Butr eligion often comes before everything. This desire to transcend beyond the human condition and think the thoughts of something, or someone, above us, leads as much to inhumane treatment of each other as it does the more amenable qualities, like true humility, kindness and respect.
One fictional world saviour penned, \u201cI can\u2019t get behind the gods who are more vengeful, angry and dangerous if you don\u2019t believe in them\u2026 if all these gods are omniscient and omni- present, what\u2019s the problem\u2026 why can\u2019t they all just get along? And what a bout the men who say \u2018do what I do; believe in what I say for your own good\u2026 or I\u2019LL KILL YOU!\u2019\u201d
The most progressive religions seem hostile to the idea of live and let live, or they\u2019re seen as diluted, wishy-washy, adulterated and disingenuous. But our choice of religion is as much a lottery, based on how moral or traditional our parents were, where we happened to have been born and into which community. More accurately, it will depend upon the level of tolerance of its leaders. The majority of people have access to the history of religion in all its varied and complex paradigms, its bloody oppression and political developments. I am respectful of genuine devotion to humane principles when they do not impose bigotry upon others for self-righteous reasons. But those principles sure disappear quickly when we scratch beneath the surface of any community into privately-held beliefs and the views of people who cannot accept some aspects of what they\u2019re expected to follow. Of course, hypocrisy and ignorance abound when lazy-minded people decide it\u2019s better to let someone tell them what to believe, or search for knowledge is actively discouraged. But what about those who genuinely inform themselves yet find some ideas incompatible with their feelings?
don\u2019t know any religion where we\u2019ll be judged en-mass. That goes for Christians, too. And if Christians don\u2019t believe they will be let down by God or Jesus at some point, then they need to take a much closer look at that good book. I am no longer religious and yes, I might shit myself if I face my creator because I\u2019m a rogue; but I can do so with integrity, as my complete self, in all honesty and as a good person. And if I choose to be condemned to eternal damnation\u2026 that\u2019s my choice isn\u2019t it, as long as I\u2019m not harming anyone else? Maybe God is bigger than that. (See chapter \u2013 \u2018Hole in the heart\u2019).
Maybe intolerance is reinforced by some religions, but so-called moderate \u2018Christians\u2019 all over the world, who believe all mankind everywhere owe their salvation to Jesus, are even intolerant of each other, in international and civil wars and their everyday judgments.
The problems that are faced by other cultures are generally similar, if not compounded by our \u2018progressive\u2019 society. I respect how difficult the down-sides can be to cope with \u2013 the struggle between moderates, traditionalists and fundamentalists \u2013 and I respect their culture because I see many wonderful qualities to it. I don\u2019t want to become an expert and immerse myself in it by living in Pakistan, Marrakech or Oldham. But I am delighted I have such diversity on my doorstep and I\u2019d like there to be more of an exchange. It was edifying to hear that the first Mosque in the UK existed as long ago as the nineteenth century. And that it was built by a Jew. In the summer, I hate being woken at all hours of the night, by drunks and kids in the street, bawling their conversations with no consideration even for their own privacy. And why not, if their parents don\u2019t give a shit where they are? When I visit a Muslim country, I actually look forward to being woken at all hours by the ascending Tannoyed prayers from near and distant minarets. They rise in small increments of pitch, increasing as they breach the stratosphere into the threshold of the third heaven. There is something equally re-affirming, beautiful and dreadful about that sound. It is awesome and fearsome as if Allah is peering down and about to engulf us, but to Muslims he already is. It doesn\u2019t fill me with dread of almighty god, angels, demons, or the power of this earth to swallow us up in an instant. It fills me with dread of the capabilities man has adopted to become god. And even if I don\u2019t believe as they do (and they can never make me believe, that is another power we have), I can appreciate the history and traditions and collective power of all that individual devotion and reverence. The same
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