Catholics, Jews, Muslims - all three feel suddenly embattled and isolated
June 13, 2002 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Catholics, Jews, Muslims - all three feel suddenly embattled and isolated [nyt reg req] "This is a rare moment in history, like a planetary alignment: three world religions simultaneously racked by crisis....this confluence is highly unusual but not without precedent... — from 800 to 200 B.C., a period of tremendous violence and upheaval on many continents.... We could use this suffering to create wonderful new religious systems, as the Buddha did, or we could retreat into the spiritual barbarism of hatred ." Perhaps Karl Marx was right that religion, like opium, results only in illusion and false hope.
posted by Voyageman (14 comments total)

 
"We could use this suffering to create wonderful new religious systems, as the Buddha did, or we could retreat into the spiritual barbarism of hatred."

That sentence reminded me of this interview with the author of a book on the Darwinian way in which religions evolve and mutate. It's a fascinating prospect and it will be interesting to see if any new religions gain widespread acceptance. I know I found the right church for me, I'm just too lazy to actually join.
posted by homunculus at 4:41 PM on June 13, 2002


"We're seeing now that religion is not an innocent force in the world," he said, "but it shares the same problems as the rest of the world.

I think this the best quote of the piece. Religion, like a lot of movements or ideologies is a mixed bag. I think that Marx was not entirely right about religion, and (like his narrow, meta-narrative view of history) his indictment of religion was used to advance his own dogmatic views. Perhaps like Marx's Socialism, people have used religion to both oppress and free.
posted by Bag Man at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2002


As long as religious institutions have social and political power then these problems will continue. This looks like the remnants of theorcratic thinking.

I really can't agree with Bag Man that the big religions are "like a lot of movement or ideologies." Religion to billions is cosmology, community, and the word of the almighty - period. You don't hear too many stories about leading anti-globalization guys molesting children and their own people covering for them or socialists getting together to stone an adulterous woman.

I really don't care what people believe, but if their beliefs contribute to criminal actions then criticizing the beliefs as well as the person is justified.
posted by skallas at 5:08 PM on June 13, 2002


I don't really have a problem with religion, just a lot of the people who practice it.
posted by owillis at 5:11 PM on June 13, 2002


The thing I'm seeing is that religious people tend to be a lot like RPG munchkins - they get so caught up in "winning", they forget that the point of the game is for everybody to have fun. Modern religions need a very firm but understanding DM to take them in hand and put them on the proper path.
posted by RylandDotNet at 5:33 PM on June 13, 2002


NEWS FLASH: Save certain metropolitan areas in the United States in the last 40 years, Jews have always felt isolated and embattled.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:44 PM on June 13, 2002


Perhaps?
posted by GriffX at 6:02 PM on June 13, 2002


if their beliefs contribute to criminal actions then criticizing the beliefs as well as the person is justified.

Well said.
posted by rushmc at 6:58 PM on June 13, 2002


great, it's finally time to loose my new religion on the world! the cleansing is at hand!
posted by rhyax at 7:12 PM on June 13, 2002


Great post. Thanks.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 7:44 PM on June 13, 2002


We could use this suffering to create wonderful new religious systems, as the Buddha did, or we could retreat into the spiritual barbarism of hatred .

What, dropping religion altogether isn't an option? HELL, it's the best option.
posted by artifex at 8:49 PM on June 13, 2002


All this talk of interfaith outreach and Christian/Muslim/Jewish summits of peace has always puzzled me. Number one, the people who propose these activities are the most progressive, liberal and benign voices in each respective religion. Therefore, their ideas would never resonate with the throngs of fundamentalist true-believers. I can only speak for Christianity as it is what I'm most familiar with, but the whole purpose of, the right of passage into, being saved, is to deny that any and all 'other ways' are patently wrong by simple dint of your personal choice (at least as far as monotheism is concerned). In order to be 'saved' it follows that others must be damned. Therein lies the problem of course, hence the atheist breezily declaring, "I told you so."

Number two, for the respective religionists, it would not follow, insofar as the god(s) and primitive traditions that accompany such belief, that during the emergence of each religion, such 'interfaith' carousing wouldn't be decried as sacrilege. How many did (the) god(s) of these religions put to death for one being so cavalier about how liberal and understanding they thought God was, cavorting around with the Sodomites and Philistines? These are seperate teams. The liberal voices of these religions are like certain beneficent members of Team France getting together with members of Team Denmark before the game and secretly deciding both would be best off if they didn't play competitively and just kicked the ball around together instead. The rest of either team wouldn't stand for it. "We're here to play!" they'd say. Here to conquer. Here to be the best. (Fanaticism looks pretty damn silly from an outsiders perspective btw)

Maybe every four thousand years or so the gods declare their own Cosmos Cup.
posted by crasspastor at 11:02 PM on June 13, 2002


We could use this suffering to create wonderful new religious systems, as the Buddha did, or we could retreat into the spiritual barbarism of hatred .

What, dropping religion altogether isn't an option? HELL, it's the best option.


Seems to me that the Four Noble Truths tried to do exactly that, but the impulse toward religiosity was just too strong to be overcome by the Buddha's psychological tools. So they dressed it up with heavens and hells and gods and such to make it more appealing and familiar. Points up a problem -- man is a spiritual animal. If we did away with religion, we'd just replace it with something else (how's that football match going? talked to your shrink lately? posted any new pix of Anna Kournikova recently? what's going on down at the shopping mall?).

I vow to defer my own enlightenment until I attain the enlightenment of all MeFi users.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:42 AM on June 14, 2002


We could use this suffering to create wonderful new systems that abolish religion.
posted by LinemanBear at 6:43 AM on June 14, 2002


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