Truth (and the most insightful historians & history) derives from empathy not judgement:
Neil MacGregor: ‘Britain forgets its past. Germany confronts it’
Another month, another edition of Alive!
If you’ve never encountered this unique publication, think of something like the old Soviet Union-era Pravda ‘newspaper’: unthinking rigid hardcore adherence to an ideology come hell or high water.
In the Soviet Union the rock of belief was Communism, in Alive!’s case its uncompromising doctrinaire Catholicism. The message, mindset and mission makes the Khmer Rouge seem moderate. A claim of care masking razor blades.
There’s no semblance of toleration or even an awareness that there may be more than one valid point of view. It’s black or white, with us or against us.
And if you are against them, it’s not a philosophical opposition. Alive! are sure and certain that those who disagree are diseased of mind, and possibly body; twisted agents of Satan.
That sounds over the top and straight out of either the Middle Ages (with apologies to the Middle Ages) or a bad horror B-movie.
Unfortunately they are serious. No matter what else you do in life, if you don’t it while espousing their exact beliefs to the letter, and obeying ever tenet without question, nothing matters.
Feed the starving? Pointless without prayer.
House the homeless? No hallelujah and it’s all for naught.
Bring about world peace? Not your job, it’s Gods and you have no business interfering.
No matter what good someone might do, how moral they might be, how great an impact they might have for the better, if that person does not adhere to the One True Faith nothing they do can be genuinely worthwhile. Without the magic fairy dust, reality will remain lacking.
The classic example is the cover photo above of Snow White – who didn’t live happily ever after because she wasn’t a good god-fearing Catholic. So now she’s miserable.
There’s a simple solution of course. Every totalitarian belief system has a simple solution – usually set out in a book.
There’s the Bible, Mao’s Little Red Book, and Mein Kampf. Throw in Das Kapital and everything and anything by other Communist prophets.
All aim at the same control and demand the same obedience. All demand complete unquestioning loyalty. All have special castes who interpret for the ‘masses’. All have their own cherished buzzwords and jargon, usually opaque and meaningless.
All cause suffering and pain.
All are spiteful and cruel in language, thought and ultimately deed.
For the greater good of course.
Which is or will be the next/new world. When the revelation/revolution comes.
Though it never actually happens. So someone is to blame, someone is not faithful enough, not pure enough, someone is sabotaging sent by the Devil/Trotsky/Splitists.
And so begins the hunt for traitors and freethinkers.
Welcome to the inquisition.
Next stop a gulag, a camp or an industrial school.
Beware of the unbending sneerers of Alive!, something dark lurks within………
Why do we need religion today?
What does it do that isn’t covered by something else?
In times past churchmen were some of the few educated people in society – that’s long ceased to be.
In times of trouble and worry religion used to offer a listening ear and consolation – but in an age of doctors, psychology, psychiatry, and counselling services, not to mention friends and family with time and insights to share, who needs unqualified dabblers?
Religious institutions provided health and welfare as a charity to the poor, now replaced as a right by the health and welfare systems of modern states.
Morality and basic right and wrong are intrinsic to human nature, and adhered to as completely and strongly by atheists as believers – religion contributes nothing extra.
Physics, chemistry, archaeology, zoology, botany, geology, history, geography and linguistics, to name just a few specialities, have long replaced the metaphorical tales of faith with real explanations of the world around us and the space beyond us.
What we do see religions cause is division and strife, horrific violence and discrimination, mistreatment of those who don’t believe or believe differently, a poisoning of human relations, a constriction of human spirit, a diminishment of the only life we have.
So, why do we need religion?
Start with this: “We do not come to treat with Sauron, faithless and accursed. Tell your master this: the armies of Mordor must disband.- Gandalf”
Replace ‘Sauron’ with [Enda, Michael, Gerry, Joan, Lucinda, Richard, Joan, Joe, Shane/Claire/Mick]
Replace ‘Mordor’ with: [Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour Sinn Fein, PPP, AAA, SP, Ind, ReBoot]
Replace ‘Gandalf’ with your favourite political minion/muppet
And you’ll get some thing like this:
“We do not come to treat with Enda, faithless and accursed. Tell your master this: the armies of Fine Gael must disband.- Willie O’Dea (possibly wearing pointy plastic ears”
Repeat as necessary.
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