In this chapter I would like to discuss intolerance. I have found over the years in my personal life that religion breeds intolerance. It really makes no difference what the religion is, intolerance is the end result. Whether it’s Jihadists in the Muslim faith, or hate mongering Christian groups attacking gays (or anyone else not Christian for that matter) Fundamentalist religious practices are the basis for most of the hate speech and violence in the world today and throughout history. The only religion I have studied that seems to have a truth about peace is Buddhism, and even they do condone some forms of violence. Even though all religions in their root doctrine condemn murder that never seems to prevent war and killing in the name of their professed gods. Here are some examples of text condemning murder.
The Buddha states in the Brahma Net Sutra:
”If a child of Buddha himself kills, or goads someone else to kill, or provides with or suggests means for killing, or praises the act of killing or, on seeing someone commit the act, expresses approval for what that person has done, or kills by way of incantations, or is the cause, occasion, means, or instrument of the act of inducing a death, he will be shut out of the community.”
The Christian Ten Commandments states:
Thou shalt not kill.
In the Jewish writings this is found:
Mishnah Sanhedrin, 4:5
‘We find it said in the case of Cain who murdered his brother, “The voice of thy brother’s bloods crieth” (Gen. 4:10). It is not said here blood in the singular, but bloods in the plural, that is, his own blood and the blood of his seed. Man was created single in order to show that to him who kills a single individual it shall be reckoned that he has slain the whole race, but to him who preserves the life of a single individual it is counted that he hath preserved the whole race.’
From the Koran:
5:32: “For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty), but afterwards lo! Many of them become prodigals of the earth.”
In Hinduism’s Laws of Manu 8.345
Anyone who kills a believer intentionally will have his reward in hell, to remain there. God will be angry with him and curse him, and prepare awful torment for him.
So we see that all the Major religions condemn murder in most every instance, yet every day it seems someone is killed due to either their or someone else’s religion. Why is this so? The explanation is in one word Intolerance. The problem with beliefs is that once you tell yourself something is the absolute truth then anything that contradicts that becomes sinful or unacceptable to that belief, leading to intolerance or even murder.
Lets talk about cases, I guess the most famous case of religion being the cause of murder is Adolph Hitler, Though most modern historians seem to think that possibly Hitler was attempting to start his own religion based on mysticism and the Norse Legends of the Aryan race he was actually a professing Christian, more specifically he was of the Catholic faith. Hitler was actually granted audience with pope Pius the XII, who while not condoning the actions of the Third Reich he certainly did not stand up for the Jews, for his credit he did manage to get visas for 3000 Jews to leave Germany for Brazil; but only after they signed papers professing Catholicism. During the Holocaust over 6,000,000,000 Jews died because a man who professed Christianity and Catholicism blamed the Jewish people for the Crucifixion of Christ. It is this era that the “Passion Play” was borne from, in the time of the Nazis it was used to relegate responsibility for Christ crucifixion to the Jew and was nothing if not anti-semitic. In modern times the “Passion Play” has been cleaned up a bit and is mostly seen in Christian Easter observances.
Our most recent wars due to religion and murders due to religion are of course the September 11th attacks and the following war in the Middle East, I cannot in good conscience call it the war on terror as it has turned into a war on Fundamental Islam. Starting with the 911 attack lets examine the figures together. On that September day in 2001, 2992 people died needlessly due to the religious beliefs of the Islamic radicals who perpetrated the attack. In the war that has followed and at the time of this writing is still underway nearly 10 years later the current death tolls as of February 16th 2010 are as follows:
U.S. Troop Casualties – 4,379 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army
Non-U.S. Troop Casualties – Total 316, with 179 from the UK
IRAQI TROOPS, CIVILIANS & OTHERS IN IRAQ
Private Contractors in Iraq, Working in Support of US Army Troops – More than 180,000 in August 2007,
Journalists killed – 140, 93 by murder and 47 by acts of war
Journalists killed by US Forces – 14
Iraqi Police and Soldiers Killed – 9,381
Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated – A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian casualities at over 600,000.
Iraqi Insurgents Killed, Roughly Estimated – 55,000
Non-Iraqi Contractors and Civilian Workers Killed – 569
If you simply look at the figures I have listed here that were published by Homeland Security we have killed 20x the number of civilians in Iraq than were killed in the 911 attacks. This is especially disturbing when you take into consideration that Iraq was in no way involved in the terrorist attacks that sparked the war. Most of the terrorists were Saudi nationals as is Osama Bin Laden.
In my studies I have found that all religions condone some amount of violence, as long as it is against some other group either ethnically or religiously. Through the spread of the modern Christian faith those exceptions have come to include sexual identity and ethical choices as well. It is for these reasons I have choose to distance myself from all religion and that I find myself more closely aligned with Deism. I do still celebrate a deity I simply reject the notion of the divinity of that deity and the modern evangelical idea of faith healing and working of miracles as signs of godly power.
I have in my lifetime seen miraculous events that must have been interventions of the Creator however I do not condone the practices of modern Christian faith healers as most of them have proven themselves to be charlatans. Most notably in the world of televangelism but that is for another chapter.
I feel now for sure that I am on the right track with my writings as I have never went through persecution as I have since posting these excerpts from my book. I never thought I would have to endure such an attack on my first amendment rights as I have had to endure over the past week of my life. I have been harassed to the nth degree over my political and theological ideals to the point of real world attacks on my family and my way of life. I will always stand up for love and peace and the philosophies of the great teachers of history and will never back down from those ideals they have taught me. I am now and will never be called a Christian again, I am a worshipper of Christ and a follower of no one. I must push on in this effort to express my views on religious intolerance no matter what. If it costs me family and friends it is no matter. I am on a journey with only one point to aim for… understanding.
In the ancient times before written language, before the Chaldeans or the Hebrew, before the tribes of Israel or even the Egyptians there were only the nomadic tribes of the desert region later to become known as northern Africa and of course the Middle East….
The year is 3500 BC and around a campfire a group of nomadic tribesmen sit in a single awestruck gaze. The lights of the fire dance off of their faces as an old man tells them the stories of their ancestors… “Tonight children I will tell you a story that was told to me by my grandfather as it was told to him by his grandfather, and his before going all the way back to the beginning of time when it was told by the Father of all grandfathers… the Adam”. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Ok so that’s a little extreme for most of you… but how far from the truth is it… we know we came from a tribal society… we know that the Jews predate Moses by thousands of years… so why not believe that the Books of Moses are the ancestral stories of the Jewish people. Moses wrote the Tora with divine inspiration from god. God gave him the inspiration to record the stories of his ancestors for a permanent record of the lessons that all Jews of his time taught their children and tried to live by themselves. These stories (Or at least some of them) had been recorded before probably on countless parchments or scrolls of lambskin only for many to be lost in countless battles or the enslavement of the Jews by Egypt. Moses however was able to use his inspired determination to assemble a working text of his people’s tribal culture by contriving a compendium of their most cherished stories of faith. The lessons of which would go on for all generations as they had guided the chiefs and kings of old. Are they fact are fiction though? Some of each I would say. The story of Noah and his ark has roots in all religions the East and west alike all have the story of the flood. So did it happen… possibly. Either there was a great flood or the story is so old that it goes back to the mother of all religions the one that Early-Man must have practiced.
This is a basis that I have come to hold as an idea in my mind that all religion is the same to a degree. All faiths have a portion of the truth in them as do all people. You can stick to one or take a little wisdom from them all. I have however tried to learn just enough to forsake them all for a better idea of how our spiritual role as man can relate to our creator… living.
You see reader it is my Idea that through personal development and simply living your life to the fullest, you can achieve a kind of Nirvana right here in this life. I refuse to think that true happiness and peace lie on the other side of death, that somehow death is a gateway to perfection. In my thoughts death is just another part of life… the end of it. What lies on the other side of death should be no more of a decision maker than what came before life is. Decisions should not be made out of fear of eternal retribution, wisdom teaches us that they should be made by weighing matters for what they are and then taking into account how that will effect ourselves and those around us, if the action is found to be positive to all or most people involved than it is most likely the best choice.
Life is a gift from God to man, what greater gift is there than existence. The Native American peoples seem to have had a great revelation in this area and understood somehow naturally that all things living are related, recently DNA evidence has supported this idea by showing that all things in the macro world (what you can see) are 90% related, so our DNA is 90% the same as a tree, a flower or a blade of grass. All the things I mention and many more are gifts on this earth from our kind creator. Whether you call him God the Father, Allah, The Creator, The Badger, Ewah , Elohim or one of the many names from various religions He is still that one who breathed life into us all.
I first must admit that I am TOTALLY bias toward the left, and then tell you that the current tone of government is unacceptable the Republican effort to stop the political procces in washington is a travesty. Bipartisianship is the only way to move forward as a nation and the right wing effort to destroy it is the most unamerican thing I have ever witnessed.
Recent developments in washington are making it seem bleak that health care reform will ever take place, if this is something that you feel the country needs than do your part and contact your local representative and let them know how you feel on the issue, after all a quiet mouth never gets fed.
In an attempt to understand the nature of God and Man I have developed a set of Ideas to which I subscribe some of which are my own while others I have borrowed from countless sources to numerous to name and to expensive to mention
First I should warn you that these ideas while alluring and sometimes fantastic in nature are not the truth, not anymore the truth that is than anything else. You see it is my idea that man has always sought the truth and in doing so he has found it in many more places than it actually dwells.
This is a work however in philosophy if you the reader wish to consider it so.
It is my philosophy and no one else’s that is to say, I am not trying to sell a religion or start a movement nor do I wish to, I started this work to simply write down the things that I think in an attempt to sort them out myself.
Many of my ideas are about controversial subject matter which would be offensive to those people who conform themselves to a strict set of religious or philosophical beliefs, therefore I conclude in this statement that there is no proof of or attempt at proof in this writing. This is not an apology it is just a statement.
I originally started this writing as a book but I have decided to share it in the form of this blog. If your religion is easily offended stop reading now. The following is excerpted from chapter one of my original book of philosophy entitled (Ideas; The ravings of a lunatic mind)
This is chapter 1
I have spent a large portion of my life in search of truth. After a horrible childhood that I will not explain in this writing, I found myself in a position in which my spirit man needed healing. I searched for this healing in many of the ways that all people do; drugs, religion, philosophy, and spiritualism to name a few, but all these avenues failed me time and again. I found after all that the only true healing came from love and time, I found that that love in my relationship with my wife and child and the time came on its own as it always does.
What are my religious beliefs, well they don’t exist really. I do not subscribe to any particular religion or faith nor do I find it within myself to say that I have any truth. I do not believe in religion, I do however have the Idea that there is a God, a Creator. In my experience I have found that religion is purely geographical. If I were from India I may have been Hindu or Buddhist and if from Africa maybe I would be Moslem, I however am from America and am a white southerner so I subscribe to the Idea that Jesus was the Messiah. Don’t take me wrong though reader, I do not wish to convert or convince this is simply the result of my geographic location and therefore my avenue of travel down the road of the spirit. For me God’s name is Jesus, for you it may be something else.
Who is God then? For me he is my infinitely wise friend and companion though we do not converse in the regular manner. I like most keep the conversation mostly one sided. I ask for all the favors and mostly in times when all other resources have been exhausted. I am just one of millions of children asking for lunch money or help with the neighborhood bully. But somehow I never go hungry and most always find protection through his grace and charity. When I do pray without a dire need pressing at my door I find myself asking for other things, but most always asking. This is the nature of man and the definition of the word pray, to ask. I most often try though to ask for wisdom, it is a habit I developed from the story of Solomon (being raised Christian as I said before). This asking seems to be the main Idea in communication with God, but is that the way it really should be?
Somewhere in the fabric of things there is another way, a different idea of communicating with our creator. In my study of cultures and religions I have found few that subscribe to any different type of prayer other than asking, some eastern varieties make good use of meditation though they are few. So where does this lead? For me it leads me to the Idea that man in his selfishness has created this one sided relationship to benefit his own needs. True communication with God comes more from the attempt to find His mark on the things around you. You can see God’s word on the faces of those who love him and in the colors of the sunset sky. You can hear God’s word in the running water of a stream or in the song of a Tennessee Mockin’ Bird. You can feel Him in the chill of an autumn breeze, or how the Sun caresses your face in the spring. And you can smell His word in the falling leaves and the spray from an ocean tide. And as for God hearing you…He is with us always as a part of Him dwells within us and gives us life.
In all parental relationships (That are healthy) a child will reach adulthood at some point and will no longer require the constant support of his guardian figure. He or she will become independent of the parent. Often after meeting a mate they will become parents themselves and dole out the same advice they had received as children, only adding or subtracting certain things and in a sense customizing the act by allowing their own personality to meld its way into the schema of parenting.
The principal of the child’s ability to grow into a parental figure is best represented in the Judeo-Christian religion. In the Old Testament of the King James version of The Bible God is represented in many fashions. Often he is wise, and described as loving but more often than not he is said to be fearsome and that he is powerful in his wrath. In the New Testament Christ is described as a loving and gentle man who is slow to wrath and who often deals with his oppressors in more diplomatic fashion. In all of the New Testament there is only one occasion of wrathfulness or malice of any sort towards Christ’s oppressors, the incident at the temple. So in the comparison of the two testaments we are shown the idea of a growing relationship between the father and the son. The son who is put out into the world on his own seems to realize the need for a gentle hand in his parenting technique and only uses his wrathfulness in situations which seem to warrant the hardest response. He takes a sharp turn from the beliefs or lessons of his father and develops his own more effective idea of leadership therefore fulfilling his father’s ideals in a more effective way than the one he had been taught in his youth.
So where does this idea lead, to me it leads me to the thought that in our own relationship with our spiritual father we should allow ourselves to grow to the point that we are no longer that needy child begging for candy at the worlds great drug store counter. Instead we should strive to become independent of our father and to go to him for the occasional bit of advice…the voice of wisdom. We should allow ourselves to let our asking become a discussion and become responsible enough to handle our day-to-day lives on our own. Thankfulness for our upbringing and wisdom imparted through our council with our adult parent should be our main concern in worship.
So what lesson do I derive from the gospels of Christ? I have learned many lessons but mainly that love and growth are the key to spiritual survival. Love will allow you to travel through life’s journey unharmed and will keep your spirit alive and healthy, growth comes from experience and understanding and is a constant process through which we accept the realities of life and do our best to take the good from them.