Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Religion ...naah for Chris-sake !!

I met quite an irritating  guy on my recent travel to northern Kerala, kind of the ones we would call a 'bugger' and feel the word doesn't have enough in it to mean what we actually mean. I prefer being alone in my travel, lost with a book in hand and gazing out of the window every other time, than indulging with fellow humans. Some might want to call me an anti-social for that, like my Appa, who thinks I am confining to myself, never accepting the existence of society and people. But then the post is not about 'what I would like to do, when I travel', but about this guy who kept bumping into me, with his banter, which I kept ignoring.

My guy, Alex asks my name, for we share a seat and then gets introduced himself. A christian aged about mid thirties and I leave it at that. Then he goes on to ask about my community. I tell him mine. He goes to ask my family name,which I tell him. Then he starts with a silly Pope joke. I act not interested and opens my book and he doesn't leave his pursuit. He starts of about the dark ages of European history or maybe we call it the World history, for Europe was the world and Catholic Church the ruler. Not quite in the manner, I described above.

Politics and religion, two powerful human thoughts or institutions, which should be kept at a distance, wasn't during the middle ages of Europe or more precisely the 1000AD till the 1500. And a lot of bad did happen. I look at him and still says nothing. He tells me he is a Protestant and I wonder, if two believers in Christ had so much of disagreement with each other, no wonder religions fight over each other. Jews are always at the throat of Palestinian Islam in the strip near the Mediterranean sea and bombs keep blasting throughout India. 

He goes on about the anarchy in the Church today, the Catholic one for sure. I feel the urge to not be pulled into a talk and let this guy, mind his business after his brawl. I tell him, I know nothing about it. He goes silent and then hits the sleep button straight off. My upbringing made me want to defend the Church, or I would rather say, the belief that there is a bigger power, God, the name I have given to it. The way my initial days were molded makes me believe the bigger power, whom I just now named 'God' for the sake of the Post, more Unitary in form and also think about the after death stage more in a rational catholic sought of way. If that makes me religious, then probably I am. My heaven is different, that is just the name, I have given the stage after death, it has knowledge and wisdom about creation !

As I listened to Alex, I wanted to tell him, "I agree Church has erred. Church did darken quite a good share of European History, with the Pope being the de-facto sovereign and the throne, the De-jure ones,  in France and England and almost all of other Europe. But then an honest human and a good man with a vision, did kneel down and apologized to the world for all the mistakes of the period, I meant the late Pope, John Paul 2. The Church has erred, so has every human institution, for men are not the idealist of beings.  And I find the late Popes act an unprecedented, noble act. For isn't it all we could do for the mistakes done, apologize honestly and I felt the man did mean what he said. But then another part of me, wanted to remain calm and get back to the book.

I couldn't read, but sat looking out thinking about what the man actually did to me. He made my religious sub-conscious or maybe something similar to that, get provoked.  I normally don't get irritated on accord of blasphemy to the Church or the Christian concept of God; for religious chords are the last ones of mine which gets pulled.

Alex's uncanny invasion into my privacy, should have been another reason, why it irritated me. He kept prying into my personal affairs, which never actually mattered to him, even when I kept showing him the door at many a repeated line. If he had just asked me about what is making me travel, that would have been a decent conversation to start with, between fellow travelers. But, this was un-called for, without knowing a line about my beliefs, he kept raising questions, which were offensive to any catholic in general. I like intelligent conversation on God, and peoples beliefs about that God, why they believe God exist and what form they think the God would be, if their beliefs is yes. I have my own beliefs which I hold good and we could reason, which one makes more sense, rather than degrade another and stand tall at the cost of the other. Talks on religion doesn't excite me to that an extent, but then on an histories perspective, is a conversation, I like having. But both of it is to be done, more in a manner fitting gentlemen, and not in shady language, with complete strangers.

Any prudent man, learnt enough to know about the dark ages, should also have the basic sense of knowing that religion is not the area to fiddle around with. Religion or rather each ones discovery or maybe invention, of the concept of the bigger power is as private as having sex; for yourself, to ponder or think and to act without crossing over to another person's belief in the bigger power. For the believers ultimately believes only in the bigger power, and they have conveniently named it and shaped it, for their purposes. They are sensitive areas of human psyche, beliefs that humans hold dear and shouldn't be treadled on callously.

Without ever knowing these very private things of mine, Alex was invading my space without being invited and I truly did fight the urge to make him feel snubbed, with my digs on Protestantism. I felt responsible enough or maybe as the religion lover in me would like to say, the snubbing was not a Christian thing to do, and I restrained.


  1. The religious parts of our identities are difficult to understand for us, probably because they link to an emotional core while in today's world we are supposed to be more into rationality ... but at least he did went off to sleep! :)

  2. Strange, isn't it, that even non-religious persons like you and me can get provoked by a provocation? Even though at rational, intellectual level we dismiss the concept of religion as not only useless but detrimental too for the sane world, being born into one or the other, our subconscious mind still attach itself to it. What I mean to say is that it is impossible to be totally free of the baggage we are born with; to a great extent yes, but not fully.

    Whatever might the religious claim, the harm that religion has wrought on living beings is much more than its benefactions.

    Ousu, I'd suggest you read Joseph Campbell. He was an authority on Myths and its all-encompassing influence on humanity. I have one of his books, 'Myths to live by'. It clears up a lot. Books are available at Flipkart; I've just ordered for one more!

  3. Which believer dares to engage in an intellectual discussion on God and Religion? The answer is no. I can see from your lines that even you, who have had good education and good faculty of thought, were uncomfortable when this guy began to throw innuendo and disparage about Catholic Church. Your dislike for the person was from not his boorishness, but he provoked your closely held thoughts on the concept of Church and its version of God. You were afraid that you may lose the comfort that you think it gives you.

    As Balan said , and Karl Marx before him , Religion and God has done more harm than good ;religion is the opium of man. An impassioned thinking will tell you so. And dying, forgetting to live all in the name of religion and God is foolish. Because as Russell said what if you are proved wrong tomorrow?

    And what you said about Pope John Paul –ii, is wonderfully true. Never before in history has a prelate of the church confessed the horrendous crime Church had orchestrated in the past.


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