What are your starting points? What are mine?
WILL SANITY EVER RETURN? I’m going crazy here, and I suppose so are you. It seems in the last few weeks that confusion and anxiety have hit new highs. Major contributors seem to be: even more intolerance between interest groups in this country, political wannabes talking past each other, and the threat of Islam from thousands of refugees flooding the West along with who knows how many terrorists. There seems to be no agreement about anything, and as many ‘spins’ as there are talking heads.
WE NEED CLARITY! I want to insert a few radical truths to help sort through all of this. First, memes are dangerous. They are not cute or slick precisely because they reduce reality to a ‘soundbite’, something to be consumed. This is to our detriment as individuals and as a society.
Statements like these are misleading, deceitful or both: “When we asked for votes, we didn’t ask what their religion was” (a recently elected town council member in Michigan who is Muslim), “right wing religious fundamentalist conspiracies are behind that,” and “terrorists do not represent Islam or any religion.” Then, they become memes.
EVERYBODY HAS A BELIEF SYSTEM. Whether we are speaking of Muslims, Christians, ‘nones’, or non-religious, we are speaking of belief systems / worldviews / cultures. Everybody has them, and every government, institution, and enterprise has a ‘culture’ as well. Nobody and nothing is neutral.
EVERY BELIEF SYSTEM IS RELIGIOUS. The core starting point for every belief system / culture is religious. Yes, ‘religious’. No one and no system is non religious. Maybe they don’t pray to a deity or attend or sponsor religious services, in the popular sense of religious. But they are religious nonetheless. I can say this because every belief system starts with something that they believe is absolutely true, even if not 100% proven, and on which everything they believe ultimately depends. And, even if the rest of their system does not seem religious in the popular sense.
When Christians, whether or not they attend church, defend the Christmas tree and Easter Bunny as ‘Christian’, when Progressives, whether or not they attend their professional associations, defend anything as ‘settled science’, when Muslims, whether or not they attend mosque, do not speak out against terrorism and advocate changing our constitution to allow for Shariah law and the Muslim way, they are speaking out of worldviews / cultures, and therefore core starting points that are religious.
A Christian, whether a regular attender or not reflects to a large degree Christian starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith. A Progressive, whether a member of an association or political party, reflects to a large degree Progressive starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith. A Muslim, whether or not ‘religious’, reflects to a large degree Muslim starting points that are religious, that is, absolute and taken to some degree on faith.
THE QUESTION IS WHICH RELIGION? Everyone has these religious starting points. It is only a matter of which kind they have. So, to call someone from a Muslim culture / worldview ‘non-religious’, or someone from a Christian culture / worldview ‘non-religious’, or someone from a Progressive culture / worldview ‘non-religious’ is really a misnomer. It is unhelpful and untrue.
Worldview / culture = religious starting point
LET’S TALK. The soonest that we can come to understand and agree on this, and operate on its basis, the better we can begin to perceive real reality and unmask false categories, and begin to talk to one another, including those outside our particular group or belief system.