What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Am I ready to alienate people through the written word? HELLS YEAH, G MONEY! Religion, Politics, and their incestuous love child Criminal Justice are all sustained in large part by fear. Fear of others, of ourselves, of the unknown. Fear fear fear fear fear.
Let’s start with religion. I believe in God, but I loathe organized religion. Loathe. It. First of all, there’s a distinction between belief and faith. Belief is easy. From a Christian standpoint, it simply requires one to answer in the affirmative to a bunch of questions like, ‘Are you willing to buy the concept of the the trinity?’, ‘Do you believe the apostle Paul was a prolific letter writer?’, ‘Would you be impressed by someone turning a loaf of bread into a fish?’, etc. Every book in the bible poses a seemingly endless number of questions similar to these, all of which can be answered in such a way as to qualify one as A Believer. I loathe organized religion because it packages belief into a series of simple platitudes that boil down all of these questions into 1) ‘Do you believe what’s written here?’ and 2) ‘Do you want to not spend an eternity in hell?’ The second question is particularly effective in Sunday schools.
The acquisition of faith demands that a person both ask and answer questions that begin with the word ‘Why’ and concern all of the ideas dealing with belief. Where religion is concerned, ‘Why?’ is probably the most dangerous question one can ever ask. My inquisitive nature got me in trouble as a kid where this topic is concerned and eventually I just started looking for answers on my own. It’s taken a very long time, but I’ve found most of them and understand enough to accept that other answers just need to wait. Knowing what you believe is one thing, but knowing why you believe it is entirely different. Much of religion focuses on the what, and uses fear as the answer to the why. This has worked for a very long time and is unlikely to lose effectiveness anytime soon.
Politics is basically religion without the hymns. Also, faith requires some level of introspection and self-awareness, while politics demands the absence of both. Actually, if you want a primer on politics in action, visit a middle-school playground, the difference being that in congress there are no teachers with whistles to keep the peace when things get out of hand. My take on the drum beat of political whatnot: Tell them that something or someone is worth fearing, then create laws that give the illusion of safety from that person or thing. When election time roles around, take the first half of that sentence and apply it to one’s opponent(s).
Manipulate emotions through the creation of fear. This, too, has worked for a very long time. And whenever emotions are involved, critical thinking goes out the window. Sweeping generalizations can be made about entire communities. Opposition to such things can be squelched with some keenly placed logic (‘The senator’s unwillingness to approve of the death penalty for puppy rape clearly implies that he is a supporter of raping puppies and is that the kind of person we want making laws affecting our children, because a person who would rape a puppy would probably also rape a child and, my God, what kind of senator refuses to protect children from abuse?’). All of this is perpetuated, much like religious fervor, by a population not particularly inclined toward critical thought or demanding answers to difficult questions.
The bible was written, re-written, translated, and communicated by men (mostly) who had something to gain or lose in how they did all of the above. This is primarily why dogmatic belief is so misplaced and also why the concept of ‘hell’ is both the most convenient and brilliant destination ever conceived. My approach to hell, based on both theology and metaphysics, is that we’re currently there. I tend to believe that hell is the area between our ears, the world we create around us, our attitude and approach toward life, etc., etc. It makes perfect sense to me, certainly more than the concept of a God creating fallible people, then punishing them for eternity based on their fallibility. Religions that advertise the existence of a place similar to hell all share the idea that it’s a destination based on a personal choice that we make every single day. In this way, my view of religion and politics is that we’re collectively in a hell of our own making and that until we choose our way out, there we’ll stay.
Sir @ November 19, 2010