Total Drek

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Outrageousness

The Onion did an article back in 2004: “America’s Liberals Suffering from Outrage Fatigue. I remember laughing knowingly.

That was 2 freaking years ago, and if it was true then, well now we’re in an outrage coma. I can only remember the last 5 or so outrageous evil things that the administration has done against my will, or the media have done to numb our minds, or the “conservative” loudspeakers have said to poison or confuse us. How many black deeds have sprayed us with their blood and bile for a while and are now forgotten? Remember the Healthy Forest Initiative? Remember the looting of Iraqi museums? I’ve lost count. I wish I had started a list.

Like Pat Buchanan calling defrocked pedophilic Congressman Foley a “flamer” and explicitly equating those who marched in Boston’s gay pride parade (including Nancy Pelosi) with promoters of NAMBLA.

Like congress absolving Bush of legal responsibility for the laws he broke by authorizing torture.

Like knowing that at this very moment I am funding someone to beat the shit out of a brown person who may or may not know something and may or may not be guilty of something and who may or may not ever understand why him.

Like the people who want to “defend” marriage by preventing non-married couples from sharing health insurance. In Jesus’ name.

Like the mumblings that we’re mobilizing for a war with…Iran.

Like hearing that “the economy is doing well” just because gas prices are 20 cents lower now than 6 months ago or the stock market is up, given that the debt has more than doubled in the past 6 years. And I’m thinking that this bill will come due as soon as the Democrats take over.

Arrrgggghh! Sigh.

I don’t know what to do any more. Meditation? Quaaludes? Driving a fork through my skull with a bottle of Kahlua?

Do you think there will ever be a modicum of justice? Will any of these harms be undone? Will truth come out? Will we learn from this?

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but I’m coming to think the one of the biggest culprits may simply be religion. Now, I was never a religious person, myself, but I had always entertained the idea that religion helped society -- that it provided a moral grounding for the potentially amoral and pointed a way to a better world. I’m fairly sure that’s not true anymore, overall. I mean, I’m sure there are good religious people, but that’s really irrelevant to whether religion itself is good. Religion is more the problem than the solution, today. Am I wrong? Maybe it’s time we gave the whole thing up.

It’s religion that teaches people not to question things and that “faith” is good, thus allowing the liars to go on lying. Religion condemns people for how they live and love, and demonizes sexuality, but supports war and torture. It’s religion that denies science and global warming, letting the planet fry. It’s religion that sponsors “Jesus camps”. It’s religion that repeatedly subverts the power of women. It’s religion that spawned al Qaida’s terrorists. Allah akbar! And religion that spawned Bush’s ruling elite. Praise Jesus!

Maybe worse, religion lets good people think they are fulfilling their duties to be ‘good’ by doing entirely useless, even selfish things-- like praying, like being virginal, like spreading the word. (Will you at least pick up a freaking hammer?!?) It’s quite clear that God saves and destroys in ways entirely indistinguishable from random chance and unrelated to human desires, needs, wants, or hopes. Even if you believe in a great big invisible friend in the sky, for all intents and purposes, we’re on our own down here, to create or destroy, love or hate, kill or heal and deal with the outcome. It’s only self-absorption and myopia that can cause one see otherwise, and religion seems to promote that too.

For what it’s worth, I’m aware that not all religions or religious people hold themselves allies of Bush or are selfish judgmental pricks. But that doesn’t get them off the hook. It seems to me that the less commendable religious branches have kind of taken over. I keep hearing people condemning Muslims for not condemning the acts of their more fundamentalist brethren. “Where are the moderate imams?” people say “Why don’t they make their voices heard?” Well, where are the moderate ministers and pastors? I’ve barely heard a peep. Why aren’t they on TV explaining how Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson have distorted the real message of Jesus? Or are they, in fact, more interested in their own souls than in the fate of the planet.

Maybe I’m being unfair. There’s blame to go around, surely. I haven’t really done anything much either. I don’t even know what to do other than try to vote for a party that will hold some people accountable, even if it’s only a function of partisan payback. To be sure, there are a lot of churches that do many good deeds: soup kitchens, food drives, relief efforts, etc., but I’d hazard a guess that good people would find new institutions to accomplish these things if religion were left behind. I’d join one of those.

Challenge: Are any of you religioso as outraged as I am? What are you doing about it? How has your religion made an impact? Does religious good outweigh religious evil? Show me I’m wrong about religion and I’ll proselytize for your church in my next blog.

3 Comments:

Anonymous alienacean said...

your fundamental arguement is, i think, undone by the equally valid inverse of your hypothesis:

"I’d hazard a guess that good people would find new institutions to accomplish these [good] things if religion were left behind."

all the bad things you want to take religion to task for are not perpetrated *by* religion, but by people acting politically. these people would act in equally heinous ways even in the absence of specifically religious supporting institutions.

religion is here to stay, for better or for worse, and scapegoating it only serves to shift our focus away from solving problems.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Warbler said...

alienacean-

A really good point. Dirty politics is certainly played through religion and would still go on without religion. But I think those politics would be different in character without religious influence. Politics are not inherently anti-science, anti-sex, and anti-female without religion.
Still, your point about the uselessness of scapegoating is fair. And as mad as I am, I know this. I suppose my aim was to be outrageous enough to put a bee in the bonnet of liberal Christians to stand up and be a little louder rather than to actually abolish religion. Still, no one has argued that's a bad idea.

Sunday, October 15, 2006 6:19:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

I also agree that scapegoating is a problem, but I think it's still valid to challenge religion's usefulness. I agree that people will always be doing some pretty rotten things, but that doesn't mean we should be totally content with institutions that encourage poor behavior. We condemn dictatorships at least in part because power corrupts, even though democracies have their own share of problems. So, by the same token, why should religion get a free pass for the harm it causes?

It reminds me a little of the football players who thank God for a victory, and blame themselves for defeat. Why is it that evil is the provenance of human behavior, and good is a product of religious instruction?

Besides, even if you ignore the worth of religion, when it enters politics it not only forces people to confront it, but it may have an impact on religion itself. It may well be that religion is, in and of itself, not a big problem* but that politicized religion is.

* Yeah, I'm skeptical of that, but I try not to be too judgmental.

Monday, October 16, 2006 10:39:00 AM  

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