at our lively bloggers meeting yesterday, jan brought up an interesting topic: the book the end of faith. i have not read it; i am under the impression, however, that it claims that any form of religion leads to violence, or at least provides a cocoon for it.
since i have not read the book, i feel i should not comment on it. notwithstanding, in one of the reviews, i noticed that the author, sam harris, is said to make a distinction between religion and spirituality.
this is a common theme nowadays (my web site is no exception). others who have written about it are karen armstrong, a former british nun, geoffrey l. breedon in religion vs. science vs. spirituality: a dialogue, and louis hoffman, who tries to elucidate both the differences and commonalities between spirituality and religion.
one of the things that i find interesting in discussions about this topic is that there is often a strong emphasis on the three monotheistic religions (islam, judaism, christianity) and, within these religions, on the church-centred, mainstream-to-fundamentalist tendencies within these religions. (well, there is also usually a brief, often ill-informed nod towards buddhism.)
do the other religions not exist? what about hinduism, taoism and the many forms of nature religions?
and what about all the progressive or radical-left thinkers among the muslims, jews and christians? what about liberation theology, unitarians, quakers, the bah’ai, liberal muslims, reform jews, and the ecumenical movement, as exemplified, for instance, in taize? (interestingly, many of these are fiercely and explicitly committed to non-violence).
nobody seems to talk about this. everyone is fascinated by the bombastic side of extreme religion – it seems to be a heady drug for believers and non-believers alike. like the hedonist and the ascetic, they get high either on indulging in it or on completely abstaining from it.
humans are strange.
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