Thursday, July 19, 2007

Religion's 3rd Category

So many of my friends, Dear Reader(s), listen politely to my protestations that organized religions are the source of much of the world's woes, giving me hope that finally someone out there agrees and is willing to join the struggle for the soul and safety of the world, who then politely change the subject, telling me in a very subtle way, "Please. Organized religions cannot be overcome. They are with us and with us they will stay. Save your energy."

The veritable wall of submission, islam?, is immutable, it seems. Religion will not be changed, therefore, it cannot be changed.

OK. Regardless of that dictum, one must persevere. Let me try again.

Generally, one divides organized religions into two parts, the laity and the clergy. How about, for the purposes of this particular type of discussion, we add a third part--the exploitative.

The exploitative is the person who studies a religion's teachings and looks for a word or a phrase which is ambiguous, therefore useful in developing an idea which might confuse an issue, thus giving the exploiter a way in which to further his ambition.

In English literature, Chaucer limned the Pardoner; in French, Moliere gave us Tartuffe, in the New Testament we have the cleansing of the Temple. In American literature we have Elmer Gantry. These are well-known examples of exploiters who are after monetary gain. This exploiter is an age-old personage. We have known virtually from the beginning of religious development of his existence.

Today we have a new sort of exploiter--one who is after a power which surpasses the powers individuals of societies have ceded to their leaders. This is a very dangerous person, and he needs to be given the respect which is his due. We must identify him, we must study him, we must protect ourselves from his insidiousness. We have a desperate need to become aware of how he works and what constitutes his danger to our well being.

The "ideological struggle" in which we find ourselves engaged is against this person in all religions. We must search the texts, the lore, the cultures and find those instances where the gullible, whether pope, imam, rabbi, or peasant, is left vulnerable to being used in ways inimical to decency.

We can start by acknowledging the metaphorical aspects of religious writings. There are no pearly gates; and there certainly is not a panderer for carnal pleasure in the hereafter.

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