Dear R. Abbi,
I’m so put off by the horrible things done in the name of organized religion that I want nothing to do with it. What do you say to that?
I certainly admit that some pretty terrible things have been done in the name of religion. (I’d be a fool not to.) But declaring that this is the reason not to have anything to do with religion is not a really well thought out argument.
Let me explain:
1) Even though awful things have been done in the name of organized religions, they have been responsible for some good things as well, no?
At this point, I know some readers are saying: “What good things!?!” If you can’t think of any examples on your own – which indicates that you possibly have quite a bit of baggage with regard to organized religion – let me give you two to begin with: 1)organized religions routinely feed the hungry and 2) give hope to the downtrodden.
2) Atrocious acts have also been committed in the name of Communism, Nazism, Capitalism, and Democracy – none of which are associated with religion.
Consequently, as “religion-free” organizations have also inspired equally heinous acts, we know that religion isn’t really the true culprit. (So, then what is to blame for evil? Ah, that’s a whole other discussion . . .)
3) Doing something in the name of something else doesn’t make the named something responsible. Ronald Reagan was shot at in the hopes of impressing Jodi Foster. I don’t know of any people who won’t watch her movies because of this.
Moreover, do you really think that the Catholic Irish Republican Army took up arms against the Protestant English simply because of divergent opinions with regard to the Holy Trinity? Perhaps other issues, like land and power, have had something to do with it too?)
So, Angered-in-His-Name, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
There is a four-letter word a Jesuit priest taught me that I want to share with you: some.
Some is a very important concept we often forget about.
We don’t like everything, but we do like some. We don’t need everything, but we do need some. We don’t hate everything, but we do hate some.
Certainly there might be parts of organized religion that you don’t like or that don’t work for you. But, I would suggest, instead of closing your mind to all of it, that you make a conscious effort to look for “some” parts of it that are redeeming . . .
If you have a question that you would like R.Abbi to answer, please e-mail: R.Abbi@rotb.org