The greater part of what's ahead illustrates the fascinating realities of many true/pure believers, the more fundamentalist segment of religious adherents. I personally favor increased recognition of an inherent sense of subjectivity and relativity in all of human thought and activity. It would certainly help in healing many religious wounds and schisms, and we might avert a war or two as well if people were just a little bit less hell-bent on enforcing their absolute views on others and defending in kind.
|There's a unifying pattern somewhere in the whirlpool. Finders keepers.|
Narrow Horizons and Lost Potentials
One of the darker sides of religion is seen in many adherents' tendency to accept and reject friends and relationships on the basis of their chosen mythos, or the overlay of beliefs and ethical codes. Particularly smaller or tighter religious/spiritual denominations and groups tend to encourage or even enforce a segregation of believers from non-believers, protecting the believers from the perceived dangers of evil and heretical thoughts and mundane company. This leads to mental and/or social isolation from the surrounding world.
Clinging exclusively to people who subscribe to similar metaphysical beliefs is unfortunately a poor means of connecting to the rich and diverse potentials of the human world. When your available range of contacts and possibilities becomes confined within a single frame of reference, you'll be a monoglot in an increasingly globalizing world, and if you happen to subscribe to a smaller group of fringe believers, you're further stuck with an obscure tribal language. Expand your horizons!
The narrower you draw the spectrum of your human connections, the smaller shrinks your window of being nourished by interaction and exchange. On the other hand, should you choose to expand the range of your connections beyond the identifications and defenses of any particular system of belief — the specifics of which are hardly essential in the grand scheme of existence! — you would maximize your interactive potential and evolutionary prospects in life.
|Some patterns remain constant across the history of religious fundamentalism.|
The Religious Repercussion — What Went Wrong?
Beliefs and mythologies rarely follow a straight-forward logical formula you could easily understand; because it doesn't really have to make sense or be true, as long as you believe in it and receive an extended sense of comfort or convenience. People can get highly emotional and irrational in promoting and defending their cherished beliefs — especially when their existential framework is under perceived threat by contradicting views.
As we've seen the world around, it's not that hard to even accidentally make someone feel that their faith is being blasphemed or persecuted, leading to indignation, uproar, and unpleasant repercussions. If I wrote an article called "My Overly Holy And Medium Moot Existential Dilemma", and then someone got on my case for forgetting the PBUH because the initials added up to someone's revered name (PBUH) — would that make any sense whatsoever? I think not, yet such are the times we live in — everyone is connected, and increased exposure leads to increased opportunities for conflict.
Were religions truly meant to bring so much anger, hatred, and narrow-mindedness into the world? Someone must have lost track of the actual point somewhere down the history lane — unless the bugs were stamped as features and thrown in at last minute by the busy sky systems designer, who just needed to meet his markets soon. If god really exists, one really hopes it was the humans who screwed up their part of the deal, because clearly something isn't quite right with the picture we see.
Crossing through a number of religious communities over the years, I have witnessed on countless occasions how temporary, frail and superficial relationships based on religious sentiment and communality can ultimately be, when perspectives evolve and situations change. Shared religious beliefs can create an awfully narrow and fragile platform for leading an actually fulfilled life, depriving you from access to the greater part of your real inner potentials, along with the potentials of the larger human world and an abundance of lessons to learn.
|What color of glasses do you wear when praying or evaluating others in the eyes of god?|
Subjective Faith — Subjective God
On a necessary note of clarification over my sometimes pointed critique on the darker sides of religion and belief — I do not mean to criticize any one system of belief over the others. I am simply against endorsing any given view as the final and ultimate word in metaphysics, including my personal views that are explicitly tentative and subject to improvement and evolution. This reservation naturally reflects on my outlook on the greater part of religious beliefs and associated organizations and congregations, who all too often would have us believe in them as the sole emissaries of the greatest and tallest truth.
Every belief is formed and conceived of in the subjective and limited individual human mind, and religious experience itself is a highly subjective sensation. If a belief works in favor of your subjective world, then may you be happy and prosper with it — but please don't try to force-paint the same sign across everyone's sky. You wouldn't like to see vandals doodling their graffiti on your garage door, so please remember to keep your He-Man and the Masters of the Universe graffiti off others' mental environments too. That is, unless you know you're welcome to decorate and are clearly received in kind. In either case, be sure to keep yourself and your message in a broader context!
God created us all into his own image, and we all seem to look and think a wee bit different. Let's aim for a bit of extra space and dimension up there in the sky as well. Your god sounds an awful lot like you, so he's probably not the same god who created me in his image. Will the real god please stand up and announce himself? It's been a long time coming, and at least a a basic corrigenda and updating for the popular range of holy books would be in order.
The Real God™ — a truly ultimate entity in every respect, excelling in total immanence and transcendence, experienced as absolute in fullness, nothingness and beginningless flux, the supreme blueprint and mastermind of chaos and logos, pervasive as undivided cognitive existential joy — frankly doesn't give a rat's ass about people raving on about any one of the countless conflicting beliefs of theirs. That is, if such an entity exists to begin with — which is something best left up to each individual to sort out for themselves.
A pet future utopia of mine is a world where the humanity at large has evolved to a point where metaphysical relativism is so widely taken as a self-evident axiom that the mere concept of religious friction is an unintelligible oxymoron. Utopia pending, humanity still has a great many cognitive bridges to cross in learning to relate to each other a bit more constructively. We all dig peace on earth, goodwill among men, and all the rest of the good stuff that religious advocates promise in their leaflets. We don't really need that hell and brimstones stuff in capital letters on the flip side of your leaflet, thank you very much!
» Continued: On Ideological Fundamentalism