That said, before we submerge a crucifix in urine let’s give the Abrahamic tree a second look, and examine the fruit it has borne.
The Jews never had a drive to spread over the Earth. Their scriptures taught them that certain lands were given them by God; so they took them, enough said, this was 6,000 years ago after all. But after that they lost any territorial ambitions. But, the Persians and Romans proceeded to push them this way and that; being rather fanatical, they pushed back. After the destruction of the 2nd Temple and the Judean Diaspora the centuries have seen Judaism become a religion withdrawn into itself. Having lost the arrogance of the Temple but retained the Love of God and intellectual tradition they became a creative yeast in their host cultures.
The Jews never expected to take over the world; at most they expected, and some maybe still expect that the world will join them. Not by the sword, but by the Love of God. One of the best aspects of the Jewish religion is its focus on the Love of God and a Love for God in each moment of a person’s life.
But along came Jayzus!
Things started out ok, Yesuah merely echoed and extended the teachings and philosophy of Hillel. It expanded organically and gently; converting mostly people otherwise considered “unworthy” of membership in one of the more respectable religions, then into the idle upper-class (often by way of religiously adventurous wives discontent with being the ornament on a rich man’s arm.
But then Paul and Constantine came to deal the Judaic Chrestians, and then, later, the mild original “Greek”, a double death-blow of politicization.
After several centuries of defending themselves from the fanatically imperialistic Islam Christianity began to model all sorts of the worst of the Islamic “innovations” in religion and took on an expansionist, aggressive attitude of its own.
But, it is inherent in a religion mostly based on the teachings of Jesus that every now and then people would remember what their religion was supposed to be about. Christianity may have done much more good during those periods than it did evil during its more cognitively-dissonant times.
Since the Enlightenment the swings of the pendulum between arrogant fanaticism on one hand, and humble servitude to God on the other seem to have gotten gentler. Christianity also seem centered more and more toward the liberal side of the equation; i.e. Fred Phelps, not Qaradawi.
Christianity may one day even manage to have more people who follow it for the right reasons than fools-in-lambs-clothing who use religion in unhealthy ways, or merely for social reasons.
Christianity has a core in its teachings and scripture that is there for all to see; one of Love. It today can be, and always has been, a potentially dangerous religion (I.e. Fred Phelps, Torquemada) but is not inherently so by the structure and teachings of its chief scriptures.
I do think that, despite the quantum jump that The Enlightenment enabled in society’s evolution, Christianity has shown a definite tendency to speed humanity’s growth due to the focus of many of the faithful being on Jesus’ ministry rather than the “died for your sins” part.
Now, about Islam.
Islam teaches much about peace and love. There are verses equal to any in the other Abrahamic writings. I will not comment here about those who feel it was the work of someone passingly familiar with both religions. But Pat Robertson did get one thing right; Islamic theology IS inherently aggressive.
The Islamic scriptures consist of three parts:
The Qur’an, the Sunnah –basically a biography of Mohammed’s life, and the ahadith – stories about Mohammed from people who knew him. If you read it all it is clear that there can only be peace when everyone has submitted to Allah.
Even the most fanatical religion tends to mellow over the years; people are basically families, people who want to live and work and laugh and have the space to find God before they die. Even individuals attracted to a “religious” life for evil reasons can be shocked to learn that Love of God and Love BY God can blossom in their hearts; that is the core of any religion.
Islam unfortunately is working uphill in the all so human battle against hubris while trying to find truth. But, by having such an aggressive set scriptures; by having so much to draw from that feeds the darker hungers of man, Islam will, I believe spend more time orbiting around radical aggression before submitting finally to that peace and love that is God, is Allah.
Islam is inherently dedicated by its self-declared scriptural doctrine to naturally one day rule the world by TAKING control of it and forcing Dar al-Harb(‘House of War’) (Non-Muslim controlled regions) into Dar al-Islam(‘House of Islam); then all people will be free, in the Islamic view, to “choose” the “right” religion.
Sadly, it is not hard to justify all sorts of atrocities on infidels (non-Muslims) with the Qur’an; by contrast there are very few Samaritans or Philistines around for Jews or Christians to use their scripture as an excuse to start a pogrom against.
In Islam it does not matter that reformist Imams do not support something. In fact it is literally forbidden in Islam to use your ‘conscience’ as a guide in a religious dilemma; the only proper way to get an answer is to ask the proper authority, and then submit to the “truth.”
In Christianity, the violent books and verses are all somewhat shielded by being in the OT and considered to be superseded by the Love of Jesus when any conflict occurs. Islam does not have a NT to mellow its hard edges, though it does recognize the concept of abrogation (what a prophet says later is ‘rock’ to the ‘scissors’ of any earlier pronouncements or doctrines).
This makes “insulting” Islam dangerous at times in the modern world of high tech, and horrific weapons that you can make in your garage.
I mostly find it sad that the bulk of Muslims are not more vocal about denouncing their radical Brethren in both the private and the public arena. It is every person in the world’s duty to restrain the fundies of all aggressive religions until they grow up. Until a religion’s devout – highest clergy to clueless souls just born in it – recognize to their core’s that it is ok to DIE because of your religion but, that it is NEVER anything but evil to use religion as an excuse to KILL, that religion should be watched, and kept on a leash in polite company.
Islam has yet to show that it can stay grown up. They are younger though, lets give them time…but, keep the rolled up newspaper ready to smack their noses if they sh*t on the rug. We have too many permanent stains from Christianity and its messes; AND the Islam’s’ earlier messes. Of course Christianity STILL pees on the floor now and then. We just have to be patient and rub their noses PROMPTLY in their messes; but, we don’t have to worry about them eating the neighbor’s cat anymore.
I am not too PC to call a club a club (well, I can’t say spade anymore can I?); religion can be very wonderful but, people need to get over their BS and realize that the basic code of ethics that most religions have can also be formulated by simple common sense and an understanding of psychology and social dynamics. Go read a little about Neuro-Linguistic Programming and such. Real secular morality is what the world needs, not the Fascist pretend kind, only then can religion truly flourish; when we get over all this bickering on who is actually the only ones in touch with the “ONLY source of Morality™”; which they cannot even prove exists.
Faith is the problem; submission to something you do not feel yourself is the problem. Beliefs have reasons, sometimes bad ones but, reasons that can be ‘reasoned with’; faith has no reason therefore the most reasonable argument does no good, your head still rolls on the floor.