Saturday, September 11, 2010

Will The Real Believer Please Stand Up?

      As I mentioned in my posting of August 26, Americans always need to find some event about which they can disagree. Another such event has come along in the last week.
      Terry Jones, the pastor of a church with a congregation of about 50 in Gainsville, Florida, threatened to burn 200 copies of the Quran. He feels that this is an evil book - one which incites its followers to kill non-believers. (In that respect, it is similar to certain sections of the old testament.)
      As with the proposed civic center and mosque near ground zero in New York, there is no doubt that this kook has the right to do so, but having the right and doing the right thing are two completely different subjects. The trigger for his attitude is really the proposed center.
      I have always felt that if one does the same as one's opponents, one is lowering himself to their level, and this is one of those cases. Pastor Jones saw an opportunity to gain his 15 minutes of fame, and he has succeeded spectacularly. If he were a small boy, he would probably spend his time behind the barn organizing pissing contests.
      Although members of Jones' church originally supported his decision, some of them have reportedly backed away. According to late news reports, while they agree with the pastor that the Quran is Satan's product, they do not want to have their neighborhood considered to be Unamerican. Apparently they have come to their senses; no matter how much we disagree with someone's decisions or actions, he has the right to follow through on them.
      Also late news is reporting that the pastor himself has now promised not to burn the Quran “now or ever.” A wise move. It is fitting that he should make this announcement on 9/11, a day of mourning which will go down in history side by side with December 7, 1941.
      It is not unusual for a charismatic leader to inspire his congregation to believe something unbelievable. Consider Jim Jones, who led his 909 followers in suicide on November 18, 1978. Or the March 26, 1997 suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate sect, who believed that they “were going to cast off their bodies to join a spacecraft of aliens that were hiding in the Hale-Bopp comet’s tail.” Consider also the Muslims who were praising Allah while crashing planes into buildings on 9/11, in the belief that they would receive 72 virgins as payment. (They probably would be better rewarded if they were to receive 72 experienced partners who know what they are doing.)
      I have come to believe that no matter how unbelievable or outrageous a ceremony or activity one promotes in the name of religion, he will be able to attract followers. Am I being cynical, or am I being realistic?
      I am so very thankful that we live in a country where one is allowed to do so if he desires.
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      Among the Kuruvikkarans of Southern India, it was believed that the goddess Kali descended upon the priest, and he gave oracular replies after sucking the blood streaming from the cut throat of a goat.1
      Man Takes Control – The Spirit Runs Through It.

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