Friday, December 14, 2012

I Love Bacon

I love Bacon. There, I've said it. Bacon, Bacon, Bacon, Bacon. So sue me. Of course the Bacon I'm loving isn't that fried slab of dead pig, but the Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr. of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA.

Father Bacon has arranged with the Muslim Public Affairs Council to hold the Council's annual convention at his church as a sign of inter-religious cooperation. Of course this act of Christian charity is only Christian if you happen to be a Muslim loving hater of America. And so Father Bacon is under attack by conservative Christian groups for catering to Muslim extremists.

According to Father Bacon such fanatics are turning Christianity into a religion of fear, "which it of course is not." But is that true? Is Christianity really not a religion of fear? In fact is any religion, or any Abrahamic religion, not a religion of fear?

One of the causes of fear is the notion of scarcity and zero–sum thinking. In the case of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam there is only one God, which brings in the problem of scarcity. Sure, this one God (who sometimes appears as Three, but we will leave that to Trinitarians to explain) is infinite so you might imagine there is plenty of Him (when we speak of God in terms of scarcity we almost always are talking about God as male) to go around, but you would be mistaken. This one God plays favorites, and limits His True Revelation to One Book, and those followers of this God live in fear that they may not be Daddy's favorite or be the sole custodians of His Book. The only way to prove that you are the winner in this theological winner-take-all zero-sum world is to defeat the competition.

At the moment the only two religions capable of competing globally are Christianity and Islam, and the war between them (as non-PC as it is to say this) is only getting hotter.

Of course the competition isn't just inter-mural, it is intra-mural as well, as various sects and denominations within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam battle for dominance.

And then there is the issue of fear and theology. While not all versions of Christianity and Islam are obsessed  with Hell, those that are tend to be the most violent.

So I support Rev. Bacon's openness to Islam, I disagree with his assessment about fear. Religion is always (though not exclusively) about fear, and the more fear is the focus of religion the more afraid the religious become, and the more afraid the religious become the more angry they get, and the more fearful and angry they get the more easily they are manipulated into acts of violence.

As we prepare to go over the fiscal cliff, we should prepare to over the religious cliff as well. War, what is it good for? Religion unfortunately.

5 comments:

J. Nallick said...

Rabbi Rami,
I agree that there is a lot of negative, fear based religion. I disagree that religion is "always" about fear. Here's a Christian and Jewish example of non-fear based religion: "Everything Belongs" by Richard Rohr, and "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Rachel Naomi Remen.

These books contain a lifetime's worth of wisdom and are available for next to nothing on Amazon. I'm sure there is something just as good from a Muslim perspective. I challenge you to find it and let the world know about it.

Jim Nallick

J. Nallick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
No One Special said...

Well stated Rabbi, as usual.

I ran away from my organized religion because the G*d of Love that I understood seemed no where to be found

No One Special said...

Well stated Rabbi, as usual.

I ran away from my organized religion because the G*d of Love that I understood seemed no where to be found

Fraser said...

Ernst Becker in his 'Denial of Death' put the fear down to the fear of death. If your religion guarantees a way out of oblivion then someone elses is a serious threat because yours may not be right. This demands that you eliminate and denigrate the others religion in order to make sure that you are in the team that is "g'wan up to heban" in Frank Zappa-eez. This is a really good reason to let every one into the party I think. Are we after all talking about the same human experience and trying to find meaning and love in religious imagery?
Rumi would be a good start for a Sufi perspective within Muslim faith. Those Sufis spent their time wandering around all the houses of differing faith having spiritual chats and drinking tea. This in between some serious dancing and ecstatic twirling. A good example I reckon.