Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Holy misconceptions

Some years ago I had the bright idea of starting a zine devoted to the exploration of religious faith. The idea germinated over some years and preceded the advent of superfast gratification that is the blogging world.

I interviewed a couple of revivalist ministers with a set of questions that sought to get to the heart of what big T truth might consist of. My thinking was driven by the randomness of faith. It seemed then (and still does) that people chose religious belief on rather spurious grounds: because that was what their friends and/or family believed; because they were the notions inculcated by school or community; because they happened upon - or were accosted by - the disciples of one denomination before that of another. Sure that's also how many choose their politics and that is similarly unwise but the prospect of living in a country governed by dickheads is not as daunting as placing your immortal soul in jeopardy over a rash decision so it is something of a puzzlement as to why we are so cavalier about such a big issue.

Regardless, my zine would propel acolytes away from such unworthy foolhardiness and give them an objective measure with which to make a more considered decision as to where they would spend their Afterlife. And how they might conduct themselves in this one.

To this end, I placed an ad in the Sunday classifieds to gauge interest in contributing to the project. The response was overwhelming.
Callers confused a clear message with obscene propositions. Somehow. Or they got the drift of what I was intending but naysayed it on various grounds. It is the naysaying I seek to canvass here:

You shouldn't criticise other people's beliefs
this would work fine if other people didn't hold beliefs that spill over into tangible effects on we non-believers and followers of other faiths; didn't impact on the law and the social strata

All religions are the same
some profess to be for peace and brotherhood but do nothing but stir unrest, others quietly achieve betterment and enlightenment

Belief is personal
Yes, but it is also shared, and religious experiences are tempered by enculturation

There's no right or wrong when it comes to religion
Sorry, I have a problem with women being treated as second class citizens. And much of this treatment has been codified in religious belief.
Also: some faiths can co-exist despite having differences but others are mutually exclusive. That being the case, some must be right and others wrong. Or at least some must be more right than others


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