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Posts Tagged ‘On Religion’

For me, religion — no matter which one —  is ultimately about people wanting to live humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance and friendship.  All religious rules should be in service of this goal.  The Islam I learned and practice does just that.
Violence committed in the name of religion is never about religion — it’s about money.
…It’s just business.
Nor should we blame U.S. foreign policy as the spark that lights the fuse.  Poverty, political oppression, system corruption, lack of education, lack of critical thinking and general hopelessness in these countries are the spark.  Yes, we’ve made mistakes that will be used to justify recruiting new drones.  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the recent report detailing our extensive and apparently ineffective use of torture led to mass terrorist volunteers.  The world knew we tortured.   The only thing the report revealed was how bad we were at it.  More important, if recruits were swayed by logical idealism, they would realize that the fact that we conducted, released and debated such a report is what makes the U.S. admirable.  We don’t always do the right thing, but we strive to.  We admit our faults and make adjustments.  It may be glacial, but it’s movement forward.
 …
Ironically, terrorism is an act against the very religion the perpetrators claim to believe in.  It’s an acknowledgment that the religion and its teachings aren’t enough to persuade people to follow it.  Any religion that requires coercion is not about community but leaders who want power.
We can’t end terrorism any more than we can end crime in general.  But I look forward to the day when an act of terrorism by self-proclaimed Muslims will be universally dismissed as nothing more than a criminal attack of a thuggish political organization wearing an ill-fitting Muslim mask. To get to that point, we will need to teach our communities what the real beliefs of Islam are.  In the meantime, keep my name on speed dial so we can get through this together.
    —  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
From his commentary / editorial: “Paris Was Not About Religion
In Time Magazine, January 26, 2015
[Time Magazine charges $.20 per issue to those paper subscribers who also want to view articles on-line.  I refuse to pay this.  Yes, I am a dinosaur who still receives the paper edition.  I have been a subscriber to Time for over 40 years (off and on (mostly on)).  It costs Time virtually nothing to allow paper subscribers to have on-line access, but this is the business model they choose.  The bottom line is that I am unable to provide you with a link to the actual full version.  My apologies…  Please visit your local library if you wish to see the entire column.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2015 How Long Is A Piece Of String?
2014 Heathen, n.
2013 Wisdom’s Folly
2012 When The Student Is Ready
Disconnected Leadership
2011 The Complex Richness Of Life

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The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.
  ―  Mark Twain
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On This Day In:
2014 Disguised Blessings
2013 Be
2012 The Only Way to Win
2011 Honest Writing

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Hating people because of their color is wrong.  And it doesn’t matter which color does the hating.  It’s just plain wrong.
  ―  Muhammad Ali
[Hating people because of their religion is wrong.  And it doesn’t matter which religion does the hating.  It’s just plain wrong.  (What would Jesus say?)   —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 Finding Beliefs
2013 Pretty Confident
2012 Effective Ranges
2011 Three Wisdoms
2010 I’m Just Askin’…
Space & Time

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We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
    —  Henry Louis Mencken
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On This Day In:
2014 Enduring
2013 Tell Me More…
2012 Passing…
2011 Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.  Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
   ―  Napoléon Bonaparte
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On This Day In:
2014 By Contrast
2013 A Very Long Time…
2012 Raise And Support
2011 Naturally
2010 A Quick Sunday Morning Read
Giants Win Game 4 In Shutout 4 to 0!!!

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If your religion makes you kinder than I, your religion is better than mine.
   —   Bradford Leavitt
[There is something fundamentally and morally wrong with trying to destroy history – even when you don’t agree with it’s religious background.   —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2014 Magical Power
2013 How Awesome Would That Be
2012 Two Views
2011 Still Looking For Examples
2010 Giants Win Away 3 – 2!!

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This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
   ―  Dalai Lama
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On This Day In:
2014 I’m Feeling It
2013 May I Have A Little More, Please?
2012 Increasing Doubt
2011 You Can’t Touch This

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There exists a species of transcendental ventriloquism by means of which men can be made to believe that something said on earth comes from Heaven.
    —  Georg C. Lichtenberg
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On This Day In:
2014 Not Saying
2013 Ears And Tongue
2012 The Story Of Joe (Middle-Class Republican)
2011 Happy Birthday, Diana
Depending On Kindness

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Religion is a part of every society.  It is a cultural product of mankind, a tool for survival.
 …
What is Japanese religion, then?  In a word, ancestor worship.
 …
In this patriarchical value system, there could be no room for the concept of an “Almighty God,” as in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  On the contrary, Japanese kami (gods) are not considered separate personalities from men.  In need of salvation and help, people turn to the superiors of ie (that is, their ancestors), who are believed to be gods.  Another traditional belief in Japan is that the dead go to the place of their ancestors and become kami. …
  …
Maintaining its hereditary good name and continuing its ancestors’ glorious work was the most important responsibility of a family.  The religion also set up certain ethical standards for family members.  However, no provision was made for the salvation of the individual, instead, the ultimate destiny of an individual was to lose his identity and merge with his ancestral spirits after death.
   —  Mitsuyuki Masatsugu
From his book: “The Modern Samurai Society
[I believe this is the first time I have ever heard of religion as being a “cultural product” or as a “tool for survival“.   This is an interesting way of viewing “religion”.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 How’s Your View?
2012 Giants Win Game 3 Of The 2012 World Series 2 To 0!!!
Still Haven’t…
Accidental Me
2011 What Is Your Ratio?
2010 Giants Win Game 1 With 11 Runs Scored – Repeat 11 Runs!!

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God’s Word teaches a very hard, disturbing truth.  Those who neglect the poor and the oppressed are really not God’s people at all — no matter how frequently they practice their religious rituals nor how orthodox are their creeds and confessions.
 —  Theologian Ronal Sider
[Found on a blog I follow:  http://culturemonk.com/
The specific post is:  http://culturemonk.com/2014/03/26/its-probably-why-i-used-to-be-a-stripper-really/
  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Listening And Deserving
2012 I’m Still Not Certain
2011 True, False And Useful

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The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles.
  —  President John Adams
second President of the United States
(In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 20, 1815)
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On This Day In:
2013 Make Heroes
2012 See And Hold
2011 Am Not, Are So

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Take the Kama Sutra.  How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the Bible?  Who wins?
  —  Frank Zappa
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On This Day In:
2013 Still Inventing
2012 Motivated
2011 Waiting In Line At Starbuck’s

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If it seems as if you haven’t read any book reviews here lately – you haven’t.  And it’s because I’ve hardly done any reading (book reading).
Today I completed “Don’t Know Much About The Bible“, by Kenneth C. Davis (1998©).  I picked this book up last summer with the view of learning more about the basis of my Christian faith.  I got it the same day I bought “This Is My God“, which is a book summarizing / explaining the Jewish faith (see that review here).  The latter book was a “highly recommended” book in my review, and this current one is as well.  I can’t recall if I have ever read two books about religion which were as well written and fair handed in both their treatment of faith and of history.
This book, “Don’t Know Much…”, does contain some attempts at “wit” which might put some folks off, but generally, this is an excellent overview of the Bible as historical and cultural documentation.  By “historical” I mean the author attempts to put the historical errors in the Bible in their “actual” or “reasonable” time frame.  By “cultural” I mean, the author also tries to explain why a given writer of a portion of the Bible may have written what he (they) did.  The author does not attempt to explain the miracles described in the Bible, nor does he attempt to explain them away.  Mostly, he simply ignores them.  When that is not possible, he frequently simply states (or implies) that it (the event) probably just never happened that way.  The author uses a question and answer format to try to answer fundamental questions like when were the various books of the Bible written, by whom, and what were they hoping to explain (pass on to others in the faith).
If you are a Biblical Fundamentalist, this book will challenge your fundamental understanding of the universe and that is probably more than the average fundamentalist can stand.  Save your money and your sanity and don’t buy or read this book.  It is not for you.  If, on the other hand, you are an atheist or agnostic, a person of non-Christian faith, or a Christian of confident faith, you will have no problem with reading this book.  Indeed, you will put it down with a MUCH greater understanding of the Bible as a “loose” history book and an appreciation of man’s on-going efforts to try to understand his place in the universe.  In my own case, this understanding is grounded in religious faith and this book did nothing what-so-ever to shake that faith.
Early last year, I made an effort to try to read the Bible front to back.  I didn’t succeed.  Mostly, because I was spending time thinking about what I was reading and trying to figure out whether it made sense – particularly when compared to what I “thought” I’d been taught and / or believed about my Roman Catholic faith.  Concurrently, I was trying to read Isaac Asimov’s “Asimov’s Guide to the Bible“, but struggled with it as well.  As a juxtaposition, Asimov’s “Guide” was useful, but again, requires time for digestion.  Between the two books, and all the thinking, it was relatively easy to find other interests to pursue for more immediate intellectual gratification.
The bottom line is that having read (and having available for reference) these two books, I now feel in a much better position to go back and pick up where I left off in the Bible and Asimov’s work.
Conclusion, if you want to know all (well, maybe only quite a few) of the contradictions and errors of time, place and personage in the Bible, this is the book for you.  If you have faith and want to understand the historical context of the old and new testaments, this work is equally valuable.  This is not because the Bible is historically and scientifically accurate in and of itself.  It isn’t – nor should we expect it to be.  The “point” of the Bible is to explain God’s relationship with man as we have come to understand this relationship over the last 5,000 years.  That, in itself, is quite a challenge and this book makes a reasonable effort to cover this changing understanding / relationship.  Highly recommended!
And, of course, a number of quotes will find their way onto this site in the future…
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On This Day In:
2013 Execution Not Intensity
2012 Charles Carroll Of Carrollton (The Only Catholic Founder)
2011 Life Works
Pay Like Hell
Prosperity Finds Its Way Up

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When I feed the poor they call me a saint.  When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist.
  —  Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara
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On This Day In:
2013 Making You Stronger
2012 Sick Of Being Sick
Greater Than Power
2011 Clear, Specific And Measurable
2010 The Runner’s High
Into The Dark…

 

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Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
   —  Napoleon Bonaparte
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On This Day In:
2013 The Lucky Few
2012 A Post-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Risk, Lyrics, Starting Over, And My Trip To The ER
Lucky Choice

 

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