A passing note on religion and spirituality

In case the previous post spooked the bejeezus out of you —

My disdain for the interference of religion on political affairs should not be misconstrued as a disdain for religion in general. Religion provides a readily accessible schema of stories, imagery and symbolisms that can represent the deepest aspirations of mankind. It is a language — the mastery of which is the primary concern of priests, imams, ulama, sufis, brahmin — that can be used to express an understanding of the travails and triumphs of humanity.

Nonetheless, it is religion as discourse that is also the primary concern of atheists and humanists. Since language is bent to the will of the speaker, so is religion. There is no denying that great evils have been perpetrated by men of great faith, but there has been much good too. No discourse is immune to this. Even the scientific-rationalism bannered by most atheists can come across as fundamentalist and militant, thus defeating the very point of their protest against organized religion.

The best analogy I’ve encountered about religion is this: what pornography is to sex is what religion is to spirituality. Religion is designed to facilitate a relationship with the divine through a structure we can repeatedly and reliably use over and over. However, that it is a structure means it has limitations, thus disabling us from a full on encounter with the divine in all its infinity. Thanks to Grant Morrison for this.

The central truth of secularism is that in a modern society, no single discourse can claim the monopoly of truth. And in post-modern societies, their claim on truth can itself be put into question. In interacting with a secular state, religion must not interfere in its politics and instead focus on its own proficiencies such as catechism, education, and social work. Reproductive health must be seen through the perspective of social justice, and any opposition to it must be done through proactive evangelization and not overt interference in the policy making of a state where 70% support it and not all who oppose it do so because of religious reasons.


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