Monday, April 12, 2010

Religion isn't Bad?

I ran into a familiar line while touching base at an online community today:
" without religion, good ppl would do good things & evil ppl would do evil things. But for good ppl to do evil thing, that takes religion"
Generally, I cite my source and provide a link. That's not going to happen this time, because this post is more about a sort of required belief that's been current in at least one American subculture for decades - and I don't think the folks who insist that religion is bad need publicity.

That " do evil thing, that takes religion" statement is a paraphrase of something I've heard before. A lot.

I'm sympathetic with that view, in a way. There was a time when I bought the idea that "organized religion" was a bad thing. Since I'm a Catholic convert, it's pretty obvious that I've changed my mind.

A few thoughts:

'Good People?' 'Bad People?' I'm Not Convinced

It's been a very, very long time since I had any trouble believing that people could do bad things - or good things.

But "good people?" "Bad people?" I know that the phrases are part of American English: "She's such a good person;" "He's just plain bad." On the other hand, I have a real problem with assuming that people - most of us, anyway, are intrinsically "bad."

Don't have a stroke: I know all about Adolph Hitler, and [insert your favorite mass-murderer]. I also know about Joseph Burges. Some people have done really, really bad things. Some of them, by the time they were making history, may have been 'bad people.' I don't know.

I also think that people who have done bad things need to be reformed - or restrained. Either way, I think it's just as important to protect folks who don't hurt other people, as it is to treat folks who do humanely.

(Trying to make up your mind whether I'm a bleeding-heart liberal or heartless conservative? Don't bother: I'm neither. (November 3, 2008))

Religious People are Bad! 'Everybody Knows That'

I'll grant that the more eagerly sophisticated and intellectual cliques have taken the idea that religion is bad as something close to dogma. Or were doing so when I last had close and prolonged contact with them, a couple decades back.

I can see their point. Tony Alamo says that he's Christian, more or less: and has been convicted on an offense that reminded me of the televangelist meltdown a decade or so back. I've used him, and Pat Robertson, as cases-in-point for goofy religious beliefs.

Mostly because those two crackpots have the sort of name-recognition it takes to make a point quickly. Does that mean I'm lazy? Maybe. Or maybe I'm trying to make my stuff easier to read. That's your call.

I've written about this sort of thing before - check out the "Related posts" if you're interested.

The point is, Tony Alamo and Pat Robertson may not be the most representative, typical, examples of Christian leader. Even in America.

The Dalai Lama? He's Okay

I don't know it this is still the case, but back in the day, people who were convinced that religion was bad and that religious beliefs made people do bad things - also thought the Dalai Lama was a nice guy.

But that wasn't a contradiction, since the Dalai Lama wasn't religious.

Can't argue with logic like that.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.