Saturday, January 09, 2010

My tenderness and bitchiness

Now that I have you chuckling, I didn't actually write this, I am citing it. Valerie Tarico is one of the women who writes at I like what she writes, and find her challenges and her concerns are to be taken seriously. Her book, The Dark Side, can be found in google books. In a recent post on Exchristians, HT Debunking Christianity, she writes about the treatment of gays in Uganda, and then discusses the role of religion in this violence.
    My selfishness is every bit as real as my generosity. My tenderness and bitchiness, compassion and aggression all are ME. Religion's track record of power-brokering and atrocity is every bit as integral as its history of giving voice to our moral instincts and sense of wonder.

    It is not the perversion of religion that is playing itself out in Islamic jihad or Evangelical homophobia and child murder. It is religion, period--one face of religion to be sure, but the real deal. It is the timeless face of god-worship that is tribal and intolerant and willing to kill -- as religion always has been under the right circumstances of time and place.

    Can we please stop pretending and making nice? People are being tortured to death, starved to death, and executed in the service of the religious enterprise! Do we ever get to run the numbers? Do we ever get to ask whether all of the fuzzy feel good stuff and the sense of meaning and purpose, and the wonderful creative moral communities that religion produces are worth the price?

    Because the price is what we are seeing in Somalia, and Nigeria, Uganda and elsewhere: people starving, children burned with acid (I dare you to look at the pictures), gays slated for execution, doctors murdered, politicians and mullahs who commit us to holy war.

    Both good and bad consequences of "faith" are the direct products of the agreement we make with each other that it's ok to believe things on paltry evidence, the kind that would never stand up in court, the kind that would never guide the surgeon's knife. It is our willingness to entrust ourselves to authority, sacred texts and our own intuitions, unaccountable to reason and evidence, unaccountable to universal ethics like the Golden Rule. Faith gives us mysticism and murder.

    Isn't it time to move beyond belief to whatever the next stage of our spiritual evolution may be?
Read the full article here.


Kristen said...

Some questions:

Is "religion" the same as "faith"?

If good and bad are both part of human nature, and religion involves humans, then is it accurate to blame the religion, or the humans?

Is not faith just as much part of human nature as reason?

Is a form of religion that denies its own tenets (such as the Golden Rule) a true expression of that religion?

Have there never been non-theistic systems of thought, supposedely based on science and reason alone, which have led to ideology without compassion?

Does atheism not also include metaphysical assumptions that cannot be proven in court nor guide the surgeon's knife? Is it not a metaphysical assumption to believe that nothing exists or matters except the kind of things we can prove in court or which would guide a surgeon's knife?

Kristen said...

Another question: is it faith/religion that is the problem, or the devaluing of human life, with or without faith/religion as justification?

Suzanne McCarthy said...


Unofortunately, I don't really have any answers. This is a reflective post for me, and gives me something to chew on. Thanks for commenting.

Kristen said...

Well, my own view is this: to say we should leave religion behind because of its abuses, is similar to saying we should stop forming sexual partnerships because if there were were no sexual partnerships, there would be no partner abuse. Or we should stop having children because that would stop child abuse.

If someone chooses a life of celibacy or decides not to have children, that's their business; but I don't want them telling me that their choice is what's best for me, too-- in fact, best for everybody. That's what atheists are doing when they say we'd all be better off without faith and religion. And it's no different than when religious fundamentalists tell me I need to live and believe the way *they* say.

My life would be empty without God. Yes, the fact that I believe that was once used by a religious coercive group to control me. But when I left that religious group, I found I still wanted God. No different from someone leaving an abusive marriage but not becoming turned off to the idea of marriage itself.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


You put this very well. I hope that you can see a response in my recent post on Kristof.