Religion Vs. Religion.

I’m just going to say this very quickly before I move on to the post, itself. This entry is probably going to be about me sounding very naïve. For everyone who thinks that I’m some battle-axe, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but this subject hit and I had to write about it.

Last night, I began to watch the movie, Agora. I’ve had a few people recommend that I do so and so, figured, why not? It’s been on my Netflix queue for a very long while and I was bored. So, I began to watch it. It seemed a bit slow and a little weird, but I really do love Rachel Weisz, so I kept through. However, I had to shut it off after the first battle scene between the Christians and the pagans in Alexandria. I knew what would, invariably, end up happening because I know my history. The Christians win that particular battle and some time later, the city sinks into the sea. I didn’t want to see it any more.

I watched as blood was shed from one faith to the other, horrified. I know that those were the ways of men back then: religion against religion. I know that very well since, as I said, I do know a thing or two about my history. However, maybe I’ve been babied by the historical biographies about Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, who was pretty religiously tolerant. Or, maybe, I was babied by the fact that the Egyptians didn’t really give two figs who followed what religion and even, later, began collecting other religions in Egypt. Perhaps, I have been incredibly babied by the fact that after the Romans came through and put those to the sword who needed it/battled for it, then they didn’t really give a fig what you did, religiously speaking, either. Sure, they cared later, but not at the first expansions of their empire. So, in watching that scene (which wasn’t as bloody as some battle scenes I’ve watched lately), I realized that I couldn’t finish watching it.

The reason? I just can’t abide by that.

I never quite understood the whole point in having a religion that was willing to take to the sword to force others to believe the same. And in my eyes, that particular scene was all about it. Sure, the pagans got up in arms because the Christians were shitting, in effect, on the statues of their gods. They were blaspheming, in the eyes of the pagans, and the pagans had enough of that. They were going on about their One True and the pagans didn’t want to bend the knee. Eventually, they may have, but the pagans fucked up when they decided grabbing a sword was the way to go. It makes me wonder how far the pagan religion would have lasted if they had listened to Hypatia and said, “Yeah. You’re right. Fighting about it isn’t going to solve anything and only get us killed.” However, hubris was speaking in those ears as well and that’s who won that particular inner battle: hubris, ego. They were so busy believing that the gods were offended or that the gods would help them that they never bothered to stop and ask if the gods would keep them alive enough to bring the sword to every other non-believer out there. And in my eyes, the gods said, “No. This is not the way.” And maybe they watched in sorrow as their believers were butchered and tortured, or maybe they turned away. Who knows?

My fundamental issue with the Crusades is much the same as how I feel about the above battle scenes. I never agreed with it. I could understand the desire for the Promised Land, but I could never understand the need to kill so many people or force them to convert. What was the ultimate gain out of that? The Christians held the Promised Land for a hundred years or so and then, the Muslims forced them right back on out again. And we haven’t been back, except as visitors, since then. (Did you know there were nine numbered Crusades and a bunch of others all in the name of religion?) I could never understand why the Spanish Inquisition tortured so many and for what gain? To have a peaceful realm? That didn’t happen, at all, if my thoughts on that area of Europe is correct. And really, what were they hoping to gain by hurting so many other people besides hate and enmity? And this jihad that the Muslims have been fighting against us isn’t, really, religiously motivated. They say it is. They go on about how this is the way of their people, but if they attacked the United States, it was mostly because we were the “big bad” and our “Christian foundations” had little to nothing to do about it, in my opinion. (Yes, I know. Our country was not founded on a Christian basis. That’s why I said that in quotes.) All of these things to do with religion, either forcing it upon another person or just to be the only people who are religiously “right” is so utterly sad and depressing and irritating that I want to spit.

Why is it important for the message of one religion to overthrow the message of another? If the words are taken properly and put in the right place, then why do we have to fight one another? Does it truly matter so much? I understand that the Christians want to save us and whatnot, but maybe, the words they speak and believe so well are not the ones that sit right with everyone else. I understand that the Muslims want their words to be the ones, above all else, that are the proper way in religious matters. But to kill others for that belief seems to me a great folly. I mean, after all, isn’t one of those rules that everyone abides by have something to do about not killing? If that’s the case (and I’ll be frank, in the whole Islamic tradition, I honestly don’t know if they have anything like the Commandments or if, you know, they believe the Commandments), then aren’t they flying in the face of their very beliefs by killing?

In the movie, what the pagans did was wrong. They thought they could overthrow a religion that was only for “the slaves and riffraff.” (Direct quote, there.) And they were snuffed out for that audacity, only to come back alive and well thousands of years later. What the Christians did during the Crusades and every other religiously oriented battle since was wrong. They were proved wrong when they failed to take and keep the Promised Land. What the Muslims did during their jihad against the United States was wrong and, as I said, probably not very religiously motivated. But if it was, they were wrong too because this country is not the seat of Christianity anymore than England, France, Italy, or Russia are. Every country has a Christian faction of some sort (some quite different from others), but ours is overwhelming and different from person to person, not just area to area. This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong.

I just cannot and will not abide fighting a battle or war against other people, either of similar faith to mine or completely different, just so that someone can be “right.” We could all be right. We could all be wrong. The only thing that we should really think about more than anything else is that we are all human fucking beings and that should be what unites us instead of letting a religious message divide us.

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10 thoughts on “Religion Vs. Religion.

    • Damn. I always thought that the Romans were pretty much “que sera, sera” when it came to other religions. I think this stems from knowing that they had temples to other gods in their cities. And, though, not well liked, I know that a cult of Isis developed in Rome after Egypt was taken over. Boo for Romans and their witch burning campaigns!

      I wonder if it was the fact that I knew Egyptian beliefs about other religions that swayed me to this or if it’s old age catching up to me in the way of wisdom.

  1. The thing is, religious persecution and warfare is never just about religion. The Church played a power game, and every violent action they took against (women, witches, pagans, other major religions) was meant to cement their power and place. Conversion was often a political move to gain favor. At the present level, was it about power? Likely no. As with Shinto in Japan, there was a state religion and there was real, grassroots people who actually wholeheartedly believed in the goodness of their path of church. The crusades were a ploy for land and power, the inquisition was meant to ferrets out people against the new political power. Major religion was meant as a tool to subjugate at the top and cement certain people in power. ( there’s a reason the pope was also a general. )

    My point is, it’s politics under the guise of religion that ends in war and such. Maybe the knights themselves actually believed in their cause, but that doesn’t mean their higher ups had lofty heavenly goals.

    Religion has always been a political tool, even in paganism (divine right of kings) so its unsurprisingly people war over it, I suppose. Or I’m just a cynic, who knows.

    • I meant peasant level, not present. I make a distinction between ‘folk’ or peasant interpretation of major faiths and the power slash governmental level. For instance, the Vatican is the political power, and an individual person is the metaphorical peasant interpreting their faith.

    • I’m not sure I know what you mean about the paganism political agenda. I always thought the divine right of kings to rule was a Christian thing. I mean, yes. The Egyptian pharaohs had the whole “divine right” thing but that was because they were gods.

      • I mean that paganism in general was also appropriated by those in power. The Greeks being expected to recognize their ruler as a god, for instance. The emperors of Japan are stilk ceremonially seen as coming from a long line of deity approved rulers. The idea of divine approval of the people in power essentially predates Christianity by a long time, is my point. And of course persecution of Christians by throwing them to the lions in roman times because they refused to see any human as a god, as they only had one.

        Was it always used in a power context? No. Folk religion was just a way to get by and eek out meaning in your life. But godhood was often used, as a way nobody could technically disprove, of giving the people in power the endorsement to be there. Helped to quell riots and political opponents too, since it’s easier to put someone to death for blaspheming the King who is a God than just for disagreeing, you know?

  2. Having watched this movie myself, I understand oh too well what you’re saying.

    I almost lost it when the Library was sacked. Maybe I’m more jaded, more cynical. Maybe I expect less from people. Maybe because I’ve read history in other areas and was never really as into Egyptian mythology, I knew and expected every single religion to attempt to murder, maim and torture those of any other religion.

    But the library…by all that is holy by each and every religion ever on earth…what we lost when that library burned. That breaks my heart each and every time. It cannot ever be replaced. We destroyed a part of our humanity when those flames were lit.

    Yeah, so I cared more about the library. I don’t think I like what that says about me…*sigh*

    The life of Hypatia is out there on the web. I found info on her on Wiki…I had no idea she really existed before that. So if you want to know the end of the story, it’s there. I will say that although it was not a happy ending (by any means) they did well with the way it was portrayed…allowing her in the movie more dignity and less pain than what probably actually happened.

    I guess I really have very little faith in humanity left.

  3. One has to wonder about all this warfare stuff. In Mythology we always have opposing sides, The Aesir vs the Jotuns, Titans vs The Olympians, Angels vs Demons, Netjeru vs Ap*p, etc. Then here on Earth we have similar occurrences, one religion fighting against another. One has to wonder is it the Tao in action, are we pawns in some bigger cosmic game or what? One of the things that caused me to reevaluate my life (in reference to religion) was all the extra “work” that kept being piled upon me by the Netjeru and recently the Lwa coming into my life. I had so much going on, trying to serve THEM, I had little time to stop and think about ME and what I wanted/needed. I just wanted one path and not three, but until I put my foot down that wasn’t going to happen. I felt bullied and I don’t like bullies.
    So I put my foot down, hard.
    In the past two weeks I have felt much better, lots less stress and no nightmares (which have plagued me for the past 1 1/2 years).
    I refuse to get myself involved in their wars. I originally started down the pagan path for enlightenment and self discovery, but more and more I found myself having heap-s of work piled upon me with little or no reward. When I had problems in my life and asked the Nerjeru for help I got silence in return. I started to feel like I was in an abusive relationship (with myself as the victim). It was me just giving and Them just taking. I know this is relevant to your post somehow, I just haven’t figured out how yet. Ha ha

  4. we are what we are as all souls are spiritual from birth till last journey on this earth. names and ways of life are for name sake but we have to be purified spiritually to be closer with the spiritual powers of THE ONENESS OF ONE ALMIGHTY CREATOR. millions of innocent souls are being sacrificed due to religious intolerance as each religion claims to be superior.

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