Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The God Business


In a relatively old Malayalam movie, Kizhakkan Pathrose, the protagonist is a criminal.  One day he goes to a Catholic priest who is involved in many charitable works and says, “I have committed a lot of crimes and caused much pain to many people.  I want to atone for it all by making a donation for noble causes.”  The priest accepts the cheque without saying a word.

“This is not atonement,” I blurted out while watching the movie a few minutes back on a TV channel.

“Why not?” asked Maggie, my wife, the only other person present in the room.

Courtesy: Internet
“Real atonement is only when the person gives up his criminal ways.  The rest is commerce.  This fellow is trying to buy atonement with money and the priest is his accomplice.”

Maggie was about to say something but suppressed it.  I did not succeed in making her speak.  I think she wanted to say that I was a silly idealist.

“Put God to work for you and maximise your potential in our divinely ordered capitalist system,” directed the High Priest of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale.  This is what the protagonist in the movie did.  This is what most religious believers do.  They trade with God: I pay you money and you sell me forgiveness!

In the Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defines the clergyman (priest, religious guru, etc) as “a man who understands the management of our spiritual affairs as a method of bettering his temporal ones.”

 As long as people understand God as a seller of forgiveness and religion as that God’s temporal agent, religion will remain a futile entity, though a commercially successful one.  


An atheist like George Santayana understood God and religion far, far better than any pious devotee when he said, “My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image to be servants of their human interests.”  True piety towards the universe is a highly refined level of consciousness which understands the meaning of kindness and courage, power and magnanimity, honesty and tenderness... People who have achieved that level of consciousness do not  need God or His/Her earthly agents and their hollow rituals.  The corollary to this maxim is that people who have not achieved that level of consciousness will not be rewarded by the rituals except for the psychological comfort and apparent permission to keep perpetrating the evils they have been doing.

26 comments:

  1. I always believe Human created Religion and not the other way round..But still why people are so obsessed with religion I fail to understand....

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    1. Religion is an infantile need, friend. I said it in a different way in my last post. Most people today have a protracted childhood and religion fulfils that need with the INFINITE love of God.

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  2. the toon goes apt! :) religion speaks its language .. blame the manipulators who claim highest positions on behalf of Almighty and translate religion for vested interests!
    Faith in religion is restored through the sayings writing in several books ... deemed to be understood as God's Own Words.. but interpretation of the writings depend on the reader.
    Wish forgiveness could really be bought :)

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    1. Dear Jack, I used to call myself an agnostic. Now I'm a convinced ATHEIST, after having seen at close quarters how religion works. I refuse to accept any scriptures or their interpretations as meaningful. They are pure rubbish only meant to be manipulated by Machiavellian/Kautilian brains. I have seen it for years - in my early workplace too.

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  3. The toon like jack has mentioned is the synoposis of religion today. The write up of course is what defines the concept more deep. Religion should not be a way of forgiveness but of always showing the right path....

    Richa

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    1. People are simply using religion, Richa, just like they use the transport system or the mobile phone. While the transport and the mobile have some real benefits, religion offers none really! Except for the people who wield it as a weapon...

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  4. The unproductive society system of our nation :(

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    1. Yeah, religion helps to consume without producing by exploiting people's 'sewa' mentality.

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  5. True, religion is basically just another corrupt system in this world that is full of other corrupt systems.
    But it is also a beacon of hope for humanity, a shining light to look up to and gain strength from, in times of dire distress.
    So, two sided coin I think sir.

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    1. But one side of the coin is too heavily loaded Brendan.

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  6. God - a seller of forgiveness! :)
    As long as humans are emotionally weak religion will rule.

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    1. People refuse to raise the level of their consciousness - that's the problem, not emotional weakness.

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  7. Capitalism joins hands with religion-Christianity is now run like a business.
    I agree, repentance should come on the inside. Otherwise, all poor people would go to hell, and that's not how god intended it to be.

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    1. It's not just Christianity that's playing capitalist game now, Chaitanya. Every religion is involved in the game actively. In case you find any which is not, do tell me.

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  8. Welcome to the club! But, unfortunately for you and me, there is no club for atheists!

    I will add one thing. "True piety towards the universe is a highly refined level of consciousness which understands the meaning of kindness and courage, power and magnanimity, honesty and tenderness... " There is a slight difference in the way I would understand this. True piety can never reach a DESTINATION, which always remains undefined. You find TRUE PIETY only in the path one has chosen - that path is paved over with all that you said, "... kindness and courage, power and magnanimity, honesty and tenderness... " It is a voyage of incrementals.

    RE

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    1. Kindness...etc are only some examples, Raghuram. There is no hierarchy really unless you take my level of consciousness as incremental.

      There is a saying in my mother tongue which means that the fool learns by experiences while the wise man learns through observation. I'm a fool. Too many experiences with religious people.

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    2. You have had too many experiences; now it is time for you to sit down, take in the scenery and enjoy - observe!

      What I meant to say was that in your actiuvities you just notice the next step, do not look farther ahead. That is the incremental I referred to. Movement is important, movement towards all that you mentioned. The ellipsis at the end indicates that what is said is a sub-set and not the whole set.

      RE

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  9. People will continue to sin as long as they believe that God will redeem them of all the pain they have caused on Earth.

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    1. Exactly. So it's better to eliminate God from human consciousness. It's better to teach men (and women, no doubt) that it is our duty to be 'good' whether there is a god or not.

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  10. Any idea or philosophy once institutionalized gets corrupted.

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  11. Since my childhood, I skipped God for one reason: The tiring rituals stretching my patience. Later a kind of meditation revealed me from the tedium. It gave me scientific reason for believing only in one's work. I was happy. Gradually, I could unravel many questions that lay buried in my mind since childhood. Religion could not answer them. Religion is incapable of answering any question of life. It only threatens and controls people. It is a monarch. It is imperial. It cannot celebrate any sort of logical freedom. It keeps people blind. It cannot lead anyone to attain superior wisdom except prescribing some do's and don'ts.

    What I say... If a person wants to atone for his mistakes or crimes, he or she has to own up to the mistake first and vow not to keep it or do it in future at any moment of time and in any situation. There the person is forgiven. After that even the victim of his crime cannot have right to pelt stone at him or her. If the victim takes revenge or torments the person even after giving up the crime, then the victim himself or herself is none other than another criminal who only waited for a legal chance to do crimes.

    Religion is such a criminal. It waits for persons to do crimes and then demands him or her to 'atone' for the crime by pleasing it in a favourable way, say gobbling money or wealth of the so called criminal! Now say, isn't religion another criminal?

    I don't condemn religion. I condemn it only for the standards fixed for it by men, I mean, the real criminals.

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    1. As long as religion remains a commercial enterprise (charging money for various services, rituals, etc), it will fail to produce any real spiritual benefit. Make stringent laws against use of money in religion, and you will see 99% of the priests, swamis, gurus and the like leaving the profession.

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  12. Religion is not God... one may believe in religion, may not believe in God and the vice versa. What I feel is some thing different... humanity is above all religion and God. Do you duty first and yes, practice first then preach... Thats the motto...

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    1. If one practises then one need not preach!

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