Well, here I go.  Most of my writing on adult subjects  has a strong religious and spiritual subtext.  Recent interactions on the internet have further piqued my fascination with God, god, gods, religion, spiritualism,  humanism, atheism, and various iterations in between. 
So much about religion is fascinating, perhaps  nothing more so than the passion it arouses and the level of intolerance  associated with more extreme adherents.   As such, let’s start with a basic  premise and build. 

I posit as follows: Any belief system, whether  devoutly religious or defiantly atheist, that has among its canon a notion of   superiority is inherently flawed and dangerous. For it is only from a position of  superiority that we can set aside empathy and regard another human being as  “lesser.”  And once a person, or  even worse, a creed or culture, takes that first critical step of regarding  another [insert  “person,” “creed,”  “culture,” “race,” “religion,” “sexual orientation,” etc.] as “lesser,” it is
but a small step to declare this same group as less fit-to-live than those  occupying one’s own exalted status.   The remaining step of putting those beliefs into action is but a breath  away - whether it be restricting your child acceptable playmates, strapping a  bomb to a bus, or fomenting a culture of genocide.   They are rooted in the same insidious concepts of singularity and  superiority.

 Ironically, for the overwhelming majority of us,  our religious persuasion is nothing more than an accident of birth.   We make no considered choice but rather adopt with childlike innocence  whatever belief system is passed onto us from our loving parents.   The implications of this are both ironic and powerful.   It is ironic insofar as no religious zealot would ever concede that they  would willingly – if not blindly – have adhered to entirely different belief  system if they had just been born into it.  This would undermine the whole notion  that they were uniquely chosen and anointed.  If so questioned, the zealot would  likely respond with some circular and fatalistic argument that their god had  chosen him/her and their “people.” 
Being born into this faith was no accident.   Of course, the few that actually do chose and change beliefs will lay  claim to even a higher exalted status for themselves and their one true  belief.

 And who could dispute the power of our family,  extended family, and later our peers, to influence the very core of our  beliefs?  We all must accept that
were we raised in a family and extended family that “taught” us to fear, hate,
and, if necessary exterminate, we would all almost certainly adopt and endorse
this “faith.”  Add an insular  element – a component of nearly all extremism – and the potential for the  intrusion of reality is controlled and the ability to dehumanize the heathen  outsider is further assured.

Whether you are religious or not, beware the “monopoly on  salvation” mentality.  Yes, even  an atheist can adopt the same insular and hateful mindset.   Witness the militant atheist who “knows” that there is no god.  He is no less arrogant than the
bible-thumping hate-mongering racist “Christian minster” relegating all but his
select followers to damnation for daring to take another path to salvation.  So dear reader this all comes down to  but one thought – tolerance.  The  debates of god,“his” existence, the truth of religious history, the meaning of  the Bible, the Koran, the Gita, the gnostic texts, etc. are all fascinating  subjects for the most lively and spirited of debates - a debate all religions  should embrace.  In fact, it is  perfectly fine and indeed desirable to embrace and enjoy your own faith.  However, the faith of another need not  threaten our own.  It can in fact  enhance it.  What wonders there are
indeed in the thoughts, teachings, and cultures of others! 

So I offer one aspect of any religion to reject, isolation.   Reject the notion that yours is the one true belief.   Reject the notion that adherents to other religions have some lesser  place before god than you.  And for  God’s sake, reject the notion that you or “your people” have been “chosen”  exclusively for anything.

Shea Oakley
8/28/2012 02:49:53 am

So, my friend, are you saying that the only absolute truth is that there is no such thing as absolute truth? On that I would have to differ (but then I'm sure you already knew that. :-)


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