"Christian" Fundamentalism in West

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Klaus » 03 Aug 2011 16:45

Christian brothers 'hunted boys'

For younger victims there was no defence against the perversions committed by men who were supposed to be teaching and guiding them, he said.

"They just hunted like a pack of dogs."

The man, who cannot be named, said Best and Dowlan created an air of "pathological violence" at St Patrick's.

"You knew straight away that if you were sent to the back of the room or to the sports room, Dowlan would have his hand down your pants," the man said.

"If you pushed him away or told him to f*** off, he'd beat the shit out of you.

"It happened to me many times."

The man, who is now in his late 40s, said he couldn't accept the assurances offered this week by the Bishop of Ballarat, Peter Connors, that an inquiry into the suicides of dozens of boys abused by Best and others in Victoria would be of little use.

"The entire hierarchy of the church in Ballarat at that time has to be held accountable," he said.

"It isn't possible that they didn't know when every boy in the school knew.

"The previous bishop of Ballarat, Bishop Mulkearns, knew about it."

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who is now retired, has previously acknowledged he was aware of Ridsdale's "problems" in 1975.

Australia's Catholic leader Cardinal George Pell was the Episcopal Vicar for Education in Ballarat from 1973-84.

At Ridsdale's 1994 trial, it was claimed the church had sent him to a psychologist as early as 1971.

By a tragic coincidence, one of the man's cousins was assaulted by Best at another school. He is one of at least 26 men police believe have committed suicide as a result of sexual assaults at the hands of Best, Ridsdale and other brothers and priests.


News link of a few weeks ago.

New World nations which have adopted conservatism from Europe seem to be par or greater on the scale of paedophilia and child abuse. Even 'feminist' movements in these societies only pay lip service to the child abuse aspect, which just goes to show the larger hypocrisy at work.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 03 Aug 2011 17:01

Carl ji,
by only selecting the collectivization methods supposedly apparent in vedanta sutras [more prominent in the specific puranas devoted to specific deities] - we do the injustice of editing away the stress towards non-collectivization methods too in the Vedanta/Upansihads. Some of the most iconic "searches" in the Upansihads occurs "alone", on an individual basis. Satyakama Jabali learns everything from nature, finds "realization" while interacting with nature - away from even his official guru.

My aim was to avoid discussing too much the "Hindu" "method" itself - but answer Arjunji's suggestion that I put forward views less from "Hindu" POV and more of the line I had provided recently which perhaps appeared "not-specifically-Hindu".

It will be impossible to prove that the Vedic/Upanishad method stressed onlee collective search for the "truth", in fact impossible to prove that they posited one permanent and unalterable "truth" which could simply be conveyed by one single revelation forever into the future, and which then had to be imposed on others by proselytization. There are other theological and teleological difficulties that come with this approach but may become too intricate to discuss here.

The Christian mission is not just about caring for the disadvantaged - because caring for the disadvantaged comes as part of many other theologies and philosophies. The crucial difference is that this "caring" within life and for the living body/consciousness is consciously taken as a tool - and not the primary objective - which is about "saving souls", which in turn is about what happens after death. Ultimately it is still positing a penalizing and discriminating supreme authority who makes "saving" and "grace" conditional on acknowledgment and submission to that authority. Moreover that whole obsession rotates around an indefinite future final reckoning of proof of submission, and something not verifiable within the lifetime.

I am not the first one to express his deep misgivings about the overwhelming desire to win converts by hook or crook [surely you are aware of the immense degree of fraud often employed in any organized religion to win converts - and when opportune - use of material incentives and physical force to ensure conversion] and what it says about the internal drives. I mentioned Hoffer already - and there are many more perhaps with even more scathing comments. I am not doing anything of that sort on the forum - so it is rather strange and unfair to compare my arguments or debates here with Christian or Islamist proselytization methods. I am not saying only if people start implicitly believing in what I demand of them, will they be guaranteed safety from hell-fire after death.

The collectivized practice and belief and search for truth is the key to understand why and how imperialism got attracted to it, used it, and they used imperialism in turn - and how it leads to social regimentation and ultimately murderous cults like Nazism or Communism. Arno Gruen for example points out how insistence on collectivized social conformation to communitarian beliefs, from childhood, creates the overwhelming rage that seeks to impose that conformity on all and sundry with vehement and murderous zeal.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Kukreja » 03 Aug 2011 20:00

http://gizmodo.com/5826972/what-is-the- ... am?tag=top

...according to the United States Air Force, Jesus loves atomic intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear mass-murdering too.

That's basically what they have been telling their nuclear missile officers for decades under a special ethics training program colloquially known as Jesus Loves Nukes. It seems that the use of nuclear weapons to destroy enemy populations is perfectly fine according to their interpretation of Christian ethics. Now, after being exposed by Truth-Out and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Air Force is canceling it.

What is it?

The "ethics" training—imparted by USAF chaplains—uses many passages of the Old and New Testament to justify the use of atomic weapons to obliterate innocent populations (aka the enemy). Its core document, a 43-page Powerpoint presentation, also quotes St Augustine's Causes to Just War. It contains references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki too, teaching the official—and much debated—excuse for the bombing of those two Japanese cities.


here's the presentation:
http://truthout.org/files/nuclear_ethics.pdf

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby sanjeevpunj » 03 Aug 2011 20:42

^^^^ Nice post.Good link.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 03 Aug 2011 23:38

Some current thinking from the psychotherapeutics about the damage at the hands of conformist submission-dominance forms of religion, and its potential for "fundamentalist" violence :
http://new.exchristian.net/2011/06/religious-trauma-syndrome-its-time-to.html
Religious Trauma Syndrome: It’s Time To Recognize It (Part 1 of 3)
Religious Trauma Syndrome is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an authoritarian, dogmatic religion and coping with the damage of indoctrination. They may be going through the shattering of a personally meaningful faith and/or breaking away from a controlling community and lifestyle. The symptoms compare most easily with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which results from experiencing or being confronted with death or serious injury which causes feelings of terror, helplessness, or horror. This can be a single event or chronic abuse of some kind. With RTS, there is chronic abuse, especially of children, plus the major trauma of leaving the fold. Like PTSD, the impact of RTS is long-lasting, with intrusive thoughts, negative emotional states, impaired social functioning, and other problems.

With RTS, the trauma is two-fold. First, the actual teachings and practices of a restrictive religion can be toxic and create life-long mental damage. In many cases, the emotional and mental abuse is compounded by physical and sexual abuse due to the patriarchal, repressive nature of the environment.
Second, departing a religious fold adds enormous stress as an individual struggles with leaving what amounts to one world for another. This usually involves significant and sudden loss of social support while facing the task of reconstructing one’s life. People leaving are often ill-prepared to deal with this, both because they have been sheltered and taught to fear the secular world and because their personal skills for self-reliance and independent thinking are underdeveloped.

Individuals can experience RTS in different ways depending on a variety of factors. Some key symptoms of RTS are:
• Confusion, difficulty making decisions, trouble thinking for self, lack of meaning or direction, undeveloped sense of self

• Anxiety being in “the world,” panic attacks, fear of damnation, depression, thoughts of suicide, anger, bitterness, betrayal, guilt, grief and loss, difficulty with expressing emotion

• Sleep and eating disorders, substance abuse, nightmares, perfectionism, discomfort with sexuality, negative body image, impulse control problems, difficulty enjoying pleasure or being present here and now

• Rupture of family and social network, loneliness, problems relating to society, personal relationship issues

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 03 Aug 2011 23:48

The second part is even more insightful :

The kind of religion that causes damage is that which requires rigid conformity in order to survive in the group or have hope for the afterlife. Such a fundamentalist religion has a closed system of logic and a strong social structure to support an authoritarian worldview. It can be a comfortable environment as long as a member does not question. Children learn very early to repress independent thinking and not to trust their own feelings. For truth, believers rely on external authority – Scripture and religious leaders. With the consequences of disbelief so severe, leaders are able to demand acceptance of farfetched claims at the expense of personal observation or scientific evidence. The culture rewards individuals who contribute in religious ways. Proselytizing is generally expected, even for children. Obedience is the highest value and personal development truncated.

Clearly, psychological problems can develop long before the additional trauma of leaving the fold. I’ll use the example of Bible-based fundamentalisms. True to the definition of trauma, survivors of these report feelings of terror, helplessness, and horror in facing death and injury – the horror of Jesus’ death (along with other atrocities in the Bible), the terror of hell for oneself and everyone else, and the helplessness of being a frail human in a wicked world, a tiny player in an overwhelming cosmic drama.

Toxic Teachings

There are different churches in this category with beliefs and practices that vary but core doctrines are consistent. All of the major authoritarian religions have enormous psychological control because they are based on fear, which is the most primitive and powerful human emotion. Secondly, they emphasize shame; humans are bad and need redemption. So the basic meme complex passed on to each generation of children is that you need religion in order to survive and in order to be acceptable.

Eternal punishment. The first key doctrine is eternal damnation (or annihilation) for all unbelievers. This is the terrifying backdrop for the salvation message presented to all newcomers and all children born into the faith. The Bible is quoted, including the words of Jesus, to paint a horrifying picture of hell as a lake of fire, a fire of eternal torture impossible to quench despite any pleading. Mormons describe a hell of “outer darkness” that is cold and just as terrifying. Jehovah’s Witnesses threaten the horror of dying forever at Armageddon and missing out on Paradise.

Small children can obviously visualize these things while not having the brain capacity to evaluate the message. Moreover, the powerful social context makes rejecting these teachings impossible. Children are completely at the mercy of religious adults.

The salvation formula is offered as a solution of course, but for many, it is not enough to ward off anxiety. How does one really know? And what about losing one’s salvation? Many adults remember trying to get “saved” multiple times, even hundreds of times, because of unrelenting fear.
[...]
“Left behind” terror. Another horrible fear is about missing the “rapture” when Jesus returns. I have heard many people recount memories of searching for parents and going into sheer panic about being left alone in an evil world. Given that abandonment is a primary human fear, this experience can be unforgettably terrifying. Some report this as a recurring trauma every time they couldn’t find a parent right away.
[...]
Surrounded by threat. Believers simply cannot feel safe in the world if they take to heart the teaching about evil everywhere. In the fundamentalist worldview, “the World” is a fallen place, dangerously ruled by Satan and his minions until Jesus comes back and God puts everything right. Meanwhile it’s a battleground for spiritual warfare and children are taught to be very afraid of anything that is not Christian. Much of “the World” is condemned at church, and parents try to control secular influences through private and home schooling. Children grow up terrified of everything outside the religious subculture, most of which is simply unfamiliar.
[...]
Some groups place more emphasis on literal teachings about demons, and believers learn to be afraid of evil spirits lurking everywhere. Being saved is a “covering” and one must put on the “whole armor of God” to go about ordinary life. A frequently quoted verse with a terrifying image is I Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Self as bad. Second to the doctrine of hell, the other most toxic teaching in fundamentalist churches is that of “original sin.” Human depravity is a constant theme of fundamentalist theology and no matter what is said about the saving grace of Jesus, children (and adults) internalize feelings of being evil and inadequate. Most of these churches also believe in demons quite literally, some to the point of using exorcism on children who misbehave. One former believer called it “bait-and-switch theology -- telling me I was saved only to insist that I was barely worth saving."
[...]
Cycle of abuse. A believer can never be good enough and goes through a cycle of sin, guilt, and salvation similar to the cycle of abuse in domestic violence. When they say they have a “personal relationship” with God, they are referring to one of total dominance and submission, and they are convinced that they should be grateful for this kind of “love.” Like an authoritarian husband, this deity is an all-powerful, ruling male whose word is law. The sincere follower “repents” and “rededicates,” which produces a temporary reprieve of anxiety and perhaps a period of positive affect. This intermittent reinforcement is enough to keep the cycle of abuse in place. Like a devoted wife, the most sincere believers get damaged the most.
[...]
Don’t think, don’t feel. Fundamentalist theology is also damaging to intellectual development in that it explicitly warns against trusting one’s own mind while requiring belief in far-fetched claims. Believers are not allowed to question dogma without endangering themselves. Critical thinking skills are under-valued. Emotions and intuitions are also considered suspect so children learn not to trust their own feelings. With external authority the only permissible guide, they grow up losing touch with inner instincts so necessary for decision making and moral development.

Fundamentalism makes people crazy. It is a mixture of beliefs that do not make sense, causing the brain to keep trying to understand what cannot be logical.
I really don’t have much experience of decision making at all. I never made any plans for my adult life since I was brought up to believe that the end of the world would come.
I suppressed a lot of my emotions, I developed cognitive difficulties and my thinking became increasingly unclear. My whole being turned from a rather vibrant, positive person to one that’s passive and dull.


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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby devesh » 04 Aug 2011 09:28

^^^
this is very good. such things need to be discussed more. all those brain washed idiots who keep spewing nonsense about the great secularism of the West need to be shows things like the above to make them shut up. compare that to the "secularism" of modern India. compare the "God and Country" motto of US armed forces and compare India's de-Dharmicized and sterile "secularism."

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby RajeshA » 04 Aug 2011 09:34

brihaspati garu,

extremely enlightening article(s) on Religious Trauma Syndrome.

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 11:20

There is long tradition of Church leavers who turn on the teachings as demonic. The vast majority of Christians do not experience the Church along these terms. This is like trying to learn about Jews from Holocaust deniers. Christian fundamentalism does not flow from any trauma.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby devesh » 04 Aug 2011 11:23

the "trauma" only comes in when one starts feeling the ideology as a burden. unless one feels it as a burden, there is no trauma.

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 11:34

Again there is no trauma amongst Christian fundamentalists. You guys are getting distracted and misled by the internet and google uncle. Look else where. Say in their desire for a 'public forum', which is why they push things like anti-evolutionary thinking. Not because they believe that crap but because they want to impose their public voice on society. Think of where this puts Brievik...

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby svinayak » 04 Aug 2011 11:48

I have met people who beleive in this thing

Also some Indian Xtian telling that they are afraid of the apocalypse and collapse. I had to assure them nothing happens to India. THe Hyd Muslims tells me that Al Hind will be protected

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 12:33

When Christians tell you they are afraid of the end/apocalypse, it is the thought that they might not be 'ready'. Typically they do not fear the day of 'rapture'. Simple misunderstanding. Fundamentalist eagerly look forward to the end of the world.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 04 Aug 2011 16:51

Actually, even the concept of "rapture" is severely disputed within almost all the "churches", only some endorsing it from the pulpit. In any case what I have placed about the "proselytization method" creating "fundamentalism" - I am not referring to these just on the basis of google or web-forums. I am restricted from placing core material openly from two reasons - there are stated and unstated professional restrictions on placing religion-sensitive studies openly and which I have to respect for the sake of my sociology colleagues [more so because I am not formally a sociologist], and the church organizational material that I may have - when quoted - can be traced back to sources, and then those sources dry up or I will no longer have access to those congregations or "circles".

I am pointed

It is not just about forums/google either - there is a huge body of academic literature on this process and its after effects. Even if we dismiss Hoffer as a pop-sikulogist [sometimes the differences seem onlee to be whether someone has been formally approved by the existing "secular/Marxist" brigade through a degree through the institution which they dominate], Arno Gruen perhaps should pass the grade as an academic. Or maybe not - perhaps he also doesn't make the grade because he was born Jewish? :P

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 04 Aug 2011 17:16

Essentially, the point reduces to this : any enforced collective search or belief based on claims of "truth" by one section or individual, rules out individual verification and independent conviction coming to the same "conclusion".

Thus members of such enforced collectivized belief, have never really completed their personal independent individual journeys towards the "truth", and can never really totally be sure of their "truth". This is a community always walking on a precipice between yawning ravines of self-belief and self-doubt. Meanwhile organized structural conformity produces groups bent on enforcing and hence power and inevitably maintain "errors" out of the need for continuity and legitimacy. So periodically marginal members of the group feel that they have "deviated" form the "promised" golden "fundamental".

If they cannot accept what is being dished out, they have to imagine that there was a golden "fundamental" in the original from which the present has deviated from. This is a compromise by which they still do not have to give up the overarching framework of their lives - but, yet, afford a means of rejecting the untenable that this very same framework has imposed on them.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Pranav » 04 Aug 2011 18:17

As regards Rapture / Apocalypse / End-Times etc. The goal is to get people to suspend rationality, be prepared to become "martyrs", and generally behave in ways in which a sane person would normally not behave. An excellent tactic for those who want to use the religion as a political tool. Note that even Islam has beliefs about End Times, Mahdis etc. Here is a post from the "India and the NWO" thread in the GDF (viewtopic.php?p=888440#p888440):

Pranav wrote:One wonders whether Muhammad is an Arabian version of Martin Luther, who was instrumental in splitting the Catholic Church ...

Another paper about the situation of those times: The Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614CE compared with Islamic conquest of 638CE - Its Messianic nature and the role of the Jewish Exilarch by By Ben Abrahamson and Joseph Katz - http://www.eretzyisroel.org/%7Ejkatz/Th ... 0638CE.pdf

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 18:47

The concept of rapture and end times is different. In rapture the 'meek' inherit the earth...

Sociologist have a lot of trouble understanding faith. They have a long history of misunderstanding the Indian Subcontinent too.
Last edited by Theo_Fidel on 04 Aug 2011 18:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Pranav » 04 Aug 2011 18:50

Theo_Fidel wrote:The concept of rapture and end times is different. In rapture the 'meek' inherit the earth...


But that is post the End Times, no?

In Christian eschatology, the Rapture is a reference to "being caught up" referred to in 1 Thess 4:17, when, in the End Times, the Christians of the world will be gathered together in the air to meet Jesus Christ.[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 18:56

Not necessarily. Fundamentalists mostly believe that Jesus will return to Earth and burn the wicked from the land. At which point they will sit at the right hand of the Father. They don't think they will die in the process.

Look up the word Tribulations.

Wiki only represents one view point.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby devesh » 04 Aug 2011 18:59

^^^
are you saying the rest of the non-believers should be just fine with the above attitude and admire it??? I knew a guy few years ago who fervently believed that people like me would go to hell once Jesus came down. he was a hardcore EJ and the first *personal* experience for me in understanding EJs.

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 19:00

Christians too must choose...

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby devesh » 04 Aug 2011 19:05

choose between what?

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 19:13

Wrong question.

Reality is the only truth. Test words to reality.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby svinayak » 04 Aug 2011 20:47

devesh wrote:^^^
are you saying the rest of the non-believers should be just fine with the above attitude and admire it??? I knew a guy few years ago who fervently believed that people like me would go to hell once Jesus came down. he was a hardcore EJ and the first *personal* experience for me in understanding EJs.

You need to understand the unreality in the faith and understand what they see in the future. What is anticipated needs to be understood. Then everything about the behavior of the Christians can be understood. It is simple actually.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby svinayak » 04 Aug 2011 20:49

Pranav wrote:As regards Rapture / Apocalypse / End-Times etc. The goal is to get people to suspend rationality, be prepared to become "martyrs", and generally behave in ways in which a sane person would normally not behave. An excellent tactic for those who want to use the religion as a political tool.

This is the reason the genocide and the WWars happened when they suspended rationality. Slaughter of the Lambs and other such killings are considered normal in such times.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Agnimitra » 04 Aug 2011 20:51

brihaspati wrote:Essentially, the point reduces to this : any enforced collective search or belief based on claims of "truth" by one section or individual, rules out individual verification and independent conviction coming to the same "conclusion".

Brihaspati ji, I beg to disagree. You are creating a false dichotomy here that neither exists in shasstra nor in a complete assessment of what epistemology and cognitive psychology has to say about it. The "trauma syndrome" theory you posted above is only one part of the dynamic. Certainly, it happens, just like horrible glitches in a system can have a chain-reaction of negative consequences. However, that does not at all negate the fact that the system can work as designed. You had said:

brihaspati wrote:The collectivized practice and belief and search for truth is the key to understand why and how imperialism got attracted to it, used it, and they used imperialism in turn - and how it leads to social regimentation and ultimately murderous cults like Nazism or Communism. Arno Gruen for example points out how insistence on collectivized social conformation to communitarian beliefs, from childhood, creates the overwhelming rage that seeks to impose that conformity on all and sundry with vehement and murderous zeal.

If by "collectivized" practice you mean personality cults and belief systems based solely on post-dated "hereafter" cheques, then I'm with you. But if you mean association and service based organizations, then I think you are generalizing too much again. It is the material imbalance of their beliefs and practices that makes the cultish proselyzers wrong. That's why I had posted the table above. The collectivization has a multiplier effect on whatever is at the motivating core.

Forget Hindu or Christian shasstra, let's just look at a more complete psychological assesment of all important working parts:
The "overwhelming rage", etc. are aberrations that naturally form as a result of the repressions, compulsions, neuroses and psychoses impressed into members. Neuro-psychologically, the conscious units of attention that collectively form the individual's aberrated personality do have one redeeming feature - it has a motive power that allows it to return to various points of memory as far as time-distance is concerned (just like that motive force propels conversion activity and group politics in the external world). However, once returned, it is unable to actually "tap" into and "untie" problematic memories encysted under conditions of depressed awareness, especially involving pain an painful emotion. In fact, by touching these knots, it only restimulates pain in a nebulous way, replicating its imprints which also remain concealed under the person's consciousness. Entering into a self-propelling abused-abuser cycle, it leads finally to the sort of syndrome you pointed out above after the system crashes. But that is only one part of the full picture.

It is precisely at this point that the individual's "basic" unaberrated personality is supposed to play a part. This basic personality is able to tap into and retrieve hidden data from behind the "veil" of "unconsciousness" - after that memory has been vaguely contacted in the waking state by the "aberatted personality". IOW, the basic personality can "enter" unconscious pain and illusion after the aberrated persona has contacted it. By this alternative use of the aberrated persona and basic personality, actual purification and elevation of consciousness and memory is possible. This is what the sufferers of the trauma syndrome have failed to employ.

But how is the "basic" personality invoked? In the healthiest way, by meditation. In the unhealthiest and potentially most dangerous way, by narcosynthesis or other neuropsychopharmacological methods. And meditation becomes possible only by balance on all other factors, including instruction, philosophy, worldview, creative individuation, etc.

So here lies the crux of the imbalance of organized spiritual groups. They do enough to restimulate unconscious pain, but are unable to release it and, instead, channel it in society. As far as the individual is concerned, this personal "contribution" only reinforces his aberrations. If true meditation were part of organized spiritual groups, then there would be no problem, and in fact the consequent multiplier effect would be a social benefit.

The fact that spiritual seeking is "individual" is obvious to everyone. Even Christ instructed every Christian to "bear one's own cross", etc. Islamic "Erfaan" also has the idea of tafreed preceding tajreed, etc. Similarly, the "pauranik" literature is not divorced from "upanishadic" contemplation as you suggest. Pauranik literatures themselves are replete with spiritual ambition taking seekers into forest retreats and whatnot, or guru-tattva including every aspect of nature and the universe, etc. However, this individual seeking is not at odds with social commitments. Rather, degrees of social commitment and charitable service allow the seeker to "relegate" superfluous parts of his abberative persona and make way for meditation. Moreover, in terms of theology, the use of anticipation, fear, love and all other modes can be made to play a part, if arranged "musically", rather than as jarring "noise" meant to sentimentally shock the recipient. Guidance is, after all, an art. This prolly isn't the place to discuss this, but I just wanted to make this point briefly. I'm sure you are aware of all this, but I don't understand why you are trying to use "counter-propoganda" to counter EJism and passing it off as complete reality.

Thus, the virulent propoganda from diseased religious groups (found in all religions, by the way) is a result of such material imbalances resulting mostly from a poor fund of knowledge, as well as a poorly developed creative/aesthetic ability. These can be corrected by appropriate intervention. But this intervention needs to be complete - confronting and criticizing irrationality while also offering sanity and correction. The choice is between humility and humiliation. There is nothing necessarily intrinsic to religious fora that prevents spiritual edification or negates the individual search for truth. That individual aspect is blocked only in diseased fora because they just don't know any better.

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 21:14

Acharya wrote:This is the reason the genocide and the WWars happened when they suspended rationality. Slaughter of the Lambs and other such killings are considered normal in such times.


Not quite true. WW2 was an extension of WW1. The vast majority were conditioned to follow orders. They then followed them even though they knew it was evil.

Christian Literalists/Fundamentalists do not experience cognitive dissonance.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby svinayak » 04 Aug 2011 21:15

A little such as end of times or apocalypse

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 21:29

or Kaliyug

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby devesh » 04 Aug 2011 21:34

Theo_Fidel wrote:
Acharya wrote:This is the reason the genocide and the WWars happened when they suspended rationality. Slaughter of the Lambs and other such killings are considered normal in such times.


Not quite true. WW2 was an extension of WW1. The vast majority were conditioned to follow orders. They then followed them even though they knew it was evil.

Christian Literalists/Fundamentalists do not experience cognitive dissonance.


this is a huge generalization. there is a basis contradiction in Christian belief in the "supremacy of the will of GOD" vs. "Satan's evil magic."

in fundamentalists, the obsessions with Satan/Devil/Evil/Darkness creates an all powerful "evil" demon which is capable of anything, and at the same time the "supremacy of the Lord's Will" contradicts that by saying everything is Lord's will...

I had gotten into such an argument with an EJ, and by the end of that discussion, he was furious. IMVHO, based on what i've seen in my interactions, the obsession with "Satan" creates very powerful contradictions in EJ mind which come into conflict with "God's Will." and this contradiction creates a lot of "trouble" in the EJ mind.

This is based solely on my experience, which is limited to knowledge of and interaction with a limited number of EJs.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby svinayak » 04 Aug 2011 21:41

Theo_Fidel wrote:or Kaliyug

Not the same :D

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Agnimitra » 04 Aug 2011 21:45

devesh wrote:this is a huge generalization. there is a basis contradiction in Christian belief in the "supremacy of the will of GOD" vs. "Satan's evil magic."

That's the doctrine of the "primacy of will over reason". Those who bring in dark "supernatural" overtones are going to get into nonsense, just like the Kalki/Kaliyuga millenarians that Theo pointed at. Right now there is an almost syndicated "2012 end of Kali Chakra" theme among the different guru-centric cults springing up in some places.

devesh wrote:in fundamentalists, the obsessions with Satan/Devil/Evil/Darkness creates an all powerful "evil" demon which is capable of anything, and at the same time the "supremacy of the Lord's Will" contradicts that by saying everything is Lord's will...

Not all fundamentalists have such unhealthy "obsessions". The distinction between yathaartha and gauNaartha is quite subtle, and even fundamentalist hermeneutics employs everything from the synecdoche to the parable.

Theo_Fidel

Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Theo_Fidel » 04 Aug 2011 22:07

The conflict of Good vs Evil definitely is not fully understood to this day by Bible scholars. For that matter even general society has trouble with it. Personally I tend to hew closer to Buddha's prescription that without Evil there is no Good and Vice versa. This is the human condition as per Arendt as well. As attributed to Augustine, and quite pungent, "Between Shit and Piss are we born." And yet we dream of the stars. If we were not so lowly we would not aspire to climb so high. If we were not born and steeped in sin/evil we would not seek righteousness/good.

The key question is how fundamentalists/lietralists have no cognitive dissonance. It has something to do with the way they create their own alternative cultist society where they reinforce each other. As long as there are discordant notes (vocal objectors), Fundamentalists can not organize. So who did Breivik go after.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby brihaspati » 04 Aug 2011 23:08

Carl wrote:Brihaspati ji, I beg to disagree. You are creating a false dichotomy here that neither exists in shasstra nor in a complete assessment of what epistemology and cognitive psychology has to say about it. The "trauma syndrome" theory you posted above is only one part of the dynamic. Certainly, it happens, just like horrible glitches in a system can have a chain-reaction of negative consequences. However, that does not at all negate the fact that the system can work as designed.


I never thought we were discussing "shaastras". If you had followed my argument, I was not using "shaastra" to describe Christian theologies - as I understand "shaastra" them to be an Indian concept. Linguistic superficial == are dangerous, and a source of a lot of misfortunes. Moreover, I am always wary of doing == between Christian/Islamic traditions/sayings/claims/methods/"philosophies" and Vedic/Upanishad ones.

I of course do not contradict your claim that systems can sustain themselves regardless of their impact on their members. Islam has continued, Christianity does in forms. Communist China seems to be doing fine. Soviet Union survived for 73 years. Some animal societies - if we may call them so - like ants and bees say, survive for millions of years as systems.

If you notice, in no part of this thread, have I gone specifically to posing any value-judgment on Christian "fundamentalism" - just pointed out the possible reason why fundamentalism develops so assuredly in organized proselytizing religions. In fact I treated Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in the same bracket for this. You have drawn a false conclusion actually about dichotomy - I was never saying that "fundamentalism" threatens the system. Why should it - if that is a necessary fallout as well as methodology of continuity!

I still like to keep away from doing == between Christianity or Islam and non-revealed non-organized pre-Christian/Islamic Indian philosophies. This thread does not require making such generalizations and the obligatory bringing in of "every religion has XXXX" where X is one or more of adjectives seen to be affecting the image of particular religions "negatively".

If by "collectivized" practice you mean personality cults and belief systems based solely on post-dated "hereafter" cheques, then I'm with you. But if you mean association and service based organizations, then I think you are generalizing too much again. It is the material imbalance of their beliefs and practices that makes the cultish proselyzers wrong. That's why I had posted the table above. The collectivization has a multiplier effect on whatever is at the motivating core.


I think one of our major problems start from making it necessary to do =='s. Because we try to understand these ideologies in Indian traditional philosophical contexts first - we make the error of linguistically approximating these iedology's concepts with our own, and then establishing the == we think we have solved the understanding bit. Crucial to understand - and this goes into discussing theology - hence I want to avoid it even if I had already mentione dthis before : is that for the Christian doctrine as it evolved in the first few centuries, "service and association" was only a means or "method" while the real objective was "salvation" - and the method and the objective is inseparable in that doctrine.

There is no material "imbalance" between belief and practice - what appears as "imbalance" is a necessary consequence of the method. This will really go deep into theology, and I can quote from a doc I have already presented, but that will involve much greater details of theological points and actual practice or evidential practice.

So here lies the crux of the imbalance of organized spiritual groups. They do enough to restimulate unconscious pain, but are unable to release it and, instead, channel it in society. As far as the individual is concerned, this personal "contribution" only reinforces his aberrations. If true meditation were part of organized spiritual groups, then there would be no problem, and in fact the consequent multiplier effect would be a social benefit.


Now if after having the benefit of such immense philosophical insights - why do you think organized spiritual groups not go that extra mile of "releasing it"? We can show that early on - they were quite aware of the technique you proffer as the solution, but that they consciously rejected it. Meditation is again an overt "form" of practice, the real objective is focused thought and analysis, which can be done without formal techniques.


The fact that spiritual seeking is "individual" is obvious to everyone. Even Christ instructed every Christian to "bear one's own cross", etc. Islamic "Erfaan" also has the idea of tafreed preceding tajreed, etc. Similarly, the "pauranik" literature is not divorced from "upanishadic" contemplation as you suggest. Pauranik literatures themselves are replete with spiritual ambition taking seekers into forest retreats and whatnot, or guru-tattva including every aspect of nature and the universe, etc.


Yes perhaps "obvious", but each of those two revelations create an organized structure for proselytization - apostles and imams. Obviously they could not rely only on individual quests. My ref to "Puranas" came specifically in the context of "total and complete submission to a deity" through the mediating role of a human "guru" as the "only method of quest" defining "Hinduism" claim [the quote mentioned Vishnu]- and I simply clarified that such a claim cannot be sustained on the basis of Vedic/Upanishad but support for such claims can be found more in the puranas. If both unstructured/unorganized/individual and structured/organized/collective methods are mentioned then "Hinduism" itself could not be about such formal methods onlee.

I don't see where I have made the claim that puranas were divorced from Upanishadic contemplation.

However, this individual seeking is not at odds with social commitments. Rather, degrees of social commitment and charitable service allow the seeker to "relegate" superfluous parts of his abberative persona and make way for meditation. Moreover, in terms of theology, the use of anticipation, fear, love and all other modes can be made to play a part, if arranged "musically", rather than as jarring "noise" meant to sentimentally shock the recipient. Guidance is, after all, an art. This prolly isn't the place to discuss this, but I just wanted to make this point briefly. I'm sure you are aware of all this, but I don't understand why you are trying to use "counter-propoganda" to counter EJism and passing it off as complete reality.


On the contrary I think have mentioned here, [if not here then in another thread] that "service" and social commitment does not need the submission to these ideologies or to any claims of injunction of a superhuman entity. In fact so called "humanism" has been trying to point out the necessity of such social commitment without conjuring up a vengeful suprahuman authority who still requires to be placated by acknowledgment and submission to "his" emissaries or representatives. I have tried to give my own justifications as to why caring for and defending the society is necessary from the continuity of knowledge and quest principle - without needing any such crime-guilt-penalty-obedience circles.

I am not using anything to pass of anything. Your choice of words are very interesting. You have already decided that criticism/views that go against EJ'ism is "propaganda" to counter "EJ" propaganda [counter-propaganda must be against another propaganda]? So both are lies or falsehoods [propaganda is usually taken in the sense of deviations from reality or truth for ulterior objectives]? If it is not complete reality - it is at least part of the reality?

I thought we were discussing how fundamentalism develops, and I have only cited one school of psychiatric research only as part of the arguments and not the whole. I have no obligation to defend the image of any religion.

Thus, the virulent propoganda from diseased religious groups (found in all religions, by the way) is a result of such material imbalances resulting mostly from a poor fund of knowledge, as well as a poorly developed creative/aesthetic ability. These can be corrected by appropriate intervention. But this intervention needs to be complete - confronting and criticizing irrationality while also offering sanity and correction. The choice is between humility and humiliation. There is nothing necessarily intrinsic to religious fora that prevents spiritual edification or negates the individual search for truth. That individual aspect is blocked only in diseased fora because they just don't know any better.


This is a different direction of theological discussion. But if "poor fund" of knowledge is the key to "material imbalances" then they seem to be have been working right from the beginning of these religions, and that poor fund was never apparently enriched then. The actual history of confrontation/criticism and sanity/correction employed and their outcomes should have made it obvious what were the driving motives and the most successful and effective methods. Targeted elimination of pre-existing non-compliant ideological leadership, alliance with imperialism, ambitious elite factions, and the conscious use of state as an instrument of ideological coercion.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Agnimitra » 04 Aug 2011 23:39

brihaspati wrote:I have tried to give my own justifications as to why caring for and defending the society is necessary from the continuity of knowledge and quest principle - without needing any such crime-guilt-penalty-obedience circles.

Yes, this is exactly what I wanted to point out - that a "tradition of seeking knowledge" / "aagama" principle can allow religious society and individual quest to co-exist in a mutually beneficial way. All the aberrations, charades, opportunism, etc that you are highlighting are certainly valid in explaining the horrendous physical and psychological violence unleashed by EJ's and ulemas down through history. All I'm saying is that it is possible to better interpret those same source literatures within a different cultural-philosophical framework. Semantic approximations can be useful when attempting to communicate and graft one idea onto the relic of another in this game of cultural conquest. :) That said, "proselytization" is not wrong per se, but the motivations and the qualifications of the propogandists must be given the dhobi-ghaat treatment as far as criticism is concerned on a case by case basis, including Breivik's overtures towards India.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby sanjaykumar » 05 Aug 2011 03:28

Some of the above is interesting but fundamentally it is opinion and post hoc analysis with all that implies for validity. Of course, personality disorders certainly, and much of psychiatric diagnoses in general are culturally defined.

It may be observed that the evangelics have a pressing agenda to establishing the primacy of their god (lest they be punished?). To Indoos the question of whose god is stronger is illegitimate at best and likely meaningless. What is apparent is that there is a correlation of certain undesirable actions, historically, with Christian arousal (yes I know Hindus are guilty).

As with everything, neuro-evolutionary pressures may be postulated to explain much. But first we need to describe phenomena more rigourously. An interesting but limited study was published in 2010. http://jlabouff.com/documents/JohnsonSPPS.pdf

Positive correlations have been found between several self-report measures of religiousness and racial prejudice; however, no
experiment has yet examined the direct effect of religion on racial attitudes. In the current studies, persons were subliminally
primed with Christian or neutral words. Then covert racial prejudice (Study 1) and general negative affect toward AfricanAmericans (Study 2) were assessed. Participants subliminally primed with Christian words displayed more covert racial
prejudice against African-Americans (Study 1) and more general negative affect toward African-Americans (Study 2) than did
persons primed with neutral words. The effects of priming on racial prejudice remained even when statistically controlling for
pre-existing levels of religiousness and spirituality. Possible mechanisms for the observed effect of Christian religion on racial
prejudice are discussed.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby sanjaykumar » 05 Aug 2011 03:31

It should be appreciated that a lot of this may be uncomfortable for some posters/lurkers. It should also be clear that these are theoretical discussions and neither confer or detract from Indian-ness on anyone-because no group has that power, de jure or otherwise.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby krisna » 05 Aug 2011 03:48

Theo_Fidel wrote:Not necessarily. Fundamentalists mostly believe that Jesus will return to Earth and burn the wicked from the land. At which point they will sit at the right hand of the Father. They don't think they will die in the process.

Look up the word Tribulations.

Wiki only represents one view point.


Observation I have noted from my workplace experience--

many people in the west ( normal christians) do not want to grow old. They fervently hope that lord will come again on this earth and take them with him. Hence they want to live forever waiting for him. Many elderly men/women want to dress like youngsters with ladies having make up lipstick etc etc. They hate when called old. also they love to be called Ms and Mrs even though married. :mrgreen:

In contrast in India many are happy to live in the present world- if the concerned Indian becomes a grandma or grandpa even if they are relatively youngish(~50 years) they feel happy and feel everything is done in this world, become contented in life. They dont mind being called aunt/uncle/grandpa or grandma etc. I do not see them have lipstick or appear fashionable etc similar to their counterparts in west.
But things are slowly changing in urban middle class ones in India.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby sanjeevpunj » 05 Aug 2011 08:27

^^^Who wants to grow old and wither away? My spiritual master is 95 and we keep praying he reaches 100! He walks outdoors twice a day, leads a normal life,does not get bedridden,relishes fresh cooked food,goes to his bank to draw pension,and of course, spends most of his spare time in meditation.BTW he worked as a Chief Engineer in DRDO, Jabalpur.

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Re: "Christian" Fundamentalism in West

Postby Arjun » 05 Aug 2011 09:09

X-Posted from Liberalism thread:

Biblical monotheism and religious pluralism

Biblical monotheism and religious pluralism
Posted on July 14, 2011

The following is an academic paper by Bryon Morrigan and is being republished with the author’s permission. Bryon Morrigan (Bankim Chandra Kalidasa) is a Novelist, Screenwriter, and Historian in the United States of America.

The Philosophical Ramifications of Biblical Monotheism on Religious Pluralism

Throughout the history of humanity, religion has always been a factor. However, until the advent of Christianity and Islam, the concept of religious exclusivism, and the attendant need to convert others to the “correct” religious belief, was essentially anathema to most cultures. The concepts of monism, pantheism, or the belief that all gods were essentially one god, had been around for some time, but the idea of Biblical monotheism, the idea that not only was there a single god, but also that only one religious belief was “true,” and all others “false,” is a philosophical distinction that has serious ramifications for humanity as a whole. This paper will examine these issues from historical, philosophical, and moral points of view.

Note: For the purposes of this paper, unless otherwise specified or qualified, the term “monotheism” will be used in reference to the idea that there is one god and one “true” religion, and that the deities and religious systems of other religions are “false.” Often, the term “monotheism” is used to refer to belief systems which would more accurately be described as “monist,” “pantheist,” or “universalist,” but the author of this paper finds that such usage is counterproductive and fosters confusion. Also, the word “orthodox” will be used simply as an adjective describing rigid adherence to belief, as opposed to the various “Orthodox” churches in Christianity.

History

In contrast to the commonly-held belief that the ancient Hebrews were the first historically monotheist religious group, the concept actually originated with the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep IV, later renaming himself as “Akhenaton,” approximately 3500 years ago (Kirsch, 2004, p. 22). But Akhenaton did not just invent monotheism. He used the full force and power of his status as absolute ruler to coerce and force his subjects into adopting this religious stance, even though they were thoroughly opposed to the new doctrine (Kirsch, 2004, p. 4). But upon the death of the pharaoh, the Egyptians returned to their original polytheist roots. Egyptologist Jan Assmann and Sigmund Freud have both written extensively regarding theories that Jewish monotheism was born from the failed experiment of the pharaoh, with Freud going so far as to opine that Moses himself was actually an Egyptian priest himself (Freud, p. 16, pp. 31-32).

Yet even in the Old Testament, there are many passages which exhibit the concept of henotheism, which is the worship of one god, while acknowledging that other gods exist (Kirsch, 2004, pp. 29-30). But it is during the period of the Old Testament, from Moses onwards, that the small core of exclusivist monotheists begin to enact wars, murder, terrorism, and all manners of wicked behavior, with the sole purpose being the enforcement of the new doctrine of exclusivity.

As Kirsch notes, the core value of monotheism is not contained in the few passages extolling caring and compassionate behavior. On the contrary, the primary essence of Biblical monotheism is exclusivism. He notes of the authors of the Bible:

They do not define wickedness and sin in terms of moral and ethical conduct. Indeed, they are far more concerned with the purity of religion than with the pursuit of justice. The very worst sin of all, as they see it, is not lust or greed, but rather the offering of worship to gods and goddesses other than the True God. Whenever a biblical author is moved to call something “abominable,” he is using a code word for every ritual and belief other than his own (2004, p. 35).

Throughout the historical record, there is a fairly clear conflict between the concepts of pluralism or universalism, and the concept of exclusivist, Biblical monotheism. While there were certainly battles between the ancient polytheists of the classical world and the Hebrews, the lack of a necessity for conversion or proselytism in Judaism ensured that they eventually came to a kind of “détente,” where groups like the Romans were able to broker a kind of cessation of hostilities between them. Of course, Jewish resistance to the Greeks and Romans had a great deal more to do with the ancient Hebrews not wanting to be subjects to another people than it had to do with religious intolerance, but even then, the Romans for example, did much to attempt to foster some kind of compromise, such as the attempt to bring the Hebrew god Yahweh into the Roman pantheon (Fox, 1986, p.261). But this kind of olive branch could only be one-sided, as Kirsch states:

Precisely because the monotheist regards the polytheist with such fear and loathing, peaceful coexistence between the two theologies is possible only from the pagan’s point of view and never for the true believer in the Only True God (2004, 12).

And here then, is the root of religious intolerance. It’s not the simple idea that there is only one god, but rather the idea that there is only one “true” god. Essentially, if one believes in a single deity, then one can adopt a myriad of different ways to deal with the ideas of other religions, ranging from the radical universalist view of accepting all beliefs as valid, exemplified by William James in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, to the exclusivist view of narrowly viewing one’s own deity as the only valid deity, and ascribing to all others the motive of “evil” or “falsehood,” as in orthodox Christianity or Islam. Sikhs, for example, believe in only one god, but they also believe in a pluralistic world-view, allowing for the concept that other religions are also serving the same deity in different ways. Even though Sikhs have often been known for their martial prowess, there has never been a war to convert others to Sikhism, or a Sikh “inquisition,” or any of the other negative characteristics associated with Biblical monotheism.

Indeed, Assman has explored this concept extensively, noting that:

For these religions, and for these religions alone, the truth to be proclaimed comes with an enemy to be fought. Only they know of heretics and pagans, false doctrine, sects, superstition, idolatry, magic, ignorance, unbelief, heresy, and whatever other terms have been coined to designate what they denounce, persecute and proscribe as manifestations of untruth (2009, p. 4).

Philosophy

So if the core of this intolerance is not simply belief in a single god, is it then possible that a more philosophical component drives this kind of violent and coercive behavior on the part of Biblical monotheists? To continue to use the comparison between Sikhs and Biblical monotheists, there are two major issues that come to the fore. One is the belief in reincarnation, which could be viewed as having a “calming” effect on the need for proselytism. Religious groups that believe in reincarnation generally adopt a more “laissez-faire” attitude to conversion, owing to the idea that one will have many chances to “get it right,” as opposed to the time-critical necessity of conversion inherent in groups like Christianity and Islam, where they believe that failure to adopt the “correct” religion prior to death will result in eternal, supernatural torment.

The other issue is the conflict between “inner” and “outer” spirituality. Eastern religions, like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, are primarily concerned with the inner spiritual journey of the person, whereas much of Christianity and Islam is concerned with outward actions. This is, of course, a bit of a simplification, but it does explain the difference between the spiritual goals of the average Sikh, Buddhist, or Hindu, as opposed to the missionary zeal of the Christian or Muslim. Generally, the Eastern philosophy is centered around the idea that one must seek enlightenment of their own volition, whereas the Biblical monotheist philosophy is often centered around spreading the “good news” and attracting new converts. Of course, there are many exceptions to this theory, such as the monastic orders of Christianity, and the Hindu “missionaries” of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, otherwise known as the “Hare Krishnas.”

However, the missionary activity of non-monotheist religions has never reached into the realm of coercion or warfare, in the way that it has for Biblical monotheist faiths. The 20th century Hindu writer, Sita Ram Goel, discussed the idea of monotheism as an inherently coercive force in his book, How I Became a Hindu:

I had an occasion to read the typescript of a book [Ram Swarup] had finished writing in 1973. It was a profound study of Monotheism, the central dogma of both Islam and Christianity, as well as a powerful presentation of what the monotheists denounce as Hindu Polytheism. I had never read anything like it. It was a revelation to me that Monotheism was not a religious concept but an imperialist idea. I must confess that I myself had been inclined towards Monotheism till this time. I had never thought that a multiplicity of Gods was the natural and spontaneous expression of an evolved consciousness (1993, p. 92).

Morality

Furthermore, the moral absolution of orthodox Biblical monotheism in regards to faith is one extreme obstacle to religious tolerance. For example, if one truly believes that he/she is acting on the will of God or Allah, and that conversion, by any means necessary, is the only way to save humanity as a whole, then one is unlikely to make any kinds of concessions or compromises with people of other faiths, regardless of how reasonable they may seem to the non-zealot.

Indeed, this abhorrence of compromise is a long-standing tradition, celebrated in the Bible, and extending from antiquity to the present. One incident from the distant past that stands out is the plea for tolerance and pluralism in the letter from the Roman senator, Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, to the Christian emperor, Valentinian II, in 384 CE, as the persecutions against the polytheists were in full swing:

And so we ask for peace for the gods of our fathers, for the gods of our native land. It is reasonable that whatever each of us worships is really to be considered one and the same. We gaze up at the same stars, the sky covers us all, the same universe compasses us. What does it matter what practical systems we adopt in our search for the truth. Not by one avenue only can we arrive at so tremendous a secret (384, p. 41)

To most non-exclusivists, that passage would evoke extreme sympathy. But to the orthodox Biblical monotheist, like Valentinian II, there is no moral quandary in denying these pleas for civility and tolerance. Their weltanschauung is well-defined by these words of the bishop Fulgentius, written approximately a century later:

Of this you can be certain and convinced beyond all doubt, not only all pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics and schismatics will go into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels (Quoted in Clendenin, 1995, p. 71).

How can one truly expect a person who fully believes the above passage to seriously entertain any kind of pluralist or tolerant society? For that matter, how can one argue for tolerance and pluralism with one who believes that blowing up one’s self and killing innocent people will be heartily rewarded by Allah in the afterlife? Both of these kinds of world-views originate with the same kind of orthodox monotheism, even if neither can recognize the same kind of fanaticism in the other. The Christian terrorist who blows up an abortion clinic does not see a kinship with the Islamic terrorist who blows up a liberal mosque, but their ideology and morality stems from the same root, and many times even from the same Old Testament passages.

So what then is the solution? Is Biblical monotheism forever doomed to be the source of all religious intolerance? As noted before, the Sikhs have shown that the belief in a single god does not necessarily require hatred for all faiths that do not embrace one’s chosen deity and form of worship.

Perhaps the only way the Biblical monotheism can be “reformed” into a religion that respects the human rights of all people will be through example. Certainly, it cannot be done through brute force, which would be counterproductive, to say the least. For example, many Christians in the West have become inspired by the Hindu saint known as Mahatma Gandhi. One of the greatest symbols of Christian tolerance and morality in the 20th century, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., based much of his political philosophy upon the example of Gandhi. And yet Gandhi himself has spoken extensively regarding the problem of aggressive monotheism, saying:

It is impossible for me to reconcile myself to the idea of conversion after the style that goes on in India and elsewhere today. It is an error which is perhaps the greatest impediment to the world’s progress toward peace. Why should a Christian want to convert a Hindu to Christianity? Why should he not be satisfied if the Hindu is a good or godly man? (1991, p. 87)

Indeed, when Gandhi pointed out his belief that such doctrines presented such a great danger to humanity as a whole, one might think that this would have been noticed more by the Christians that he criticized, but unfortunately, this statement was not immortalized on t-shirts and bumper stickers in much the same manner as many of his other, “safer,” statements.

But that is one of the central paradoxes of modern Christian thought. On one hand, Jesus is heralded as a figure of great love and selfless humanitarianism, while on the other, he is used as a bludgeon to smash upon the “infidels” and establish rigid adherence to a whole host of religious, political, and moral absolutes. Of course, this type of thinking is certainly not limited to Christians, as can be easily seen by comparing the more pluralist world-views of Sufi Muslims to that of the Taliban or Wahhabi-influenced sects of Islam.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is not the belief in one god that is the source of religious intolerance, but rather the belief that there is only one “true” god, and that all other religions or forms of worship are “false,” combined with the perceived necessity for proselytism. Proselytism itself, and the seeking of converts, is in fact a destructive action which undermines tradition and culture, and destroys families. It starts from the position that the person to be converted is inherently “wrong,” and seeks to replace his/her belief system with the “correct” one. As the great Hindu saint, Swami Vivekananda said at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893:

If we Hindus dig out all the dirt from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and throw it in your faces, it will be but a speck compared to what your missionaries have done to our religion and culture (Quoted in Gautier, 2000, p. 61).

But monotheism alone, even the belief that there is only “one” god, is not simply enough to create intolerance. The Sikhs and modern Jews are proof of this point. Nor even is proselytism itself, without being accompanied by a belief in “true” and “false” religion, as is shown by the example of the Hare Krishnas. It is only the combination of these two concepts that create religious terrorism, holy wars, jihad, theocracy, and religious hatred. If Christianity and Islam are to survive the next thousand years, they will need to mature into philosophies that can learn to live with their neighbors, without forcing them to change their beliefs, cultures and traditions. The Jews learned this approximately two thousand years ago, and it’s high time that the other “religions of the book” follow their example.


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