Sunday, January 27, 2008

Separatist and Insular

I was cruising around at Sean the Blogonaught’s today and came across an interesting discussion concerning the separatist and insular nature of certain christian denominations. I found the following comments interesting because they made me think and question.

First, the comments:

that's the old fundamentalist @ their "best". If you don't go along with what THEY want, you're less holy, less "good", less everything than they are. – This one made me think.

...if you tell someone "No.", that means NO. If they continue to ask/nag/ force you to do "whatever", then they are trying to CONTROL you – and this one made me question.

Here’s what the first one made me think: “well that’s the old moderate christian at their ‘best’. If you don’t go along with what they want, you’re less holy, less good, less everything than they are.”

And here’s what the second one made me ask: “But isn’t that what ALL religion seeks to do?”

Now chuffed as I was at my witty repartee, I used those words only to make a point, not to poke fun at the commenter. The point is that this is not a phenomenon confined to the fundamentalist movement alone. It’s just that it happens to also be a point that this particular comment illustrates quite beautifully, especially considering that the commenter seems to be a caring, intelligent person that thinks quite deeply about the religion they’ve chosen and is prepared to question it. But this example shows perfectly, the effect that religion has, even on the most reasonable of people.

The first thing a religion such as Christianity seeks to do is to control the thoughts and actions of its congregation. There are rules, precepts, concepts and symbols that all denominations and believers have in common everywhere: Jesus, the Sabbath, the breaking of bread, prayer, charity, etc, and there are denominational traditions, trappings, dogmas and teachings: speaking in tongues, the transfiguration, etc and for each denomination, the rest are all quite wrong.

In this way a religion or denomination can separate its congregation from everyone else and stand alone and righteous. But in every instance, whether it be inter-denominational or inter-religious, there’s a “right way” and a “wrong way” to worship, observe, believe or otherwise pay homage, and in every instance also, the result is that “we will go to heaven and you will not”.

This is the condition of religion and it cannot be avoided. Even the most reasonable and moderate of believers know deep down inside that they are right and I am wrong. No justification other than the bible, Talmud or Koran is required for someone that seriously believes that any of what is written there is true. This attitude seems to infect all people of all faiths, albeit in varying degrees from extremely tolerant to extremely violent, and moderate practitioners of religion are no less guilty of it than are the extreme, they just choose to opine in a more congenial manner, that’s all.

But really, when all is said and done, it comes down to control. If a religion does its job, conditioning its congregation to believe that its God is the only true God, then men and women who are “Inspired by God” can continue to control the hearts and minds of those who subscribe to that faith with consummate ease and impunity. All a “man of God” need say is: “we must do it for God” and millions will flock to do his bidding, and that is what makes religion such a frighteningly dangerous beast.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Seneca because it’s as true today as it ever was:

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”


Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

What I am finding more and more with lots of moderate religious people is the whole "many paths to god" approach or that all religions at their core are equally valid.

Plonka said...

Yes, and I find that a bit interesting because the one thing that approach isn't, is biblical.

But then I guess gay priests don't really rate much of a mention either.

Maybe it's time to re-write the book and change the rules. No wait, the JW's have already tried that...

Donna said...


Well, I went to the dentist today &
after 2 hrs of grinding, drilling, etc., have a whopper of a headache, but wanted to get back to
you as I promised. I'm answering here because the post you & I were
"talking" on is from couple of days ago, I wasn't sure I'd recall which one it was, later on, to go back & see what you'd thought about
such an answer as I can, at this time, give.

I think that must be "moi" you're mentioning HERE, about comments that gave you pause to think?? Geez, that's honestly the 1st time in my LIFE I've ever gotten "public
credit" for having a "thought provoking" thought!! I am in shock!!

Anyhoo- Yes, I would agree that all/most religions seek to "control" their congregants, etc., to some degree. I guess the
main difference between religions trying to control you and, say, your employer setting certain standards for you, is, that in a church/relgious setting, your reward/punishment isn't meted out til later. If you believe in that
"carrot & stick" theorem. If you want to believe, fine. Perhaps you will get a reward, perhaps you won't, based on your "performance" on this plane. Or, you can choose not to "believe" at all. Or, you can choose to be behave "wrong" and maybe you'll still go to Heaven.

I guess the "core" way I, personally view it is that the amt
of "control" exercised is up to ea.
individual. If you choose not to be "controlled" at all, &/or be an
atheist, that is anyone's right, and I have NO problem with that, the atheists I have come to know respect my opinion & choices FOR ME.

I do have somewhat of a problem with AOG, Pentecostal, etc., teaching their children that eveyone whom does not believe as they do is wrong or just evil. Other people, the "nonbelievers", can have different takes on the same subject matter, and it doesn't
mean they're "WRONG!". Children are very often a "captive audience", and when you teach them
to grow up with hatred/intolerance,
it COULD "backfire" on you OR leave
them ill-equipped to function out in the "real world" once they leave that "protected", insulated
religi-dome they've been living in.
And some of em, once they figure out what they were told MAY not be true, might be awfully angry. . .

Plonka said...

Donna: Thanks for stopping by...:)

Ouch. Well I think you've done pretty well considering...:)

It was indeed you that I was alluding to. I hope I didn't annoy by twisting your own words around like I did. And don't be shocked. The free exchange of ideas is what this blogging things is all about, so thinking and questioning is paramount to the experience, I think.

I would agree that all/most religions seek to "control" their congregants, etc., to some degree.

I should probably have said that it's probably not what the priest/pastor is trying to acheive, although there have been cases, it's just that the underlying nature of religion, formalised religion, means it's all but impossible to avoid. But correct me if I'm wrong, but the first comment of yours I read over at Sean's left me with the impression that you don't regularly attend a formalised church?

I guess the "core" way I, personally view it is that the amt
of "control" exercised is up to ea.

I couldn't agree more. The problem however, is that all to often, the individual listens to his/her pastor and thinks and acts as they are told.

the atheists I have come to know respect my opinion & choices FOR ME.

Well, they are yours, so that's as it should be...

teaching their children that eveyone whom does not believe as they do is wrong or just evil.

Once again, I couldn't agree more. I happen to also agree with Richard Dawkins when he says that this sort of thing is child abuse.

I have to say too, that when I finally realised that the bible was written by men and finally developed my opinion that god is "man made", as it were, I was just a little bit embarrassed and angry at having been duped all those years so I have to agree with your last point as well.

Thanks again for stopping by Donna, and please feel free to make it a regular stop...:)

Donna said...


Do you feel comfortable in giving me your email addy? I tried to respond to your email to me, and it
won't "go thru", keeps coming back
as some sort of "failure".


Plonka said...

Donna: I wasn't aware that I had emailed you, which probably explains why you're having trouble responding...


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