Monday, November 9, 2009

Arrogance, humility and how things get done

The older I get, the more I see how nothing gets done without a dose of arrogance and nothing endures without a large measure of humility. I really get tired these days when I have to rev up the confidence level to an unbearable level just to get something done in my work. And, after its over, I am worn out because I don't enjoy flights into arrogance. I'd rather stay calm, shoot straight, but that won't always get done what is necessary in either the law or in religion. But, I'm having a little more success lately in the religious area with just speaking the truth, staying calm and letting the chips fall where they will. In matters of faith, maybe it is just an illusion to think you have accomplished anything when you act contrary to the way of faith to get it done.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Religion, hatred, and killing

Right in the middle of some of the most violently cruel conflicts in the world is RELIGION. Religion, as a general proposition, is not that great a thing. The simple acceptance that 'religion is good for humanity' reveals a poor understanding of human history, human nature, and religion.

When I was a graduate student in Religion at Vandy, Sue and I got to the be friends with a couple from Yugoslavia: Ronco (husband) and Branca (wife). He was a mechanical engineering graduate student, and he told me that he was Serbian, but had absolutely no use for religion. He did say: "But, I am impressed that you don't kill each other over your religion. That's all I know of religion from my country." Freedom from religion was for him freedom from bloodshed and prejudice and all sorts of crazy misunderstandings.

Of course, in the U.S., we had our days of hatred between Protestant and Catholic, but those days are pretty much over. An anti-semitic strand won't seem to go away. But, we have had a few decades of religious peace in our country, where there has seemed to be a growing tolerance. But, now, since we have joined the centuries old East v. West religious battle, we are learning what my friend from Yugolslavia knew: RELIGION CAN BRING HELL ON EARTH.

And, the anti-human, anti-God nature of violent extremist religion shouldn't make us proud of our own religion, but critical of it, as we acknowledge the hatred and self-interest we smuggle into something that started with a deeply holy experience. Religion in the end gets to be about humans and not about God, unless we criticize our religion by confronting it with our genuine experience of the living God. A man, filled with the spirit of his "religion" and devoid of any experience of the living God filled 31 people full of bullet holes. Now that is what I call bringing hell to earth.