Wishful thinking

Joe Hockey has been reading Karen Armstrong, it appears.

Those who seek to proclaim the prescriptions of the Bible selectively or literally provide an armoury of ammunition to those like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Laymen like myself struggle with the logic of such an approach. While debate rages about such matters, the true message of the scriptures – of compassion, justice, equality, dignity, forgiveness, charity and respect for other people – inevitably takes a back seat.

That’s the true message of ‘the scriptures’ is it – in spite of all the content of the scriptures that says no such thing but rather the very opposite? In spite of all the abundant material in the scriptures that urges cruelty, brutality, inequality, humiliation, revenge, anger and hatred for other people? Somehow in spite of all that ‘the true message’ is…….what people want it to be.

I don’t accept that any of the great religions envisage a God or a divine force that sanctions the worst failings of humanity. Religion asks of us to become better people – to choose a life of giving and compassion. This “Golden Rule” is a thread that runs from Confucius to Christianity, from Buddhism to Islam. For me this is the essential message of all faiths – that we should love our neighbour as we love ourselves…The God of my faith is not full of revenge, as the Old Testament would suggest with a literal interpretation…It is not a loving God who wilfully inflicts pain and suffering. No God of any mainstream religion would do that if God’s love is real….My God does not discriminate against women, or favour first born children over others…All of these things have been claimed as acts of God at various times in our history. They provide easy targets for those who argue that religion causes harm rather than good. However, they are not propositions that I believe have any foundation in the mainstream religions.

He can ‘believe’ that only if he has sedulously avoided finding out what is actually in the ‘scriptures’ of the big monotheisms and if he has avoided learning anything about what religion was understood to mandate over the past three thousand years. Maybe his God doesn’t discriminate against women, but everyone else’s God certainly did for century after century after century…and the God of most people hasn’t stopped yet. Joe H should check out the Vatican’s view on all this, and that of your average online imam. He should have done that before he wrote this piece.

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