Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

Well, I think if you think you know what we call God is - you're on the wrong track, because all the religions tell us that what we call God or Brahma, Nirvana or Tao, is inexpressible, that nobody has the last word, that we are all stumbling in our attempts to either experience or contain it.

[…]

And the golden rule, which all the religions say is the test of true spirituality, means that you have to say to yourself: Would I like someone to say to me that my religion is rubbish? Because if you wouldn't like that, then you mustn't do it to others.
-- Karen Armstrong on Talk of the Nation

4 comments:

Man of the West said...

Not for the first time, Dave, I find myself thinking that Miss Armstrong is prone to saying things that sound good but fall apart upon examination (This is the secret of most successful writers, after all).

Has she not supposed that some people might prefer that people tell them the truth as they see it, even if that means being severely criticized?

Put yourself in this hypothetical: you are convinced you know the only way to heaven. Your adult child has instead embraced a way that you are convinced will ultimately see them in hell, that is, it is rubbish. Put aside for the moment that you don't believe this; I already know you don't. My question is: if that really were the situation, would you tell your child that his/her beliefs were wrong and leading them to hell?

If you didn't, and your child found out about the situation, on what basis do you think he/she might find it a kindness?

Personally, I'm with Penn on this one.

I would rephrase her thoughts:
Would I like someone to say to me that my religion is rubbish? Because if I'm wrong, I'd think them kinder if they just let me slide right into hell without a word.

To my mind, that's what she's saying, and it strikes me as indefensible.

Just my two cents.

Dave said...

Hmmm...I got a comment email from MOTW that I really wanted to respond to but now the comment is gone. :-(

Man of the West said...

I don't know what happened. It came through to my e-mail alright. At any rate, the main thrust of it can be found in Penn's comments here.

Dave said...

I figured it out. The comment was flagged as spam for some reason. Weird.

MOTW said: Put yourself in this hypothetical: you are convinced you know the only way to heaven. Your adult child has instead embraced a way that you are convinced will ultimately see them in hell, that is, it is rubbish. Put aside for the moment that you don't believe this; I already know you don't. My question is: if that really were the situation, would you tell your child that his/her beliefs were wrong and leading them to hell?

Hmmmm… That’s actually kind of hard to answer just because I’m having a really hard time putting myself into that situation since it goes against my grain so much. That having been said I can see how someone with that point of view would want to tell someone else that he/she is concerned about his/her soul. I have a friend that after a few fairly heated conversations, I figured out that he really was concerned about my soul and it changed how I viewed his arguments.


MOTW said: I would rephrase her thoughts:
Would I like someone to say to me that my religion is rubbish? Because if I'm wrong, I'd think them kinder if they just let me slide right into hell without a word.

To my mind, that's what she's saying, and it strikes me as indefensible.

I completely disagree here. She, if I am interpreting her correctly, is coming at religion from a very different point of view than you are and thus she doesn’t see religion as black and white as you do (or seem to). I highly doubt that she wants anyone to “slide right into hell,” she has written an entire book on compassion for Pete’s sake, so to think that she doesn’t care about someone’s soul is just not an accurate appraisal of her words. IMHO at least.