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Religion of Peace

You have heard the sad news that Christopher Hitchens has been diagnosed with cancer?

How does a real religion of peace, and love, respond to its critics?

We must show love to Hitchens and pray for him.  Would he want our prayers?  Well his attitude might be that of one of his followers who commented on his cancer announcement:

“Spit in the eye of the religious and get well!” – Chris Phillips

I hate to break it to Chris and Christopher, but getting well won’t be spitting in our eyes.  It’ll give us reason to praise God.  Why?  Because we are going to pray that you do get well.  We’re going to pray that you recover and that through your rough journey ahead, the light of truth and faith will beam in your heart.

And I personally will pray that as Hitchens suffers in his battle, that he will look to the One who suffered for Him.  I pray he gets a glimpse of the One who came to save us from our disease of sin and who one day will return to end all pain, all tears, and all cancer.  My mother is with that One now, and I hope Christopher gets to meet both of them one day.

Or an alternative viewpoint:

radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam

Rosie O’Donnell

Sigh.

19 Comments

  1. RAB says:

    Suffer suffer suffer! What is it wid dease religious types? if you aint suffering, you aint doing it right, to paraphrase Woody Allen on sex.

    What happened to joy and bliss? Oh I forgot, you gotta suffer first. No pain no gaining the Kingdom of heaven.

    Now look I thought the deal was that Jesus suffered for our sins so he has cleansed the human race of sin, right? Otherwise what is the point of the whole Jesus story?

    So why are the righteous still banging on about suffering?

    I think they are masochists. They like suffering. The quoted twat actually relishes Hitchens suffering doesn’t he?

    Well I’ll tell you about suffering folks. If when I die and find that there really is a Heaven that is going to be suffering big time for me. An eternity of perfection is my idea of Hell.

  2. CountingCats says:

    Wot?

    That’s not how I read it at all. What I see is compassion and a desire to see CH’s suffering minimised.

  3. NickM says:

    CC,
    It is a bit patronising. I can see where RAB is coming from. I mean their hearts are in the right place but… Well at least they aren’t praising Allah for Mr Hitchen’s misfortune.

    RAB,
    I don’t think you need fear that. You’ll be writing reviews of the acts in Satan’s Jazz Club for all eternity. At least you’ll be able to smoke there.

  4. RAB says:

    You’re havin a giraffe arn’t you Cats?

    He wants Hitchens suffering minimised only if he sees the light and renounces his Dawkinsism.

    Gawd! he even wants to inflict his mum on him. Now I love my dear old mum dearly, but she is an aquired taste. I wouldn’t dream of imposing her on unsuspecting strangers, and she isn’t even dead.

  5. CountingCats says:

    Hmm.

    I see no hint that he wants Hitchins to suffer, merely that he recognises the reality that he will suffer.

    As Nick says, maybe a little patronising, but even his comment about Hitch meeting his mum is no more than an expression of belief in a continuity after death, and the hope Hitchins achieves this.

    This really is an expression of goodwill, nothing less.

    I will read it again, carefully.

  6. RAB says:

    It’s the sanctimonious certainty of his belief that got up my nose Cats.

    I know what you’re saying, compare and contrast.

    Christian beaming compassion and love at Hitchens, Muslim cheering loudly that Allah got his man. One less Infidel in the world, Allah be praised!

    Which is the better religion for humanity? Well it’s obvious, but there remains that bottom line, the belief in the actual existence of Heaven and Hell. You can lead as compassionate and loving and caring a life as you wish, but unless you make the commitment to total belief and let Jesus into your heart, you are still going to Hell.

    I was just trying to broaden it out with the pain and suffering thing.
    Both religions seem to be obsessed with them. The difference being that Muslims are happy to inflict pain and suffering on those in the here and now who do not believe exactly what they believe, whereas Christians inflict pain and suffering upon themselves to make themselves more worthy of their faith.

    Quite why Christians do this I have no idea. Once Jesus had washed away our sins with his suffering, blood and sacrifice, you’d have thought it was steak and chips and a nice bottle of wine from there on in, but no, it was martyrdom and hair shirts and silent orders and bad diet to somehow purify your soul in anticipation of being worthy of heaven.

    I find it quite perverse myself, which is one of the many reasons I find all religions a crock of shit, but dont dismiss many of the ethics of Christianity, which have been of great value to human society and progress.

    But those ethics can be extracted from the religion itself and ditch the mystical mumbo jumbo.

  7. CountingCats says:

    Once Jesus had washed away our sins with his suffering, blood and sacrifice, you’d have thought it was steak and chips and a nice bottle of wine from there on in

    It is, check the Benedictines, they have no problem with a bit of enjoyment of life’s earthly pleasures. Sure, the Franciscans take a vow of poverty, but that is choice and is not doctrinally necessary. Mortification is an attempt to demonstrate love for Christ by sharing his sufferings, but that is all it is. It is in no way necessary.

    I really do think you are being a bit unfair here.

    RAB, I know you. You gunna say you don’t show certainty when discussing your beliefs as opposed to those of, say, Gordon Brown, Harridan Harman or the Real Big O himself?

  8. RAB says:

    Am I ?

    Ok I was being a little unfair. Happy now?

    But it has to be said there is an awful lot of “Thou shalt nots” in religious texts, rather than, “Go on! fill yer boots! you only live once, but make sure not to hurt others in the process” isn’t there? ;-)

  9. John B says:

    It is about love. It is about eternity. And reality.
    Science is a great thing – the exploration.
    Keep pushing the boundaries, I say, and don’t compromise. Don’t pretend to have found the answer when it’s really just another set of questions.
    But don’t let it drive you nuts, either.
    Sanctimonious? Suffering? Who needs it?
    It’s reality that counts.
    The Lord Jesus does not need anything from me.
    He has bridged the gap between perfection and imperfection, but it’s not about standards to live up to.
    It is about reality, which is eternal and always now.

  10. El Draque says:

    I was converted to believe in and follow Jesus over 30 years ago.
    And I wish I had some of the certainty that some people have.
    I’d worry less about doing the right thing, for starters. Because whatever I’d want to do would be right.
    And I wouldn’t wonder about whether religious belief is a delusion or a myth.

    But I also know I’ve taken more from the doubts and constant searching than I would have gained from being totally certain. I prefer to be unsure – nobody with doubt ever launched a crusade oa a jihad . . .

  11. NickM says:

    ED,
    Doubt is what makes people think. Without doubt there is only blind obedience to… Well, whatever really. Even within a military organisation a rational assesment of orders is needed as well as the discipline to follow them. Every truly successful officer takes the words of their men seriously.

    Anyway, as you hint, it’s only by worrying about doing the right thing that you are ever likely to get within spitting distance of actually doing it and also of doing it for the right reasons – as a free agent and not an automoton.

  12. John B says:

    If only America had stuck by its motto.

    Sr Draque, expect kind answers.
    Further, one can turn it all around and examine the secular basis of belief. One finds, gasp, horror, as much to doubt in secular beliefs as with the eternal perspective. Examine the holes in the logic of everything, including the religious. It’s easy to knock superficial holes in the religious, but likewise, if one can get past two centuries of secular conditioning, in the secular.
    We take evolution for granted.
    Fine, it makes sense as a development process (Death’s Sculpture) but not as an origination.
    The devoted secularists are working on the quantum aspect of things and I await developments with interest.
    I do know what Jesus has done in my life.

    Nick. That knowledge does not provoke me to get a sword and hack up anyone who disagrees.
    A bit like chopping one’s feet off because they don’t walk proper? No. More like declaring war on a country because it won the world cup? No.
    Fighting for love and peace?

  13. Paul Marks says:

    Not so RAB – at least not with all religious folk.

    “I am the way, the truth and the light – no one comes to the Father but through me” (or words to that effect).

    But no statement that they have to KNOW they got to the Father (i.e. got to Heaven) that way.

    A just person who has never heard of Jesus gets to Heaven (Christians are agreed on that).

    So a just and good man who hears of Jesus, but does not become a follower, goes to Hell?

    Of course not.

    The Jewish faith is even blunter – a non Jew goes to Heaven if they are just (as just as ordinary people can be), period.

    “So why be religious if even athiests go to Heaven?”

    This assumes that people worship God for a REWARD – that there is some sort of bargain. “Fall on your knees and workship me and I will give you lots of nice stuff (such as eternal life), but doubt my existance and I will either have you blink out of existance, or have you sent to Hell”.

    That is not a good God – that is God-the-spoilt-brat.

    Faith in God and worship of God are NOT for a reward – God is not “into” games.

  14. John B says:

    Jesus did say, unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (and they were very righteous!), you will not get into heaven.
    So are we all doomed?
    Point is that if one is in Jesus, one is in His righteousness. That is the Way made open.
    It’s not about reward. It’s a life line.
    It’s about a problem the human race has got – mortality. Separation.
    I think we would agree that it is the intents of the heart that matter.

  15. El Draque says:

    The Jewish sage known as the Gaon of Vilna said that one should not worship God (or G-d as Jews write) for the sake of a reward. One has to follow him regardless of whether there is an after-life, pleasurable or otherwise.
    And apart from the vague idea of “the world to come” (Olam ha-ba)there is very little talk of heaven in Judaism.
    It does annoy me when Christians talk about heaven – because they haven’t any idea of what is to come, because nobody ever went there and came back with evidence.

    Though I did hear a tape once by someone who claimed to have walked in heaven with Jesus. He said he heard five thousand angels playing celestial music on kettledrums. Yes, really.
    But – no evidence, only his word for it.

  16. RAB says:

    I note he mentioned the angels playing music and not what Jesus might be saying to him ED. Probably couldn’t hear him for the bloody drums! ;-)

    Well I’m an atheist and proceed on that basis.

    Here today, gone tomorrow, and try to do as little harm, as much good, and enjoy the splendour of my mere existence inbetween.

  17. NickM says:

    ED,
    I’ll top you! The Soviets (for some reason related to geology) once bored down very deep and awoke the Silurians/a Balrog/discovered something of geological importance and a myth evolved (this was the ’70s – I think) that they had audio of the damned souls screaming in Hell. Odd thing the ’70s. I was only six when 1980 dawned and yet I just knew the ’80s were going to be more fun (or at least less embarrassing).

  18. El Draque says:

    Nick – I heard that one, an obvious spoof, to anyone with a brain. But it went around the world and was quoted by hellfire preachers in the USA as being a fact.
    I think that was at the same time as Proctor and Gamble was believed, in the Protestant fringe, to be run by Satanists. That one was around for years.

  19. John B says:

    Well, heaven is spoken of, but, indeed as possibly understood, it doesn’t really help in an exploration for the truth.
    It’s not getting on a bus, or arriving at pearly gates with a passport.
    Assuming eternity exists. Does conciousness exist or is it the manifestation of physical (electrical, chemical) activity with no further significance?
    Is there more to this than that which we regard as the physical, normal?
    The importance is, if there is an eternal, and there is the divide between perfection and imperfection, and if it is possible to move from the imperfection to the perfection, that it would be a good idea to do so.
    That bridge is the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

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