When I posted the Aphorisms for Heretics a few weeks ago, I knew there would be some disagreement with those statements, but I must say I hadn’t thought that Rev. Kelly would decide they needed a full-on debate. I enjoyed reading her position, it was uniquely hers and brought up some good points: namely the ideal of a Prophet being a teacher of how to live in a humane and loving way, the wonderful diversity of belief the various Prophets have brought to us, and yes, even the minor point of a prophet in the role of a soothsayer (her notorious obsession with the Tarot—she does have some lovely decks of cards!)
While religious teachers through history have given us much that is good, their followers have often twisted those teachings or used them in ways that most likely would have appalled their originators. I will point out that it is not a Prophet’s fault if his followers choose to change things, but if the incentive had not been there, perhaps things might have been different.
If you have any doubts as to my stand on this position, I can point you to many, many historical examples: the Crusades, the Witch hunts of Europe, the events of 9/11; the persecutions of the Protestant Reformation when it was Christian against Christian, the bombings and infighting of Muslim sects at the current time and of course, the Holocaust. Even the Bhudda’s concept of the Middle Way has caused conflict and strife as his followers through the centuries have attempted to force compliance among other groups to their standards.
As far back as the ‘Heretic Pharaoh’ of ancient Egypt, Ahkenaten, conflicting religious visions have more frequently produced social strife, political turmoil and devastation than peace and plenty for all.
Believe it or not, my point is one of pragmatism, not religion: conflicting religions cause conflicting politics, often to the point of vicious bloodshed. When you believe that your God has commanded a course of action, anything goes. No crime is too horrible, no destruction too great, no devastation too much to be contemplated so long as it is committed in the name of the teachings. Those who do not follow those teachings must be removed to prevent their offending viewpoint from tainting the pure minds of your believers.
Had Ahkenaten not forced his monotheistic vision of sun worship on Egypt, they may have held onto their empire a little longer.
If Moses and Aaron had not lead Isreal across the desert, Canaan may well still exist and many of the problems in the Middle East may never have occurred.
Had Jesus kept up with the family carpentry business, the Crusades and Witch Hunts would not have happened, nor would the barbarity of the Holocaust stain all of Europe for generations.
If Mohammed had continued as a humble caravan leader and trader of the respected tribe of Quraysh, what would the map of the Middle east look like now?
In the light of everything that religion has done for us all, good and bad, I still cannot help wondering how different things might have been if the world had simply said ‘Yeah, okay, there is a God or Gods, but I need to get some work done, okay? ‘Bye.”
But for Kelly’s sake I would hope that there would still be Tarot cards—they are nice to work with some days.
Find your Peace, friends.