Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why I DON'T want a Mosque near ground zero.

Your read that right. While having an animated discussion at Pennsic I dropped that bombshell and things got quiet pretty fast. The people at the table, who were of differing opinions on the matter were both surprised that I would say such a thing. I am generally known as a free thinker with Liberal tendencies and such a proclamation raised eyebrows. But I said it and I stand by my personal opinion.

Make no mistake. The group involved here has every legal right to build their community center (which happens to have a Gym, an auditorium as well as a mosque). I do not contend that. When the project first came to the attention of our semi-retarded media the initial conservative backlash was immediate. The frothing rhetoric spoke of bans and interceding to stop such a travesty until it was pointed out that forbidding such a building flew in the face of the first amendment. After that the right-wing modified their bleating to state that while they could build the center, they shouldn't. It empowered fundamentalists. The Imam is a radical (a radical Bush himself appointed as a kind of good will ambassador, but whatever) The area is "Hallowed Ground", whatever that means. And  most importantly; It would hurt the feelings of some of the victims. The last one is a strong possibility. It's a sensitive and emotional issue certainly.  But that isn't why I don't support the project.

I am against this project because they are building a Mosque. I do not hate Mosques, or Muslims. I have stood in several beautiful Mosques in several countries. I think the Muezzins call to prayer is a delight to listen to as it echoes over the city. I count several Muslims as friends.

What I am against is the construction of another house of worship. A place where people go to listen to "Holy Men" tell them untruths about the origin of the world and mans place in it. Buildings where the social morays of a bronze age society of violent nomads are held up as unassailable, unquestionable law. A place where poorly translated gibberish is declared historical fact and the infallible word of violent, psychotic gods. A place where bigoted, xenophobic ramblings are declared unshakable moral codes for all to slavishly follow or risk eternal damnation.

It's not that I don't want a Mosque built near ground zero, I don't want ANY "holy" building built there. Not a church, or a synagogue or a Cathedral or a Scientology Center. Do you know what I'd like? A library. A place where anyone came freely enter without restriction or discrimination. A place where the guides help you to find answers without judgement or charging a tithe. A place where all questions are allowed. A place that has many answers but does not claim to have ALL the answers.

 Or a book store. I'd be fine with a book store. How about a gym? Or a small garden? Anything but another place that turns out more groveling believers. According to a quick search there may be as many as 6507 houses of worship in NYC compared with about 860 libraries. Do we really need more churches?

The other boogeyman in the debate is the fear of what all "those people" will be up to "in there". Surely no good! I very much doubt that this mosque will be turning out radical wahhabists. In fact, I suspect that it will be the most well surveiled mosque in the entire US. Everything in that building will come under close scrutiny. Every email, every sermon, every phone call. There won't be a single prayer session where there aren't at least 4 or 5 undercover agents blending in with the group. It would be the single stupidest place in the world to start talking jihad.

Alas, no one is listening to me. Both sides are too busy screaming at each other. In the end, I suspect the community center will be built. And I am okay with that. Even though every Sept 11th I tend to crack at some point in my day. I'll be in the car or maybe at a show and I'll loose it for a short time. I pull over or find someplace quiet and break down for a bit. Some things haunt you. But I pull it together, and I've never let it control me. Never let it close my head or my heart.

This Mosque will likely impart the positive values shared by the majority of Muslims around the world. Just as most other houses or worship do. But it's still pushing religion. The belief in an all powerful invisible sky wizard.

If I have any faith it is that I truly believe we can solve many of our worlds problems ourselves. Without supernatural aid or distraction.That we can let go of the crutch of superstition. My greatest fear is that I and my beliefs are in the minority.

16 comments:

Ailis said...

I really want to say "Amen" but that would be a poor choice of words.
But I agree - well said.

Robyn said...

I can see your point and respect it. My only issue with your statement is that not all of us religious folks are "groveling". I am a bit amazed that a person who is as open minded as you would use that word to generalize a part of our population. I personally do not feel my belief in God has made me small minded or a bigot and anything else. I believe in God, you believe what you believe, and who am to judge?

I do feel if the Mosque (which I do not really want there as it feels like a smack in the face to those who died there)is discouraged from being there then yes other places of worship should be discouraged as well. That is fair across the board.

And we always need more libraries.

Hugs

Steve said...

Robyn, you and other friends of mine are examples of the good that can come of spiritual belief. You live good lives, you take from your religion it's best, most positive elements and ignore or reject the parts that are bigoted, violent or downright crazy.

But for every kind, giving soul like yourself there is someone who takes the word of God (tm) as the only truth.
They do what they think their holy book tells them to do. They do what a smiling preacher tells them to do.

You are not a grovelling machine, and i'm very glad of that, but that doesn't mean that your religion and it's holy books don't still demand it. Maybe the bible, the Torah and the Koran need a version 2.0

More peace and less crazy and smiting.

Robyn said...

...version 2.0

that is funny as my mom and I were just discussing a few days ago how there are just some things in the bible we ignore because they don't fit with our all beings are equal world that we live in now.

kodo said...

I agree with Steve's take on this issue. And I think anyone who believes in a Hell is indeed 'groveling'. (this is not directed at Robyn herself) How can a person not be groveling if they buy into the idea that belief is necessary to avoid a punishment?

And the idea of "cafeteria christianity" (or islam, or judiasm...etc) is silly to me. Not that I wasn't one once! Either you follow your holy book's teachings, or you don't. You aren't supposed to get to choose what you want to listen to.

Anonymous said...

Ramen.

Organized religion tends to fall pretty quickly into self-serving legalism. A million contradictory edicts are sorted through, and those that validate the existing beliefs of the community are elevated to holy law, while those that don't are quietly ignored. The love of the skygod is proclaimed, amidst warnings of the terrible, terrible things that await if you do not return this love and demonstrate absolute obedience. Followers are instructed to disregard their own judgement, but instead put their faith in the skyking and his Holymen on earth, who understand the skygod so much better than you. At best one is urged to pity or shun the unbelievers, though there are ample edicts to destroy the unbelievers if the Holymen deem neccessary.

And yet, Matthew 6:5-8 (New International Version) says:

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

And Matthew 23:8-9 (New International Version) says:

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."


love,
your bro

Jeffery said...

I consider myself a religious man. But I will never understand blind faith to centuries old religious texts. When I was in the army language school we talked about translations and how they can change the very meaning of the original words. The Bible has been translated no less than four times. From ancient Hebrew to Greek to Latin to old English to modern English. You can't tell me in all that translating something's didn't get changed in meaning.

My devout Christian friends will usually respond that the word of God transcends language and I would agree. But the translations were writen down by men. And what I believe the central message (what these people call the word of God) is is simple. Love one another. Anything that deviates from this I believe is the man who was writing it down deciding "well God said this but what I think he meant is THIS". For the record I also believe that Jews Christians and Muslims all worship the same God and that each was God trying a different approach to get his message of loving each other to different societal groups and cultures.

Jeffery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robyn said...

Kodo,

Nope, didn't think it was directed at me personally. But I don't feel I grovel either. I pray because it is the right thing to do. Is there a Hell? Don't know and I don't care, I'll deal with that if and when it comes. The God that I sense/feels in much a loving God than one that would condemn me or other to that.

Maybe that is cafeteria belief but lets face it, Jeffery is right on this one. The bible and all holy texts were written by man (no matter if they say they were moved by their deity or not)and last I checked man is extremely fallible.

So many people tend to see only the version of religion that Anonymous sees. That of a huge power that commands you to do this or that thing or you will be punished. So few people seem to remember the gentler teachings. Love thy neighbor as you love yourself, he who has no sin can throw the first stone (yes I believe Jesus was a bit of a sarcastic personality at times, do not covet what others have (because all it does it make US unhappy). And many goods as well as evils have been done in God (s) name. Mother Theresa is a great example of that.

I pray to God like I was speaking to my friends in a respectful way. I think since he gave (or we just have it depending on your view point) free will He probably prefers this.

On an off note, I thought I read once that the Jewish religion had no Hell. Anyone know anything about that one?

Sorry I ramble
wanted to end with a cool quote but now I can't find the one I wanted! LOL

Anonymous said...

KODO WRITES: (I can't seem to log in under my name again!)

The bible has been translated more than 4x, by far. The bible as it exists today is a descendant of copies of copies of copies of copies. No one really knows what the "original" texts said. So why do so many people rely upon them as directions for their lives? I think if a text is written or inspired by a god, that god would make the point of the text - the directions - absolutely clear. Especially if an eternity of punishment depended upon obedience. Untold millions of people see these texts, or parts of them, as the infallible word of the deity. And as necessary to keep them from burning forever.

If all religions boil down to "love one another", why is god, a religion, or a text even needed anymore? Why is prayer the right thing to do? The all powerful god will do whatever it wants to, so there's really no point in asking for things. Unless if by prayer you mean your prayer consists solely of worship and praise. But I don't know anyone who has prayed who has never prayed for some favor or thing.


BTW: Mother Teresa, The Final Verdict, is a very eye opening book about this overly admired individual

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your logic!

Brother Noomsie

Anonymous said...

Repent!!! The End is Near!!!
Oh...sorry...that was my inside voice.

On a serious note, I totally relate to your feelings about 9-11. Having a good cry over that is all good. I am especially moved by the vision of those poor bastards in the plane over Pennsylvania who actual knew that their hijackers were set on flying that plane into the White House or some other "high value" target. "Let's roll," one passenger exclaimed, as they tried in vain to retake the plane and save their lives and those of their loved ones on board. Now that was truly moving. It suits me to believe that those passengers went to Heaven, or were in Hell on that plane, or both.

Another mosque? Another church? Whatever. Just as long as they leave room for love. Cheers.

Sir Constantine.

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