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The God Series – Because Religion is The Battleground of the 21st Century

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 12/14/08

The first in a series: #1 – WHY WE NEED TO STUDY GOD   

"Religious faith will be of the same significance to the 21st Century as political ideology was to the 20th Century." -  Tony Blair   

Mumbai. 9/11. Chechnya. Sectarian violence in Iraq. Somalia. Afghanistan. Nigeria.   

The man with the most military power in the history of the world is reported to have said, "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …' And I did."   

It was called a Crusade.   

These are the defining events of the new century.    

After a brief, semi-retirement of a few hundred years, religion has returned as the number one cause of violence, war and death.   

So the fundamental national security questions of our time have to be about faith.   

What is it about faith that makes people eager to commit suicide so long as it enables them to commit mass murder while they're at it?   

What is it about faith that makes world leaders like George Bush and Tony Blair - with armies, bombers, missiles, artillery, and navies - ignore good advise, abandon good sense, and lead their countries to two of the stupidest wars in history?   

And while they're at it, to radically change the moral positions that their countries adopted just sixty years ago and commit what were then called war crimes: initiating a war of aggression, torture, and the failure to provide for the populations of the countries they occupied?   

What is it about faith that made it suddenly re-emerge as the driving force in American politics and in the politics of the Islamic countries?   

It seems self-evident that God should have become our number one area of study during the last few years. Governments, universities and foundations should have all rushed forward with funds to create programs and recruit students to find out what this God thing is.   

The war in Iraq ought to have taught us here in the West, two lessons.  We are very, very good at invading countries and smashing their armies. Even better than we thought we were.   

But that doesn't stop suicide bombers. It only encourages them.   

The nature of the people who attacked us, and the results of our response to them, make it obvious that understanding fanatical faith is at least as important as developing a reusable hypersonic cruise vehicle, more useful than developing new tactical nuclear weapons, and if we can find a way to reach or to undermine the faith of fanatics, it will be far more economical than invading a series of foreign countries.  

But the opposite has happened: billions for bombs! Not a penny for thought! A smart bomb remains as dumb as a brick if the people firing it don't know who to hit or the right reasons to hit them.  

God and religion should have become important to us, we, the just plain people. Whether or not our leaders are people of "faith," we really need them to balance their faith with good sense, so they make better decisions.  A serious conversation about faith and how it works, should have become one of the leading topics of our national conversation.  

What we had was a public parade of politicians on television competing to prove how much faith each of them has. It was embraced by a universal assumption that religious faith is a good way to pick our leaders. Although the evidence before us – George Bush, Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden – points the other way.  God, religion, faith, spirituality – whichever face of the prism we are looking at – runs like a vertical pillar through all the levels of our lives. Our international policies are fixed largely around this war on terror. Our most volatile domestic political issues – regulating our sex lives, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, separation of church and state – are rooted in our religious views. Our social circles, our family structures, our individual lives, our world views, how we live and die, our health and happiness, are organized around our spiritual views, or lack thereof.  

All this, without a serious attempt to find out what religion really is.  That's why we need to examine God, faith, and religion.  This is the first in a series of essays. Others will include:  

  • Looking at God: Belief, Agnosticism, Atheism
  • Belief & False Beliefs
  • Why We Believe in God
  • Why We Believe Enough to Kill & Die
  • What is Spirituality?
  • Morality: What is it? Where does it Come From? What is its Relation to Religion
  • The Competition Between Monotheisms, Polytheism, and Nontheistic Societies

A personal note: I recently wrote a novel, Salvation Boulevard, a mystery-thriller about religion. Narrative fiction has its own demands. It can only tolerate as much theory and philosophy as moves the story. It was always my intention to use the novel as a way to open the dialogue and explore it further in formats like this.   

Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog, The Librarian, and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. All available at nationbooks.org   

His new novel is: SALVATION BOULEVARD. Website: http://www.larrybeinhart.com Responses can be sent to beinhart@earthlink.net  

 

http://www.larrybeinhart.com

LARRY BEINHART is the author of SALVATION BOULEVARD, soon to be released as a major motion picture with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, and Jim Gaffigan, WAG THE DOG, The Librarian, Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin and HOW TO (more...)
 

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Exceptionally difficult to understand a figment of... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 8:54:54 AM
By what kind of twisted logic does the author conc... by Jim Eldon on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 10:49:59 AM
VALIS - Vast Active Living Intelligence SystemIt i... by Ferdinand on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 11:17:30 AM
"In the beginning God create man."This i... by TomK on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 1:38:30 PM
Yea Tom, I created a god just the other day. And m... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 3:07:56 PM
any indication in anything Jesus taught that he ca... by shadow dancer on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 3:00:54 PM
Directory has no index file.... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 3:14:10 PM
thats right shadow dancer---if people would just r... by TRADESMAN on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 6:01:24 PM
I'm not as concerned about religion as I am ab... by Nfamous on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 3:30:01 PM
that understanding contemporary developments in Is... by WML on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 3:59:53 PM
I have read the Bible. I find it very interesting.... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 5:39:58 PM
First, Wm., a question -- did you actually mean to... by Wisewoman on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 11:44:27 AM
The article is about national security. Everyone&#... by Jim Eldon on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 6:57:14 PM
"Just off the top of my head, why, for exampl... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 8:10:34 PM
The Jews adopted the Babylonian skygod which is as... by John Hanks on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 4:54:16 PM
You are absolutely correct.  100%.  Than... by Wisewoman on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 11:47:28 AM
"All beliefs are barriers to the truth"O... by Kent Welton on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 4:55:46 PM
"But let not Truth be a barrier to belief.&qu... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 6:10:50 PM
Kent,Let me put it this way, are you so certain of... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:03:26 PM
 You say -- "One must not ling... by Wisewoman on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 11:55:07 AM
Whilst I concur with the author of "Beliefs a... by Dick Hudson on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 1:28:44 PM
to see a comment about finding all the answers to ... by Stanimal on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 5:12:26 PM
Please do not bother writing the next installments... by Ivan Hentschel on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 5:15:57 PM
...brother Ivan, with your own discriptive tome on... by waldopaper on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 5:26:15 PM
Trolls sniffing at the bottom of the bush have shi... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 5:53:24 PM
America was settled by some Christians.  It w... by wagelaborer on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 6:40:28 PM
You have brought up a good point here.There is a v... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:36:47 PM
  While I haven't spent much time trying ... by Richard Lee on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:09:17 PM
  We all come from some exploding Supernova s... by Richard Lee on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:31:05 PM
Yea but....why are you so cranky?Do comment boards... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 7:50:13 PM
The propensity for religions to inspire and justif... by Doug Rogers on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 8:32:38 PM
Of course we all know Judaism, Christianity and Is... by pft on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 8:36:07 PM
 The writer bases his conclusions on supposit... by emily horswill on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 10:17:02 PM
Now lets get our construction straight here.Let me... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 11:21:22 PM
"But an imagined circumstance doesn't mak... by William Whitten on Sunday, Dec 14, 2008 at 11:45:32 PM
What a discussion! There is truth in all religions... by Sharon Roach on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 12:03:48 AM
 it has a green background.  You say, ve... by Wisewoman on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 12:06:09 PM
My initial comment, now a bit abreviated was: ... by Doc "Old Codger" McCoy on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 2:32:46 AM
Whose teaching is superior to Jesus's? If ever... by Tom Usher on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 3:42:58 AM
Jesus in your opinion? This is a serious question ... by sliphoch on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 7:58:42 AM
As I read these comments, I'm reminded of the ... by SoloPocono on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 6:12:03 AM
You start out by claiming a common denominator of ... by Wisewoman on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 12:51:00 PM
As I was writing my comment, I had a visit from a ... by SoloPocono on Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008 at 11:01:23 AM
Religion has been with the human race forever and ... by Philip Pease on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 10:42:04 AM
I agree with you. The problem IS; They are using r... by Zena Princess on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 2:03:17 PM
I'll keep looking for and working fort he king... by Michael Dewey on Monday, Dec 15, 2008 at 8:40:34 PM