Saturday, 11 September 2010

Symbology & Intolerance

An Imam, responsible for a planned Islamic community centre at Ground Zero, refuses to reconsider the location, knowing full well that its very location is grossly insensitive to the feelings of a large number of Americans who lost relatives in an atrocity committed in the name of Islam. The man is an insensitive idiot.

A little-known, so-called Pastor with a flock of less than 50 is threatening to burn Islamic sacred texts if the planned Islamic center is not relocated to somewhere other than Ground Zero. I would not call this man a Christian, but a charlatan and a blackmailer to boot.

Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Moslems in Afghanistan and Pakistan are, as a result, calling for all Christians to be killed. I would not call these people Muslims, but bloodthirsty savages who can’t tell the difference between a real Christian and a demagogue. However, sometimes I can’t tell the difference either.

The media elevates this so-called Pastor to the position where he is front-page news. Without the breath of the media, this Pastor would remain unknown and the lives already lost in this argument (at least 3 thus far) would have been saved. Are the actions of a single nutcase newsworthy? Debatable!

This whole thing revolves around symbology and intolerance – the symbols of Ground Zero and the Qur’an and the intolerance of religious fundamentalism.

All in all, an unholy mess – or a holy mess, depending on your point of view. I’m just glad I’m totally devoid of religion. My symbols and intolerances are secular.


  1. I can't help but think that the world would be a better place without religion; but then what would men fight over?

    (Long time no comment... I hope you don't mind, I took a break to have a daughter ;) )

  2. Jem: What kind of excuse is that? I had 4 kids - it never affected me!

  3. Well put Chairman.

    As a scouser once said..

    "Imagine there's no heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky

    Imagine there's no countries
    It isn't hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace"

    Then some joker shot him. Maybe human insanity/aggression is the norm rather than the unusual...

  4. Unless you had 40 weeks of severe morning sickness, passed a nearly-8lb baby out of the end of your delicate bits, and then spent the first X months glued to the sofa breastfeeding... I don't expect you to understand!

  5. Chairman: "Without the breath of the media, this Pastor would remain unknown..."

    I quite agree - there are always nutjobs. They only become dangerous when the media pays attention to them.

    As for whether you are truly "devoid of religion", I rather doubt this! For instance, if you hold to some form of secular humanism your beliefs are directly descended from Christianity (cf. Charles Taylor's "A Secular Age"). Even if you don't, if you have any kind of ethical beliefs, they are descended from religious traditions. At best, you have no express belief in any traditional religion, rather than being "devoid" of any influence of religion in your life.

    Tolstoy wrote: "The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me? It is impossible for there to be a person with no religion (i.e. without any kind of relationship to the world) as it is for there to be a person without a heart. He may not know that he has a religion, just as a person may not know that he has a heart, but it is no more possible for a person to exist without a religion than without a heart."

    I imagine you'll reject Tolstoy's use of the term 'religion' in this quote... In this regard, I find it useful to allow a term "non-religion" for systems of belief that are not traditional religions but function in the same role. You almost certainly have beliefs that function in the same role as a religion (providing metaphysics, ethics and guiding narratives), the most evident of which is your belief that you are "devoid of religion". :)

    Best wishes!

    PS: Did you see my recent post on Creedism by the way? This to me is just as dangerous a problem as intolerance motivated by traditional religious beliefs.

  6. Thanks for commenting on the Creedism post - I really wanted this to generate more debate than it did, but for some reason it fell flat.

    I have to say, though, that what you said is seriously shocking and I rather suspect (or hope) that you can't have appreciated what is implied by your outrageous claim!