Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Religious Thoughts from Atheist Me

I don't like religion (at least not as in viewing some external sentient being/entity as being in control of the universe). But, I also respect and admire many religious people.

On my bookshelves are texts on religion because religions and their stories represent the values and narratives of cultures. Rhetoricians should pay attention to how religion is used to promote political agendas, because faith is a powerful motivator.

I do not like any politician using faith for any reason. I take separation of church and state seriously. That's also why I dislike religions, most of which are inherently political with suggestions for how to run nations.

Every writer should know the basic stories of as many religious traditions as possible. In the United States, knowing Christian and Jewish traditions helps storytellers see how other writers draw on tradition. Religious stories, like fairy tales, mythology, tall tales, and legends, let us use short hand for entire concepts. If I call someone a "Good Samaritan" or make a reference to the "Wisdom of Solomon" that's often enough to convey a great deal.

The left, right (blah), statists, individualists, whatever categories you use, too often use religion to sell their agendas. Understand, I am offended by all uses of faith for these ends.

Yet, I also respect people who, motivated by faith, really have fought to improve our world through individual action. I just wish people didn't need faith to find the goodness in their own hearts.

And now, a rerun of blog posts the led to some angry email responses and one online comment that was only mildly crude.