Saturday, March 13, 2010

Liberating Religions Trapped In A Cave Mentality

A Twitter ID, @thoughtandhumor, going by the name of Professor Howdy, sent me a tweet today. "Will pop culture be the end of historic Christianity", it said, with a link to an article by T. M. Moore titled Trapped in the Cave?

It refers to Plato's parable about cave prisoners who did not know there was more to life, and the universe, than the shadows and darkness that made up their daily existence… until one escapes and returns with news of the world out there.

The article is quite well written and readable for something that touches upon Philosophy and Religion.

It makes some excellent points, especially related to something like Philosophy, which is somewhat more logic and reason driven than Religion. Religion, especially the Bible-Thumping or Muslim-Blowing versions of it, which get most (negative) media attention tends to be increasingly driven by a total lack of intelligence. Such practice of religion seems increasingly based on an obvious strong attempt to actually curtail one's use of the very thought and conscience that God has given us.

This applies to the suited-booted smooth-talking, jet-setting, secretary-screwing, so-called Christian preachers who condemn victims of natural disasters in the name of God. I am certain Jesus Christ would personally bitch-slap these playboy preachers, if he was to return today.

It applies to the illiterate, unwashed, hell-bound suicide bombers and their un-Islamic so-called Muslim trainers, who plan and joyously carry out murder and mayhem among bazars filled with women and children, or who show their "bravery" by killing little girls going to school. Instead of 72 virgins in heaven, they can be assured 72 billion years of burning in eternal damnation.

The Jews in Occupied Palestine, the ones who cry over their holocaust, yet carry out one of their own, who keep Palestinians in what the Vatican also described as Concentration Camps, are not off the hook. Neither are the "peace-loving" Hindus who crush Muslims in Kashmir and other states, or put an evil cast of castes on what should all be equal human beings in the eyes of God. No one is above blame, though they all feel they, and their oh-so-obviously-perfect religion, are above blame, higher than the other religions.

Yet, almost each religion, in addition to laudable aspects, has much that is laughable. In this set of circumstances and global theological reality, ALL major religions can benefit from the advice the writer gives in his article. The writer proposes using elements of pop-culture to introduce more people to the spirit of philosophy. I concur with some of those fundamental propositions, for what I hope would enable a better, more human and intelligent practice of their religions.

In my humble opinion, most major religions were "progressive" ideas at their time, yet have become etched in stone in the sand-filled brains of their most virulent followers. We do not need to turn the Holy books politically correct, or do other such, often ridiculous, editing as some religions do as a palliate. It may please a small number of new adherents, but, I believe it comes at the cost of greater hardening of attitudes among the more conservative believers. That makes the effort both foolish and counterproductive.

I think enabling, even encouraging practicing Christians and Muslims (and others) to use more of their brains, and intelligence, instead of rote-indoctrination done to them since childhood, will actually make them better human beings in the practice of their own religions.

That means religions can go about again in their role of helping improve the human condition, the human experience, even as they still give people the opportunity to work for the improvement of the post-human afterlife they believe in.

Care must be taken, though, to ensure this is not, is not presented as, and does not come across as, an attempt to "edit and update" the basic tenets, the core values, of the basic faiths that make the religions what they are.

Otherwise, instead of opening minds, such attempts are more likely to lead to even more severe introverted responses from religious quarters and their most ardent followers.

Who needs more "Christmas Is Under Attack" or "The West Is Out To Destroy Islam" pedagogue blowhards emptying their lungs, with words from their empty brains, filling the airwaves, further poisoning instead of clearing the air, within and among religions.

What do you believe? And, what do you think?

Comment here, or let me know at http://twitter.com/imrananwar


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