Leon Wieseltier has a moving piece in the New Republic on the Cordoba Mosque proposal. It's short. It's impeccably written. And it captures my attitudes exactly, albeit with more eloquence and rigor than I could ever muster. Read the whole thing.
This part stood out to me:
There are families of the victims who oppose Cordoba House and there are families of the victims who support it. Every side in this debate can invoke the authority of the pain. But how much authority should it have? I do not see that sentiment about the families should abrogate considerations of principle. It is odd to see conservatives suddenly espouse the moral superiority of victimhood, as it is odd to see them suddenly find an exception to their expansive view of religious freedom. Everybody has their preferred insensitivities.
His last graf:
A night at the J. At the JCC on Q Street a few weeks ago, there was a family night for “kibbutz camp.” As the children sang “Zum Gali Gali,” an old anthem of the Zionist pioneers, I noticed among the jolly parents a Muslim woman swaddled in black. Her child was among those children! Her presence had no bearing on the question of our security, but it was the image of what we are protecting. No American heart could be unmoved by it. So: Cordoba House in New York and a Predator war in Pakistan—graciousness here and viciousness there—this should be our position. For those who come in peace, peace; for those who come in war, war.
(hat tip: Sullivan)
Here is 20 minutes of very clear thinking on religion — on especially the similarities of the three Abrahamic religions — from Robert Wright on Charlie Rose.
1 comment on “Graciousness Here and Viciousness There: The Cordoba Mosque”
Charlie Rose’s listening expression is scary. He looks as if his soul has been sucked right out of him.
I agree that Robert Wright’s thinking on religion is very clear. His ideas are rational and lucidly expressed.
I especially like his portrayal of Jesus as a Jewish local apocalyptic street preacher whose personhood was appropriated by Saul of Tarsus to syncretize Judaism and Christianity (which was Paul’s creation, not Jesus’s). I think this portrayal is accurate.
Wright is dead on target in his analysis of how “religion has played a role in expanding the social system”, and in his belief that “the coherence of this social system depends on moral progress”.
Surely he is correct in his emphasis on the pragmatism of Muhammad as a religious leader, and how this pragmatism made him adaptable enough to function as a political leader and statesman, just as it had in his career of conquering warrior.
Yet I was surprised to hear Wright argue there is evidence “some larger purpose is unfolding on the planet through the workings of nature”, but that this “doesn’t necessarily imply an interventionist God…and it doesn’t mean there are spooky forces out there”.
Bravo to that.
Although I agree with Stephen Hawking that a creator/God is unecessary to a self-organizing universe, I choose to believe in a personal God, even one with personality, because of the empirical evidence in my own life experience.
Ever since I was inspired by Rick Strassman’s book at a smart shop in Amsterdam, I’ve felt inclined to attribute this urge to the ‘spirit molecule’ of DMT,
so benignly present in and so cunningly manufactured by our own bodies.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve heard loud hosannahs sung by angelic beings, but that might not be a bad way to symbollically represent something
I’ve seen in my mind’s eye that was more glorious than Andy Roddick’s ass.
Forgive my irreverence, but I just never could take seriously the Almighty God as presented in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible since I was twelve years old.
My reaction then was, and still is now:
“You gotta be kidding me! What kind of malevolent monsters would write this self-contradictory crap and expect us poor wayward humans to believe it?”
Of course, that attitude didn’t go down well with my KKK-sympathizing Sunday school teachers.
I remain convinced that the writers of the Tanakh were misanthropic comedians, the spiritual progenitors of Lenny Bruce, who twisted everything and made Satan the Bad Guy and Yahweh the Good Guy, when it’s obvious to any rational person who’s ever actually read their scriptures that it’s the other way around.
I think the sordid history of the Abrahamic faiths and current events support my point of view.
And I must say that it’s still a deep mystery how any man with a functioning penis would not prefer the libidinous Tao of Steve sort of wisdom to the
Big Bad Bovinity Divinity of the Abrahamic faiths, no matter how sweet and creamy they may be pretend to be.