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Commentary :: War and Militarism
Holocaust Museum For Persecuted Heretics?
13 Mar 2010
Verily, if the origin of the word ‘holocaust’ meant ‘whole’ + ‘burning’ then surely the history of the persecution and killing of pagans and various heretical sects would qualify to this nomenclature? After all, how many supposed witches, were tortured and/or burned over the centuries? How many believers in the ‘wrong’ religions or denominations, according to those fanatics who thought themselves within ‘thee’ singularly right religion, were persecuted and murdered? We don’t know any kind of exact number but it is a frightening reality to behold nevertheless.
Holocaust Museum For Persecuted Heretics?

If god created us in his image we have certainly returned the compliment.
~ Voltaire

Verily, if the origin of the word ‘holocaust’ meant ‘whole’ + ‘burning’ then surely the history of the persecution and killing of pagans and various heretical sects would qualify to this nomenclature? After all, how many supposed witches, were tortured and/or burned over the centuries? How many believers in the ‘wrong’ religions or denominations, according to those fanatics who thought themselves within ‘thee’ singularly right religion, were persecuted and murdered? We don’t know any kind of exact number but it is a frightening reality to behold nevertheless.

Equally important as the sheer number of religiously motivated acts of cruelty in history, is another far-encompassing reality that has roots in religious terrorism, which has transpired over many centuries. This is especially true in respect to atrocities inspired by ‘Abrahamic’ religions, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, where most fundamentalist movements have arisen, and can be expected to arise.

And note that this argument does is not meant to belittle, nor umbrage, the numerous cruelties suffered by Jewish peoples throughout the centuries, as there have been many serious incidents, especially exacted by Christian and nationalist zealots.

Still it is time for crisis-plagued modernity to look beyond last century’s WWII and Hitler’s propaganda and deeds, and even to the persecution of Jews in general over the centuries, to a ‘larger’ picture of religious persecution, and to especially contemplate an underlying psychology behind it all—that mankind might gain a more balanced interpretation of religion’s politics—because religions have been ‘especially’ political—as they still are today in our own time—and as they were from time immemorial—as we will ‘only’ begin to explore.

Nor should it shock those with some awareness that terrorism is still ‘especially’ linked to Abrahamic religions—not solely of course—but it is how the ‘geography’ of current geo-political conflicts and confrontations plays out around the world; which equally, and ironically, juxtaposes the geo-political territories of oil and other natural resources—at least for propaganda purposes (including previous U.S. support of Afghanis’ war with Russia, and then subsequent defining of these ‘same’ proxies into an Al Qaeda enemy. (See The New American Century video by Massimo Mazzucco).

Humanity needs more memory for the vastness of terror and torture that was connected to religious dogma, which has occurred over the centuries, both systematically and arbitrarily as religious persecution. Yet what we see from the movie industry on religious persecution as political awareness are mainly movies about Nazis—as if this is reflective and comprehensive on how far our memories should resonate.

How much transgression and evil, based on hatred and fear, was ultimately tied to the name of religious purity? How many hundreds or thousands of people have suffered from an evil side of religion, which managed to influence human institutions to practice ostracism, torture and killing? Perhaps with renewed realization to some of these biographical histories from religious dogma and fear-mongering the rest of humanity might equally say: “NEVER AGAIN!,” because, for too long, a sanctimoniousness in politics has dominated the marketplace of ideas as to what constitutes human morality and politically correct standing.

We should then ask: Why has a long history of torture and persecution existed in the name of religion, and continue with such insanity? Why, for example, were the early Christians persecuted when they refused to honor Rome’s deities as common cultural values? Why did not early Christians have a flexibility to honor both Roman deities and their own narrow monotheism, but which ‘demanded’ total fealty? And what did these conflicts suggest about loyalty to a state or culture, or to various alliances if conflicts arose? And what relevance is this today?

With a psychological and political analysis of religion, such as exploring how forms of Middle Eastern religion were converted into Western mindsets, we can and should be asking, despite anti-Semitic realities suffered throughout history, is if there are forms of psychological blackmail being used today, so as to place an excess of focus on Hitler’s persecutions, as if a red herring to shutter our freedom of speech if we ae tempted to criticize injustices currently, or recently, as taking place in the Middle East, such as the destruction of Palestinian human rights, homes, agriculture, and dignity, etc., that is if human rights are assumed for ‘all’ people—as the word ‘democracy’ would imply. Two wrongs will never make a right—no matter how wrong the wrongs once were or still are. (See occupation101.com.)

Therefore it is ‘not’ unfair to question the motives as to why some people castigate those who question current 21st century realities in the Middle East, in which one feels ostracized for criticizing or opposing Israeli politics of Zionism, especially as acted out on the ground—including the manipulation of soldiers into war that Israel is primarily in desire.

Irrespective of national or cultural orientation, free thinkers and skeptics should be willing to examine Judeo-Christian forms of ‘justice,’ or what they have been taught to believe as Divine Justice. We can and do assume a human right and responsibility to morally judge the psychological effects of religious dogma—especially since we have been conditioned, from time immemorial, to believe that we are moral agents and will be judged as so, because it’s assumed we have capacity for moral judgment. (Or if we have no conscious to judge things moral than how can anyone judge us on any issue? Either we have a sense of morality or we do not—even if much of what we believe as moral was socially and religiously inculcated from our childhoods.)

A moral agent, by definition, makes his or her own decisions, so we can judge Abrahamic religions and their literature by a moral compass—just as we have been conditioned to expect to be judged. We do not have to rely, for example, like those in the Middle Ages, on clerics who knew how to read esoteric Latin. In fact we do not have to rely on any clique of proclaimed experts if we are literate and can think for ourselves.

With independence forthrightly assumed, irrespective of accusations of hubris, we should ask, for example, if it was really ‘moral’ for a so-called God to have commanded certain people to kill off the inhabitants of Canaan, millennia ago, so the tribes of Moses’ people could then live there? Does this biblical story intuitively sound like Divine Justice? Or does such ‘scripture,’ as written by ‘scribes,’ sound more like war propaganda, that somehow has been passed down through the ages as holy Gospel (even if there existed no divine language, so that ‘mere’ humans wrote cultural history, when no separation of church and state existed, so that cultural history became whatever scribes decided it should be at any point in time—not unlike the creators of history today)?

Any likely answer must admit religious scribes, over the centuries, have ‘assumed’ to speak for a supernatural God. But such an assumption does not mean it to be true, even if the indoctrination had been intensive and psychologically compelling. Claims of reality are not necessarily true any more than some apologists might claim to speak for U.S. or Israeli foreign policy today, picking and choosing whatever talking points presumed experts might wish to convey. (See, for example, any of Noam Chomsky’s books for alternative explanations the mainstream conversation of acceptable discourse does not recognize.)

How long will deities and religion be used to justify wars between human peoples? There was nothing is such prophesy, as the ‘purportedly’ private and privileged conversations between Moses and the Divine, that sounded even remotely divine. Such a scenario, as recorded, redacted, and controlled for public relations experts as religious clerics over the centuries, is entirely reflective of human ego-psychology and the psychology of human politics. Furthermore Moses’ pronouncements, based on faith alone, are culturally ethnocentric, despite all rhetoric about a chosen people, with a chosen destiny, such as a light unto the world—whether wished for or not.

Why have so many people felt a need to impose their own religious beliefs onto other people? Why did they feel such a desperate need to be saved—and from what? What exactly were they so afraid of if they were not saved and how did this psychology affect their attitudes? Perhaps it’s time Americans read the likes of a Religious Psychology For Dummies because an obsessive brainwash has stymied human freedom for far too long, and its consequences are continuing with dire consequences.

Free spirits, those not enslaved by fear, need to explore, far more deeply, the political and psychological ramifications behind forms of religious mind control, such as centuries of ‘clerical’ proclamations as “… God ordained this …” which came to mean mere mortals, and the generally powerless, could ‘never’ question religious judgments or purported historical events.

Or if citizens did question officiated ideas they were likely punished or eschewed. Even Socrates questioned the validity in believing in ancient Greece’s deities, and was then rebuked for his endeavor. But how many more believers suffered for merely have a idiosyncratic twist within their belief system—that is those who generally stayed within the flock?

Wasn’t the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, in the biblical sense, really a paradigm that amounted to being punished for wanting to know of ideas that one was not suppose to know? Yet ‘who’ decides what is orthodox or considered common knowledge? Isn’t this story, as psychological effect, really a metaphor of two people being punished for being curious, as to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions, which would be allowed in a democrat psychology, or at least tolerated in a religion modeled along similar lines?

What kind of intellectual freedom is there in such censorship as to be punished for being curious to ideas? And it can be argued that it was not so much as to be like a God in awareness, as to understand some of the motives of those who claimed to speak for divinity? Or why did the evolving church of a Roman empire find a need to create an index of condemned books or to participate an Inquisition of terror?

Further how normal does it seem that a so-called supernatural God espoused as being all powerful, would play some mind game of cordoning off an apple tree as forbidden? Sounds suspicious to a skeptical mind. Or why does the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge approximate in practice to those ‘denigrated’ conspiracy theories, such as the 911-truth movement, or Alex Jones’ proclamations of a secret government behind the elected government? Or how different are forbidden apples to not appropriately allowing elected legislators the time necessary to read The Patriot Act before signing it? Or how different is forbidden awareness to various ‘classified’ programs, which have little to do with real national security, such as related to complete eavesdropping on citizens, etc.?

What should make of religious literature, which evolved from half way around the world and millennia ago, that starts out with such story telling? Should we take it at face value with no right to question?

Whereas, if you learn to maintain skepticism toward religious dogma, and start to question any potential terrorism, you likely will find doctrines that operate to control in fear-mongering ways. For example, is it not true that there is an element of hostage taking when a religion holds the dagger of eternal punishment? Is it not coercion when a so-called just God (or any authority figure) demands love and loyalty (or patriotism), overtly or covertly, or then threatens to severely punish when one does not abide—such as kicking you out of the kingdom or by secret rendition? Isn’t such social psychology of community similar to that of a dysfunctional tyrant, with an asymmetry of power that punishes a naïve child because one’s superiority can abuse power? Certainly such a mindset does reflect much in the way of magnanimity in respect to leadership.

(P.S. And if you think such questions are threatening or make you feel uncomfortable then ask yourself why. Why has Western religion used such a big stick of psychology fear, which is what terrorism amounts, to win the hearts and minds of its people?)

After all what kind of ‘ego’ style does a supposed God have when ‘he’ complains, as in the Old Testament, about how much ‘his’ human creation has constantly let him down again and again. There is something a bit projectionist about blaming creation for the creator’s disappointments and power dynamics? This is even more so when this very same Divine Ego, according to the same literature, couldn’t even get along with all his angels, that he also supposedly created, at least according to the story tales as handed down, that are essentially used as more scare tactics, because in context as presented to adherents, it is explained that an ultimately evil psyche as great temper named Satan, has a ‘sole’ mission as motive, is ruin your eternal happiness into a nightmare.

But not too surprisingly the great Satan was not that different from the likes of Bin Laden initially after 9-11 as he was hailed the ultimately evil one; and then later to change war from Afghanistan to Iraq, the great terrorist peril became Saddam Hussein; and now since Iraq’s infrastructure has been devastated and many lives ruined, the new greatest ever Satan, especially again for Israelis behest, is now Mahmoud Ahmandinejad of Iran. This is to say the black and white political knowledge of good and evil—which Leo Strauss’s Neo-cons readily assumed we Americans would forever abide—is proclaimed to the masses. And naturally the common people, as sheep, accept whatever media translators, and private interest sources, say reality is as the finality of gospel truth.

For example, rounding up hundreds or thousands of Muslims and jailing them with no, or little, probably cause didn’t seem to bother the religiously and politically correct when under the terror of attack. But why didn’t the media report the sober research of Seymour Hersh, in respect to the fact that ‘many’ imprisoned at Guantanamo were basically taken from Afghani drug lords because they were ‘paid’ to hand over people, so that those rendered and locked up were too often elderly and youth and that had little if nothing to do with a jihad? Why is this still more or less a hidden dimension in our public conversation about trials?

Or why, way back in time, in that purported history of the Bible’s creation story, was there a civil war in the afterworld, or in this case the ‘before-world,’ if heaven always was such a great and idyllic place for souls to want to be? Why were there conspiracies and political conflicts happening in the azure land of the beloved? And more importantly why only vague accounts of the great battle that supposedly took place between the so-called good angels and bad angels, as if that divine realm as propagated, as we were led to believe for our afterlife, was too similar to just ‘another’ world of politics, coup or failed coup?

Yet the Peloponnesian War only lasted sixty years at most, less than the multiple generations of war expected with our so-called War on Terrorism, as compared to the eons of time we might presume for with God’s angels fighting one another in that great cosmic battle. Yet Thucydices still managed to produce a tome of some magnitude and detail. But what volumes of work can we glean about the greatest of civil war in God’s country—but mere insinuations of an arch angel and his minions gone sour, leaving the realm, and scheming to takeover (not too unlike a Hamid Karzai who lived for a time in the United States as a Unocal consultant, or schemer Ahmad Chalabi who also left Iraq to live in Europe as he plotted for a new day (or for that matter not too unlike Martin Luther who first attempted to stay within the Catholic Church’s fold, or even Jesus who supposedly taught doctrines from within Judaism)). Why not more details on this so consequential angelic war as religious politics explicated?

Yet such presumptions, mostly unanswered, set up Europeans for hundreds, actually thousands, of religious persecutions and wars that would transpire for millennia. How many heretics would be condemned for maintaining personal interpretations about religion? How many Catholics or Protestants feared for their lives depending on who was king? How many antichrists would be announced and why? How many councils would convene to decide orthodoxy from that of heterodoxy, by mortal minds, not too different from demagogues arguing against what to believe or trust?

Or how different was Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Un-American Activities Committee accusations, or Neocon Leo Strauss’ political philosophy on deliberate deception, or Girolamo Savonarola’s 15th century Dominican attempt to deface the Venetian Republic to an authoritarian popish plot, to any type of authoritarian terror? They all seem to use similar sorts of strategies. So why should they be allowed unconditional respect—irrespective of institution?

Hence Judeo-Christian religious psychology, and later concomitant Islamic psychology, came to incorporate an ultimately ‘evil’ spirit that would scare the be-jabbering-jeebees out of illiterate and semi-literate masses, for centuries, with its convenient gulag system of eternal torture called hell’s damnation, or reward unquestioned loyalty. As long as you rallied with the politically and religiously correct you were OK—but if you were dissident in your personal views you were with the evil empire.

(And yet this is not to imply there is no value in conformity, which does have a legitimate place in a given society that needs order. But what when that form of order is meant to oppress or steal from the many?).

Christian terrorist psychology had it that you, mere mortal and quite naïve at that, and equally relegated to a disgusting sinner or at least scarred by original sin, had a very good chance ‘your’ sorry soul would end up in some kind of eternal prison. And in the Bible’s version of justice there are no legal rights for the defendant, with the possibility of appeal or peer jury (nor habeas corpus if declared enemy combatant). Does this kind of religious psychology respect the nurturance of self-esteem and self-acceptance? Or does such a psychology work to lower self-assurance by the use of scare tactics. After all how could a Galileo question the Church’s imperial understanding on anything let alone the universe, when Italians were no longer honoring the recently extinguished renaissance idea of humanity with a more authoritarian psychology of clerical power?

So we now wonder that if we are going to contemplate terrorism into the 21st century—maybe we ought do so in a ways that allows history to shed more light on grand religious schemes that fall back throughout the centuries, and can likely even be found in religions older than the Bible? Did not earlier religions, such as that of the pharaohs, also use religious dogma to control naïve populations?

Or in our contemporary realities , is not political dogma using fear today to force political situations, such as the label of ‘anti-Semitism’ to coerce people to go along with national Zionism, as if non-support to a religious state were impossible to contemplate—or at least to attempt to vies it as not politically correct? Somehow all peoples, especially those easily guilt-tripped, are sent a message they should conform to the notion that a religious state of Israel is inevitable, even if meant solely for Jews. Somehow we Americans, whose political ancestors have rejected a national religion, should just support such a project irrespective of how it works out on the street?

Meanwhile no one need bother to re-read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. So are we not put in the position to support a kind of ‘cult’ of a war god that supposedly gave certain ancient peoples permission to kill off the inhabitants of Canaan millennia ago—and therefore we too should equally accept such tactics today? No one bothers to ask if Israelis should feel compelled to justify their religion as divine and worthy of respect?

Granted Jews have been persecuted and discriminated in many cultures. That does not mean we have to officially recognize their religion. That doesn’t mean we have to abide by their ethnocentric demands. Should we avert our eyes and ears to an oppression that wantonly kills off darker skinned Palestinian Semites from the Levant so Caucasian immigrants, whose ancestors later converted to Judaism but who have no direct biological link to King David, might solely live there—no doubt in eternal conflict—if we are not equally motivated to go to war against ‘their’ enemies?

Maybe the modern world should advocate for a separation of state and religion in all parts of the world? Why should Americans, whose national religion, if you will, is the separation of religion and state, with no recognition of a state religion, go to war for any religious state such as Muslim movements that repress in the name of right-wing dominance? We have no obligation to advocate for a double standard that goes against our own constitution and ideals.

Now however this planet’s politics is but a match stick away from a nuclear holocaust, or a World War 3, because some diehards, and, equally some investment capitalist-as mostly atheists who mostly care about corporate profits from military exploitation, continue to push their delusional religious or greed impulses onto the rest of the world—no matter how insane. Because now it is about ‘using’ the United States as belligerent for the sake of right-wing agendas, which they pretend it is good for all Americans with the likes of Biden, Kerry, Clinton, etc., promising Israel unconditioned support—even if they insist in their continued apartheid.

Who cares if naïve bumpkins from the rural areas the Midwest or south in places of general high unemployment die for corporate profit? Who cares if those who can’t afford to go to college should die in a war so others may continue in expensive schools? The voluntary army is an army of lower and middle class peoples becoming canon fodder for the wealthy and educated classes.

And even if war in the Middle East were mostly about oil and gas politics or pipelines, its as much about creating an infrastructure that will ultimately benefit other countries like China and Japan to sea lanes routes made possible, as America is likely kicked overboard a plank. Because what will likely happen if a major war breaks out, for most people of the United States, is to live with a devastated U.S. economy and a broken and stretched military, similar to what European nations suffered after WWII so that other nations could emerge to compete for leadership. Meanwhile war profiteers will regroup overseas or in the Caribbean.

Thus, given what is at stake, it is time to look at all peoples who have suffered because of religious belief, or lack of any systematic belief that did not conform to rigid standards. Its time to become familiar with the history of murder, torture, hanging, burning, imprisonment, and other cruelties, that could readily justify a Holocaust Museum of people persecuted by various religious and political leaders. This way we might better understand the insanity of the West, and equally peoples subsequently subjugated by Western peoples to also have suffered such as those in central America by Spanish invaders.

Furthermore it is dubious how some laissez faire capitalists have equated atheism with communism, when one can well imagine certain believers of the Old Testament as having proclivities not far-removed to a Stalin. Whereas, Mao Tse-tung’s proletariat believed in a utopian heaven on earth in which all were equal, and where the meek inherited the world. Nevertheless the New Testament still assumed ‘hierarchies’ of angels to contend based on ancient Middle Eastern lore?

Or how is it some proponents for economic religions, that is with their fanaticism, they are so absolutely righteous in seeing things so black and white—as either you are a capitalist or a communist, and yet we have corporate welfare? One major problem is an arrogance befitting General Douglas MacArther in the Korean conflict—too blind to see reality because too preoccupied to his assumptions were like a God’s—and too preoccupied to how politics played out as ever distorted.

But more to the point, it is time to understand the mental psychoses religions have fostered—even if modern day psychiatrists and psychologists are too trepid to tread much of a stand. Iconoclast Thomas Szasz, despite his over-sweeping generalizations, was still basically right with his thesis many psychiatrists reinforce the social prejudices of their time—because they, like so many people, go along to get along, just as the so called “good Germans” stayed within the rank of and file of not thinking too much outside of the box—and not questioning the official word.

It is more than ironic myriads of psychiatrists and psychologists, who assume themselves professional, have been able to categorize ‘hundreds’ of mental illnesses for individuals over the years, but can’t develop a classification scheme for illnesses of societies at large. Such practice implies civilizations are beyond question. This bias also implies illness ‘always’ resides with the individual—that is to how he adjusts to the insanity of humanity? Strange it is anthropology has never met psychiatry at the diagnostic level, especially when religions have inspired ‘so’ much ungodly fear and regret over so long a time frame, and yet this subject is ‘still’ considered too taboo? (Yet even Freud questioned his own religion’s upbringing.)

So don’t hold your breath for ‘sophisticated’ scientists to officially declare a need for such a museum, such as regarding the murder of persons like Joan of Arc, Giordano Bruno, etc., etc., etc., because they are too afraid of the terrorism fanatics might bestow, such as burning down the building to the ground (not unlike libraries and statues have been destroyed—or the latest—Iraq’s museums and literature that mostly get sidestepped as investigations worthy of public attention?).

Nor can we expect European countries to build museums to the history of religious persecution, even if Europe had been so drastically affected by such dis-ease—that is since the Romans adapted the Catholic Church as the official state religion. And then, as the state-religion, went about persecuting all kinds of non-Christians for more centuries, despite Christians themselves were once persecuted. Yet what continent would better represent religious pogroms and wars fought over religion—not even counting their terrible wars with the Saracens? Such a document could easily compose an encyclopedia.

Whereas the United States, which still consists of one big Bible belt, would do well to construct such a teaching institution, since we are yet infected with such terrorist psychology. We have plenty who believe a so-called ‘just’ God is planning on having ‘his’ Armageddon predestination (read biblical justice) and all the crazy and scary stuff expected to happen according to the Book of Revelations. Yes there are millions gullible enough to believe in these ancient monster tales, as a primordial dungeon and dragon beast resurrecting—even though the end of the world has been predicted in practically every century—including in Jesus’ own day. Jesus himself, who is the myth as we have been led to believe, supposedly as a Jewish rabbi, also spoke of an imminent end of the world—and yet his death too was in the form of imprisonment and torture.

And have not a lot, if not most, rabbis, and other clerics, tried to find a middle ground of sane ethical life for community, despite incongruous messages that could be found in various precedents of gospel—as if older religions were software rewritten over and over again forever trying to get it right?

The Jesus story especially, whether myth or historical, needs more reflection as to why crucify a rabbi and then claim a God ordained such an act? How does a psychology of killing a religious leader affect believers’ dispositions, over the centuries, play out as predilections for fear and prejudice? This is not a small matter in setting the stage for fanaticism, because what kind of religion would use a psychology of terror, almost as a Stockholm syndrome, such as to what Christians have been led to believe in a punishing God?

Why were so many religious sects at war with each other? Why were they vehemently disagreeing with various interpretations about what to believe and how to be saved? And why was it so important to want to be saved in the first place—if not to avoid the purported terrorism of hell? And why even bother to have a creation if so many were to suffer such a lot?

There were no angels from another realm that crucified Jesus in their New Testament account. He was imprisoned, tortured, and killed by humans, and within the context of political and religious realties. The act of crucifixion was a way of intimidating Roman slaves so they would not rebel against Roman imperialism. It is noteworthy this Mediterranean myth that evolved in Greece, Italy and some conquered lands of the Phoenicians, would adopt a human and imperial style of torture? Nevertheless it is a story about revenge irrespective of who or why it was exacted—and is this the kind of leadership we should enjoy?

Therefore it is not enough to reiterate Nietzsche who claimed religion is a form of slavery for weak minds (as if anarchists could rule on their own egocentricity). Rather it is a question of ‘how’ a religion can create intellectual slavery and by what means. After all what does the verdict of ‘guilty,’ that condemns by way of divine justice, to an eternity of pain, have to do with religious paranoia, or fear turned into hatred, or cruelty and persecution of others—if anything? What kind of paradigm is this for peace on earth?

And this is not to argue that religions are necessarily bad. The fact remains religions have served mankind and will continue to do so. There already exists much literature to the affect. But what about the dark side that people don’t want to review? It is almost as if the lamb of peace were like a Trojan horse that allowed lions to more easily devour their prey? Why does Christian religion overwhelm the soul with fear, as if in attempt to establish order by operating as a Machiavellian plot?

Certainly the overt message is one about love and forgiveness. But there were many personalities in the Bible and many involved in constructing it. And some of those personalities that composed the Bible were ‘not’ all that loving or forgiving. Or how can religions be based on ethics that even warmongers, tyrants, and yes, even sociopath could find amenable? It is similar to arguing laissez faire capitalism is the best of all worlds, and yes, even organized crime loves it too because it never questions to motives of people who practice business.

Or was the concept of heaven mean to be a psychological place, so as to hide away as a form of hoped-for-security, as in a daydream? Is heaven an intellectual prop that assumes that if I’m OK and safe in my presumed afterlife of peace and security, as I played by the rules of the game as instructed (or currently safe within my terrestrial country, as not being attacked, where I live in prosperity and economic luxury), then I can righteously shed any awareness that others suffer unjustly elsewhere—that is since I am an insider of a protected group)?

Or does the “collective good life” of virtuous citizens, as Harvard professor Michael Sandal’s book Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do, boil down to, if not being concerned if others are being violated unfairly in worldly forms of hell? One can agree with Socrates that philosophy must concern itself with human affairs and not just heavenly things. But maybe it is time to see if there is connection between the psychology of religion and the psychology of political propensity?

Whether theories on justice divide nicely fit into philosophical categories that emphasize either welfare, freedom or virtue, it seems some advocate a bit too readily for settling for theories of justice based on virtue that espouses ‘tradition,’ such as the morality of religious culture, as if somehow, by a priori justification, long standing tradition should automatically be the foundation of justice? After all we can find plenty of books here in the United States that make ‘august’ claim, by the black robes of jurisprudence, that justice originated with the Bible and Moses’ Decalogue—as if group rule and peer pressure could not have existed prior or elsewhere as norms.

Or maybe justice is simply a metaphor for being ‘allowed’ into a monarchy of heaven so long as one is willing to then not question God’s authority and judgment (or the King’s hierarchy), or his motives—even if it seems there is something a little shady about the feel of it? (Obviously there is no selling of one’s soul here?) Clearly it is ‘not’ about playing it safe and holding one’s cards close?

Does entering the kingdom of God symbolically mean going along with whatever the political program no matter who or what is in power; or a two tier system of justice, such as for example, enlisted marines being subject to trial but higher ups on the dark side are less accountable? Such compromise is hardly more than a predilection to conformity and silence—which at times may be wise—but it is not necessarily noble to conform if this is what is argued as sacred space?

Meanwhile plenty civil fanatics readily advocate for the imprisonment of anyone suspicious and throwing away the key until they die in penitentiary (not really caring what conditions private corporations have in store—just so long as the timid are relieved of their immense fear). There isn’t necessary a great deal of forgiveness extended to people once convicted of any crime and released on parole, or a second chance except homelessness, by those with need for an excess security—as their paranoia rules like the sacred against all reasonableness. (Its only when taxes get too high that politicians and citizens realize how many people are sitting in jail for smoking dope or some fore other relatively minor offences.)

But has not religious sentiment motivated enough resentment, hatred, and war—and is it not time to face up to it? The real world of resource depletion is complicated enough today without masses of people carrying the burden of afterlife terrorism of an Armageddon, or the torture of hell, or evil devils whose sole mission is to haunt their psyches with temptation to ruin their afterlife? Especially we don’t need to be forced into another world war for the sake of religiously inspired conflict.

Or are Americans too ready to be psychologically enslaved because they are not ‘worthy’ of freedom, because they do not dare to practice intellectual freedom and think for themselves? Maybe they don’t have the courage to stand for American values—which is the value of human dignity irrespective of religion or nationality—at least supposedly?

And even if people in general need supernatural belief systems surely they can remake them to reflect a saner set of values and politics? We don’t have to have our souls shackled to past superstitions. (And this is not an argument that presumes atheism superior to theism—nor is this meant to insinuate there is no merit in a community having similar values considered sacred which people need to respect or be punished, but people need to become aware of when the human imagination goes awry and becomes vulnerable to disingenuous implications).

Surely a God worthy of the name has more to offer than some judgmental caricature. Mankind has learned to accept a universe far more complex and awesome that what even Copernicus imagined. Can this not equally be true of a higher power? Why must the world settle for religious lore from eons ago that seems retrograde in its authority? Most cultures have had some idea of the sacred and yet how many, past and present, insist their spirituality the most unyielding?

Voltaire argued it is was not a good idea that powerful people be atheists because then they will do whatever they like. Yet that is what has been happening—certain cadres of power are doing whatever they like while they ‘use’ religion as a human shield to hide behind. Meanwhile the masses stay stuck to their own blinders and conform to whatever information they are fed.

Currently a man stands trial for killing a doctor who performed abortions. He is hardly repentant. In his moral universe he did the right thing. Rather psychiatrists and psychologists have failed to address the insanity of religious extremism. Maybe they should be on trial for negligence? They too do not want to face some important truths about religion—that religions have been, at least partially, motivated by an excess of fear, so much so as to create prejudice, violence and terror, and not just for individuals, but for whole nations and cultures, and now the world. But who, or what, interests will religious despots serve?

You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do.
~ Anonymous

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