It is fascinating to me to watch Congressman Barney Frank, a gay man, and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, openly gay also, introduce and support legislation that has a moral and social conscience. And to then watch the self-proclaimed legislative Christians vote against it. It has always been so. There is little or no correlation between morals and religion. Watching Jews and Moslems fight over land that they proclaim God or Allah gave to them is a current case in point. Who is there to represent the people who occupied the Israel-Palestinian area BEFORE the Moslems and Jews came? In the U.S. we pound our chest about our democratic ways, even as our nation's history and current developments are horrible in the treatment of the people who occupied this land before the coming of Europeans.
Recently the current Pope venerated bishops who deny that the Holocaust took place. That is especially disturbing inasmuch as the Vatican did so little to defend Jews during the 1930s and 1940s. In fact, a case has been made that the Pope actually was in concert in some of this persecution. Morals?
The history of warfare in the world is basically a history of religion. Nothing could be more damning. Where two religions meet, war develops. We cannot deny history.
"Doctrines get inside of a man's own reason and betray him against himself. Civilized men have done their fiercest fighting for doctrines." -Wm. Graham Sumner
Too often we try to show religion for all its fakery and illusion. This may be a mistake and the wrong way going about it. As Saul Bellow once observed: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." Who has an answer? Is war related to religion inevitable? Two very different but well respected men have had very different approaches to this same conundrum...
"I consider myself a Hindu, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist, and Confucian." - Mohandas Gandhi
"So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake . . . Religion is all bunk." -Thomas Alva Edison
Is this, perhaps, a more pragmatic approach or is it still too critical of religion to be workable? ...
"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." -H.L. Mencken
It is difficult to deal with religion and its followers because they have already ingrained themselves in unsympathetic judgments and labels. They have already told themselves that they are taking the high ground even when they condemn homosexuality because it is a sinful "choice," or nit-pick all aspects of life with ancient superstituions and prejudices. "A converted cannibal is one who, on Friday, eats only fishermen." -Emily Lotney
Is it "normal" for us to hold onto these myths and superstitions? "When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life." -Sigmund Freud
For a society or nation or culture to be freed from all this "bunk," requires developing a concern for all our fellow human beings. Peace among humans will come when we see each other as brothers and sisters no matter where we live or what we do or don't believe. We will then become free to be equal. What a concept! We are a long way from developing the intermingled concern for everyone. This points us in the right direction, and let us ponder this as we enter a new age with a new president:
"To claim to be a Christian or Jew who loves God and neighbor and not to take an active part in the formation of just social policies affecting those neighbors would seem to deny complete fulfillment of one's faith." -Reuben Askew