Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Am I a religious zealot

I'm in a philosophical and Meldrew mood this morning. In the main due to listening to the radio and a conversation between the host and a guest pontificating on the evergreen topic of religion. If its not religion its politics, sometimes a new subject for discussion would be good. What about Manchester United the World's best team or some other worthwhile subject. Politics and religion is to small a subject base. The more discerning reader may have already discovered for themselves from previous postings that I don't harbour a belief in any form of religion.

But I digress...

I am a pretty down to Earth sort of a person, well I like to think so anyway. I have an enquiring mind, so I don't always take things on their face value. I know that I have a very jaundiced view on life, but again that's just a part of me being me. However, I have always had a problem with accepting religion, this started in my case at an early age. In my time at school, Anglican flavoured  Christianity was almost force fed to us as part of the curriculum and then beaten into us for good measure. I hated with a passion RE more than any other subject.
The only positive thing I found about my early exposure to Anglicanism, was that it nurtured within me a wholesome scepticism that still burns bright today. So in all fairness I suppose have something to thank religion for. 

Don't get me wrong, if you believe in some all mighty being (of whatever flavour) then that is what floats your boat. If you find comfort and well-being from holding such views then I am not going to decry your conviction or try to disprove your beliefs. Far from it, I know people who take a great deal of comfort from their belief, I respect their choice.

But if we look at what is happening in the Arab nations today, where a change of government is being instigated by people power. Those currently in power are turning the brute force of their own armed services against their own people. Again all done in the name of their bank accounts and their own god.

In Spain the protest-hit papal visit of Pope Benedict XVI is faring no better. A few days ago he warned of an “eclipse of God” outside a 16th-century Spanish monastery. How can an all powerful Deity like god be eclipsed and who by? The Catholic church is one of the wealthiest institutions in the World. Guess who is paying for the visit - the people of Spain - a country who's economy is teetering on the edge of collapse.

I would say that now I hold charitable views, what some would call Christian values when it comes to running my life. It has not always been that way, there was a time when I was less than charitable. I have mellowed and changed over the years to a point where I am very comfortable and happy with being me.

There are any number of thing about religion that I as a practical and enquiring person find so hard to understand. Therefore what I can't understand, I question, because I cannot accept anything as being defacto. I have always felt the need to question everything and anything that ping’s my “I don't believe it” button. The button has bothered me from time to time. Often its something or other of a religious nature that has been niggling away in the back of my mind. The niggles are always very basic and fundamental questions about religion.

The first niggle is why is so much despair and destruction carried out in the name of religion. I'm not going to single out any particular flavour or religion as being the chief despair and destruction perpetrators. Because, if you look at the broad spectrum of religion, you would be hard pressed to find one with a completely clear conscience. Yet most of these belligerent religions would espouse high principals such as compassion and care.
There are people who believe that their god actually talks to them on a personal level. They also believe that this one way conversation gives them the Divine right to impose religion on others rather than to be persuasive. There are others that feel that martyrdom is the thing to aspire to. But they frequently want to martyr others who are simply not given any choice in the matter.

There are people who encourage others to become martyrs and at the same time seem to be able to sidestep becoming the ultimate martyrs themselves. There are religious flavours who abuse our children in one way or another. There are other evils such as the discrimination against women. The list of evil done in the name of religion is long and peppered with all kinds of issues.

The insurance industry loves the phrase "an act of god" whenever it needs to cop out from paying large claims. Yet the god never seem to get any bad press. I know that god always gets the credit for the good things. But why are our gods not given the some form of negative credit whenever things go bad.

Oh, I know the oft given answer answer is that it is “a weakness” in us as humans and we are being tested in one way or another. The gods are supposed to be very liberal and lavish benefactors. But where is the munificence in a child with a disability or in someone sent to martyr themselves and to send others to an unexpected and I suspect unwanted martyrdom.

If the gods are the benign and munificent beings as they are often portrayed. Then where did the gods go wrong and how come I am so right.


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