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09/20/2006 Archived Entry: "Response to my rant re the relative violence of Christians and Muslims"
I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING RESPONSE to my recent rant re the relative violence of Christians and Muslims. It's well-taken (and good humored) and I have just one difference with it.
Randall the Dreamer wrote:
As I sincere, devoted Christian, I INSIST that you embrace my way of life! There are no other options for you. I wish I could allow for some kind of leeway here, but Brother Falwell says no.
In all seriousness though, I tend to think that the same "Christians" and the like who "converted" others to their way of life didn't really get the point (even while using one).
To my way of thinking, it's just what the Busheviks are doing in the Middle East as you read this. We're giving them Freedom, even if it means the death of their loved ones and the reduction of their homes to rubble.
As someone who shrugs off the moniker of Christian, yet still a follower per se, I see the problem. It's the same thing that gets Americans waving flags and talking about this free country of ours (pause to let bile simmer down). The "shepards" are also the predators, it seems.
I've known several pastors who refused to play the Christian church games, and, as a result, are no longer teaching -- note that I didn't say preaching, /those/ guys are still going strong, like spiritual Tony Robbins. Whip 'em into a Jesus
frenzy, and they'll do whatever you want-except revolt against their own government (which so richly deserves it), you could lose your 501(c)3 rating then, and we wouldn't want that!
I guess the point of this is merely to point out the parallels between "Christian" crusades, and Operation "Iraqi Freedom" are run by the same kind of shysters -- neither one speaks for the true followers of Christianity nor the liberty-minded.
I mean, how many babies would Claire bomb to make her salient points?
I think the Dreamer's observation is spot on about parallels between the crusades and Bush's Iraq war. I also think Bush is a murderous Christian fanatic in the same way Osama bin Laden is a murderous Islamic fanatic. Except that Bush has killed a lot more people and seems to have much less awareness of the consequences of his actions. And he claims to be committing slaughter for Holy Democracy, not Christianity. But in his hands, "democracy" is just another mindless religious faith (having nothing to do with actual empowerment of ordinary people), and I don't believe he'd be so sure of himself if he weren't convinced that God is on his side.
"Convert to Christianity or die." "Convert to Islam or die." "Convert to democracy or die." "Convert to 'freedom' or die." It's all the same.
Neither Bush nor bin Laden "represents" his religion to the world. Each is a member of a militant minority faction. Both cause their more reasonable co-religionists to groan in despair.
Both religions have their share of glassy-eyed fanatics, of which Bush and bin Laden are merely egregious examples. (But speaking of egregious, does anybody believe that Fred Phelps wouldn't kill every homosexual in the world if he thought he could get away with it? He'd kill them and feel righteous -- just as Bush and bin Laden feel righteous about their slaughters.) It's unfair to take bin Laden as representative of all Muslims or Bush as representative of all Christians.
But then comes my disagreement with the Dreamer. He says that those who slaughter and conquer in the name of either Islam or Christianity miss the point. While it's true (we humans are weird) that everybody brings his own pre-existing tendencies, biases, assumptions, and temperament into his religion, and thus you can end up with a lot of bitterly twisted variations on the same faith, I don't think the "kill in the name of Jesus" or "kill in the name of Allah" folks are missing the point.
Sadly, they may "get" the point more honestly than the nicer "God is love" people. When you strip Christianity down to its essentials, you get this: blood sacrifice to appease a righteously wrathful God. In the sweetest, kindest little Christian congregation on the planet, you have people practicing ritual cannibalism every, single Sunday. (If the congregation is Catholic, it's literal cannibalism, if their miracle of transubstantiation is true.)
From Genesis through Revelation the message is the same: Those who don't do exactly what God wants are going to suffer -- and should suffer hideously for their failure to go along. And what does God want through most of the Bible? Slaughtered animals on his altars and slaughtered humans -- including men, women, and infants -- on his field of battle. Even in the kinder, gentler New Testament, the only act that will appease His perpetual bad temper toward the human race is the deadly torture and sacrifice of his own son. And if any of us are unable to force ourselves to believe that the murder of Jesus is a good thing and a cosmicly necessary thing, then we, too, deserve Old Testament-style fates. Just for disagreeing with an idea, mind you. Just for disagreeing with an idea!
Now, tell me that worldview doesn't just naturally lend itself to the arrogant smiting of all who differ.
I'd personally rather be around the "God is love" faction than the "kill 'em all" bunch, if I had to make a choice. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn't? Really, though, I'm not crazy about any religion or any faction thereof. (And that goes double for the current pre-eminent religion in the Western world -- worship of government.)
In the present case, I'd just rather see both Jehovah and Allah take an anger-management class, then have a nice little talk with all their more enthusiastic adherents here on earth.
But the sorry-scary fact is that the "God wants me to slaughter all my enemies (and my enemies are anyone who disagrees with my beliefs)" bunch are just following what's clearly laid down in the holy books -- the holy books of both the current religions-in-conflict. And both have been doing so for a long, long time -- with the full, written authorization of their deities.
Posted by Claire @ 01:07 PM CST