George Stroumboulopoulos touched Debbie Travis’ breasts!
I used it to get your attention, but it actually happened. Gemini Awards, 2006. So, now you know.
Meanwhile, let’s get into the real reason why I’m here tonight: religion, politics, and all that fun stuff.
It’s no secret that religion and politics are two things that figure very prominently in the minds of many these days, specifically when it comes to the United States and their government. There has been a lot of talk about the separation of church and state, the relevance of faith in the Republican/Conservative/Right-Wing rule of George Bush. If you’re thinking that I’m going to re-hash things that have been said and said and said again, you might be right, but there are a few things that came up in conversation over coffee with Matthew Downey this evening that I think warrant some further discussion, and deserve to be written down.
To start, we have an appetizer of definitions:
religion (plural religions)
1. A system of beliefs, including belief in the existence of at least one of the following: a human soul or spirit, a deity or higher being, or self after the death of one’s body.
2. A number of customs and rituals associated with such beliefs.
3. Anything that involves the association of people in a manner resembling a religious institution or cult.
4. Any system or institution which one engages with in order to foster a sense of meaning or relevance in relation to something greater than oneself.
1. Concern for that which is unseen and intangible, as opposed to physical or mundane.
2. Appreciation for religious values.
1. The practice of responding to conflict with dialogue
2. Set of policies relating to governmental and legal matters
3. Campaigning or arguing for a set of policies, or maneuvering for power
passion (countable and uncountable; plural passions)
1. suffering; particularly in Christianity, the suffering of Jesus leading up to and during his crucifixion
2. great emotion
3. fervor, determination
4. The object of passionate love.
5. A play, musical composition or display meant to commemorate the suffering of Jesus.
Ah, a little more perspective. My argument, my view on it is that religion is not inherently bad, it is the passion, the fervor that sometime accompanies it that is the problem.
I always talk a lot about the difference between religious belief and spirituality when having any sort of discussion about either, and I think that’s a very important distinction to make. People who have spiritual beliefs are not necessarily religious, and people who are religious are most certainly not always spiritual. I think it is a wonderful thing when a person dedicates their life to a cause, a set of ideals or whatever it is they believe in. There is nothing bad about that in its simplest form. But, certainly most people will recognize the problems that forcing ones beliefs on another causes. This is an issue that’s definitely not black and white, and it’s not just in saying, “Believe the same things that I do, because I’m right!” that the problem arises, it’s more “Believe what I do or I will use it against you in any way I can, when you are least expecting it, and when it will hurt you the most”. This is, without a doubt, what the United States government has been doing since George W was “elected” into office almost 7 years ago.
Basically, the Republican government is a big, fat, bully!
Remember grade school when you got pushed around for not thinking, dressing, or acting the right way? It’s dirty playground politics, and a lot of it is in the name of religion. The passionate dedication to the set of ideals, traditions and beliefs that go with Evangelical Christianity (the chosen religion of the Republican Party) is the soap box atop of which the President sings his unharmonious, paranoia inducing song. Unfortunately, he has sung this song so loudly and obnoxiously for the last 7 years that the American people have either not been heard, been too afraid to say anything, or have been shot and killed in the name of a cause that likely has nothing to do with religious faith, but has been cloaked in it for the sake of getting American citizens to go along with it. If it’s in the name of God, people generally figure it’s okay. The strange part about this, and other holy wars that have been fought in the history of the world is that neither God, nor Jesus (some would say particularly not Jesus) has ever said anything about fighting wars in the name of the Almighty, or even that the Almighty would condone such behaviour. Just ask the Red Letter Christians; they’ll set you straight on Jesus: “Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America.” I’m not American, nor am I Evangelical, but that’s a movement I can get behind. I will say that I am a fan of Jesus, whether he was a man, the son of God, or a fictitious creation: I don’t care, really. He is reputed to have said some really great and simple things. As Adam Chafe once said: “Jesus was really onto something with that ‘thou shalt not kill’ stuff”. Somehow, the killing of many innocent people in the name of a superior being, whose 10 rules for life include ‘thou shalt not kill’ seems extremely hypocritical. I can bet that George W has broken every single commandment (or forced others into the position where they must) since he came into office. Well, with the possible exception of ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’; come on, who would sleep with that monkey?
That monkey is the man who has driven the world into a neo-medieval state. During the medieval period in Europe, your politics was your religion and your religion was your politics. There was no line there, until the English drew it a few centuries ago. Being a student of medieval history, one of the things that is constantly beaten into your brain is that the Church had more sway than pretty much any other organization or person. Fervor and dedication to a higher power ran rampant throughout medieval Europe, and religious values informed many of the political decisions that were made. Speaking specifically of Roman Catholic/Christian beliefs and the way that system works, it seems that people of the time felt either frightened and paranoid by God, or later: safe and taken care of. And really, when you think about it, that seems to be that state in which the Republican party has left the Americans of the 21st century. Either way, whether one is frightened or comforted by God, one will likely do anything when faced with the disapproval of such an intimidating power, and when one’s beliefs do not allow for the option that there is anything or anyone else out there but God, that is the end of the discussion. Anyone not doing God’s work, not obeying God’s rules, not being God’s good children must be dealt with accordingly. This is where blind faith can be dangerous.
I hate the concept of blind faith, since it often leaves people of faith in a situation where they can be ridiculed and their intelligence made light of. I would rather everyone in the world be informed to the greatest extent possible, and then everyone would be jolly happy to leave it all alone. However, that’s not the case, and people who are blindly faithful to a supreme being (in this case, God) will often look to spiritual and sometimes political leaders and accept their ambitions, as long as it is in the name of the Almighty. The fault in that is that these people do not often seem to pick up their Bibles and check out the legitimacy of such a claim. I mean, if you’re going to believe in something, do it right and be well-informed. My take on it is that one can believe whatever it is one believes, as long as the time is taken to get the word from the horse’s mouth, not the monkey’s. And ya know, be happy that you’re doing the right thing, and never mind what everyone else is doing. Pass on the good message if the opportunity presents itself and someone wants to know, but if not, go on about your own business.
Stoicism isn’t so bad, is it?
Go fishing and read some Hemingway.
[/socio-political, religious commentary]