Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hate is a Two Way Street

I said many years ago to one of my distant bible thumping family members that I thought religion was probably responsible for as much hate as it was for any content we had on this planet. Okay, so they discounted my sacrilegious statement as nothing more than the thoughtless words of youth. They told me one day I would understand that religion was about love, caring, and forgiveness.

Forty years later I am still waiting. Forty years later I am still convinced I was correct when I first came up with the notion that religion is often the root of our troubles not the solution.

In that most of the big religions are monotheistic, it would follow that they feel their way is the only true way. And this is fine when the disagreements between ideological takes remain verbal and somewhat civilized. But often, or maybe it is on a semi-regular basis, they don't. Zealots from one religion will get their particular faith by the short hairs. They then take that religion and infuse it into their various culture through the means of government dictate. Thus is born a theocracy. If there is one form of government that fills me with dread more than any other, it is a theocracy.

Islam is going through just such a predictable phase now. In my mind I would have no problem with them doing whatever they want in their own countries. But unfortunately, because the West has historically acted like bad children when dealing with them, Islamic fundies have put us in their cross hairs as well. This has resulted in well, we all know what hate and discontent has resulted.

What strikes me though is the current resurgence of extremism among many Christians over this. Many feel the only way to do battle is with a Bible in hand. As indicated by the image above that I found on a Mormon's site, he is positive this war is sanctioned by his God. This is exactly what their enemies want. To do battle based on the notion that God somehow will pick a winner. Whomever is still standing means that their God was the "right God". In the meantime, those of us who could not care less about which God is the right God but may believe in one or the other, well, we get dragged down into the fight pit with the rest of the looney tunes. And it pisses me off.

All of this mutual animosity flies in the face of the words found in their holiest of scriptures. Yet both somehow have managed to find justification for the excesses they carry out in their God's name. And even though this time around it is Islam instigating, they have been successful in pushing the right buttons and are now being rewarded with similar responses from the fundies on our side of the fence. Frankly, I find myself more disgusted with religion than at any other time in my life.
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Note - I won't apologize for the hateful image I posted. I did however agonize some before I did. I feel it is necessary to expose over the top hatred no matter the source. That image came from this site.

Later...............................

17 comments:

Kulkuri said...

You're right, religion has been the cause of more wars and deaths than anything else. A friend became non-religious after studying about the Spanish Inquisition in college.

The only difference between the Taliban and the Fundies here is in the way they pray to their god. And from what I have been able to figure out, supposedly it is the same god. Go figure!!!!!!!!!!

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I understand you don't like fundamentalist or maybe even evangelical Christians, Crum. But this...:

And even though this time around it is Islam instigating, they have been successful in pushing the right buttons and are now being rewarded with similar responses from the fundies on our side of the fence.

Really? Christians fly airplanes into buildings in the name of Christ? Or blow themselves up in markets? Or kill Christians with automatic weapons as they exit their mosques in countries where they form a minority of the population? News to me. Or did you mean something else?

The problem with Islamic extremists is not what Christendom has done to them. The problem is the ease with which they can blame the West for problems they have brought on themselves and on their own countries.

As for that poster encouraging the killing of Muslims, I understand you find it repulsive. So do I, and so does every reasonable person. But if you're using it as further evidence that "religion sucks", I think that's a stretch.

Maybe you're a little like Gandhi, who said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians."

And to end this on a lighter note, you might enjoy this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxsCxtzJEdM

MRMacrum said...

Kulkiri - Yeah it seems the two have a serious problem with how the other shows their faith in the God both pray to.

El Cerdo Ignatius - I don't like zealots. I don't trust zealots. It matters not what ideology they back. All too often they are willing to justify ends with any means at their disposal.

That you read more into the post that is there is understandable I guess. But did you read the whole post? If not, then how about this -

"What strikes me though is the current resurgence of extremism among many Christians over this. Many feel the only way to do battle is with a Bible in hand. As indicated by the image above that I found on a Mormon's site, he is positive this war is sanctioned by his God. This is exactly what their enemies want. To do battle based on the notion that God somehow will pick a winner. Whomever is still standing means that their God was the "right God". In the meantime, those of us who could not care less about which God is the right God but may believe in one or the other, well, we get dragged down into the fight pit with the rest of the looney tunes. And it pisses me off."

My disdain is not aimed at "reasonable people" so much as it is aimed at the fringes of any religion who successfully turn their religion into a weapon of war. Islam or Christian, both have their history with this.

The fact that it is now the Islamic world stirring the pot does in no way negate the Christian excesses of the past.

But more to the point of the here and now.

What I find disturbing recently is the upsurgence in vengeful Christianity as the knee jerk reaction to the terror being aimed at us. The bad actors on one side are drawing out the bad actors from the other and unfortunately we all are being dragged into it.

Utah Savage said...

You're right and I too have said this to anyone within earshot. Religion is, in my opinion, right up there with money as the root of all evil.

Demeur said...

That's a two way street El. You're sitting there in your house minding your own business and some drone takes out your wife and kids and you expect them to look at us as liberators. Then there's Iraq where we rounded up all the men in the area between 16 and 60 and held them in Abu Grhub for months for no reason other than they were male. And George W's own admission that this was what god told him to do.
Look at your own house before throwing stones.Or as the expression goes look at the log in your own eye before pointing out the spec in someone elses.
I'm with Kulkuri I looked up inquisition.

The Blog Fodder said...

I'm with you, Crum. Religion is a savage thing in the hands of those who use it to political ends rather than spiritual ends.
El, in your world the Indians were terrorists and the white settlers of America God-fearing Christians. As Demeur points out the Indians and the Muslims may have a different take on it.

A Midnight Rider said...

For years I have look at religion as a form of mild dimentia. Can you imaging trying to sell some of those stories now.

"Oh sweethart don't worry, I'm still a virgin, I was impregnated by an angel." All of the stories are absurd to any intelligent being.

p.s
Thier teenages with backpack vs our teenagers with billion dollar weapons. And it's a stalemate.

Übermilf said...

I think it depends upon how you define "religion." Until we learn not to divide ourselves into "us" and "them" and need not only to be RIGHT, but to make someone else be WRONG, this will happen. Even if religion is scrapped and everyone was an atheist.

As for the Christians (as it has been throughout history) they HAVE to turn everything into a religious crusade, because any other excuse is forbidden. And they will twist the circumstances until it BECOMES "for God." Otherwise, they'd have to give up their quest for power and/or money and/or just taking what they want, and they wouldn't want to do THAT.

BBC said...

I love to hate religions and I'm a card carrying minister.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Crum, I assure you I read your entire post. My take on what you are saying is that you are blaming religion for the distasteful attitudes of others. My point is that hate comes from an individual's sinful heart, not from his Christianity.

@Demeur: Good to see you quoting from the Bible. I understand President Bush is fond of that passage as well. Thanks for looking out for me, but I rather think you're reading way too much into what I'm saying and throwing in non-sequiturs which were not part of my comment to Crum's post. But I still hold that there is absolutely no moral equivalence between US or Western military action and Islamic terrorism. No country has ever waged war while (to the detriment of its position) minimizing civilian casualties like the United States does. Compare that to the 9/11 hijackers or suicide bombers in the Middle East, who explicitly target civilians and who believe that they are doing so for God.

@BlogFodder: Thanks for the cheap shot. What you describe does not reflect me or my worldview, but I suspect further argument would be a waste of time with you.

MRMacrum said...

El Cerdo Ignatius - I guess I can understand how you would view my words this way. The fact I even need to explain them means I did a piss poor job of clarifying what I meant when I used/use the word "religion".

We are actually kinda on the same page. I don't hold religious ideology responsible, I hold responsible those who use it to influence, change, or otherwise infringe on another's right to Life and their own pursuit of Life.

When the Catholic Church funds efforts to fight political issues and unduly influence situations not even in their neighborhoods, I hold the whole religion responsible.

When Islamic Fundamentalists stand up and cheer when one of their losers blows one of us up, I hold the whole religion responsible.

A flock should be responsible for what is done in it's name. The loudest critics of such activities should come from the flock. Yet, year after year, I hear precious little complaining.

That hateful image I posted was created or used by a Mormon to make his point. And yeah, I hold the Latter Day Saints responsible for creating the kind of atmosphere for attitudes like his to develope.

Responsiblity is ultimately an individual's cross to bear. But if the group does no policing, they can hide their hateful ways under the protection of religion.

sunshine said...

You know ... I don't know what to think anymore.
Growing up, I was quite religious. Very Catholic.
As I grew older, I began to question the stories in the Bible. Figured most of them had to be made up. I still believe that.

I want to believe in God. On some level I think I still do.

Like you, I have become really turned off by these "crazies" that are out there.
They are so filled with hate towards each other! I believe that some religions attract certain kinds of people. I have a lot of experience with Mormons ( my sister and her family).. and I could tell you some stories that would make your hair fall out.

Anyhow.. I'm not here to judge. I shouldn't label anyone. I guess my point is that I agree with you. :D

((Hugs))
laura

Randal Graves said...

A flock should be responsible for what is done in it's name. The loudest critics of such activities should come from the flock. Yet, year after year, I hear precious little complaining.

Word.

PipeTobacco said...

MrMaCrum:

Your essay has helped me try to pull out of my slump a bit, so I thank you:

While I agree with pretty much everything you say in this essay, I am not of a mindset that religion or religious thought is the problem.... to me the problem wholly stems from RIGID, ALL-OR-NOTHING, ABSOLUTE styles of thought. This can occur in any philosophy (religions or anti-religions), political movement (both dogmatic conservatives and dogmatic liberals), or any sort of opinion-based idea.

To me, people who see ANYTHING as an absolute, all-or-nothing sort of idea are prone to take their beliefs to the extreme of hurtfulness or violence being "acceptable" to support their ideals. This mindset creeps up on any one of us if we become dogmatic. A case in point was with my dear mother. When she was a young adult (during WWII) it was millitantly drilled into everyone that American people of Japanese descent were shady and evil and that putting them in determent camps during the war was acceptable practice. It was not until late in life that my beautiful mother was able to see beyond that opinion. Until she could see that this bigoted idea about Americans of Japanese descent was NOT an irrefutable fact, she could not see the horror of that event in our history.

So, while religions may be a topic that for some reason, people get especially dogmatic and absolute about, I do not think religion is the real problem... the absolute, dogmatic attitude is the problem.

Perhaps a case in point would be seen in a case from roughly a quarter century ago. At that time there was a murder that occurred as a result of a very dogmatic sort of belief held by the players of the dice based game popular in the 1980s called "Dungeons & Dragons". In this instance, the absoluteness that the murderer felt about the instructions he received from the game was his downfall. If memory serves, he ended up killing his best friend because he was told to do so, and his dogmatic absolutness about the game helped initiate a psychological break from reality.

Food for thought... couldn't any sort of absolute style of thought on any topic be associated with a psychological break of one sort or another?

I have always been of the mindset that pipe tobacco is very conducive in preventing rigid, absolute, all-or-nothing thinking. I am of the mindset that when professors were more commonly pipe smokers, you saw relatively few of them being rigid and absolute. It is my belief also that as a pipe smoking professor, myself, I do not exhibit this sort of absoluteness and rigidity in thought.

PipeTobacco
http://frumpyprofessor.blogspot.com

Übermilf said...

pipe tobacco fleshed out more completely what I meant to say.

It concerns me when people say "Religion is the root of all evil!" Because that erroneously (in my opinion) suggests that getting rid of religions will cure humanity of its evil tendencies.

It also fails to take into consideration the GOOD things, the KIND things that people do BECAUSE of religion. You never hear about a king deciding NOT to attack or to be MERCIFUL because of his religious beliefs; that kind of thing doesn't make it into the history books. Wars do.

MRMacrum said...

Pipe Tobacco - Again I must not be making myself clear. I agree with you in regards to the rigid, all or nothing mindset. And yes it is found in all aspects of our lives. The two areas it really sticks out is in Politics and Religion. I do not blame the ideals but rather the heinous acts carried out under the protective cloak of "My God says I am right", or "It's the Patriotic thing to do."

Unfortunately when zealots get hold of any organizations message, the tendency of the faithful is to fall in line. This has happened time and time again in both arenas. And while the basic tenets of the faith or belief are not at fault, the ugly ways in which they are used are. And yes, this is human fault, not the fault of the religion perse. A religion or political ideology does not exist in a vacuum. A religion, a political movement are nothing without people. When the leaderships turn down the dark roads, it is up to the membership to get them back on track. When this does not happen does it not make some sense to think that maybe the flock is in agreement with the low road being taken?

Ubermilf - I understand where you are coming from and I agree. Religion is not responsible, but it has been used to justify all sorts of horrible acts over the years. Just as political ideology has. I have no problem with being religious. Believe it or not, I have my own version of it I practice. What I am against is it's organization into more than practicing faith. And unfortunately, there are many people in Islam and Christianity who cannot resist the temptation to take their twisted religious views and force them on the rest of us.

Organizations exist for one reason only. To manipulate a given population in a given direction. This manipulation can be passive through the use of persuasion and charitable work say. Or it can use aggressive techniques like violence, legislative dictates, or ostracizing those who do not fall in line.

Your point about all the good done in the name of various religions is well taken. And yeah, the good is over shadowed by the bad. I for one would not have it any other way. I lived through the 1950s. I know what kind of fools paradise we can create when we pretend Life is really just another scene on "Father Knows Best".

In the upcoming years, I see the politicized organized religions as more of a hinderance than a help.

PipeTobacco said...

MrMaCrum:

Sir! I apologize if you thought I disagreed with your essay. I most assuredly DID NOT disagree. Instead, all I was feebly attempting to do is expand the focus to blanket any form of dogmatic, non-reasoned, all-or-nothing types of thinking.

PipeTobacco
http://frumpyprofessor.blogspot.com