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Updated -- 9 January 2009

Updated -- 21 February 2009

Updated (again) -- 11 November 2010

What people know and don't know about religions, other than their own (and oft times, even their own), is shocking... if not seriously sad. As Stephen Prothero, writing in USA Today, has noted [1], "Americans are religiously illiterate." In many other countries, the situation is often astoundingly worse.

In a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, on a test to demonstrate one's knowledge of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, et al -- where the questions were as basic as naming the first book in the Bible (*) -- the average score was 50 percent correct.

[*Failure to answer this question will require the reader of Halexandria to repeat the first grade.]

As Mr. Prothero notes, "'Even if a religion doesn't make any sense to you, you can't make sense of the world without knowing something about the world's religions.' Faith plays a major role in the lives, politics, and decisions of billions of people, and has helped shape nations and history." Somewhere along, we really need to get educated.

And to make the point, consider Melanie Phillips writing in The Daily Mail (UK)... notably under the self-indicting title: "A religion of 'barking mumbo jumbo'"... decries the how the "bedrock creed of [her] country is being undermined" by... the official recognition of Druidry as a religion. Her take on Druids were a "'bunch of eccentrics' who dress up in robes and prance about at Stonehenge, chanting at the sun." This, apparently, as opposed to a bunch of priests who dress up in robes and prance about at the local cathedral. And given the astounding difference in architecture of its time, it would appear that Stonehenge comes off way ahead of any cathedral. [Currently, there are more visitors to Stonehenge in any given year than there were humans on the planet at the time of its construction. Not exactly something one could say about any cathedral.]

But Ms. Phillips just can't let well enough alone. She also answers the question of why it bothers her. Her answer? "Because what is really being embraced is 'the fanatical religious creed of the Left -- the worship of equality."

Wow! The Druids actually think that equality is a good thing? Interesting.

Ms. Phillips then notes that "Druidry is simply not a religion. It recognizes no supreme being or code of practice." And on this basis, she is incensed that Druidry in given any status in British society, when from her view point it has not more relevance than "the fictional religion of the Jedi".

What? The Jedi are fictional!? Heaven help us... and/or Metaphors Be With You.

Finally, Ms. Phillips -- showing she can really stuff a huge number of absurdities in a single article -- says that "If all creeds, however absurd, have equal meaning, then every belief is equally meaningless."

Sad to say, one suspects that Ms. Phillips never considered the very real possibility that her own beliefs are not only equally, but far more meaningless than any others. For our purposes, we will assume precisely that.

*****(It gets better.)*****

Meanwhile, on a more... if possible... ludicrous -- and yet important -- note, we might note the recent, very, very strange report on, Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence [See SCOTUS], wherein Mrs. Thomas called Anita Hill (her husband's long term nemesis) to ask for an apology. While this may have been a bit strange... asking for an apology NINETEEN YEARS after the insult... Ginni's questionable actions fade in comparison with Armstrong Williams of The Washington Times. In a vain attempt to defend Mrs. Thomas, Williams said that, "instead of scorning her, we should be looking to her example." "Thomas, like her husband, is an extremely devout Christian, and is required by the 'mandates of her faith' to forgive those she feels have wronged her. She asked Hill to apologize 'because she wanted to forgive' and put this incident behind her." [3]

Mr. Williams is thus arguing... contrary to anything remotely Christian... that an apology is required before anyone can forgive one... even after almost twenty years.

And these journalists are writing for major news organizations? Pity the media.

On a more serious note, Christine O'Donnell, a (failed... yea) candidate for the US Senate asked, "Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?" While more than one journalist retreated to semantics to note that the so-called "separation of church and state" was an artifact of the Jeffersonian presidency (and probably not even applicable to its normal usage), these knee jerk reactionaries failed to mention the First Amendment which prohibits "the establishment of religion"... and thus the effective separation of church and state. Another journalist, John R. Guardiano (writing in The American Spectator) was concerned, in fact, that the legal system in the United States was "protecting people from religion." [4]

Well... Duh! Of course. That's precisely the point, J. R.! If there is anything absolutely vital to the preservation of the Republic (aka the United States), then it is the absolutely essential requirement to protect the people from religion... and in fact from all religions. It's one thing to espouse a set of principles and morals, but inasmuch as such a set of principles and morals are so routinely ignored by the religions in defending their faiths, that it's not the religions that need supporting... it's the morals, ethics, and principles of civilized people living in a common society.

The amazing thing is that one isn't required to make up all of this insanity; journalists are so good at making the most irrational, illogical, mind-bogglingly ignorant quotes imaginable.

Meanwhile...

Another approach to Comparative Religions is to laugh about it.  For example:  

                        Religion                       One Way of Looking at It  

                        Taoism                         Shit Happens.

                        Confucianism              Confucius say, "Shit Happens"

                        Buddhism                     If shit happens, it isn't really shit.

                        Moonies                       Only happy shit really happens.

                        Zen Buddhism             What is the sound of shit happening?

                        Hinduism                      This shit has happened before.

                        Mormonism                  This shit will happen again.

                        Islam                              If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.

                        Shiite Islam                   Shiite happens.

                        Judaism                        Why does shit always happen to us?

                        Catholicism                   If shit happens, you deserved it.

                        Calvinism                      Shit happens because you didn't work hard enough

                        Protestantism                Let shit happen to someone else.

                        Fundamentalism           We will no longer allow shit to happen

                        Jehovah Witness          Let us come in and we'll tell why shit happens.

                        Scientologist                 Feces occur.

                        Darwinism                     Shit evolves.

                        Materialism                   The more shit the better.

                        Stoicism                        This shit is good for me.

                        Hedonism                      There's nothing like good shit happening.

                        Zoroastrianism              Shit happens half the time.

                        Paganism                      Shit happens to make the flowers grow.

                        Rastafarianism              Let's smoke this shit.

                        Agnosticism                  Shit might or might not happen.

                        Existentialism                What is this shit, anyway?

                        Atheism                          I don't believe this shit!  

  (9/21/09) Small wonder then that the more traditional views, for example Leviticus, don't carry quite as much weight as they once did. The flaw in this particular book of the Bible stems from what it says. As has been pointed out by "Jim", we have the following:

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?
October 2002

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,
Jim

 

_____________________

References:

[1] Stephen Prothero, "Getting an 'F' in religion," (and in grammar for not capitalizing 'religion' in the title of the article), as reported in The Week, News, October 15, 2010, page 18.

[2] Melanie Phillips, "A religion of 'barking mumbo jumbo", as reported in The Week, October 15, 2010, page 19.

[3] "Ginni Thomas: Why did she call Anita Hill?", The Week, November 5, 2010, page 24.

[4] "Church and state: Must they be separate," The Week, November 5, 2010, page 25.

 

Comparative Religions         Chronicles of Earth

Forward to:

New:

The Milgram Effect

Freedom of Religion        Holy War        The Rules of Holy War

Racism and Culturalism         Multiculturalism         Perils of Immigration

Free Speech         The (9) Supremes         The Halls of SCOTUS

An American Third Party         A Third Party That Knows How to Party

 

Sumerian         Enki and Enlil         Anunnaki

 

               

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