:24 AM, Blogger JBTW said...

Very insightful E4.
I too do not like to discuss religion with others -- it becomes too stressful & aggitating of a topic. I do think that virtue and morality can be accomplished without the presence of religion. Here are my philosophies: Treat others as you would want to be treated. Take care of the Earth, without it where would you live.

Out of curiousity I followed your links... on Mia's page there was a Belief-O-Matic quiz-like thing -- turns out I'm a Humanist. But I think I already knew that, just didn't know the official name for it.

At 10/10/2006 9:12 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Ya know, in reading this back, I may have come down a bit hard on religion. There are certain things that have happened in my life that have made me extremely grumpy on the subject. I don't mean to disparage people's beliefs. I respect good people, regardless of what they do or don't believe in.

At 10/10/2006 11:31 AM, Blogger barefoot gardener said...

All I can say is thank you. I have been struggling with a post expressing these same thoughts, only to delete paragraph after paragraph. It is soothing to hear someone express, from the first word to the last, many of the things I have been feeling.

As for coming down too hard on religion, I don't think you did (of course, I tend to be a little grumpy about organized religion too). Your first paragraph states in a nutshell that is not the belief, but the lack of thinking that results in such horrible actions that you object to. It makes sense to me.

Again, thanks for a thoughtful and touching post

At 10/10/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger Suzer said...

As the barefoot gardener points out, it's not religion per say, but ORGANIZED religion that I have a problem with. Basically most religions have the idea of doing good, it just when someone feels the need to take charge of it that it all starts to go down hill...kind of a mob mentality.

There is a passage from the Dhammapada that I think sums it all up...
"All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.

See yourself in others.
Then who can you hurt?
What harm can you do?"

At 10/10/2006 5:01 PM, Blogger Madcap said...

I was raised in a very religious evangelical home, converted to Catholicism as an adult, and have now come to the conclusion that any religion that tells people what to do is an institution for the purpose of power and control. They often start out well, but inevitably degenerate within a generation or two, as soon as there's any money involved.

Honestly! The only danger behind people thinking for themselves and coming to their own conclusions is that it might very well not profit someone who wants to play puppeteer.

That said.... religion has made some beautiful and sane and deeply spiritual contributions to humanity, and for that reason I can't toss the whole thing overboard. Just wish it wasn't all so.... churchy.

At 10/10/2006 5:54 PM, Blogger Beo said...

God Bless the Amish. And coming form a Unitarian take that 'god' to cover any definition you may have.

That is perhaps the most profound statement of forgiveness I have seen in modern times.
"Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do".

At 8/14/2010 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I'm NOT sharing *my* blog with you. I write from a very spiritual perspective, and am using the word 'spiritual' because we stopped going to church 3 years ago and I've left christianity altogether for something very, very different.

Anyhoo... completely understandable. You don't go there with just anyone.


At 10/25/2010 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ex-christian and a rabid atheist I judge religion as I would everything else, what are its fruits. I tend to have a great deal of respect for the Habitat for Humanity folks and the Amish, Quakers, Mennonites, ect. I have a great deal of dislike for the Southern Baptists and evangelical anything. I spent some time in the middle east and found wonderful and warm hearted Muslims and Jews and some real jerks. It's rarely about the religion, it's usually about the person.

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.- Steven Weinberg


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