Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Club Faith

Yesterday's news told us of an incoming Australian census. According to friends, this is this survey type thing where, by law, each Australian has to answer this set of questions. While I do not know if scum like Jo, who is not a citizen yet, will also get the pleasure of corrupting the results for the rest of us Australians, I do know that one of the more famous questions in this survey is "what religion do you follow". What answer should I give to this question which, as far as I'm concerned, is inherently flawed given my views on religion in general? It's as if someone is asking me if I prefer to have my cockroaches cooked medium or well done.
Luckily, others have deliberated this very question before me. And while quite a few have attested themselves to being atheists, the last census has revealed that 1% of Australians are... Jedi Knights.
Sadly, I cannot say that I am strong with the force. You see, my father is Jewish, and the force does not run strong in our family.
Another option I was thinking of is to follow Ossnat's lead and declare myself a Kirgisian. However, I do not know if the survey allows me to invent new religions or not. Besides, the effort of spelling "Kirgisian" and then potentially having to answer some questions on what it stands for might be a bit too much.
I'm at a loss.
Anyway, this census thing together with this interesting documentary we watched on how everything in the Da Vinci Code is just a fabrication and together with the latest news on those Danish cartoons have got Jo to mention that for the first time she feels as if the Christian culture unto which she innocently belongs seems to be under attack by everyone. It does seem as though it's politically correct to mock and scorn at Christianity but it's quite incorrect to offend even the slightest minority of Kirigisian followers.
I think the main reason for that is that Christianity is strong, both number wise and power wise; it does not need to defend itself. Plus it comes down to the fact that Jo, while being all over the world, has been exposed to other religions only relatively lately.
Still, I do find this phenomenon of mocking Christianity an interesting one. Back in Israel, the common approach towards modern day Christians amongst secular Jews is to dismiss them as "those foolish people who believe those bullshit stories about Jesus". In Australia you definitely get the impression that Jews tend to think of themselves as an elite club reigning high and mighty over the rest: "we are club Jew, we are so special, we're in the right and you don't even know better". They even get married under a ch-upa (pronounced with that version of CH where you spit your guts out). The sad thing is that you see this approach not only with Australian Jews but with Israeli Australians, too. It has potential to be quite funny when you hear this idiot Jew with an IQ matching my shoe number size boasting superiority over the majority of Australians by virtue of Jewish culture.
Sad, but it's out there. People are not judged by their individual qualities but rather by this artificially simplistic grouping thing.
What do I think? Well, you got me there; I don't think highly of Christianity.
I look at it from the second law of thermodynamics' point of view: If you start with a system at a given level of entropy, entropy can only increase. Or, in plain Hebrew, if you take Judaism and apply Christianity on top of it, you can only mess things up even further - hence my opinion that Christianity is flawed.
However, this does not mean that I have the opposite opinion on Judaism: I think it was way too flawed to begin with, which means that choosing between the two is, again, an exercise in choosing between being run over by a semitrailer or by a normal truck.
Still, as bad as I am mocking wise, I do not think negatively on Christians or on Jews just because of their religious belief. Most of my contempt, and there is a lot of it, is to do with some of those believers trying to imposed themselves on others, often by creating sophisticated laws. You see it with ultra Orthodox Jews trying to maintain a grip of their world which so is exposed to Western influences, and you also see it with our Health Minister Catholic faith affecting his decisions on the legalization of certain pills. With these groups you do not see much in the way of appreciation and attempts to learn from others, but rather attempts to rule themselves as supreme to others.
I'll finish by asking a question, which some of the Christian readership might be able to answer (as well as those who just happen to have an answer of any other faith - Jedi Knights included, and fellow atheists too):
I've been recently exposed to the idea that Jesus died to save "the rest of us", but I am yet to be able to get an answer as to how this deal works. Why was Jesus forced to give his life away to save the rest of us, and how DID he save us by dying?
The explanations that I am able to come up with on my all point out at a rather vengeful god who needs some appeasement in the form of his dead son's body to forgive others, which doesn't really conform with the peaceful image of the Christian god I get elsewhere. And then the devil is added into the equation, but I sort of thought that god is all powerful and can dismiss that entity that he/she has created in the first place.
I don't know, it just doesn't fit. Answers would be appreciated.


ek said...

Unfortunately I don't have an answer to your question. It is interesting reading your views on religion and the like. I was raised without religion myself, so the whole concept of it is pretty foreign to me. Though, my family does go along with the mainstream "Xmess" (as you call it), Easter etc just mainly for the sake of it. I'd say Xmas is celebrated by our family for just that - family.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Well, ek, while I have my reservations about the consumerist nature of Xmess (it's Xmess because of the mess and stress it seems to causes), I think what you're describing is the ideal holiday.
I'm envious.

ek said...

I would be interested to read some responses too...

Come on people! :)

Moshe Reuveni said...

ek, you're exepcting too much out of the two people that read this blog.
I think salvation lies at the hand of the famous Mr (or Mrs) Anonymous.

K Williams said...

I was raised by Orthodox parents. One of my grandmothers thought that it was God's miracle that she walked again after being paralysed for a few years. From the other side of the family, my grandfather used to sing hymns in church.

I sued to trot along to mass and follow the Easter and Christmas 'dos and donts' because I had to.

It was only as I reached highschool when I started to question the religious status quo. Orthodox as well as Catholic and Protestant (with all the unecessary Irich/Englicsh conflict).

I am scientifically oriented and fairly anal and inquisitive by nature and I don;t like going with the flow. Which is why I started dismissing religious beliefs about creation and our saving.

I simply think that religion was created to manage despair and fear. It may sound offensive, but religion worked like dream to the poor, uneducated and desparate.

And, just like any other 'good thing' it got abused. Some became obsessed and blinded themselves from anything else and some took advantage and used it to abuse, rape (physically and spiritually) and create great wars to create schisms and hatred.

I 'll come back with more...