Insular Beliefs Wrapped in Religion Must be Re-examined. And, a Few Thoughts on the Message of Easter.
These days many Christian churches and other religious groups stage Passion of Christ events as well as participate in ceremonies to mark this important occasion. Tradition and culture in general often imbue people with sets of norms, but have you thought why most people don’t even think about what they’re doing? Change the circumstances or the framing and you might raise an eyebrow about certain practices. For instance, we wouldn’t probably find very appealing to showcase torture!
It’s the message that Christ’s crucifixion carries, not the barbaric, excruciating death inflicted upon the condemned, I’m told. So, what is the message really? And, I’m not joking. I’ve asked several friends of mine who are religious to explain it to me; they’re either stumped or begin to think about the message for the first time. God allowed his son to be severely tortured and killed in long agony, because God wanted to show his ..love for his creation, the humans! Or, that Jesus died for our sins! What kind of a moral lesson can I derive from these two examples of God’s behavior? It doesn’t even make sense why someone should (or could possibly) die to pay for the responsibility of others?
It’s about time we have to stop insulating ourselves in the confines of superstitious norms of ancient people who were so primitive as to accept torture as an everyday occurrence; that the universe was divinely ordained—which included fixed places in society—whereas most humans were unworthy and the elites were special due to their bloodlines or direct connection to the heavens.... No wonder why it took us thousands of years to transform some of our societies from the taboos and cruelty of the past.. while the conservatives of every society kicked and screamed!
I wrote this post as the conservatives and those steeped in religious fervor are criticizing president Obama for saying that the United States is not a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jewish, country but a country based on certain values. What's wrong with this statement? Nothing! The historically-ignorant want to believe that this country was founded upon the Judeo-christian values, but this is simply not the case.
Most of the founders were deists--believed in a higher entity but not a intervening xtian god--and made sure that the US Constitution has no religious test for public office. [Article 6, sec. 3] There's a separation of church-state, and the Biblical moral code is not the legal code of our country! From the 10 Commandments, we have "don't steal" and "don't kill", "no perjury," but these are common sense clauses anyway, and I'm sure these principles predated Moses. The rest of the Commandments [they differ among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews] are left in the "holy" book.
A few words about holy books. If anyone has any knowledge of human history, and the world as it is today, he has to question the design or the creator; horrible events [some natural but deadly diseases & catastrophes] are everyday occurrence. Some design you may ponder. Or, when you examine the crimes in the name of God and because of religion, you may understand better what Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are saying about religion.
If you are to look for genocide & ethnic cleansing, for murder of non-believers, for slavery, for women's subjugation, for torture, for killing en mass, for nasty-brutish-short lives, for prostitution, and for killing children as punishment for the sins of their parents, you need not look further than the holy book placed in the center of every church, mosque and temple. These moral principles are god-given. Plus, a few other demands such as no clothing of "unnatural fibers" and no boiling a calf in its mother's milk!
It's no accident that the most fervent believers are also the most ignorant about science; they're the most phobic of anything out of a strict norm. They fight science on the basis of uneducated, prejudicial beliefs, and the leaders of that flock encourage it! This is a disservice to humanity. Organized religion prefers it that way. After all, sheep are easier to control. No real effort is undertaken to inform or promote rational thinking. Why? The more a person accepts the literal truth of the holy book the better it is. We are told that faith [read: be satisfied with the absence of evidence and reason] is a virtue!!!!
On the other hand, I think we are making some progress, in that, many religious people see their faith and its moral principles as a supermarket of convenience--pick & choose according to personal preference! That is good, because I don't think the death practices--or any other torture, cruel & unusual punishment--religion has instructed humankind to practice is appropriate in a modern society. The world is a better place today precicely because we've distanced ourselves from the confines of dogma and prejudice.
Update: Along the same ideas, I wrote an editorial, A Miracle That People Want, referring to the annual miracle of the Holy Light! There's another thread of discussions there.