Thursday, August 21, 2014
The Brutality, Savagery, and Stupidity of Religion in Two Nut Shells
When American journalist James Foley was beheaded by a fundamentalist Muslim terrorist organization, ISIS, and the horror of it video taped for the world to see, it exemplified the very worst that religious fervor brings to civilization.
The moderate apologists of Islam will insist that it was not driven or endorsed by Islam and Islamic doctrine, which is a “religion of peace”, but by “not true Muslims” who have co-opted Islam for a political purpose. The problem of course is that to religious fundamentalist extremists of any flavor politics and religion cannot be separated, they are one in the same. It is as true now in Islamic theocracies, and among Christian right wing Republicans who’d happily see the USA a theocracy, as it was in the days of the Hebrew King David, the Egyptian pharaohs, and the Holy Roman Empire. And in those times and places, the political imperative was marked by brutality and savagery that was justified and spurred by religious belief.
This newest horrific and rabid form of Islam is akin to a mutation of an already deadly virus, one for which there is no cure. For a cure, it would take universal acceptance of reason, and rejection of religious delusion and justification, and that is nowhere in sight.
It will become a world wide epidemic spreading fear, violence and death as it attracts and infects new blood from the ranks of moldable “Moderate Muslims” ripe for radicalization. When and how this will end, how civilization will deal with this throwback to a Dark Age uncivilized abomination, I cannot predict, no one can. I am reasonably certain that it will get worse before it gets better. And I am very certain I will not live long enough to see the final outcome. I wish I could foresee some sage, positive, hopefulness, but the fact is I got nuthin’ to offer in that regard.
So much for the savagery and brutality of religion; now onto the nut shell of stupidity.
This evening as I listened to the local news I heard a woman from James Foley’s hometown here in New Hampshire say this: “I said the Rosary every day for James while he was captive. And now I say it for his family.”
Obviously the complete and utter irrationality of what she said is entirely lost on her. For over a year she prayed the repetitive and droning Rosary everyday appealing to the Virgin Mary to intercede on her behalf to cajole and convince Jesus/God to save Mr. Foley and deliver him from evil…only to have it fail with such horrible finality. But never mind… now she’ll do the exact same prayerful appeals to Jesus/God on behalf of the Foley family and hope for a better result... whatever that may be. Stupidity.
James Foley was himself a devout Catholic. He wrote a piece about his captivity in Libya in 2011. Here is an extract:
”If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”
I imagine James Foley was praying all during his captivity in Iraq. Alas, his god, AKA the odds, didn’t favor him this time. If prayer and belief gave him courage and strength during that time, and as he was about to die, then it played the only good role the lie and delusion of prayer and religion can deliver. And I’m hopeful for his sake that it did.