Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another interesting article...
Not surprisingly, religion — Christianity and Judaism, in particular — fueled both the antislavery movement of the 19th century and the civil-rights movement of the 20th. The leaders of both movements didn't hesitate to quote Scripture to remind their listeners that what they stood for was morally grounded in the Bible, as well as in secular philosophy. Religion was not only a "purely personal" matter but also one of grave public import.

That is as it should be. Religion, by nature, is a public thing, because it acknowledges a reality that is outside the private realm of the inner heart. Individuals' faith and religious experiences are private matters, but religion itself, whether it be Wicca, Buddhism or Roman Catholicism, is shared and communal. Those who would banish religion to the realm of the strictly private in effect contend that religion has no relevance to public life. This notion fatally trivializes religion by treating it as essentially meaningless.


I can't say I agree with everything in this article (particularly where it leaves out Christianity's role in helping usher Hitler's Nazism and atrocities in Germany, and it's apathy toward those suffering -- with a few notable exceptions, such as Dietrich Bonhoffer), but I think the writer does well to acknowledge the public nature of all religious beliefs, not just Christianity's, and in illustrating how religious and philosophical views do indeed determine public action and involvement.

While I do believe that one's beliefs are a private matter, and should only be discussed in the "safety" of people we feel comfortable, I also believe that if those beliefs don't influence our choices and actions, then they're not genuinely beliefs as all. They're decorations at best, and most probably lies or delusions at worst.

And yes, I do realize that inaction is indeed an action. Sometime the action our beliefs provoke is to do nothing about something, but it's an intentional nothing, not an apathetic nothing.

Man, that's an awkward-sounding sentence...

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