1/9/09

Your thoughts on religion and the Middle East

I'm curious about the AD community, so here are some questions:

1) What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

2) Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

3) How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

4) What solution do think is most promising?

17 comments:

  1. Language: English (change)

    Ok, I'll bite;

    1. What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

    Growing up I was a Methodist, a catholic for my 4 years in the philippines, on returning I got involved with TBN channel 21 in phoenix with my mom and sisters after my parents divorce. Met Paul and Jan on many occasions. Went to live with my dad and his new wife, went to a Lutheran church, attended an assemblies of god high school for my first 2 years of high school, an episcopal school for my last two. After my son died in an accident in 1990 at the age of 18 months I moved to become a member of the international church of Christ, at the time the fastest growing church on the planet. After many years of hard work, dedication and bringing people to Christ I became the full time minister. 13 years in all with the ICCoC. Bear in mind we were a VERY serious group. But the problem with our group was that they so emphasized bible study, which eventually led to me becoming an atheist at the tender age of 40.

    2.Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

    My knee jerk response would be that Israel is justified in killing every man woman and child from Gaza or wherever they find terrorist aggression. But I need to do some homework because Iunderstand that Israel is seen as an oppressor and I need more schooling on that situation.

    3. How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    Probably less than most people think. I believe it's more cultural and territorial.
    But religion does tend to fuel the already volatile tensions.

    4. What solution do think is most promising?

    Jesus isn't going to fix anything, the middle east hatred for the jewish people will never end, and if we cease to prop Isreal up they will be wiped out. Considering the inroads that islam has made in Europe, the United States and countless other countries around the world ,we're fucked.

    I really couldn't come up with a better word, sorry.

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  2. 1) I was raised by Protestant Christian. I am now an Atheist.

    2) There's plenty of blame to go around. Hamas is to blame for incessant rocket attacks. Israel is to blame for a disproportionate response.

    3) The religion factor is moderate-to-heavy. Anybody would be pissed if outsiders came in and kicked you off your land, but the problem is made much worse by both sides believing with absolute certainty that God wants their group to occupy that land and not the other. To compromise would be to fail your god, so there is much more at stake than in typical land disputes. To quote Pat Robertson:

    If God's chosen people turn over to Allah control of their most sacred sites-if they surrender to Muslim vandals the tombs of Rachel, of Joseph, of the Patriarchs, of the ancient prophets-if they believe their claim to the Holy Land comes only from Lord Balfour of England and the ever fickle United Nations rather than the promises of Almighty God-then in that event, Islam will have won the battle. Throughout the Muslim world the message will go forth-"Allah is greater than Jehovah. The promises of Jehovah to the Jews are meaningless.

    4) The latest one I heard was that Israelis should buy Iceland and move there. But seriously, I think that the most promising solution is the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders. Unfortunately, one of the main stumbling blocks has been disagreements over the division of places of religious significance such as the Temple Mount. There has been some talk of placing Jerusalem under international control. But I don't think that matches up with the prophecies, so that one's dead in the water.

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  3. I was wondering when this can of worms was going to be opened.

    "My knee jerk response would be that Israel is justified in killing every man woman and child from Gaza or wherever they find terrorist aggression."

    Is this based on the might-makes-right principle, or something else?

    "3. How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    Probably less than most people think. I believe it's more cultural and territorial.
    But religion does tend to fuel the already volatile tensions. "


    It is interesting that you say "territorial" - since 1967, who has been invading whose territory?

    Of course religion does not much factor directly into the current battle, but it is certainly one of the underlying - and sustaining - causes for the conflict. Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities on Earth to Jews and Muslims alike. When you throw religious ideals into a territorial dispute, positions become all that much more unnegotiable.

    "Considering the inroads that islam has made in Europe, the United States and countless other countries around the world ,we're fucked."

    Let me assure you that the integration of muslims into western societies is a completely separate issue from the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is friction in the former as well, but at least there are authorities and institutions capable of dealing with those issues - Israel recognizes no authority but itself.

    Here are a couple of articles:

    Israel's Slow-Motion Genocide in Occupied Palestine

    The Quartet's Hypocrisy and Failure in Occupied Palestine

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  4. Adonis, I was very clear that my understanding needs education, I'll take a look at those sites thanks!

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  5. (critisising my post where I bared my soul talking about my history with the church...talkin all this Isreal stuff. Adonis I oughta smack ya!)

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  6. Smack away!

    Sorry, I didn't mean to trivialize your contribution; I must shamefully confess that I jumped over your #1 and went directly to the Israel related stuff, because it's been on my mind in the last few weeks. But kudos for talking openly about your past; you have certainly been much more seriously entangled with religion (and for understandable reasons) than I have.

    At one point I started to write a short story about my background and my road to atheism, intending to post it on my own blog. But when I read through the draft I thought to myself, who actually gives a flying f*** about my background? So I clicked the cancel button. I suppose I could post it anyway if someone wanted to read it.

    (Btw I don't mind you calling me Adonis, but the nick is actually "Adonais." But it's just a nick, you can call me whatever you like. Well, almost whatever.)

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  7. 1) What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

    I do not have one, and I am not.

    2) Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

    Not everyone, but a lot of folk. Everyone who claims that one side or the other is entitled to the land, everyone one either side who has fired a weapon at someone on the other side, and everyone who has supported either side while they were engaging in attacks.

    3) How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    I don't know. I suspect that if everyone involved spontaneously converted to worshippers of the classical Greek pantheon, they'd still keep fighting at this point.

    4) What solution do think is most promising?

    Anyone read 1 Kings 3:16-28? Think along those lines, except with the suspicion that neither person is the actual parent.

    For example, carefully explain and then execute the following plan: conduct a survey to determine which regions of land various people see as rightfully theirs. Conduct an 'orderly' evacuation and relocation of everyone in all contested regions, and then nuke all such regions into glowing glass.

    Truly uncontested regions would have no problem, while problem areas that people are so inflammed about that they'll keep fighting over will cease being worth fighting over.

    Kids can't politely share the toy (Holy Land), the toy gets taken away from all of them all.

    This is not to say I think this is a good solution. I do not think this is a good solution. But you asked about the most promising.

    [tongue location="in cheek"] A bit better solution would be digging up the hotly contested regions and plunking the down on the Moon. I think too many countries are doing too little to develop their space programs, and I bet that would give it quite a boost... [/tongue]

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  8. 1) What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

    I grew up in a stagnant catholic environment (ever heard of "not practicing believer"? there's lot's of this kind of pseudocatholics in Poland) , my dad is antitheist. I strongly belived in my childhood, went through faith crisis as a teen. Now I strongly belive again but don't practice as much as I think I should.

    2) Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

    It's fault of all people who want to continue this conflict.

    3) How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    Despite lack of clear border I like Bergson's distinction between static and dynamic religion. People close to God are against violence and war.
    Jihad is deformation of Qu'ran. On the other hand Islam encourages fight in justified war and it doesn't require mind gymnastics to view this war as such from muslims perspective.
    I don't know much about modern Judaism neither how many believers are amongst Israelites. Talmud has been accused to espouse hatred for non-Jews (mostly goys) as Qu'ran towards non-muslims (kuffars) but do they really make (or help) people hate? Maybe those who want it.
    Anyway, majority of people think that it's OK to fight justified war against aggressor and in this situation (as in most wars) both sides claim this is the case.
    My final answer to question: some.

    4) What solution do think is most promising?

    Fight the hate, pray, talk. As long as children are tought to hate - no hope. On both sides there are people who want to live in peace. When they are in charge - there'll be chance for change.

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  9. 1) What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

    Raised Roman Catholic, am currently a practicing Hare Krishna.

    2) Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

    Everyone, either by omission on commission.

    3) How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    Politics and nationalism in the guise of religion, when it's convenient to call it that.


    4) What solution do think is most promising?

    I don't know what is being proposed, but I'm sure it either hasn't actually been tried yet, or else won't work because it's not a spiritual solution.

    If there was a real understanding of religion, and not merely the facade of religion laid over people's/nations' materialistic desires, the problem would be solved. The earth belongs to God, not man. He has given it to us to use to maintain our bodies in the process of re-establishing our lost connection with Him. Therefore we need only that which maintains body and soul together to allow us to perform our dharma in service to God.

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  10. Adonais! You know I just noticed I've been calling you the wrong thing. Sorry. It is an interesting observation about people not really caring about anothers religious history, I always get ho-hum reactions when I talk about my past with people. I guess it's just natural. I got more excited about this question because it asked me to narcissistically talk about myself, who by the way is the most important person on the planet. The Israel thing was just an add on.

    But in all seriousness I need to learn more about what is going on in the middle east. I'm probably not the only one. Though I do try to keep up. I'm a fox news junkie. (I hear the angry rumblings at the mere mention of Fox news, be merciful!)
    It ain't easy being a conservative anti-theist!

    It's cool to hear the religious backgrounds of posters here, M Atheos having no religious background, Khulmann being a protestant, tremor having a Catholic background, I'm guessing that Zilch was probably raised by wolves and trained in the practice of awesome ninja-ness.

    Man, can I ramble or what?

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  11. tulasi-priya dasi, a Hare Krishna, how fascinating! Have you ever heard that George harrison song?

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  12. George Harrison? Of course. He left this world in clear God consciousness, chanting Hare Krishna. I'm friends with an old friend of his.

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  13. I'd be interested to hear Josh and Mariano's take on this set of questions.

    Ok I'll stop spamming up the place for awhile.

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  14. Okay, here goes:

    1) What is your religious background? Are you currently practicing?

    I was raised by wolves and trained in the practice of awesome ninja-ness. But nowadays I practice the harp, when I have time. In other words, I was raised with nonreligious parents and taken to church by my religious grandmothers. I am currently a practicing atheist, though I have recently had to lay off eating babies (too fattening).

    2) Who is more to blame for the current fighting in Gaza- Israel, Hamas, the United States, everyone or other?

    As others have said, everyone is to blame, although I can't really find it in my heart to blame the children. That said, the establishment of Israel by driving out around 800,000 Palestinians was probably a bad move to start with.

    3) How heavily does religion factor into the current violence- heavily, moderately, some or not at all?

    Hard to say, because religion is inextricably linked with nationalism and racism. Religion certainly provides a focus for hatred, where the enemy is identified by his religion.

    4) What solution do think is most promising?

    That is indeed the $64,000 question. I don't really know. I've been reading up on the history of the conflict recently, and I'm not hopeful of any easy fix: there are too many old conflicts and too few "right" answers.

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  15. I thought this was a pretty good summary of the current state of affairs:

    The Gaza blame game - LA Times

    Which should be read together with Lendeman's synopsis of the Middle East Quartet that I linked above.

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  16. 1) Raised Free Methodist (emphasis on "entire" sanctification/perfectionism, and baptism of the Holy Spirit)...became a believer at 17, went Charasmatic. Became a Calvinist at 19 and have been becoming more and more Reformed ever since ;)

    Denominationally, I'm a member of the Presbyterian Church in America.

    2) Dunno...I do know we helped create unrest and we feed an aggressive nation (Israel).

    3) Not much at all.

    4) A gracious move of the Holy Spirit regenerating the hearts of men.

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