Something about Religious Tolerance
The need for religious tolerance is something most of us can agree upon. It does, however, present us with two problems.
First, all the religions to which we usually extend our tolerance, Judaism, Islam, and the different denominations of Christianity, are fairly alike. They are basically book-religions with the emphasis on faith, meaning the acceptance of a certain mythology.
Rites mean little, or are at best "symbolic". This also means that they are rather formal, social affairs, with our personal relationship to the godhead something of an embarrassment.
The second problem is that this kind of religion in actuality has little to do with religion at all. So how would we react to a "religious religion"?
This is your chance to find out. Then again, maybe you don't really want to know.
In that case, you should stop right here, as what you will find is bound to offend, disgust or even enrage you. You have been warned!
First, we will take a look at those aspects of religion that still persist, and some that have been added later on. One such is DUTY.
Of course, there's a difference between being an ordained priest and a "private" church-goer, also between the demands made on the clergy at different times. If we go back far enough, the differences between the duties of the nun and the priestess (including the modern variation) are small.
Medieval nuns lived in seclusion, were flogged or otherwise tortured (often self-administered) and had sexual encounters with angels - unless of course we accept that they were all hysterics. Today, the duties of the priest and the church-goer are almost the same - they must be there.
Of course, there are moral obligations too, mostly sexual and of a negative nature. The church (the god) demands OBEDIENCE - an educational story in the Bible tells of a man pious enough to be willing to murder his own son.
To put your life in the hands of your god or his representative obviously is still a demand - you just don't take it seriously anymore. Instead, we are usually satisfied with ACCEPTANCE of the tenets of the religion.
We in other words believe what we are told about the world, ourselves, and God. God owns us, he can kill us, and he may very well do so, if we're wicked (disobedient).
We may think of ourselves as our own masters, but really we are all God's slaves. We must obey his commandments, and furthermore he can do with us what he likes - but he won't do anything really bad to us, because he loves us.
Well, Hell may not be that nice, but that's punishment, and for our own good. As mentioned before, COMMUNION is important, perhaps not so much the personal communion with God through that little wafer, as with all those other people sitting in the church beside us.
It is, however, not enough that we obey, we must prostrate ourselves. HUMILIATION, of course, is the constant self-punishment that keeps a slave a slave.
And so we kneel in church. Nor is RITUAL totally absent, things are done to us in the place: we take something in the mouth and swallow it.
As we are told that this is the flesh of our god, we may alternately interpret this as cannibalism or something - perhaps - even worse, that priests are not supposed to do to altar boys. Since we're not thinking of the host as proteins, the sexual interpretation seems rather inescapable: We take in our mouths what women humbly accept as the life-giving semen.
We become one with our male saviour - and with each other, something that becomes gradually more emphasized: UNIFICATION. That we all do it, in a way makes it normal - NORMALIZATION sets in, we stop thinking about and just do it.
In the end, unification emerges as CONTROL, even political. Obviously, the ancient (or modern) priestess would recognize all of this and none of it.
Her duties she would perceive as sexual toward her god, and like Abraham she would not hesitate. She would be proud to call herself a slave of her god and want to be punished for any transgressions against him.
She would not understand perdition, however, she would believe that having been punished she would be fully reinstated. She would humiliate herself and desire her Master's aid in this, eager to show Him her love, obedience, and total submission in all she did.
She would feel sympathetic towards other women in her position, but it really wouldn't matter to her, if she was the only one or only one of thousands. She would be immune to any political control, as she would only obey her Master.
And all this would certainly seem normal to her, and any other existence abnormal. We might leave it with this little demonstration of the basic similarities between formal religion, as we know it, and "real" religion, but that would be a cop-out.
We have prepared two slide shows for the not too faint of heart. The first shows a catholic mass.
The second shows a woman standing six hours in a pillory. Her offence doesn't matter, nor should it be doubted that her sun oil will be of the right factor.
This woman is being punished, not damaged. Her pain and humiliation, however, are in evidence.
And yet, what the priestess loses and gains is no different from the purpose of any other religious exercise. The only difference is: She's being serious.
I think you can watch the first sequence without damage to your soul. But the second you should be ready for.
We haven't cheated, there are no pious words, what you see is what she gets. So if you don't want to understand, this is not for you!