Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Ain't the Year . . .

"Five days into 2010 haven't quite offset my hangover from our seasonal consumption binge, wherein history's richest, ostensibly Christian culture spent billions more on gifts, wars, and provoking terrorism than feeding the poor in spirit or pocketbook. In an odd parody of Christmas giving, Senate Scrooges gave unsubsidized, uninsured families a lump of coal, a coercive medical insurance scheme with penalties for defiance."

Thus begins yet another sobering reflection on the baleful effects of religion on our times by Robert Becker in today's Smirking Chimp. What is is about religion? he asks at one point. Admittedly, as he admits, too, it is an ancient question: "How can religion induce so many to sacrifice their lives while killing others, all the while deluded everyone does God's will?"

I'm not going to pretend that I know the answer to the question. This I do know, and in this I agree with the writer of this piece: God is unknowable by the very fact that he is God. So anybody who claims they know the mind of God is by definition deluded. But in our fractured times--and what times have not been fractured?--it's so comforting to know that God is on our side. This is a fiction that people have been willing to believe for centuries because they are just as willing to put their faith in the religions that tell them so. And the oceans of blood that have been spilled because of this fiction is beyond belief.

Becker quotes Aldous Huxley in the essay: "At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols."


We begin this new year with the supposedly Christian U.S. waging hi-tech war against two low-tech Muslim nations. Oh, these wars are about resources, to be sure, but the religious aspect of these conflicts cannot be denied. It's my God vs. your God, and by God, we're not going to stop killing you and your babies until we've proven that our God is stronger than yours. It sounds so ridiculous this way, doesn't it? But isn't this what's actually going on? If you doubt it, just turn on your TV or even better, your radio, and listen to some of the fundamentalist preachers out there. And then recall how many millions of Americans subscribe to these beliefs. And then think about all the Christians in the U.S. who would not describe themselves as fundamentalists who would nevertheless endorse the notion that religious war is actually a sane notion.

In short, barring literal divine intervention, this ain't the year the human race is going to wise up about God. I'm thankful God is ineffable and transcendent or he would be really pissed off at our arrogant imbecility.
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