The Mutt’s Nuts

Where religion is about as attractive as a two week holiday in Afghanistan

Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Resurrected me

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The other day I had a conversation with a work colleague about religion. Or rather, she did most of the talking and I listened, interjecting a comment only occasionally. She felt that another work colleague of ours took her Christian evangelical beliefs much too seriously and had missed the point of religion all together. Religion, she explained, was all about being kind to others and doing good. You could do that without all the conditions that religion placed on faith. Our mutual colleague, she said, was wasting precious time adhering strictly to codes that were restricting her life, rather than enhancing it.

She went on to explain that she, too, was a Christian and had been quite fundamentalist in her views and actions for about 20 years. She had given her all to her church, rising to positions of responsibility that had required a lot of her time, effort and resources. Gradually she began to notice the self-righteousness of her fellow church members, an attitude of being better than others and a strong tendency to form exclusive cliques. She had finally decided that the core of religion was simple goodness and had resigned her onerous responsibilities and opted for a much more basic approach to her faith. She had received no thanks for all her previous hard work and no support from her co-religionists. She now attended a church that preached and practised simple faith and caring for others and felt a lot happier.

I could relate to much of what she was talking about. As a dedicated Mormon, I had been zealous in living my faith. So much so that, looking back, I can see all too clearly the social life that I missed out on, the potential friendships that I forfeited and the unnecessary restrictions that ruled my life and almost completely obliterated the person that I really was inside. Baptism into the church was said to be symbolic of burying the “natural man” and being reborn a new person. It was many years before I realised that my baptism had buried the real me and raised up an artificial stranger in its place.

As a Mormon, my thoughts and actions were dictated by scripture, commandments and church teachings. I had to suppress my natural instincts and impulses and act in accordance with someone else’s script for my life. Of course, in those days I thought that the someone else was God, acting through his earthly representatives. Whereas, before, my attitude had been “live and let live”, following baptism I developed very fixed ideas of who and what was wrong and right (viewed through the lens of Christianity and, more particularly, Mormonism). I began to value conformity above individuality, to look down on people who acted in a “worldly” way (i.e. smoked, drank, went to pubs or clubs and generally enjoyed themselves) and to see any deviation from complete obedience to church teachings and commandments as a sign of weakness and lack of faith.

As my co-worker had noticed in her Christian acquaintances, I too was very self-righteous and judgemental of others during my true-believing Mormon years. I realise now that it was a most offensive and unpleasant attitude to have. Like her, I had noticed the “clique-iness” of my own church congregation, mostly along social and economic lines. I had worked hard for the church, often at the expense of my limited free time, never refusing a call to serve and taking on responsible positions within the local children’s and women’s organisations of the church. When I finally realised that the church was not what I had always believed it to be and decided that I needed to step away from it for a while to get my bearings, I received no thanks for over 20 years of service and virtually no support from church members who I had naively thought were my friends.

Unlike my work colleague, though, I hadn’t turned to another form of religion when I became disillusioned with Mormonism, although at one point I did consider possibly attending a Unitarian church. My journey away from my church turned into a journey away from God and religion in general and it’s been a journey of personal self-discovery and a cause for great rejoicing.

One of the interesting things about our one-sided conversation was that, at any time, I could have recounted my own parallel experiences as a believing Mormon and as an ex-Mormon (although technically I’m still classed as a member of the church). But something held me back from revealing my religious past. I decided that I didn’t want to be known as a former believer, but as the person I am now, someone who has no belief in God or religion, a humanist. It’s as though the “new person” that was raised up through baptism has now been buried and the natural me has been resurrected. I can make my own decisions about how I view things and accept that most people are just trying to get through life in the best (or sometimes the only) way they know how. I can say what I think and do what I want, regardless of whether or not it conforms to someone else’s ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable or “righteous”. I can embrace my natural instincts instead of repressing them and I don’t have to continually measure myself – and others – against some impossible standard. I can swear and drink wine and watch R-rated movies without the least twinge of guilt. I never did those things very much before I joined the LDS church, and I don’t do them a lot now, but that’s my choice. That’s me, not the artificial goody-goody person that I used to be.

To some extent I can identify with the young woman that my colleague was talking about, because I can see my own experience in the way she is choosing to live her life. I wonder if, one day, she’ll feel that she’s missed out on some important things because of the restraints that her faith imposes. I hope, if she does, that it won’t be too late to build an authentic life outside of religion and enjoy the freedom and satisfaction that casting off those shackles has brought to me.

Isla

Written by islaskye

April 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Pat Condell on Geert Wilders’ Fitna & Islam

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Having been a fan of Pat Condell for quite a while now, I have to say that he hits a bullseye with his latest video: Religion of Fear. It’s refreshing to find somebody who’s willing to speak his mind without fear of retribution and, as a matter of fact, echo my own inner thoughts on the matter. I wish that he would run for Parliament ‘cos I would back him all of the way.

On a related note, I find the news story of the Muslim bus driver who insisted that the passengers on his bus get off while he prays completely ridiculous. Religious observance shouldn’t give anybody an automatic right to do as they wish at the inconvenience of others.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 31, 2008 at 8:30 pm

No more sacred cows

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For many years now, religious people have sought protection from criticism of their convictions on the grounds that they are ‘sacred’. Until recently, the s-word has usually guaranteed unquestioning respect for beliefs and activities that might otherwise have been considered ridiculous, bigoted or downright dangerous.

Nowadays, certain atheists have become much more outspoken and believers are finding that their religious views are being challenged, in some cases, quite aggressively. Naturally, this hasn’t gone down too well, particularly with the more dogmatic religionists who have enjoyed immunity from serious criticism for far too long and this vocal minority of articulate non-believers has sent fundamentalists of all faiths into a frenzy of indignation.

But why should belief in the supernatural automatically be labelled as sacred? Why should bizarre and unfounded myths about invisible sky-gods, and their accompanying rituals, be singled out for special treatment? Shouldn’t respect be earned? When certain interpretations of so-called sacred writings can engender intolerance, hatred, even murder in a fanatical minority of religionists, can they be considered worthy of veneration? If beliefs and scriptures can legitimately be interpreted to support violence and oppression, are they really deserving of respect?

Fundamentalist views, in particular, shouldn’t be afforded any protection from scrutiny and condemnation if and when it is warranted. The appalling attitudes towards gays, women and members of other religions (or none) by some of those demanding respect for the sacredness of their beliefs must be challenged boldly and consistently. Covering some very offensive ideas with a cloak of sacredness has allowed them to flourish. Disputing those ideas in the light of rationality and morality will show them up for what they really are.

Perhaps we should all start demanding that the things we hold inviolate are protected from disruption or condemnation. For example, after a long, busy working week I consider my Saturday morning lie-in to be sacrosanct. So I don’t appreciate it when earnest proselytisers come knocking on our door first thing every other Saturday, disturbing my peace and sending our neighbour’s dog literally barking mad. I’d tell them to buzz off and not bother coming back, but by the time I’ve stumbled, bleary-eyed, out of bed and found my dressing gown, they’ve moved off to have a loud and fervent conversation with the unlucky woman next door who chose the wrong moment to set out for the shops.

On a more serious note, the majority of people in the UK believe that free speech is an inalienable right. However, the exercise of this freedom seems to get some fundamentalists’ backs up to the extent of parading the streets carrying hate-filled placards and even rioting and stone-throwing if they think they can get away with it.

Most people cherish their families, but, again, religious fundamentalists apparently have no qualms about blowing up other people’s mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to get their warped point across. How can such perverted individuals demand respect for their views and yet feel perfectly justified in trampling on the very things that other people hold dear?

Labelling religious beliefs as sacred, in my opinion, often gives the believer carte blanche to express those beliefs in ways that inconvenience or even harm others with perfect impunity. I say, “No more!” Let them learn the kind of respect for the cherished convictions and freedoms of others that they demand for themselves. And banish the word ‘sacred’ all together.

Isla

Written by islaskye

March 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm

DILLIGAF

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To the Christians who think that I deserve to suffer an eternal weight of excruciating pain because I can’t bring myself to believe in the idea of a loving deity who condones immorality…

To the Catholics who say birth control is wrong in the face of over population and preventable diseases like AIDS…

To the Kabbalah members who advise that I should buy their blessed water at nearly £4 a bottle to be healed…

To the Westboro Baptist Church members who say that I’m evil for being in favour of gay men, lesbians and bisexuals having equal rights…

To the Mormons who tell me that I should repent – never mind not having anything to repent of! – and return to the fold or lose my eternal reward…

To the Muslims who say that I can’t call my teddy bear Muhammed…

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come knocking on my door in an effort to save themselves and try to foist a Watchtower magazine on me…

To the Scientologists who call me an SP because I criticise and make fun of their wacky beliefs…

I say, DILLIGAF!

If you don’t comprehend what it is that I’m talking about, then let Kevin Bloody Wilson explain (strong language):

And DILLIGAF to anyone I’ve neglected to mention who rightly should have been included in the above list.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 30, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Geert Wilders’ Fitna (17 mins)

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Edit: LiveLeak have now removed Fitna from their servers due to serious threats being made against their staff – a case of life imitating art, I guess – but it can still be seen on Google Video (see below) and YouTube.

Fitna is a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Dutch parliament. The movie offers his view on Islam and the Qur’an.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.liveleak.com posted with vodpod


Related story – the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is pissed that Geert Wilders used his cartoon which depicts the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban without his permission.

Curmudgeonly

Nailing a Filipino at Eastertime

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I don’t understand why some Christians feel the need to take part in Easter crucifixion rituals in the Philippines. Anyone who is unsure of what it is that I’m talking about, then watch this video and witness the macabre activities that a number of, what can only be described as, maniacally devout Catholics are willing to subject themselves to, all in the name of God and religion:

Every Good Friday, in towns across the Philippines, people atone for sins or give thanks for answered prayers by re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in every gory detail, sometimes on makeshift Golgothas. One such person named Mamangon, who continues the practice after inheriting it from his father who had been nailed to the cross fifteen times in his own lifetime, has described what he felt after being crucified:

“I feel so refreshed, like all my sins are washed away”

Unhinged is a word that comes quickly to mind. Mamangon added that he “will continue this until my son Alex is cured.” He almost seems to be saying that his son’s illness has come about as a result of his own sinfulness and that until he has performed this act enough times his son won’t be cured. So, in some roundabout way, he blames himself for his son’s condition. To be emotionally caught up in such a pointless and painful ritual is very sad. Considering that the Saviour has supposedly already paid in full for the sins of the world, I can’t help but think what a misguided waste of time this all is. Do these filipinos not think that his sacrifice was enough?

And surely a person of faith could express any thankfulness that they inevitably feel, because of something they believe God has done, in acts of service – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting with those who are sick or any other compassionate act. After all, it was Jesus who said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25: 40). The Bible suggests that it’s sufficient to honour Jesus’s commands, as in that way devotees will find themselves on the good side of God.

Because I was once ardently religious, I often find that I can comprehend, to some extent, the religious psyche, but flagellation and literally imitating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, complete with nails, is far, far removed from what I’m able to understand. I truly don’t get it.

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

The Raven Lunatics

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By Nick Gisburne

Curmudgeonly

Written by Curmudgeonly

March 22, 2008 at 4:26 pm