Wow! Only four previous posts and he’s moving onto the controversial stuff!
Some weeks ago I was loading my coffee mug into the dish-washer at work when my eye was caught by one of the other mugs in there. It had a Christian cross on it and some sort of slogan about the harvest. This is not too surprising in that I work for a company in the Agricultural business and several of the people I work with are practicing Christians. A mug combining both elements is not, therefore, out of place in our office kitchen.
What DID surprise, worry and irritate me (in that order) were the other words printed in bold letters around the base of this mug which were these:-
“Celebrating the one true god”
I now know which of my overtly Christian colleagues owns the object in question and I have to say that he is, by any definition of the term, a gentleman. He is calm, patient, wouldn’t hurt a fly, and loves his wife, children and grandchildren only slightly more than he appears to love the rest of mankind. He is honest in his personal and business dealings and is trusted and respected by everyone he comes into contact with. In short, he is the living embodiment of what a Christian is supposed to be.
So, what I want to know is why this paragon of virtue is taking his daily caffeine from a utensil proclaiming a message that, when you look hard at it, is just as divisive, intolerant and possibly even hateful as (for example) an Islamic coffee mug with “death to the infidel” written on it would be!
Over-reacting? I don’t think so! Look at the words again. There is no possibility of ambiguity there, is there? One! True! Those two words do not allow for there being MORE than one deity and make it quite clear that any others claiming the title are not “true” and therefore, by definition, “false”. Thus, the secondary message here appears to be “any other religion than this one is fake”!
And the big problem for the world has been, is, and continues to be, that most of the major religions (I exclude the Dharmic religions – Hinduism and its side shoots – which have so many gods that exclusivity is an alien concept to them!) think exactly the same thing and nothing will persuade them otherwise.
On my bookshelves there is a great diversity of fact and fiction and amongst it all there lives a marvellous tome by Robert Graves (he of “I , Claudius” fame) entitled “The Greek Myths” which analyzes said myths right back to the earliest known versions and fits them into the workings of the primitive societies then in existence.
As you work your way through this book (and it’s not for you if what you are after is a fictionalised version of the Labours of Hercules for example!) it becomes apparent that just about every theme used in the holy books of the so-called “Abrahamic” religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam – has been used over and over again in progressively older stories that ultimately go back past recorded history. None of it is new. It only appears to be different because (to use the Old Testament of the Bible as an example) the old tales have been mixed in with what amounts to a (rather boring!) historical account of a particular region of the world in a particular era.
Everybody seems to accept that the major religions cannot all be right – the problem comes whenever someone suggests that THEIRS is the one that IS right! Now it seems to me that rather than any one of our current religions being unassailably right and the others equally wrong, they have all sprung from the same ancient folklore/superstition and are therefore just as likely to be ALL equally wrong! In almost every instance their rightness is determined by the assertion that “This is the unalterable Word of God”. Plainly it isn’t! It has been altered to suit the needs of the priesthood dozens and dozens of times throughout history.
Having offended three-quarters of the people of the world, especially those who cannot and will not think beyond what someone in religious authority has assured them is the Whole And Only Truth, I will, in the second part of this article at some indeterminate time in the future, try to create a new religion for the 21st Century. This must banish primitive superstition while reconciling our scientific knowledge with our hopes and the very human fear that no part of us goes on after death.
I look forward to attempting it!