Thursday, October 05, 2006

taboo subjects

Is religion the cause of all the violence and unrest in our world today? Oh, I think we can argue about many other things in addition to religion, but it does make you wonder if two people who believe differently can actually have intimate, open and accepting conversations without religion (or any other strongly held belief or value) getting in the way. The discussion was started here, by Kristin, with her post entitled Only Birds of a Feather?

Reading some of the comments, I began to think about my friendship with A.. Lately, every time I see him, he turns the conversation to religion, to Allah and the Muslim religion to be precise. Can I honestly say I see his religion and my lack of religion as being equal? It might be fine if we didn't get into the territory of religion, but if one is devout, I can easily imagine that talking about life without religion coming into it, is like trying not to breathe. So what do we do? I feel uncomfortably like I'm having religion pushed down my unwilling throat, and my friend smiles tolerantly at me as if to say, "someday, you will grow to see the light!"

It may seem arrogant of me to say, but I think I can see my friend's point of view and even understand it, but I don't think he sees my point of view at all. But who knows. Maybe he does see my point of view, and just doesn't agree with it, as I don't agree with his. Language is part of the barrier, but it's a language of the believer vs the unbeliever, more than anything else. It just goes to show the extent to which language is based upon our fundamental world view.

The words are kind, the words claim Allah is above our faulty & frail human ways and understanding; but the words also assume so many things that I can't stomach: the subordination of woman to the man, homophobia, & that no other truth can be revealed after Mohammed, just to name a few.

A. quotes text after text in Arabic, by heart, in much the same way Bible texts were quoted to fit any occasion in my fundamentalist Protestant background, (in the ancient English of the King James' Version). Unfortunately, I suspect that quotes can be used and misused to beat people over the head by the unscrupulous who like to be literal, but only when it suits their own purposes. I'm not saying that A. is unscrupulous at all. But I get the feeling that he is quite smug in his little corner of believing, and I feel like singing that old song: "don't want no short people 'round here!"

I can easily understand that I may be the short person here, quite off the mark about what is truth or the right way. But I'm asking because I believe God is way too big to define in human terms: why do the devout always seem to be so sure their little definition is right?

Reminds me of the "killing the buddha" story: now that makes sense to me!


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