but not really.
Usually I like to be light-hearted about things like death and religion because let’s face it, I’m 19, probably won’t die for a very long time, and those are two typically very serious things. But sometimes we pick the improper venues for expressing such light-heartedness. So I’ll be serious (but only briefly).
There is a serious difference between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. But only in a modern sense. So Pat Robertson doesn’t advocate suicide bombing in the 21st century, but Christian fundamentalism definitely has the crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to its name, both of which very much had this “death to the infidels” appeal. If you’re not a cafeteria Catholic, then that means you embrace those and all other “negative” aspects of your religion’s history, right?
And what about abortion clinics bombed in the name of Christianity? Are those not perversions of an otherwise peaceful faith? Start saying those things about Islam, and you might get labeled blasphemous, or at the very least, laughed at by people like Ann Coulter. I’m sure there are lots of Muslims who think suicide bombers are as they are: crazy, misguided–sometimes impoverished–individuals; we (the West) like to focus on those radical fanatics on the fringe because they make us feel better about our supposedly “superior” religion.
Obviously fundamentalist Islam and Christianity are different if only because the followers of the religions identify with their faiths differently. What I’m saying is that religion, especially fundamentalist religion, is inherently susceptible to being used incorrectly, and not how its founders/messiahs/God/Allah intended.
Now, I’m not gonna say that I don’t think religion is wonderful, because I think it is. It takes this big abstract concept, God, and simplifies it into words and analogies that most people can understand, learn, and grow from. But if God is real, and if God is as they say (omnipotent, omniscient, infinite being), then He is so far beyond human comprehension, so far beyond the anthropomorphic features we ascribe to Him (vengeful, loving, angry God), that any attempt to define this God in any logical sense is an act of absurdity. How do you express God’s Word in any of our own native tongues? I don’t think you can. You can’t even come close, unless, I suppose, and this is that bitter pill I stopped being able to swallow, you have that faith, that glow that I often times see around those Christians who I believe really figured it out. But at the same time, man being the imperfect thing that he is, will constantly mess up his interpretation of God’s will, transfix his own selfishness onto the Word of God, and manipulate this pretty good thing, religion, into another one of his manifestations of power. THATS why our founding fathers pleaded the case for separation of church and state. NOT so they could get nativity scenes off public property or the words “Merry Christmas” out of advertising campaigns.
So to conclude, I admire you Brian for your faith just as I admire others for theirs. It’s something I lost and have tried very hard to get back, especially last semester, without much success. As Vonnegut’s eldest son wrote to him in a letter, “I’ve come to understand that we’re all here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is.” That gives me solace, I suppose, and at the very least a loose grasp on my sanity. And well, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and yes, even Atheism–all of those faiths, the way I see it, they’re there to help us help each other through this thing, whatever it is.
ps: just read through this again and realized i got way off topic so i’m addenduming it with this post script to apologize profusely for my undiagnosed ADD.