When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

The questionnaire that I have my students fill out at the beginning of every semester includes questions designed with a view to getting to know who my students are. I always find the answers interesting and revealing, and occasionally alarming.

 

One of the questions I ask is, “What is the biggest idea you’ve ever had to come to terms with?” As you can no doubt imagine, I see quite a range of answers to this one: everything from “what goes on inside a black hole?” to “I’ll soon have to move out of my parents’ basement,” with a smattering of references to mortality and religion in between. A few students leave that one blank – just don’t care to touch it. (Have they never wrestled with a big idea?) A few semesters ago, one student responded with, “fucking magnets – how do they work?

 

Among last semester’s crop of students was a young woman from a small Oklahoma town who wrote the following in response to my nosy question: “Everyone does not believe what I do from a religious perspective. It’s hard for me to understand why others believe what they do. I am Southern Baptist.”

 

Believe it or not, I understand her predicament and sympathize. I’ve been there.

 

What I wish I could have said to her, and of course didn’t and never will on principle, is something like the following:
Continue reading “When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push”

Hate the Faith Not the Faithful

Living in Australia, when you turn on the morning news and you see the words ‘hostage situation’ or ‘gunman’ or ‘terror attack’ floating across the screen the usual response would be to sigh and lament “Oh America, get your shit together…” As we all know, this was not the case yesterday morning. On Monday December 15th we Aussies were rocked with out own terror scare when a lone gunman took hostages in Sydney’s Martin Place in the central business district.

The incident, which was labelled #SydneySiege by the internet lasted from the morning and through the night and ended with most of the 17 hostages being released, however, two innocent lives were lost and along with the life of the gun man, now identified as Man Haron Monis.

So much has already been said in the past 24 hours. A deluge of articles from all directions have surfaced, some promoting tolerance, some defending their intolerance, and others simply begging for calm. The most amazing development has been the show of solidarity within the Australian community in the form of the #illridewithyou tag which shows non-Muslim Australians offering to ride with and stand up for Muslim Australians. It has been an amazing and inspiring display of humanism.

The tag has a dark side to it with many people criticizing #illridewithyou due to their flawed understanding of what it stands for. Many people assume that offering protection and understanding to a fellow human being is somehow showing support for religion, specifically Islam. It’s really not.

I personally support the movement and I hate religion, all religion. I can’t help but think that yesterday’s event may have been totally avoided if Monis did not consider himself under divine guidance. Monis was there for Allah, acting in his name, through directions offered in the Qur’an. If these things did not exist, where would his motivation come from? Perhaps somewhere else if he truly was a lunatic, but if in fact his actions were guided entirely by his faith-based beliefs, it’s safe to say this probably wouldn’t have happened. The families who lost loved ones yesterday would not be grieving and would not have presents under the tree that will never be unwrapped.
Continue reading “Hate the Faith Not the Faithful”