Can we please call the enemy by its real name?

We now face a new menace in the Mideast: a body of fanatics (armed with weapons we left) who will kill anybody who gets in the way of their turning the clock back to 1500.  They're openly threatening the US.

Once again politicians dance around the real problem.  It's not terrorism.  It's not even Dubya's "evildoers."  

No public figure has the guts to call the enemy by its real name: RELIGION.  A vicious, ineradicable set of shared beliefs that is responsible for 90% of the armed conflict in the world (and Muslims are involved in 90% of that).  9/11 was driven by religion -- specifically, by the presence of foreigners on their holy soil, i.e., the whole country of Saudi Arabia.  We left quietly a few years later.

Sunnnis and Shi'ites slaughter each other over who Mohammed's heir should be.  Most Americans aren't aware of the difference, and why should they be?   Who cares?  But it matters a great deal to the Muslims - because that's how they've been programmed.  In Nigeria, animists (I think) are fighting Christians and Muslims.  Such insanity!  Such horror over stories that didn't happen!  

It seems to me that religion gets a moral pass, which is even more significant than its humongous tax breaks. Should secular humanists be more vocal in identifying religion as the source of so much human suffering?

Views: 332

Tags: 9/11, humanism, religion

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Comment by Joan Denoo on September 8, 2014 at 12:12am

Michael, I see that my response to you that I wrote while in the garden didn't get through ... the Wi-Fi is weak out there. 

What I meant to convey is that many women feel shame and gilt for having sex before marriage and they need a license to express their sexuality. 

Many men expect to do the proposing and if women usurp that task, men often do not take kindly to it. 

I am exactly saying many men and women think about man-woman relationship in the way religion wants us to think of it?

Comment by Alan Perlman on September 7, 2014 at 7:59pm

Joan...You comments gave me a chuckle. But he's right about Jewish guilt..

I hereby designate this thread as a depository for atheist gentiles' views of Jews.  Then Jewish atheists like me can respond with how it really is.  E.g., most Americans aren't aware of the Orthodox enclaves in NY and NJ.    Talk about cults!  They obey all the rules and then some. If you harbor doubts, you are screwed.

Tevye is picturesque and picaresque  (and has a real message about impending social change), but I classify it with Uncle Tom's Cabin, Gone with the WInd, or Huck Finn: our history through the rosy distortions of nostalgia.  My immigrant grandparents wouldn't even talk about their young lives under the Czar.  Their present and future were here. 

My Jewish atheism has morphed into a general humanism. Actual Judaism and i parted ways some time ago, after conscientious research on my part.   I would really prefer that that Judaism had the pretensions of a founding on truth...that at least some of Torah actually happened...or that the document has any but the most primitive relevance to our own time.  

But none of it happened, and the morality is primitive.   To pretend otherwise and revere the thing is utterly beyond me,  

Humanistic Judaism is a noble effort to modernize but comes down to Tribalism Lite -- intellectually interesting but threatening only to those who actually believe in God .

  

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 7, 2014 at 12:51am

Ye gads! What a string of nonsense! This has gone on for generations? There continues to be people who follow these practices/laws/traditions? No wonder the Jewish people feel like victims.

Well, obviously, you don't follow these practices. Guilt? Why would any mentally healthy, mature adult feel any guilt for not following these traditions? I had no idea it was like that! My vision of Jewishness was Tevye lamenting the changes taking place in his life.

Perhaps Tevye has something to teach us about adapting to change as we confront all that is coming toward us.   

Comment by Michael Pianko on September 7, 2014 at 12:27am
I have not seen bill Mahar's movie yet. But it does seem like at the same time that Judaism has so many obsessive-compulsive behaviors, there re also many efforts of followers to psych themselves into bending the rules while still not feeling too guilty for not doing something... For example, mezonos rolls to avoid having to ritually wash and say hamotsi over bread before a meal and then chant the6 paragraph brikhat hamzaon or grace after meals... The shabbos belt, the Eruv or wire around an entire neighborhood which makes the neighborhood a "communal home" which allows followers to carry things outside their house , otherwise carrying would be a violation on shabbos... The pills women might have to take so they won't be ritually impure on their wedding night... I never heard of the reverse dialing phone...
Comment by Alan Perlman on September 6, 2014 at 8:00pm

I will never again try to one-up you with Shabbos trivia. Wow!  Did you see Bill Maher's example (in his movie) - the Shabbos wheelchair ("you're going to a lot of trouble to obey the rules of the god who put you in that chair") and reverse-dialing phone (you interrupt a circuit instead of initiating it).

Jews also engage in subterfuge: my wife's ex, acting as a Shabos goy, had a conversation with her sister about her mother's funeral arrangements - over an open answering machine, so that the information would be conveyed, but nobody could be accused of making or receiving a phone call!

I was never exposed to that level of obsession so never had to deal with it.

Comment by Michael Pianko on September 6, 2014 at 3:09pm
My aunt does the exact same thing, she has a little plastic basket in her bathroom with a stack of pre-separated toilet paper sheets, each sheet being two up separated squares.

And then there are timers for the lights, and the special switch plates with snaps so you can attach little covers that snap into place, which cover light switches, so somebody won't accidentally turn on or off a light on shabbos, the special belt which is a rope that holds a key so that the key is "part" of her clothing, because you can't carry on shabbos, no double knotting your shoes on shabos, because that would be a "permanent" knot and only "temporary" single knots are allowed, the sheers (lectures or discussions or talks), which in my impression are ways to keep rebrainwashing people into the religion because attendees have a little part of their brain that still doubts that the religion is necessary... I spent shabbos with my aunt a few times before I came out as an atheist but after I knew there is no god, when I was still in a phase of feeling guilty for not doing orthodox judaism...
Comment by Alan Perlman on September 6, 2014 at 2:36pm

Ye gods, what a reliography (I made that word up)!  .Judaism offers a buffet of options, no question, from old-school Torah obsession to New Age feminist seders.  I agree with your "degree of personal guilt" criterion.

Atheists, you'll love this: My wife's Sephardic (married to a rabbi) sister pre-tears toilet paper before the Sabbath.  On Shabbat, it sits atop the toilet, the sheets in a little box.  You see, tearing is one of 39 kinds of work not allowed on Shabbat, so they have to do it beforehand.  As Bill Maher says, isn't life tough enough?. 

Comment by Michael Pianko on September 6, 2014 at 12:49pm

Every person is different in terms of which percentage of the religion they are exposed to that they have to do in order avoid feeling too guilty due to the possibility of not doing it. For example, my mother and aunt were both exposed to the same Jewish education. My mom feels an strong attachment to Israel and has a collection of Hebrew music, was in a Hebrew class and adult Jewish classes, and likes novels with Jewish themes which appeal to women and are about families. She makes sure to do what she can to make sure my brother's son gets brainwashed into enough Judaism. Bus she works every other Friday night and saturday and she does not often go to services, but she is paying $1,500 to $2,000 for a synagogue membership for her and my dad and she pays for my brother and his wife and kid.

My Aunt converted to orthodox Judaism and she does it all, is shomer shabbos, mouths a prayer before she even drinks water, and will not see any of my relatives or family on the holidays because she can't ride in a car on the holidays... she can eat fruit off a paper plate at my parents house... My brother can eat in a restaurant as long as nothing contains meat, but he could eat kosher meat, at least until he married a vegetarian animal rights fanatic... my dad was raised reform/ mostly non-observant, but now he goes to minyans almost every day... I thought I had to do everything orthodox Judaism says you have to do, until I finally became confident and not afraid to admit things, because due to genetics, my brain was a good environment for religion, while the rest of my hebrew school class seemed proud to admit that they, for example, at BLT sandwiches in treyf restaurants...

Comment by Alan Perlman on September 6, 2014 at 10:28am

Michael...excellent summary of religion -- applies to every religion (and every religious individual) I know.  I would like to see it as a banner on the A/N home page.  

I would like to know what determines one's level of involvement, e.g., some Jews spend every waking hour on prayer and ritual, while many more ignore almost all of it, indulging in only the most superficial and occasional of observance -- yet each group considers itself a bona fide member of "the Jewish people."

Comment by Michael Pianko on September 6, 2014 at 12:54am
Joan, are you sure you think that all women think they have to get permission from the government in order to meet their companionship needs and that women all think they are just supposed to passively make no effort to interact with men and just wait for men to come to them??!! Are you sure you are not still thinking about man-woman relationships in the way religion wants you to think of it?
This will require another discussion thread about why marriage should not exist.

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