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20 September 2002 @ 10:00 am
Thought for today  
Consider how textbooks treat Native religions as a unitary whole. The American Way describes Native American religion in these words:

These Native Americans [in the Southeast] believed that nature was filled with spirits. Each form of life, such as plants and animals, had a spirit. Earth and air held spirits too. People were never alone. They shared their lives with the spirits of nature.

Way is trying to show respect for Native American religion, but it doesn't work. Stated flatly like this, the beliefs seem like make-believe, not the sophisticated theology of a higher civilization. Let us try a similarly succint cummary of the beliefs of many Christians today.

These Americans believed that one great male god ruled the world. Sometimes they divided him into three parts, which they called the father, son, and holy ghost. They ate crackers and wine or grape juice, believing that they were eating the son's body and drinking his blood. If they believed strongly enough, they would live on forever after they died.

Textbooks never describe Christianity this way. It's offensive. Believers would immediately argue that such a depiction fails to convey the symbolic meaning or spiritual satisfaction of communion.

-James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me
 
 
 
WanderingFeywanderingfey on September 20th, 2002 10:34 am (UTC)
Very true.
GryMorgrymor on September 20th, 2002 11:23 am (UTC)
I kind of like the second one :) Though both could do with a few more caveats and alternatives.

Anyone want to come up with a few of these for the other major world religions/collections of religions?

They are probably as acurate as any non collective description of what are fundamentally personal beliefs of that length can get.
Supreme Master Chief Road WarriorPoet Taffin, M.D.taffin on September 20th, 2002 11:50 pm (UTC)
that's how all religions should be described. this is 2002 and we're handling people with fantastic and dangerous beliefs with kid gloves because "those are their spiritual beliefs." if i declared myself God and said that anything i did was justified because it was all part of my unknowable and supremely benevolent master plan, i'd get tossed in a loony bin, especially if i used that logic to justify violence. but people with just as unrealistic beliefs are allowed and subsidized (!!) by our government and encouraged by our society even though those beliefs allow them to rationalize hatred, violence, and bigotry.

humanity will not reach the next stage of its evolution until we force people to grow up and accept reality on reality's terms, rather than the vague and capricious terms of some book that's correct because it says it's correct. i'm not saying we need to persecute religious people, just that we should be allowed laugh at them the same way anyone would laugh at a 40 year-old member of the Flat Earth Society who believed Santa Claus was the Father, Mickey Mouse was the Son, and the Easter Bunny was the Holy Ghost.

see also Brad Pitt's character's speech about "germs" in 12 Monkeys.