The Watering Hole; Friday December 19 2014; Religious Dialogue

Once again it’s the Holiday Season. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Christmas.

All are celebrations of beliefs; each differs from the other, each is the product of religious sincerity, each a celebration of history, of culture, of community. In our particular corner of the world, the Christian Christmas is by far the most visible because Christianity is, after all, this nation’s dominant belief system, the one that preaches Charity and Joy, Tolerance, Understanding, and Love of Others. Right?

A quick look around at recent “Christian” viewpoints suggests something a bit different.

Rick Santorum: Separation Of Church And State A Communist Idea, Not An American One

The Perfect Right Wing Christmas Card

Bryan Fischer Explains Why Muslim Terrorists Are Responsible For The CIA’s Use Of Torture

Jesus Would Support The Use Of Torture

What puzzles me most about those four posts — selected randomly, without effort and in just minutes — is not their specific detail, but more the overall undercurrent that clearly drives them. Why, I have to wonder, so much irrational fear and hatred? I was always taught that the virtue of religious belief was the opposite. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Be your “brother’s keeper.” Et cetera. Where’s the Christian admonition to hate Muslims? To find solace and comfort in torture? Why does Santa need a gun? Why is the freedom to believe differently, to not be forced to accept a Christian thesis, a product of Communism? Wherefrom derives — and why — the obvious fear, the implicit hatred?

A decade ago I was a frequent visitor to an online discussion group that had participants from around the world, people of every race, of every religion. Just recently I happened across a folder filled with old discussion files. The one that first caught my eye was dated January 5, 2005, and was my response to a religious “question” posed by a gentleman from Pakistan. He was a banker, also a devout Muslim; the fact that he was a regular participant in a US-based discussion group during the Bush aftermath of 9/11, and was willing to speak his mind on any issues that might arise there was, I thought at the time, both courageous and interesting.

What I found even more fascinating was that in said discussion group there was none of the vitriol, none of the fear and hatred that was so constantly featured on TV news reports and parroted back by people everywhere — those irrational fears and hatreds that were (and still remain) common to both sides of the world. Over here we’ve been instructed constantly on the best reasons to hate Muslims, to fear their next attack, and to accept torture as a legitimate consequence of (and potential solution to) our irrational fears and hatreds. The world’s other side was and still is, of course, similarly taught to hate America and to fear everything it’s presumed to stand for — the potential consequences of our irrational fears and hatreds (read: anti-Islamic passions) in particular.

Still, all participants in those discussions understood that rational chit-chat amongst divergent cultures and religions was a definite virtue. This is the only hard copy on this particular topic I’ve so far found, but to me, at least, it still speaks a lot louder than the hate and fear crap which remains so common even today.

(Note: Mr. Ashraf’s first language was obviously not English, yet he managed to use it to communicate far more lucidly than I could have ever managed in whichever lingua is common to Karachi Pakistan):

Adeel Ashraf wrote:
I agree that being human is most important thing. However, if i may submit that one can be a best human while being a bit of relgious. as per my information on Islam. Human Rights , and being human has been given first priority than duties towards Allah. For example, its mutually agreed by all muslims, that Allah might forgive his rights on judgment day i.e. saying prayers but will not forgive a penny to a misdeed on account of our fellow human beings. so i might get forgiveness from God if i dont say my prayers..But i will not be spared it i screw any of my friends, family, other human beings …animals, etc.

Reply –
Adeel — I have the utmost respect for each and all who adhere to the religion of their choice, so long as each and all live a life which respects the sum of this magnificently beautiful planet and every life form upon it, all of which is offered free of charge to those who care to take a moment to ‘see’. I do understand full well that there is beauty in each the Quran, the Jewish bible, the Christian New Testament, and in other holy books everywhere — and I respect each and every shred of that aspect of all of them, always. I am, however, troubled by what certain men do with holy text, how they interpret it to satisfy their own selfish agenda, how convenient it can be for a scoundrel to find millions of his subjects loyal to words only — to backward interpretations of words — rather than to the basic ideal which should (and would, if practiced properly) allow each to find his way to live and prosper — man, beast, bird, and tree alike.

Human, however, invariably imposes his own baggage, and all too often it is self-serving baggage. My choice was, a long time ago, to walk away from Human agenda and to instead immerse myself into the vibrancy of the creation itself, that immensity of beauty of which I am but a tiny speck. In my view, I’m entitled to no more, and no less, than any other collection of atoms — and therefore I try to walk carefully. I’ve found room to have no more argument with the stars and constellation than with the bacteria which digest sewage — or anything between, above, or beneath (save for politicians and crooked clerics, of course). I have no argument with the whims of the Earth’s crust as it shakes and moves, nor with the storms that blow across sea and shore. I have no argument with beasts, with trees, no argument with thorns or with sharp teeth; I only have argument with Human agenda, and then only when it is dark, seeking power rather than the light of truth or beauty.

So I hope always to draw upon that which is good and beautiful in life, and to disassociate myself from that which is not. I’ve abandoned the label, but pray I’ve saved the essence of my Christian upbringing — because it does, in its purest sense, represent too the essence of Judaism, of Islam, of Love itself, of all that is worthy of the ideas which underlie the words “Creation” and “Life”, and even “God.”

I can’t imagine that God, in any concept or context, would sanction wanton destruction — whether of Earth, or beast, or Human himself, or of property, of cities or farms. To destroy serves no useful purpose, but yet ‘destroy’ is what Human does best — and so often, he proclaims, it is destruction that is mandated *in hoc signo*, under the banner of God. I think not.

Today in the US, a topic which is near the forefront is whether America should, or will, preemptively attack and/or invade Iran. To do so is necessary, some say, to rid the world of the Mullahs in charge there, to make the world safe for …. for … for what? For me? For the children? No. More likely for agenda; some suggest it’s a good thing to make war in the Middle East because it will speed the return of the Christ. Apocalypse? Bring it on!

Do you see that I can’t associate myself with those voices anymore? That I must, instead, find the means to live as far from that chatter as is possible? I’ve found a way, I think — a way which allows me to pursue the never-ending search for Truth even as I disassociate myself from each and all of the major religions and their respective dogmatic “bandwagons” (for lack of a better word). And in so doing I can still hear the music but I no longer feel the obligation to march in lockstep. “God” is in the music, not in the rhythmic pounding of muffled feet. And while some surely believe they’ll burn in hell for the occasional misstep or sour note, I’ll be seeing “god” in the center of a flower, or in the approaching storm clouds, in a sunrise; or I’ll be hearing His voice in the howl of a wolf, a baby’s cry, or in the rumble of thunder — because I know that “God” IS the creation — a knowledge that puts me in instant communication with that one power which seems to forever elude popes, mullahs, preachers, priests, and even presidents.

In the movie Gandhi, actor Ben Kingsley, in the title role, spoke a line that (paraphrased) went something like this: “I am a Christian, and a Muslim, and a Jew, a Hindu and a Sikh …”

Would that we might all — truthfully — one day find ourselves able to say the same.

That was ten years ago, and still no progress toward understanding, toward tolerance and compassion. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe Michele Bachmann has it all figured out? I suppose it could happen because, as someone once observed, “There’s a first time for everything.”

Yeah, well, OK. Maybe tomorrow.

OPEN THREAD

 

59 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Friday December 19 2014; Religious Dialogue

  1. The ruling class uses fear and ignorance to pit the lower classes against each other. As long as the lower classes fight each other, they are distracted from fighting their overlords.

    Challenge the ruling class and you quickly end up discredited or dead, frequently both. This, too, keeps the lower classes in their place.

    • My attitude toward the ruling class is simple: feed the bastards poisoned cake and the world will soon be better off.

      I have a hunch, meanwhile, that the upcoming Congressional session might well prove to be the most vicious assault imaginable on everything that counts. This collection of dumbasses is the quintessential example of the consequences of what can happen when fear, ignorance, and irrational hatred rise to the point where the ruling class becomes thereby redefined. I’m guessing that about the only thing now standing between the constitutional America of old and the imposition of a money-based fascist/feudal oligarchy is Obama’s veto pen. I hope it’s inked up.

      OTOH, if ignorance prevails, the impending mass extinction might eventually benefit the earth’s biosphere.

    • Even worse, she was PROmoted.

      Instead, however, she has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military, most recently working as the head of the C.I.A.’s global-jihad unit. In that perch, she oversees the targeting of terror suspects around the world.

  2. QOTD:

    “We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people.” — George Clooney, on Sony’s decision to halt the release of “The Interview.”

    • Indeed. I watched his final show last night never expecting my eyes to tear-up when he and Jon Stewart began singing “We’ll Meet Again.”😥 I’ll have to find a CBS link next year.

  3. Hey look, a Democratic scumbag. VA lawmaker, recently convicted of having a sexual affair with a 17-year old girl, who he may have impregnated, has announced he will resign his seat in the Va House of Delegates- and then run for the same seat in special election next month

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/va-del-joseph-morrissey-to-resign-in-wake-of-conviction-but-run-again-for-his-seat/2014/12/18/f50bef1e-86cf-11e4-b9b7-b8632ae73d25_story.html?wpmm=AG0003409

    • Gotta love the wing patterns of white on black and the tail that looks like a two sided scimitar!

  4. I very much enjoyed the conversation in the header. As long as people think of their human responsibilities to other humans, and place that above any religious fiat to do harm to humans, I’m all good with whatever or if ever anyone wishes to perceive a maker/creator/prime moverish deity and congregate around a set of spiritual values.

    • Some other ideas for Bill0’s T-shirts.

      “Don’t be a Dick”
      “Don’t Shoot Doctors in Churches”
      “Leave the Poor Woman Alone”
      “As Predictable as the Tides”
      “That’s Not a Window; It’s a Mirror”

      and the obligatory…

      “FAUXNews Lies. All Day. Every Day.”

  5. I have to now reassess my feelings toward Cameron Diaz after reports she’s engaged to this 7 years younger, 3 inches shorter…walking billboard:

  6. (via Raw Story)

    GOP lawmaker proposes Obamacare replacement: Rely on Jesus for health care

    hmm, that doesn’t seem to be working very well…

    Toddler dies from malnutrition caused by radical Christian parents’ faith-based vegan diet

  7. The St. Louis County prosecutor in the grand jury that acquitted Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson said that some of the witnesses called lied under oath.

    “Clearly some were not telling the truth,” Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said in an interview with KTRS radio on Friday. He said he’s not planning to file charges against witnesses who lied.

    Well, that’ll certainly nip that problem in the bud.

  8. Mitt Romney to Sony: Just put the movie online for free.

    Me to Mitt Rmoney: Just donate your millions to the poor.

  9. Rick Wiles: ‘Islam Must Be Eliminated From The Face Of The Earth, Stomped Out Like Cockroaches’

    “Trunews” host Rick Wiles reacted to the massacre of Pakistani children and educators in Peshawar this week by claiming that “Islam has to be eradicated.”

    “How many innocent people must die until the world vomits out Islam? Folks, it must be eliminated,” he said. “Islam must be eliminated from the face of the earth, it must be stomped out like cockroaches, it is a religion from Hell, everywhere Muslims go there is bloodshed and violence.”

    Am I to suppose the since the Sandy Hook massacre took place in Amurka — a Christian nation — that it’s only a matter of time before “the world vomits out” Christianity as well, that it “must be eliminated from the face of the earth, it must be stomped out like cockroaches…”?

    Where is this “god” when we really need it? The bigger question remains: why did “god” make so many idiots?

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