“I hope that we don’t forget spirituality just to spite the religious fanaticism that resides in our country. “
The world has been pummeled by natural disasters and many regions have been devastated by terrorism and war in the past few years, a pattern that only seems to escalate with each passing week. It is frightening, this power of the earth, the horror of war and the inhumanity.
A recent letter to the editor published locally attributed everything from the regional drought in Tennessee to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the earthquakes and tsunamis in the region of Sumatra to the wrath of a God seeking our attention.The author of that letter stated definitively that God:
“…created us with absolute free will. Consequently we can choose to live out our lives in reverential awe of him as our Creator or we can ignore him completely with no concern to obey his ways…
“Similarly, the Old Testament prophet Amos (circa 770 B.C.) declared to the nation Israel God’s efforts to reclaim the devotion and love of his people by the use of natural events: famine, scorching desert winds, plagues, war and drought.”
— Charles C. Currie, Leaf Chronicle, 8/8/07
The letter concluded with a statement that the Old Testament provides the answers; if we fail to “discern [God’s] ways” he may need to pressure us until we do.
I wouldn’t want to take this interpretation of God’s word as the way all religious people view it. When I hear stuff like this I know that it is chasing people away from religion and spirituality. The people who want God to be as insecure and punishing as they impose religion with stone cold walls that reason cannot penetrate.
I can understand why there has been a great battle between science and religion. If science says, shows, proves that we humans have created global warming, and that’s what is causing these hurricanes and natural disasters, then where’s the all-punishing God that we need to have on our side punishing those who would oppose him (and us)?
God, in the Old Testament, says it is okay to attack and kill your neighbors if they don’t believe in your God. Kill them all, wipe them out, and leave none alive; he says it over and over again like someone (a man) who’s trying to justify to himself all the atrocities that he’s committed. Oh, and it’s okay to take their daughters as your sex slaves.
In the Old Testament, the public stoning of adulterers is normal and expected.
Those are just two examples of things that do not fly in this day and age, unless we get rid of government, science, decency and freethinkers.
Jesus came along and set us straight; told us that God has to do with love, that it was wrong to use the house of worship to make money or scandalize. All people deserve love and are loved by God. Jesus had a problem with, actually got furious with, people who say one thing (like they represent God), and do another (like lie, cheat, and take advantage of “lesser” people, including their wives and families). Jesus didn’t feel as if he had to beat people at their own game (hate/fighting), and he would turn the other cheek. He wasn’t so insecure that he had to demand love from others.
Religion, as in the Old Testament, led the Dark Ages. Rules made by priests were stringently followed. The world was flat, the sun went around the earth, and anyone not agreeing with such beliefs could be killed. People accused of being witches were tortured and killed, their properties confiscated by the Church. Many thousands of innocent people were killed during those times, 80% of them women. And killing was a public spectacle. Besides “witches”, pagans, converts, the crusades, heretics, religious wars, Jews, and native peoples are people and movements on the “resisted religion/therefore killed” lists. Twentieth century extermination camps (besides the ones in Germany and Poland) also took too many lives in the name of religion. It’s enough to make us want to hate religion forever.
I found a synopsis on this at: http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm
When people do not want to be continually controlled and punished, and they eventually find out that they no longer admire the people who are doing the punishing, they will revolt, at least in their minds. In the Dark Ages there were people who mouthed the words of religion while they were becoming atheists. Religious people find that they cannot live by the strict guidelines required of them, so they say one thing and do another. We’ve learned, as a people, to hide our true feelings and demand that others judge us by what we say we are, not by how we live our lives.
People cannot live by punishment alone. They need to have relief. They need to make their life worthwhile and creative, and find the spirit of love and laughter inside them. Saying that religion is about love and then using it to punish everyone who is not choosing it is insincere and unbelievable. The Renaissance was the period where people learned to read, and they read the Bible themselves. They discovered that it did not say what religious leaders were telling them. They discovered that they did not have to live their lives in punishment. Art and culture flourished. Punishment and death in the hands of the Church rescinded.
People came to America to escape religious persecution. They wanted to worship in their own way. That is what this country was founded on. It was not founded on Christianity as I have heard claimed in this part of the country. History is worth studying. Facts are worth looking at. Science is a worthy study. And life does not have to be an either/or. Science and religion can co-exist. We could all do with a little lesson from Jesus.
Nowadays I am taken aback by Christians who are not ashamed of the wrongful invasion into Iraq, the torture, rape and continued killing. Though many Christian ideals have saved us from slavery and war in the past, I have yet to see that now. I see Christians today who worship the almighty dollar, who believe that God chooses those who step on others to reach their goals.
I hope that we don’t forget spirituality just to spite the religious fanaticism that resides in our country. Education is desperately needed to bring us out of these Dark Ages.