Sunday, November 4, 2007

May I quote you?

I am a regular reader of, and responder to, the wide range of views found on the blog Obsidian Wings.

As a proponent of civil discourse, played out over enough time to really delve into the whos, whats and wherefores, I find OW a thoughtful and balanced place - there is neither party line, nor a rush to remove every thought with which one (or the original poster) might disagree. I hope we can provide such an environment hereabouts.

I bring this up because there are times when I read a comment that, IMHO, beautifully expresses a view on some issue that I care about.

The issue in question is the balance between the 'better angels' of various world religions - that is to say the positive, uplifting, supportive things that are encouraged by a belief in a higher power, and the darkest, angriest, "kill-them-all" dogma that is usually used to exemplify why religion is not merely the opium of the people, but also the psychotic break of choice for serial killers with delusions of grandeur.

I herewith quote one Phil Roberts (with his permission, of course):

Admittedly I don't understand the Koran as much as I understand Christianity, but my pretty in-depth knowledge of Christian scriptures has given me a fairly good appreciation of how absolutely batpoop insane genocidal ramblings mixed with weird poetry can inspire religions as disparate as that practiced by St Augustus, noted Anti Semite Martin Luther, Fred Phelps, Fred Clarke, and my granddad. You've got to give me some pretty compelling evidence that the Koran is more batpoop insane or genocidal than the Bible, and even more compelling evidence that, even if it were, this would somehow mean Muslims didn't just use the bits of the book they liked as post hoc justifications and enforcement mechanisms for their particular social morality just like every other religious practitioner in history.

It's not that I'm saying Islam is a wonderful thing that we should all take twice a day in easy to swallow capsule form, it just annoys the crap out of me when people try and insist that our brand of tedious, delusional superstition is SOO MUCH BETTER than the superstitions of other cultures. If you want to play a game of "who can find the most hideous thing people did in scripture" I'm up for it, but really we're probably better off not arguing about whose religion makes them irreconcilably inhuman and rather assuming that religious intolerance and fundamentalism is a problem to be overcome, regardless of the supposed scriptural origins.

It is astonishingly easy to engage in whatever the religious version of nationalism is. Whatever I believe is correct and comes from the right God, for the right reasons and brings light and good to the world - whereas whatever YOU believe is based on ca-ca and provided by the devil.

Sounds just a tad unbalanced, no?

Whatever religious pretensions our founders held, they certainly didn't want us to devolve into a theocratic monarchy, ready to kill anyone who looks, sounds or acts differently.

Thanks, Phil.

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