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This blog used to be about politics. Not so much anymore as I have worked through my fascination with that subject. It now seems appropriate that with a new president and the end of the Bush nightmare that I move on to new subjects that are more in line with my current interests. I may still occasionally express an opinion about political matters but for the most part I will be commenting on music, photography and personal observations. Thank you for reading.

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put to death
I was just wondering a few things. If religious people think that their religion is directly handed down from God, where do they think the other religions come from? It seems that there are only two other choices; other religions are either culturally derived, or inspired by satan.

If you think of institutional religion as a cultural byproduct then you understand the non-religious point of view, we're just spectators without a horse in the race.

I find it interesting that people can have an objective view of other people but not of themselves. But that condition seems more the norm than the deviation.

Take for instance, this article, quoted and linked by Dan at NBoS.

Heshu Yones, a West London teen, fought off her father for a frantic 15 minutes. She ran from room to room in her family home one Saturday afternoon until he cornered her in a dingy bathroom, held her over the tub and slit her throat.

The father, a onetime Kurdish freedom fighter from Iraq, told authorities that his only daughter had to die. The 16-year-old had sullied the family name, he said, by dating without his permission.

Dan reads this article and says: "Such a kind and tolerant, peaceful religion Islam is. Not."

We both see the actions of the father as disgusting and wrong. But where he sees fault in the religion, I simply see a religion that reflects a culture that accepts punishing/killing women as acceptable and right in response to what they see as dishonor.

I see this same impulse in our own society, especially in arguments that assert that women should be made to carry a child conceived in a "dishonorable" fashion. Ben Shapiro over at ShillHall.com laments the fact that women are not made to feel shame at their choice to have an abortion.

"The pro-choice crowd has never wanted abortion to be rare. Were abortion rare, women considering abortions would feel subtle societal pressure to preserve the life growing within them. Such societal pressure would create a "coercive" environment for women, inhibiting their ability to choose. For abortion to thrive, it must be common."

..or, as the guy I linked to in my last post might put it, we can add sexually independent people to the list of "...anti-social groups we've happily persecuted for their transgressive beliefs."

After all, sexual deviance must be punished, its even in our own Christian history.

7 " 'Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy. [b]

9 " 'If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

11 " 'If a man sleeps with his father's wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

12 " 'If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

13 " 'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

14 " 'If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

15 " 'If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

16 " 'If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

We can sit here and scoff at the concept of honor, or be appalled that a father might kill his daughter simply for dating a boy. But its just silly to dismiss how powerful cultural, or religious forces can be.

""The idea of honor is in our cultural backyard. Ethnically and culturally, we believe it," said Mohammed Ahmed, a white-haired man who said he was a peshmerga--a fearsome mountain-fighter--with Yones before they immigrated in 1990.

"Even in court, the father insisted that he was right and that he did the right thing -- and that he'd do it again.

"I mean, I know it's a crime. We all know he's a killer," Ahmed said. "But he was very proud, and what he did . . . well, how could he accept his daughter's behavior?"

umm, yeah... she must be put to death?

So too the rebellious son?

18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

I see institutional religion as a hard-coding of societal norms disguised as the "will of god". Its not too hard to see that religious values change to reflect current cultural values. Nobody with a straight face can say that our current society is exactly like it has been for thousands of years prior, yet, amazingly the values we hold as a society still reflect "god's will". God used to be all hung up that we adore the monarch, submit to our lords and burn heretics, now he's cool with democracy, capitalism and letting heretics live on in their disobedience.

Funny that...

But it leads me to conclude that the path to civilization leads through a restructuring of societies, not religions. I think that Islam, like Christianity can be compatible with modernity but it will take a revamping of many long held cultural traditions and quite frankly, learning to ignore the parts of the religion that directly contradict modern values of tolerance and peace.

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