Saturday, February 18, 2012

“All Father, Who Art In Asgard, Many Be Thy Names....”

Why do religious fundamentalists, of all stripes, lose sleep over what others believe? Really, don't you have enough to do to manage your own life, you have time and energy to stick your nose into my life? (Where it is most certainly NOT WELCOME!)

Actually when I say "all stripes" I am talking mostly about about the Lavant. (That strange small area of the Middle East that seems to breed some of the major religions. Judaism. Christianity. Islam.)

OK. Lesson in metaphysics. This is the primary world-view of people who hold to the Lavant.

God is separate from the world, and in particular, Man is not a part of the rest of the universe. (Read: separate creation.) This is why evolution tends to drive certain Christians to distraction. It implies that Man is part of the rest of the universe.

So the main focus of (some) Christianity is to explore your relationship with God. (You are not God. Those who say they are God have been crucified.)

This isn't the only way to draw this Venn diagram, of course, and different cultures have drawn it in differing ways.
The Hindus (NOTE: I am NOT a Hindu. This represents the best of my understanding of the Hindu faith. If I have it wrong - sorry 'bout that. Please correct me in the comments.) draw the Venn diagram like this.

There is a "prime cause," and there are gods, but the gods are not at a higher level than humanity. Indeed, the Brahmans are at a higher level than the gods, and "humanity" is divided into the Untouchables and the Twice-born, and the Twice-born are divided into the various castes.)

This is the meaning of the bow of greeting in Hindu societies. The acknowledgement that 'god' exists in the other person.

Asatru draws the diagram in yet a third way. (NOTE: see the note under Hindu, and apply the same logic here.)

Ásatrúar (Heathens) do not bow to their gods, not because they don't revere them, but because they are related. Prime cause, and afterlife is less interesting than leading a good life in the here-and-now. (Other things will, no doubt, take care of themselves.)

SO.... given all of this, why do you care how I draw this diagram? Why does what I believe in my heart of hearts matter to you? But the evidence is that it does. Some Muslims are willing to blow themselves up because some people don't believe exactly what they believe. Some Christians have bombed abortion clinics. Some - a slightly larger number - have taken task with Mitt Romney for his religion. I guarantee that Christians have given me hard time for just refusing to swear that I believe what they believe. (I don't see why they care what I believe. I don't give a rat's ass for what you believe - until your belief-system tries to tell ME what I have to do, or how I have to live MY LIFE.) Under the "golden rule" I just want to be left alone. Why can't you return the favor?

NOTE: While I do not follow the Lavant, it is impossible to have grown up in 20th Century America and NOT understand this world-view. It is the dominant world-view, and is assumed by 90% (or more) of the people you meet - even atheists and agnostics.

NOTE 2: The tile of this was taken from a column casting aspersions on a Indiana law (maybe passed, maybe making its way through the state-house) that mandates/allows the preaching saying of the "Lord's Prayer" in PUBLIC schools. Apparently Indiana thinks those non-Christians are getting too uppity, and need a good dose of "the truth."

UPDATE: The other view of the Lavant is often described as True Crime. Their stories have to be absolutely, historically true. They are incapable of understanding that not all people view their "stories" that way, or even care whether or not they are historically true. (What is important is living in the here and now. Life after death, and historical accuracy will take care of themselves and don't really need to be worried about.)

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