'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

10 December 2010


It has appeared in the past, but a re-emergence in recent decades has been what is called fundamentalism in all the major religions. I am not sure who put such a tag on what appears to be no more than the emergence of radicalism that stems from a bias towards a literal interpretation of beliefs and ignores scientific fact, cultural perspective and love. To me ‘Love’ should be at the core of most belief. When I say literal, I mean a particular interpretation of the written word, for even then we read or translate an idea according to our own bias. Often I see it as the result of a lazy mind, which finds it simpler to berate others to justify one's own perceived superiority.  Perceived or recognised unfair distribution of wealth can cause frustration and anger on one hand and on the other, greed is often the source of a need to maintain dominance. Also blind belief can be an excuse for or a subconscious expression of a more secular political ambition. How anyone can be so sure of being right when millions can hold to truths that have other names mystifies me. Are we so sure of ourselves? Surely we all search and surely it would be better to share our understandings, find commonality and all make progress from there. All religions develop, change and grow, and to me it would be obvious that if the human condition is worth it, we should be advancing together and towards a common understanding, not strengthening hatreds born of badly informed ignorance and even more damning, a laziness of the mind. Many mistakes are made in understanding because we are human - not because we are evil.

Why is the central strength of so many religions the need to specifically define what is presumed to be wrong in others? I do hear more of what is considered to be bad than how we should be nice to one another, but then again I am subject to what the media will tell me of the statements of those in religious power. The promotion of bias and xenophobia in the media is truly rife.
Do we pray? Do we believe in angels? Do we clutch at crystals? Do we gather strength from pyramids? Do we believe in magic? Do we think that God will help us win the Lotto, and is God on our side when we go to battle? Do we think of anything, but our pleasures or our survival in the immediate? Symbols strengthen our resolve and aid us in focusing our thoughts. We have several senses and they are all bought into play when we experience life within and around us. We are perhaps body and soul and they are inseparably united to make us what we are. We need to touch, see and hear that which we try to understand. The sound of a hymn or a chant can aid in lifting the spirits, the sight of an image can remind us of a thought and all about us teaches or as some prefer, the absence of an image leaves the mind clear to contemplate the divine unhindered. I would like to have the freedom to choose what is best for me and even that may vary from time to time. To everything there is a season.  There are so many ways to contemplate the meaning of life.  None of us are the same so forced adherence to the ideas of another is not the answer. If we were all identical in thought and obedience the human condition would not grow, understanding would not change or ever progress and we may as well have no freedom to wonder or question and thus would we be human anymore? Why would we bother?

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