Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Friday, October 30, 2009

Where is God, and who cares, anyway?

I don't talk about it much, but my spiritual life is important to me. Karen Armstrong is my favorite religious writer, and something of a spiritual guide. So I was excited to find an article by her in the current print issue of Foreign Policy. She addresses current myths such as these, with cogent arguments. Here are some excerpts and paraphrases:

  • God is dead. NO, When Nietzsche announced the death of God in 1882, he thought that in the modern, scientific world people would not be able to understand religious faith. ... but it is only since 9/11 that God has proven to be alive and well beyond all question ....
  • God and politics shouldn't mix. NOT NECESSARILY. Theologically illiterate politicians have long given religion a bad name ... The manner in which religion is used in politics is more important than whether it's used at all. J. F. Kennedy and Barak Obama have invoked faith as a shared experience that binds the country together ...
  • God breeds violence and intolerance. NO, HUMANS DO. All fundamentalism -- Jewish, Christian, Muslim -- is rooted in a profound fear of annihilation. History shows that when these groups are attacked, militarily or verbally, they almost invariably become more extreme.
  • God is for the poor and ignorant. NO. The United States is the richest country in the world and the most religious in the developed world. None of the major religions is averse to business; each developed a nascent economy. Still, the current financial crisis shows the religious critique of excessive greed is far from irrelevant.
  • God is bad for women. YES
  • God is the enemy of science. HE DOESN'T NEED TO BE. Science has become an enemy of fundamentalist Christians who campaign against the teaching of evolution in public schools and stem cell research because they seem to conflict with biblical teaching. ... The conflict with science is symptomatic of a reductive idea of God in the modern West ...
  • God is incompatible with democracy. NO.

So I was horrified when I went to the Foreign Policy website to post the link to this article, and found a long litany of scathing comments for my favorite writer: "this is the stupidist article I've seen." "Dumb is right." "How can she miss the most essential points?" And so on. Is it me or the other readers who misses the point? FP is not a magazine I ordinarily read (I got it as a gift subscription), but I didn't know I was so out in the woods as to be 180 degrees off the mainstream.

Figure it out yourself at


Post a Comment

<< Home