Sunday, May 20, 2007

"God is tops! God is tops!"

Christopher Hitchens has a provocative new book out titled god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (May 1, 2007). I can understand his frustration, given the religious fanaticism that continues to fuel violence and coercion in these times of woe. But is it really religion that poisons everything, or many of the people who practice? It's not as if religion can claim a monopoly on poison -- leaders of some secular ideologies have obviously proven just as disastrous to peace and harmony. Still, good to have a healthy dose of free speech amid the global "War on Terror" -- whatever that means.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's a movement within the Catholic Church to revive interest and membership, particularly in Brazil (population approximately 188 million), epitomized by Father Marcelo Rossi (b. May 20, 1967) and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Rossi uses populist methods (music, fun, corn dog pronouncements like "God is tops!") to compete directly against Protestant rivals, with success. He has a website with plenty of whistles and bells, and yet, even though he is not a violent man, I doubt Mr. Hitchens is impressed. Still, given how out of touch with earthly reality Pope Benedict XVI (b. Joseph Alois Ratzinger) seems to be, there is no wonder why many Brazilians respond more enthusiastically to Father Rossi. God -- and people -- work in mysterious ways. Simply put, some ways are more peaceful than others. Better a sentimental Rossi than a hideous witch-burning Puritan or another Spanish Inquisition.

Today's Rune: Protection.

More Taurus Birthdays: William Congreve, Honoré de Balzac, John Stuart Mill, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Kevorkian (b. Pontiac, Mich.), Anthony Zerbe, Joe Cocker, Cher (b. Cheryl Sarkisian LaPiere), Jane Marie Genevieve Wiedlin, Marcelo Mendonça Rossi.

Ate mais tarde!


Anonymous said...

Is god a verb or a noun? Is god energy manifested through love or is god out there in space toying with his creation? Just asking.

the walking man said...

God is a being just as we are beings, but God is not human or animal; God is simply put as he knows himself to be same as you and I.

Interesting thought on the poison of religion. religion is not a bad place to start any spiritual quest because it gives one a framework of understanding, Yet what we call religion is a piss poor place to end your quest and unfortunately that is where most people end .

"I'm catholic, Methodist Buddhist, Muslim, Hindi, or any one of a number of sects of these main branches of the making of the religious tree of man." And yes in large doses they do poison the mind.

Religion defined is service, not Mass or gathering to worship God in prayer but service to mankind. after all if God dwells within you why must you go to church, temple or synagogue to worship the deity.


Bubs said...

I'm still wrestling with the role of faith in my own life, and the role of church and of The Church. There are Roman Catholics who impress me deeply, like the Catholic Worker community, and a multitude of liberation theologists. I was influenced by the decency of the Franciscans who educated me, and my bride was equally moved by the activism and sense of social justice of the Benedictine nuns who educated her.

But then you see a Pope who's a former nazi, doing his best to stamp out so many of the things that I find appealing about Catholicism.

I wish that I had the certainty of either atheism or total faith. I'm stuck somewhere in between.

Johnny Yen said...

Good point about the danger of all "isms," and such. My guess is that you're familiar with Eric Hofer's book "The True Believer." He points out that it doesn't matter if it's religion, ideology or what-- the desire for people to reinforce their belief by persuading or forcing it on others is an age-old problem, and not likely to go away soon.

I find anti-religious zealots almost as annoying as religious zealots, even as an athiest. I respect the faith and views of others.

the walking man said...

First look at what the word church really means, ecclesia, defined correctly as a group of people called out from amongst a larger group of people.

This does define any group or social network with an agenda not specific to the population as a whole. environmentalists for example are an ecclesia.

But in matters of God the church is not any group called Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim or Satan worshipers, or Atheists, Gnostic, Agnostics or any sect or form there of.

The ecclesia of God is simply them who have the spirit of God within them. But then what is spirit? Is it what the cheerleaders promote on the sideline of a football game, or the common bond of a team? No that is enthusiasm.

Spirit is a living entity, one who knows itself as it is, the same as a human knows itself to be what it is. A life form, yes, simply not a human one. Do all humans belong within the ecclesia of God? No. do all humans have the potential to belong? Yes.

That is why all of men manufactured religions have words for those who do belong, Brahman, Christ, Buddha a stage of enlightenment within the spirit one strives to attain.

There can be no crisis of faith, you either have faith or you do not. You may have faith in one thing and no faith in another. Faith defined is ownership of something before it is seen. That something could be any one of a bazillion things.

Bubs...I use the Christian texts, quite a bit, unless I am communicating with someone of another framework of understanding (like a Buddhist), because in this country it is the one most of us were brought up with. whether we were taught rightly or wrong from these texts in this context makes no difference because there is a framework there.

The (to me) singular most important line in the entire book from the Torah through Revelations, including the apocryphal writings is "God, Himself shall teach you. Line upon line, brick upon brick, line upon line, brick upon brick, line upon line, brick upon brick"

If you are in a period of doubts then ask God for the answers to your questions not some man in a collar or your past teachings. Ask God.


Charles Gramlich said...

Yeah, I personally know many religious people who are wonderful and giving individuals. The problem lies in what happens when a religion becomes a formalized power and then must take steps to protect itself and to lock its believers to it. I don't really think this is unique to religions, though. It is simply the way that human organizations too often end up.

luma said...

Eric, pulling sardines for my parents; we do not have religious preconceptions and nor we make distinction between peoples. She does not matter if the person is practicing ou/e does not import the person. Enemy peoples in the east, for here, give the hands. The Charismatic Movement appeared to rescue catholics who were going for other religions. Brazil is not the biggest country catholic (laughs): it is the country with bigger number of not practicing catholics. They had been born in the religion, but they do not practise it. I separate religion, of religious feeling. To believe a bigger being, becomes the life lightest, fuller of hopes and with much more brightness. Beijus

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks all for the comments. Much to contemplate in your responses.

Seems many of us are libertarians at heart. Some of the religious sentiments seem tinged with mysticism. No one here argues for the iconic status quo. All very interesting. Cheers!

t said...

Cool perspective. Cool as in "I like" and also as in balanced. I can agree with you. Thanks.