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Theological Observations

Entry 195, on 2005-07-13 at 15:44:56 (Rating 5, Politics)

I listened to an interview this morning with Lloyd Geering, New Zealand's most eminent theologian. He has often been controversial in the past, and even now, retired and at the age of about 87, he's still got it! The following is my interpretation of his comments. I hope I have represented his ideas reasonably accurately.

On the future of traditional, organised religion. There is no future. The process of society becoming more secular began 100 years ago and can not be stopped. New Zealand is one of the most secular societies in the world, but others are following.

On fundamental religious belief. The rise in fundamental Christianity in the USA might seem to contradict the first point about decreased religious belief, but in fact it is a sign of a desperate last ditch stand, and reaction to the demise of religion. It won't last, and after that religion as we know it really will be effectively dead.

On religious extremism. Extreme beliefs by Christians and Muslims (amongst others) are not representative of the belief system as a whole. Blaming Islamic beliefs for suicide bombers and other fanatical extremists is totally unfair.

On terrorism. What is the difference between a suicide bomber who is prepared to give his life for a cause (however misguided) and a war hero who sacrifices his life for his cause (which might also be misguided). Its all a matter of perspective, and portraying suicide bombers as crazed fanatics doesn't really treat the problem adequately.

The war in Iraq. What is the difference between 50 people killed by bombs in London, and up to 100,000 killed by US and British bombing in Iraq? Apart from the objective fact that the US are by far the bigger murderers, its just a matter of perspective. Its not what you do, its which side you are on which makes the difference.

On the response to the 9/11 attack. Bush should have made a less violent reaction. The war in Afghanistan was the wrong approach entirely, and has made the world a far more dangerous place to live.

I think the above is a what a lot of people (including myself) have been thinking for a while now, but have been too scared to say publicly. Its quite a relief to see that other people can see how phony the current religious and political system in the US really is.

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Comment 3 (64) by SBFL on 2005-08-09 at 12:51:03: (view earlier comments)

You're still not listening to me. What is the core issue behind the conflict? It is not religion. Like I already said there are nutters who use religion as a means (like the suicide bomber example you gave). Dig deeper down and it becomes clear that it is all about power. The Taleban and Iran use religion within their masses to hold power. But is it religion thats the conflict is about, or power?

I wouldn't say Bush won the election because he appealed to crazy fundamentalist Christians. They have always voted republican and I would hate to think they make up half of the US population!

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Comment 4 (70) by OJB on 2005-08-10 at 19:33:51:

Who knows what the real motivation for these people is? I still think religion is a major issue, although power is probably just as significant. Also, how can religion and political power be separated? A major part of religion has always been a way to maintain political power.

Bush only won the election by a few percent. The fundamentalist vote could easily have been just enough to ensure the victory, although I do concede they would probably vote Republican whether Bush was religiously motivated or not.

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Comment 5 (81) by SBFL on 2005-09-04 at 20:12:48:

OJB - I think you have inadvertantly agreed with my view with your statement: "A major part of religion has always been a way to maintain political power." Since 'religion' isn't a person and can't hold political power, you must obviously mean "...'people using religion'...has always been a way to maintain political power." This is my point - it's not religion, but power that these conflicts arise.

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Comment 6 (91) by OJB on 2005-09-05 at 10:43:29:

You're right, religion isn't a person, its a system used by people, just like politics. To suggest that as soon as some conflict or other negative outcome of religion occurs it immediately becomes all about power or politics instead, is missing the point I think. Religion, power, and politics are all aspects of the same human control mechanisms.

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Comment 7 (97) by SBFL on 2005-09-05 at 19:19:18:

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

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