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Glenn and Osama--Separated at Birth?

Glenn Beck and Osama bin Laden--what a pair.  Religious zealots and bigots, longing for a return to some halycon yesteryear that never existed except in the recesses of their convoluted minds. 

Osama bin Laden wants a return to the early days of Islam, pre-schisms, back to the caliphate, back to when the teachings of the prophet Mohammed were fresh and untainted.

Glenn Beck wants a return to some conservative mythical time, when Christianity of the sort he enjoys was the law of the land, when everyone understood what was good and right and true.

What a crock of horse poop. 

The days those men want to return to never existed.  People are people are people, no matter when or where.  Schisms in Islam appeaed within the lifetimes of Mohammed's immediate descendants; schisms among the earliest European communities in America probably started before those first ships even arrived at American shores.  The earliest Europeans here weren't looking for religious freedom, they were looking for religious restrictions, only with them in charge of what was what, instead of some other group.  And once those communities were established, schisms developed and this group expelled that subgroup and that subgroup tyrannized another.  Our founding fathers, a phrase that usually refers to those who wrote the Declaration of Independence, fought the revolutionary war, and wrote our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, weren't all Christians, and all those who were Christians weren't all Christians of the same sort.

The thinking of people like Osama bin Laden and Glenn Beck reminds me of my religious understanding back when I was a child: the world as I knew it was divided into Catholic and Not-Catholic.  I didn't know exactly what Not-Catholic was, just that it was Not-Catholic and therefore suspect and probably dangerous.  Jewish and Presbyterian were varieties of Not-Catholic that had names, but that was only because I knew Robin and Susie and learned the labels attached to their particular Not-Catholic-ness. 

There were divisions with Catholics, too--Catholics who went to our parish and Catholics who went to the older parish across town.  Those Catholics had the fancy church with wooden pews and hogged all the Catholic school money so our parish couldn't have a school, then wouldn't give our parish's children equal access to their school.  Our parish's Catholics went to Mass in a singularly ugly building that was to be the gym of the school that couldn't be built because the bishop let the other parish keep all the Catholic school money, and we sat in plastic chairs that hooked together at the legs.

And then there were the divisions of Catholics within our own parish.  There were my family's sort of Catholics, the 7:30 Mass folks.  7:30 Mass Catholics went to Mass hungry and sleepy and uncaffeinated; their Catholicism was basic, unadorned, and unaccompanied by music or color or joy.  There were the 9:30 Mass people, those who dressed a little better and who got a more colorful service, one with some music on the side, but who still got Mass out of the way early enough to have a reasonable amount of Sunday to enjoy afterwards.  Then there were the 11:30 Mass people, who had the fanciest service of all and who dressed to the nines, maybe because they had more of the morning to get ready.  Mass was the high point of the 11:30 Mass Catholic's Sunday and it lasted a long time.

We even had 5:30pm Saturday Mass Catholics, who I was never sure were really Catholic.  I mean, other religions had services on Saturdays, and having Mass then for convenience seemed awfully flexible for a religion I understood was anything but.

Back to Glenn and Osama, though.  Men and women have never agreed on religion and almost certainly never will, at least not as long as they are men and women instead of angels.  The gods of Greece and Rome and Scandinavia fought and argued, and while I don't know much about the gods of other early civilizations, I expect there was infighting with them, too.

All Glenn and Osama really want is power.  Controlling religion means controlling the rules, and controlling the rules means power.  They want power, the power to control what people do and what people think.  They want people to do and to think as THEY understand is right.  That's all they want.  They want power, they want societies arranged the way they think societies ought to be arranged, and they're fine with marginalizing and excluding and demonizing those who don't agree with them.

Pretty deadly thinking there.




4 Comment count
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The Lesson?

Hi Susan,

Amazing how much your Catholicness matched mine - when I was going to mass - with all its details of class distinction within classes. I like your descriptions of it all, a lot. Nice!

The lesson is: Fear! If you are not terrified of all who are different, then you'd better get your fuzzy butt down to church, any church, and learn all about how to be afraid. Every week, year after year, learn fear. To be the one who deals out the most doubt and hatred is the one who manipulates fear in the minds of the willing the best.

When wolves and bears stopped being our mortal enemies, who else were we going to fear but ourselves?

Jesus wept.


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Yes Yes Yes!  This is Our

Yes Yes Yes! 

This is Our Way (so it's the better way).   We  figured It Out (because we're so much smarter).   God Loves Us and Consigns Them to the Flame (so we can, too).   We're Right and They're Wrong (so they don't matter).   We're Saved and They're Doomed (so their lives have no value).   Everyone Else Got it Wrong Until Our Interpretation Was Realized (and doesn't that make us special).

Us vs Them until the end of time.  THEY are going to get you, little girl!

Now, Christine, were you the Right kind of Catholic or one of those show-offs who had their priorities all wrong?

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Fear as a tool

The very nature of both of these intolerant men who would use others as weapons in their war against powers greater than themselves is one of the greatest travesties of religion.

Neither of them is truly religious, they do not care what happens to the people they mislead, only that their demagoguery allows them to end up on top of the piles of dead bodies when they are done.

Woe and suffering is all they are interested in and they are shrewd enough to know how to keep everyone listening and everyone polarized, and no one thinking clearly. It is unfortunate that their powers could not be used for something better; leading people out of poverty by the promotion of good works, helping people find solutions to the real problems of the world, not the ones they manufacture to incite rage, helping people to find themselves in these hopeless-feeling times.

Were they to do that, I might follow them anywhere...

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Yes, and I'd be right there

Yes, and I'd be right there with you. . . .