by timodonnell | September 21st, 2010
For many years in this country, religion was kept separate, a private and personal matter. Lately, it seems we are seeing religion in the headlines on a daily basis - Papal apologies, debates over a mosque, revival meetings on The Mall, bonfire of Qur’ans, Obama’s “real” religious beliefs, radical imams, pedophile priests and Hawking’s “news” that creation needs no creator.
This trend probably traces back to 9/11 but one could argue that religion was making its way into public life during the rise of the Moral Majority more than twenty years ago. But the persistent discussion about religion really came to center-stage nine years ago. At first it seemed like dialogue might serve some greater good, that maybe a sense of understanding would lead to tolerance and maybe, who knows – result in a real shot at peace. The tone of today suggests otherwise. We are not gaining understanding of each other’s belief systems we are adding to the mistrust, we are not becoming more tolerant, we are becoming more parochial, we are not closing in on peace we are expanding the confrontation.
When I look at what dogmatic religion has done to our species, I often wonder what God might think about what’s happening in the world today. What would God, Allah, Yahweh, Spirit, (or whatever you call that Entity) say if He were to address us directly. What if God held a news conference and addressed us in modern language that forced us to override the ancient texts we rely on to guide our behavior and our beliefs? What if “the word of God” was delivered on videotape for all the world to see and hear and not delivered through mystics of antiquity channeling God?
Yes, I really do wonder about stuff like this – and more so all the time as I see the ever increasing preoccupation with religion in modern society. We want answers about truth and the worlds predominant systems of belief steadfastly and continuously turn to ancient writings to get the answers.
During the recent ninth anniversary of 9/11 I was reminded of an article I read many years ago in, of all places, The Onion. (The Onion is a satire on the news that usually has funny and poignant takes on the events of the day.) As we know by living in a society that still relishes and protects free speech, humor and its first cousin satire, is a powerful way to address serious subjects. Look at the way in which people like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher increase the political awareness of huge blocks of people simply by cracking wise about current affairs.
It took a long time for anyone to joke about 9/11 and even today I rarely hear comedians joke about it, but The Onion published the following bit of satire two weeks after the events. It was timely then and considering the tone and topic of discussion of today, it’ worth reading again.
Enjoy. This is worth reading.
God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule
SEPTEMBER 26, 2001 |
NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.
“Look, I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again,” said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. “Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don’t. And to be honest, I’m really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand.”
Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called “an unending cycle of violence.”
“I don’t care how holy somebody claims to be,” God said. “If a person tells you it’s My will that they kill someone, they’re wrong. Got it? I don’t care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else’s, ever again.”
The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.
“I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you’d get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important,” said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. “I guess I figured I’d left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?”
“But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody’s spouting off some nonsense about, ‘God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it’s God’s will,’” God continued. “It’s not God’s will, all right? News flash: ‘God’s will’ equals ‘Don’t murder people.’”
Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur’an.
“To be honest, there’s some contradictory stuff in there, okay?” God said. “So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it’s God’s will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall.”
God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as “wonderful, pious people,” calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.
“This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason,” God said. “There’s no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club.”
Continued God, “Read the book: ‘Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.’ It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain.”
God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.
“I don’t care what faith you are, everybody’s been making this same mistake since the dawn of time,” God said. “The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don’t even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, ‘Turn the other cheek,’ but you’ve been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades.”
Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: “Can’t you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism… every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you’re supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It’s not that hard a concept to grasp.”
“Why would you think I’d want anything else? Humans don’t need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you’ve been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!” God said. “The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?”
“I’m talking to all of you, here!” continued God, His voice rising to a shout. “Do you hear Me? I don’t want you to kill anybody. I’m against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don’t kill each other anymore—ever! I’m fucking serious!”
Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God’s shoulders began to shake, and He wept.