Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ecumenism

We are an organization with a religous bent. The teachers advocate religous proselytization. In fact, they advocate it to the point of exhaustion, with REWs, day-to-day discourse, devotions, chapel. Whatnot.

Fully two-thirds of the hitherto unconverted, whether determined agnostic, atheist, or just plain apathetic, have abandoned their erstwhile dispositions to take up the new faith, (to them, that is) one that offers some unfathomable appeal. Once converted, they go to it with unrestrained fervour, preaching their newfound wellsprings of religious exultation to the skies. Christianity is almost as fully outspoken, aggressive, and intolerant as a wildfire in the harmattan. There is something about Christianity that releases the dam of restraint, once one has fully embraced it.

It may not be as xenophobic or insecure as it was in the Middle Ages; nevertheless, the harmonious blend of fervour and reward inherent in Christianity has made it one of the most successful ideological contagions of human history. Unlike the encompassing serenity of Buddhism (which has become a religion, whether or not it claims to be merely philosophy) or the unyielding and unbending natures of Islam and other such religions, Christianity thrives on the force of passion. Islam's most passionate adherents strap bombs onto themselves and make martyrs for a misguided cause - that passion hardly helps Islam's image. Islam, itself, like so many other religions, is identified with certain races. Christianity used to be, but with the British Empire and other European powermongers, Christianity has lost its racial bias and has proliferated into the world's first truly multiracial religion.

But the Christian mindset is inherently bigoted. This is an imperative of all religions, of course, if that were not so religions would not be what they are. But Hinduism preaches tolerance. The tenets of Christianity do not preach religious tolerance. Christianity advocates ideological and religious domination in order to achieve the ultimate ends of their purpose. Here, in Singapore, especially, that mindset cannot be allowed to persist.

Christianity is but one among many, and who is to say that one of them isn't true, or doesn't hold the reins of a greater nobility or purpose than Christianity? What is Truth that Christians preach, smug and sure in their Biblical assurance? Why is their creed necessarily Truth? And what right have they to push their opinions onto others, preaching their own Truth at the expense and exclusion of all other beliefs?

What right have they to condemn the teachings of religions as old and as wise as they to the dustbin of Untruth? What right have they to assert their complete ideological and moral superiority over other religions? Only among themselves, but not unto others who do not share their belief.

So please, when preaching, respect the teachings of others.


9 comments:

Mythical said...

It's one of those flawed arguments. You can talk about equality of beliefs, but the fact is you must examine the outcomes of those beliefs, and decide (knowing that you are most probably wrong) whether or not the nett gain is worth the nett loss. Consider the counter-argument: what if no religion such as Christianity had ever existed? Surely, the world would be a better place, many would say. But, really, would it?

Mythical said...

Secondly, by what right does anyone assert anything? In the free world you implicitly request, anyone would have any right to assert anything. Again, the test is one of proof. Ask yourself about the effect of flawed religions on flawed humans (in general). Now, ask yourself, what are the nett gains and losses? You would be surprised that an honest tally would include most of the science you take for granted - despite Fritjof Capra, science comes from a venerable Western monotheistic tradition. Not that it is the sole font, but it is a large one - Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

Mythical said...

Finally, consider what you have said: you are asserting that these Christian fellows should proselytize etc only among themselves. Well, the school you are talking about calls itself a Methodist institution. It is all over the place, even on its letterheads. By what right should anyone of any other faith enter it and then complain about its teachings? The right of payment? Oh dear, how materialistic. Perhaps you should go check on how many Singapore schools were founded by religious orders or religious people with religious intent. Now subtract them all. What's left, really?

it's easy to talk about religious beliefs. It is harder to assess the implications such talk harbours in its own hazy and insidious intolerance, masquerading as fairmindedness, but denying the spirit of research and inquiry, which a true scientist should have.

toitle said...

perhaps hwa chong, unless one considers confucianism or aetheism religions in themselves.

in any case, i believe what colin is objecting to is not so much the existence of religion in itself, nor the mere academic assertion of faith, both of which are part of the ideal, free and fairminded world that he yearns for. Rather, it is the forced imposition of a moral compass based on religious values, which do not apply due to his own agnostic beliefs, upon him that he dislikes.

whether science, empiricism or religious faith have the same standing ground is another issue entirely.

granted, this school is a methodist one, but colin's plea applies to a wider context outside of the bounds of acs and christianity alone.

Mythical said...

Hardly a 'forced imposition'. You can shut your ears and/or stone out, as many do. You can decide to leave (granted, not always the best option). You can decide to blog about it and not get killed. You can do many things which make the claim of 'forced imposition' seem somewhat hollow. After all, the state-encouraged imposition of secularism is somewhat more of a mailed fist, whether desirable, necessary or not.

toitle said...

granted, you can stone out or decide not to listen when constructive preaching is taking place, therefore said . however, it is when aggression manifests in the form of a condemnation of every other possible truth that results in a lack of "fairminded enquiry". It is that, ultimately, that he objects to.

The Arbiter said...

I didn't mean to imply that Christianity is wrong, merely that it cannot be certified as being true because of the abundance of religions, and as such, yes, when proselytizing, Christians should not condemn the beliefs of others. I don't mean that Christians shouldn't preach to non-believers, only that when they do, they should take into account the dispositions of others.

The Arbiter said...

And it is true that preaching involves disproving previously-held beliefs to a certain extent, so it may be difficult to accomplish such without slandering said beliefs. But still.

Mythical said...

Yes. Still. One ought to be centred in nothing, hence able to see the truth of that which isn't.