The Spiritual, the Material, and the Golden Rule

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Religions get into trouble when practitioners and leaders within that religion decide to become political.  The Pink Flamingo is quite adamant that the problems we have with hard-core Islam are about the political ambitions of some very disturbed demigods.  To wish to malign an entire group of people is almost as evil as those who are working for our destruction.

Terry Jones is an evil man.  What he did was pure evil.  He was repeatedly warned that his actions would be used and manipulated to hurt, destroy, and even murder innocent men and women.  He did not care.   He went ahead and burned a copy of the Koran. Afghan President Hamid Karzai then manipulated Jones’ actions for political reasons.

Jones is an evil, pathetic man hiding behind the Constitution, to make problems for our country and our fight against Islamic fanaticism.  What Jones did, and plans to do, is no different from what Jane Fonda did during the Vietnamese War.  He is giving our enemy material to hurt our people.

“…Rev. Terry Jones told reporters he had no plans to burn any more Korans upon his arrival at LAX on Tuesday night, but that he may hold another mock trial for the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

“We’ve had about 400 death threats,” he said, adding that Hezbolla, the Shia Muslim militant group, had put out a “reward out on my head for $2.4 million.”

Santa Ana police say they were warned that Jones was in town.

It was unclear if he has scheduled any public appearances.

Jones of Gainesville, Fla., said he planned to go to Dearborn, Mich., for a demonstration outside the nation’s largest mosque.

He has been widely criticized for burning a Koran following a mock trial March 20 at his church, saying he did it to draw attention to radical Islam.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the act. About 20 people, including seven United Nations workers, have been killed in rioting in Afghanistan….”

One of the problems of our society is the fact that we no longer feel the need to practice the Golden Rule.

“…The Golden Rule is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, in which each individual has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others. A key element of the Golden Rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group. The Golden Rule has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard which different cultures use to resolve conflicts.

The Golden Rule has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, bilateral nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).  As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term “Golden Rule” (or “Golden law”, as it was called from the 1670s). The ethic of reciprocity was present in certain forms in the philosophies of ancient Babylon, Egypt, Persia, India, Greece, Judea, and China.

Examples of statements that mirror the Golden Rule appear in Ancient Egypt, for example in the story of The Eloquent Peasant which is dated to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2040–1650 BCE): “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do.”  Rushworth Kidder states that “the label ‘golden’ was applied by Confucius (551–479 B.C.), who wrote a version of the Silver Rule: ‘Here certainly is the golden maxim: Do not do to others that which we do not want them to do to us.'” Kidder notes that this framework appears prominently in many religions, including “Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world’s major religions”….”

The Pink Flamingo ran into Fr. Penn today at the grocery store.  It was a good thing to do.  I was thinking about calling him to ask him a theological question:

Why do Islamists get their panties in a wad when some moron burns a Koran, but Christians don’t even go postal when someone desecrates a Cross.  We get a little annoyed, but that’s about it.

Leave it to John Penn.
God is spiritual.  Christians and Jews have a religion that is based on the spiritual.  Islam is based on the materialistic.”

Now that explains a heck of a lot.  Yea, it hurts when some horrible person burns a church, or does something amazingly “creative” to an image of Christ or a Cross in order to legitimize the money they get from the National Endowment of the Arts.  But – we don’t go around killing people.

According to Fr. Penn, we do not even look at religion the same way as a Muslim.  Everything is caught up in the Koran.  For us, the Bible is the Word of God, but it is not God.  The Cross is not Christ, but a symbol.  But, in Islam, the Koran is literal.  It is Allah.  An insult to the Koran is an direct insult to Allah.

Okay, that makes sense.

I was talking to a friend today.  She told me a story about her late mother and their neighbor.  My friend is Hispanic, born here in New Mexico.  Her family arrived with the Conquistadors.  She is a Republican. She is a Catholic.  Her mother was a very devout Catholic.  They had a neighbor who went to church with them.  She then became a Baptist.  When she joined the Baptist church, someone talked her into throwing away her rosary, crosses, and her santos.

A few weeks later, my friend’s elderly mother invited this woman to come over to say the rosary and to pray.  Her friend said that she did not do that any more.  She had thrown her rosary and santos into a ditch.  The woman was rather disrespectful of the elderly woman’s traditional New Mexico Catholic beliefs and culture.

After hanging up the phone, my friend’s mother went to the ditch and salvaged as many of the santos as she could.  Many had been destroyed, but her mother found a few, including a Saint Anthony who had lost his arms.  (My friend still has him).  In tears, she brought them home.  Crying, she asked her daughter how this woman could do such a thing.

My friend’s mother knew the difference between a statue of a saint and Christ.  But, the woman who tossed the santos into the ditch insulted her culture and her traditions.  When her friend threw away her traditional Catholic faith, my friend’s mother felt she had thrown her away, too.  It wasn’t the change of denomination that hurt, it was the trashing of something very beautiful that hurt the devout old woman.

When I moved to New Mexico, one of the cultural aspects I did not anticipate was the outward display of a very devout Catholic tradition. Growing up in South Carolina I had one Catholic friend.  I began life as a Presbyterian and then went to the local Baptist church as a teenager.  Connie Francis had a song about it – Where the Boys Are.

Within four months after moving to NM, I began collecting crosses. The crosses one finds here are beautiful.  It’s very much a New Mexico Thing.  Then I became an Episcopalian.  In New Mexico, we Episcopalians try to out Catholic the Catholics.  We do very High Church. One of the reasons very few parishes have opted out during the great Anglican divide is because we are more conservative and Catholic than the Anglicans who are making a move on our diocese.

One of the first visitors who came from South Carolina was a friend who had joined a very conservative Calvinist church.  She spent her entire time denigrating Episcopalians.  We took communion far to lightly and were risking our mortal souls.  If I did not spend the entire day before fasting and in prayer, I would probably go to hell.  Never mind that we do HE twice a week (I need to start going back to the Wed. service).   She told me the crosses we had were pagan.  Catholics were all going to hell, etc.

Taking her to various locations around the are, we stopped in at a beautiful church on one of the reservations.  She wanted me to take a picture of her leaning on the altar.  I had a fit, told her no.  It was disrespectful of the beliefs of the people who went to that particular church.  She wanted to take pictures of the cute little dolls in the corners and on the altar.  I told her no.  I tried to explain that one simply did not take pictures in a church on a reservation.

It was disrespectful.

She could take all the photos she wanted outside, but not inside.

I was told they were all going to hell because they were Catholic.

Opting not to get into a theological argument, I explained that it really didn’t matter what she believed, it was a matter of respecting another culture.

She went behind my back and took the photos anyway.

As Christians we are taught to live by the Golden Rule.  I told her that.  I also mentioned that Christ taught us the Golden Rule.

“...The “Golden Rule” has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31).

The common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. A similar form appeared in a Catholic catechism around 1567 (certainly in the reprint of 1583).

Christianity adopted the golden rule from two edicts, found in Leviticus 19:18 (“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself”; see also Great Commandment) and Leviticus 19:34 (“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God”).

Leviticus 19:34 universalizes the edict of Leviticus 19:18 from “one of your people” to all of humankind.

The Old Testament Deuterocanonical books of Tobit and Sirach, accepted as part of the Scriptural canon by Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, also express a negative form of the golden rule:

“Do to no one what you yourself dislike.” —Tobit 4:15…”

The only way we can successfully live in a modern world is by adopting the Golden Rule.  One of the fascinating ironies is that there is quite a controversy about Islam having a Golden Rule. Apparently there are some scholars who think it only applies if one is Muslim.  There is also a huge discussion about rules for those who are Muslims and those who aren’t.

In France there is a big argument about accommodating the growing Muslim population.

“…UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope insisted that France needs clearer rules about how Muslims should adapt their religious practices to French society. “The practice of Islam in France is not the burqa. It is not prayers in the street,” he said. In some neighbourhoods with large Muslim immigrant communities, the lack of mosques or prayer rooms means crowds gather on pavements and cobblestone streets at prayer times….”

One cannot live in a world where one religion is more important than another, where a person can face a lawsuit just for criticizing Islam. If we apply the secular version of The Golden Rule, then none of this matters.  Those who follow Islam should be civilized enough to live by a simple rule that keeps our world civil.  The problem is there are idiot extreme cults within Islam that don’t believe in this.

No religion should be given precedence over another, legally.  No matter what I think of my faith in respect to another, legally, we should have the same status.  This is within reason of course.  No religion should be allowed to break laws that deal with rational behavior such as advocating polygamy, pedophilia, and advocating the taking of a life because one is offended.  You don’t funnel money into terror organizations, etc, but, according to the SCOTUS, it is perfectly acceptable to cause emotional trauma by making an ass of yourself interrupting the funeral of a soldier who has died so that said individual may make an ass of oneself.

This said, Terry Jones has a right to make an ass out of himself – right?

Before one jumps to conclusion about this, it should be duly noted that once upon a time we Christians had our dirty little problems.  Shall we count the ways?

  1. Inquisition
  2. Henry VIII dissolution of Catholic Church
  3. Reign of Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary)
  4. Trial of Galileo
  5. The Borges
  6. Oliver Cromwell
  7. Execution of Charles I
  8. Auto da fe of Saint Joan
  9. Spanish Inquisition
  10. Salem Witch Trials (I lost a few ancestors there – shut up!)
  11. British Civil War
  12. Thirty Years War
  13. La Rochelle
  14. Persecution of the Huguenots
  15. John Calvin’s heavy handed tactics
  16. Dutch slave trade
  17. the Mathers
  18. Torture and execution of Native Americans in the “name” of God

We Christians are not perfect.  When Christians go “bad” they are just plain evil.  Then again evil is evil no matter what the religion or faith.  One should be able to recognize the existence of and nature of evil without causing cries of bias, bigotry, and racism.

There should be no caveats on evil and the definition of what it is.  For example, when a “Christian” knowingly trashes a certain religion, where there is a track history of violent retribution, he should be held responsible for the results of his free exercise of “speech”.

Vicious, arrogant, demanding, and narcissist demigods exist in all faiths and religions.  Christianity has had its fair share, and still does.  There are Jewish demigods.  There are Catholic demigods.  We have way too many in the Anglican Communion. I could name a Baptist or two, and a few Presbyterians.  Islam has it’s demigods.

One of the real problems is that the practitioners of a religion do not like to admit those kind of people exist.  Just ask me about the Anglican problem we are having.  Then there are those in the far right who think the Anglicans are wonderful and we Episcopalians are evil.  There are any number of people who hold the problem of pedophiles against the Catholic church.

Recently a group of terror bombings in India that were blamed on Muslims, were actually terror attacks by Hindus against Muslims!   There were two honor killings in India recently.  The victims were teenage girls.  The honor killings had nothing to do with Islam.

There are times when things appear to be religious, but are actually cultural or political. It is increasingly evident that the near riots to protest the grandstanding of Terry Jones were manipulated, politically, to make an increasingly weak political leader look better.

We are at war.  Something needs to be done about people who know what will happen to our troops when they do insane, boneheaded things.

NY Daily News
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