Religion at its Best and Worst

Religion at its Best and Worst April 30, 2018

I shared the above quote previously some time ago, but apparently the image went missing, and so I thought I should rectify that by sharing it again!

Do you agree with the sentiment in the quote? Why or why not?

Religion at its Best and Worst


"I think the core of Derrida's thinking is that "Deconstruction is Justice." We make a ..."

Activist Theologians
"...and then Demosthenes pinched it from Caesar."

Activist Theologians
"No doubt Julius Caesar pinched that insight from Derrida."

Activist Theologians
"Speaking of resources available online, Dr. James Tabor just posted a collection of blog posts ..."

Jesus, Jericho, and Judaism: Free Documentaries ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • John MacDonald

    I think that, at its best, religion is born out of the Spirit of Hope, and expresses that Hope in everything it thinks and does.

    • The Mouse Avenger

      Well, you know what I think?

      I think that was very nice. 🙂

      • John MacDonald

        Thanks. I think “hope” is an essential aspect of religion, or at least it should be. I’m unsure of the place of faith in my life. Part of me says there isn’t enough evidence, but another part of me says there very well may be something more. For instance, we say the universe began with the Big Bang, but then the question becomes “How did the materials that made up the Big Bang get there?” The chain of causes has to stop somewhere. And, evolutionary biology says life started from single-celled organisms, but the question then arises as to where did the first spark of life come from? I like the comment, attributed to US military chaplain William Thomas Cummings, which claims “There are no atheists foxholes,” which I think illustrates the essential relationship between (some kinds of) faith and hope. Classicist Jacob Burckhardt once said the Hellenes were more unhappy than most people realize. And can you blame them? For instance, Homer writes of death “Life-giving earth has buried them” and details how Achilles, a great hero of the Iliad, would rather “live working as a wage-labourer for hire by some other man, one who had no land and not much in the way of livelihood, than lord it over all the wasted dead” (Homer, 11.380, 624-28). Nietzsche says somewhere it’s knowing/certainty that destroys, not uncertainty. Philosophy, as Plato says in the Phaedo, is how we comport ourselves toward death. I had a friend once who was convinced she was going to spend eternity being tortured in Hell because she had an abortion, and no one could persuade her otherwise. As a result, she was in and out of Psyche Wards, and was often simply listless and despondent. I like “Post-Modernism” because it goes beyond what Nietzsche called the Lion of the Enlightenment that focused on epistemology and metaphysics/ontology, toward a focus on care and concern for the suffering face of the Other (widow/orphan/alien/enemy) that awakens me to my infinite/indefinite responsibility for the Other that can never be sated. This is the Philosophy Levinas outlined in “Totality and Infinity,” “Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence,” and Derrida talks about in “Violence and Metaphysics.”

        • The Mouse Avenger

          All very fascinating points, & a very lovely reply. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. ^_^

  • What a powerful quote. Religion has so many deluding beliefs and is so often supportive of injustice, war, intolerance, and inequality, that after a life-time (over 50 years) being involved with it, often in leadership, through many troubled times, I tend to think now that religion is mostly toxic and destructive. At present it is especially so.

    Look at all the religious ‘strong-men’ ruling nations now, besides President Trump. Erdogan in Turkey and Putin in Russia are among the worst. Look at the way that multi-millions of humans are caught up in religious-nationalistic group egotism. Us first, “America First,” “Trump is God’s Right-hand man,” “Thank you Lord Jesus for President Trump,” etc.

    It still astounds-baffles-grieves me that over 81% of Evangelical Christians (white) in the U.S. voted and still support Trump’s unethical policies, especially the famous leaders of Evangelicalism from Franklin Graham to Wayne Gruden to James Dobson. Very weird and very tragic.

    Yet on the other hand, sometimes religion does have leaders who stand for justice, compassion, equality, etc. One of the founders of Amnesty International was a Quaker, one of the creators of the UN Declaration of Human Rights was religious, etc. And there are many aid agencies such as World Vision, MCC, Habitat for Humanity who do incredible work for the needy, the impoverished, the persecuted, and so.

    The HUGE question is why does religion inspire only a few to great ethical achievements? And why does religion so often instead focus obsessively on delusion, destruction, and persecution?

  • I have observed that churches today in the United States are more like families with people addicted to alcohol. Religion can be as addicting I think. The sad truth about any kind of addict is that they are so sick they have no ability to be loyal to anything but their supply. A child has no choice but to be part of the tribe he or she was dropped in. As an adult one has more choices. MHO: “be the change you wish to see.” (This quote is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.) I spent my whole life keeping my opinion to myself. Only now am I finding, here and there, people who welcome my opinion as a progressive Christian. 1 suggestion is to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Richard Rohr suggests: “If you try to assert wisdom before people have themselves walked it, be prepared for much resistance, denial, push-back, and verbal debate.”
    Only those who are ready to receive can hear. When one is ready to have discernment one may share ones experience strength and hope with whom one is directed via the Holy Spirit to share it with. MHO this will take time and patience for the one who is seeking contact. Blogging helps I have found. You are loved and will find the fellowship you crave!!

  • Brandon Roberts

    i think at it’s worst it perverts people into being awful (hell groups like isis use religion to justify torturing and killing innocents) at it’s best it can give security and hope to people

    • swbarnes2

      Does it give security, just the feeling of security? Hoping for a good outcome is a pretty slender good compared to actually getting that hoped for outcome.

      • Brandon Roberts

        isn’t a false feeling security still a feeling of security?

        • Lark62

          Feeling, yes. Reality, no.

          Think about the “security theater” that pops up after every tragedy. Clear plastic backpacks would not have stopped the Florida school shooter, but are now required at that high school.

          Likewise, protecting children from “stranger danger” does nothing to protect catholic children from the real danger from trusted priests.

          Sometimes the feeling of security takes the place of actions that would actually make people safer.

        • swbarnes2

          The parents of Kara Neumann had hope and security in the power of prayer to heal their daughter of type I diabetes. Can you explain exactly how this worked out for Kara Neumann?

          If you are sincere in thinking that the best religion can do for parents was to make them feel that their children were safe from deadly illness, (when for most of human existence, huge percentages of children died before reaching adulthood), then you are basically admitting that the very best religion has to offer is virtually nothing.

          • Brandon Roberts

            this is one of the areas i will agree that this mentality hurts others, but i mean if the person is still taking basic safety precautions isn’t not allowing medical care for their kids or themselves generally not negatively affecting others

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Amen, amen, & amen. (nods head firmly in agreement)