Wednesday, April 22, 2015

religion and its atrocities

I wrote what follows as a comment on a Buddhist bulletin board and think it is worth saving either as a means of admitting where I stand or as a means of eating my words if necessary:
It's a sorry fact that the codification of spiritual endeavor (let's call it "religion") invariably makes religion complicit in atrocity and war. Trying to evade the lash of this observation is, in my view, both irresponsible and futile. Better to investigate and then, assuming you still want to espouse a particular religion, decide on your own personal willingness and understanding.
The above is clearly a broad brush approach. Short of concrete evidence to refute it, I will not retract any of it. In the last couple of years, I cannot tell you how many of Brian Victoria's meticulously-researched essays on the complicity of Zen Buddhism in the Japanese invasion of China I have read. During that same period, I cannot count the number of essays or news stories I have read about the pedophile atrocities in a variety of religious venues.
Religion, from where I sit, depends heavily on the stability provided by the state. The state is not in business to get into heaven and has a tendency to stumble into one hell or another. Suggesting that religion could somehow be free of the shadows cast by its protector is delusional.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least if somewhere or other the Buddha didn't say, whether implicitly or explicitly, "read 'em and weep." Not that the shadows tell the complete story of light, but light without the shadows ... what sort of impoverished religion is that?

1 comment:

  1. I suspect that those who organize religions do so as others organize unions or any other voting block that could exert pressure on governments to benefit them. They politicize the personal. I like the alliteration more than the concept.