Picking And Choosing

By Shlomoh Sherman
January 13, 2009

--- On Tue, 1/13/09, my friend, Howard Karten, wrote: "Observors to some extent pick and choose what parts of their holy book they will observe. Don't you think?"

To which I wrote:

Truer words were never spoke. This is one of the stumbling blocks in the modern era. In the pre-modern era, Jews and Christians gave much more public lip service to theirscriptures, and Jews also had the Oral Tradition upon which they relied much more than scripture. Then came two events in the Western world, - popular revolutions which brought about alternate ways of looking at life and history [enabling the birth of democracies], and then religious reformation accompanying democratic ideas. It then became more necessary to pick and choose which parts of the religion [holy books] to concentrate on. Things like slavery, suppression of women and children, divine rights of those in power still remained parts of the religion, only they were pushed into the background as people's equality took center stage. Finally most people in the west, with the exception of what we call "fanatics"simply ignored them and expressed embarrassment when they were brought to mind.

In the Eastern world, this did not happen. The Turks ruled the entire Muslim world and kept that world in the dark ages until 1917. There was no push to democracy and no reformation. European colonists tried to impose western ideals on Muslims with limited success. Vast areas of Islam remained with the same mindset as before 1917. Popular inequality and a visceral antipathy towards "infidels" were allowed to fester, and when it became apparent that the Muslim world was stagnant or receeding backwards while the rest of the world was moving forward, the worst elements of their religion were used fight and kill "infidels".

Much of the antisocial and anti-progress elements in Islam also exist in Judaism and Christianity. Only in the latter two religions they are mitigated by the realization that they are somehow, if not "wrong", at least out of tune with a modern world that actually prizes peace over being right with WMDs. So both modern, rational Jews and Christians leave the realization of the "unpopular" parts of their scriptures for the future messianic era in which their particular group will be supreme.

In the Muslim world, the worst parts of the scripture is forced on "infidels" in the shape of suicide bombs. Had the muslim world had an opportunity to have a western style REFORMATION as Judaism and Christianity had, their world would look differently today. Most of Protestantism and nonOrthodox Judaism allows their adherents to be friends with Joe down the block and to respect his religion or non-religion. In the Muslim world, it's hard to be friends with Christopher down the block or Abraham down the block because both Chris and Abe are HORRIBLY WRONG!   Wrong in their religion and wrong in their being.

Unless Islam itself undergoes reformation there is no hope for peace without bombs and bullets. When people like president Bush stand up and say that Islam is a religion of peace, we are in deep trouble because in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, people are saying that Judaism and Christianity are religions of the devil..

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