Trying To Understand The Craziness

People have been grappling with the topic of religion for generations – so long ago we can’t really fathom the complexity of such an issue. It’s wrapped up in a long history of power and politics and superstitions that science has not been able to dispel until the recent past.

I wrote on one of my own blogs last week about FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). It has a long tradition in certain societies, in certain Muslim religious ceremonies, and is so rampant in parts of the world where religious tolerance is naturally afforded and practiced that it has had to be written into the laws as an illegal act because the people who practice it somehow do not understand that they are torturing their own little girls. And then Doug and I watched Religulous, again – a documentary created by and starring Bill Maher – because the questions about why and how are so deep and profound that one can’t help but wonder why anyone needs more than what they can actually see to tell them what is and what should be.

It’s not my aim to be a spiritual voice, and the truth is, I write slightly more profound things on Mike’s blog because I get one shot per week to say something that means something, but mostly, I need to find some kind of understanding with the issue of religion and all the craziness, including the latest retaliation against Trey Parker and Matt Stone of the South Park series. I need to find my voice about this subject and it might as well be here because it’s as much about sexuality and feminism and wet vaginas and hard cocks as it is about what quenches the soul. It is, after all, a human issue.

I was battling with the questions of ‘the reason for different religions’ and ‘why are so many people okay with their tortured fate’ when I heard a sound byte on my way to a job interview on Monday through 89.3 KPCC about the various religions described by writer Stephen Prothero, in his book God Is Not One. I could understand some of what I heard.

Without quoting verbatim, he said, basically, that people adhere to the religion that answers and solves the questions for them. One great example was: Where Christianity poses “sin” as the ailment and “salvation” as the cure, Buddhism poses “suffering” as the ailment and “nirvana” as the cure. It was a nice distinction. Sort of like, “What would make you feel better? A strawberry milkshake or an Oreo Blizzard?” as the ice cream equivalent of ‘What’s your flavor?’ in spiritual needs.

I’m sure it wasn’t Stephen Prothero’s intention to make it sound quite like that, but that is basically the gist of it. It’s the “What matters to you?” and “How can we heal you?” of current answered prayers. Are you Jewish and feel there is a very definitive exile between man and land and “God”? Are you Islamic and feel deep pride in surrendering to the higher power and mission that “God” has for you? It’s message was that the question is not “What do all of the religions have in common?”, because they seem to have so many differences, but “What are the mutual human problems?” and “Which problems are the ones that we want to attack?” I get that. In essence, it’s as if Stephen Prothero is saying religion does evolve and does metamorphosis, because the questions only arise based on our questions at the time. I completely understand that way of looking at it. What I don’t get is the crazy displaced anger.

For some reason there are certain Muslim sects that feel people aren’t taking Muhammad seriously, who was an angry prophet. I can understand just about anything religious as it pertains to the human heart and what feels good, but I still do not understand the funneling of anger through the unseen. The “religious warriors” absolve themselves of the possibility that their anger and hate at people who don’t understand originate in them. Like the woman in Religilous who says, “I don’t hate homosexuals, God hates homosexuals.” The twisting and turning and displacement of feelings is supposed to be justification for violence, but we know who actually hates homosexuals, the woman who says “God hates homosexuals”, is the one who hates homosexuals. The fact that she may not even understand that she is practicing some form of extended and socially acceptable schizophrenia makes it that much worse. By even proposing to know what an omnipresent being wishes, you are posing as the omnipresent being, otherwise, how could you know “God’s” will, and why doesn’t “He” speak to everyone?

I want nothing more than to understand this chaos. Bill Maher makes a statement akin to, “I have the luxury of being unaffiliated with any religion and saying that I don’t know.” When I think of the primitive mental processes behind anger and violence and cutting up children’s genitalia – all in the name of what is essentially what man wants and not some supreme being – I can’t imagine not getting a little hysterical and needing to laugh and poke fun, even incredulous fun born of actual anger. One extreme begets the other. But then the question becomes, is it even our place and even worth it to try to impart some compassionate and mature intelligence to people who, in their own way, seem happy enough with their existence just because they don’t have the luxury of information? Am I presuming that it is actually a luxury to not be affiliated with a religion and question the world? Why bother to explain to someone that petty human emotions don’t make sense attributed to a supreme being? Why even go out of one’s way to say, “You know what? You really need to stop saying ‘female circumcision’ when you talk about cutting a female’s clitoris from her body, because ‘male circumcision’, as is defined by its practice, is the process of trimming away skin while leaving the sentive part of the appendage intact. Actually cutting off the entire sensitive region from a female is called castration! But then I think, why not? If the word of man can create gods and prophets that murder and maim and misshapen bodies and minds, why can’t I speak of for the flesh and blood people I can actually see? Why should I have to only personally suffer something in order to identify with another human being. If you can murder in the name of your invisible god, I should be able to defend the visible face of god I see in the eyes of those actually standing in front of me, and I should be able to do that without fear. I don’t think the fear for these extreme people is in acknowledging that they worship themselves as god, while pretending the god is outside of themselves, I think the fear is the possibility that the god they should be acknowledging is in someone else.

I understand wanting salvation, I understand wanting to feel good and connected, but there is no real resolution here. Anything pure can and will be corrupted by the radicals, from politics and religion, to family and mother nature. Unfortunately, even if I feel like I am a rational person, I am the absolute minority above all minorities because I have the “luxury” of being unaffiliated with religions and being able to say, “I don’t know.” The meek shall inherit the earth. Yes. They have and they continue to. They are underground, baby. You don’t get more meek than that.

36260cookie-checkTrying To Understand The Craziness

Trying To Understand The Craziness

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4 Responses

  1. Karl Marx wrote that “religion is the opium of the people” but even though he is often quoted on this very few people understand exactly what he meant by that statement.

    Marx saw religion as an expression of material realities and economic injustices and that ultimately problems in religion reflect problems in society. Religion is not a problem, simply a symptom. Marx thought that religion was used by the “oppressors” to make people feel better about the distress they experience due to being poor and exploited.

    But Marx was far from the origin of this thought, Marx himself credits the Greek hero Prometheus who said “I hate all Gods. They do not recognize man’s self consciousness as the highest divinity.”

    I personally don’t agree completely with Marx, the origins of religion are without a doubt in our own need to explain things that we cannot explain, and to this day religion still fights with science, same as it did when the Catholic Church excommunicated Galileo for PROVING his planetary theory. The Catholic Church depends on faith and one cannot have faith in something that can be proven. So for Mar4x to see religion simply as a tool used by the oppressors is a bit short sighted, sure it is that and it continues to be that but it is much more than JUST that.

    I’m certainly not Christian, nor am I Buddhist but there are aspects of both ideologies that I like, particularly Buddhists absence of the need to make everyone believe the same thing that they do.

    I’m not big on blaming God or anyone else for the things that we do, I don’t believe that God anymore has a will for children to starve that I do that she has a will for televangelists to fleece their flocks.

    Christianity tends to preach love and understanding while perpetuating hate and blind obedience. I think, God, whomever or whatever she is, gave me intelligence so that I can learn, grow and form my own ideas…So that we grow and evolve into an even higher intelligence.

    My faith is in the ability of mankind to progress, using intelligence and reason not in some old white haired dude in white flowing robes.

    Like the Buddhists believe, it isn’t HOW you get there…it’s THAT you get there.

  2. 🙂 I agree. I can see a lot of beauty in a religion, but not the way it is distorted to serve a selfish need. Everyone wants to believe the best of intentions that are offered, but even in business we see that ignorance is punished, not rewarded. The crime with religion is that one can go an entire lifetime without ever knowing they were swindled. Beautifully said.

  3. the only reason i’d join a tax-exempt cult is to meet new chicks. it breaks my mind to learn that starlets like sky lopez and crissy moran suddenly find jesus hot. wtf?

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