I've talked a lot about the economy and politics in this blog so it is about time to shift gears and talk about something more important that's been
on my mind. God and religion have been hot topics lately especially with the bashing and subsequent apologies by the catholic church and the debate on
whether religion should be banned in many public places. I have my opinions on all of these things and more but that is once again really politics
and I would like to focus this exclusively on god.
There is a question that had always bothered me and I'm sure it is something most peole have thought at some point in their life. If god is all powerful
and can do or change anything then why does he allow some of the terrible things that happen to occur? Also, why does god expect us to take his teachings
on faith instead of giving us concrete proof of his existence and letting us know directly what is expected of us?
For myself at least I have come to understand why it is that god must allow things to work in this way. If we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that god
was in control and would save us from any problem would we be motivated or even willing to go out and work hard and except the failures that
inevitably occur? Would we be willing to give our time and money to be charitable to others if god could just do it for us in the blink of an eye?
I believe that most people would inevitably say no to these questions and would become dependent upon god for their every need. We see this kind of
thing all the time. When people are given the choice of a basic but guaranteed existence through the welfare of nations too many of them choose
a meager life of dependency over having to work for what they need. We would no longer rely on ourselves or the charity of others and instead become
dependent upon a higher power be it god or government.
Looking at it from God's point of view, he has given us everything we need to survive and flourish including a simple set of rules. All the
teachings of every kind of religion boil down to one simple rule, in all that you do treat others as you wish to be treated. There is no need and
in fact their would be much more harm than good from god's direct interference in our daily lives. Safety nets breed reckless and irresponsible
behavior and what greater safey net could exist than the saving power of god.
The great gift of christianity is that it allowed the individual to have a direct and personal relationship with god. The church only exists
to spread that message. The great falsehood of the church is that somehow it controls or can grant or deny access to god. Any institution of
any religion that claims to control access to god is in fact simply an organization of men attempting to centralize power.
I recently heard perhaps the most encouraging words I've ever heard spoken from a church pulpit. To paraphrase:" The role of the church
is not to insulate us from the rest of the world, the non believers and less desirables. If our only aim is to maintain this building and
preserve the people and things within it then when it is gone it will not be missed. Our goal is in fact to make this church unnecessary.
The church exists to spread the teachings of god through charitable action."
Religion has deservedly received a lot of criticism for the actions taken in the name of god. From the Romans killing christians, to the crusades
and Spanish inquistions, the pedophile priests and Islamic extremestis religion has caused a great deal of suffering and injustice throughout
history. Any and all institutions of mankind will be flawed by nature and in no way reflect upon the validity of the teachings of god. People
who give up on god because of the failures of religion are not being honest with themselves or others. Maybe they can just point to these flaws
as an excuse to justify their lack of conviction.
It is time though for all religions to not just pay lip service to the mistakes they have made but to show how serious they are about
taking responsibility for what they've done. The Pope has been making apologies and claiming to take full responsibility for the abuse
of children by catholic priests that has slowly been exposed over the years. Saying your sorry and accepting responsibility will only
matter if those words are backed up by actions. For years the church hid these crimes and moved priests around to protect the priests and
the church from the embarrasement of exposure. What needs to happen now is the church leaders need to hand over every bit of information
they have on who committed what acts and who helped to cover it up. When the criminal priests and those who covered their crimes are handed
over to the police and treated like the common criminals they are then people will once again begin to trust the church. The church may have
to lose a large portion of their leaders and their parishoners but in the end once trust is restored the people will come back.
The same case can be made for the Islamic faith. I think it is safe to say that a fair number of extremists are part of mainstream
Mosques throughout the world. They may be leading the mosque or just ordinary members but if people turn a blind eye to what they are
saying or doing then the non muslim world will continue to view Islam with a good degree of distrust. Hand over the people who have
committed or are planning to commit acts of violence. Publicly expose and eliminate the radical elements in your faith and the world
will begin to believe your message of peace and trust you once again. Only talk combined with action can gain people's trust.
I seriously believe that if people honestly questioned their religious leaders and had the courage to reject any teachings that go
against common sense and common decency then religious extremism would be a thing of the past. When faced with a falsehood you have a
few options, challenge it, ignore it or accept it. Too many people have simply chosen to ignore the problem be either walking away or
simply pretending it does not exist. Many others accept these falsehood due to either blind trust of church leaders or sheer ignorance.
Both in politics and religion these "Useful Idiots" give power to false leaders. The world needs more challengers, more people who will
stand up and question their leaders when they espouse things that defy common sense or simple morality. We need to stop being the people
who simply want to go unnoticed.