Monday, August 02, 2010

Two kinds of religion

This could be an interesting question to ask: how come the presidential candidate who presented himself as post-racial and post-partisan turned out to be as president not only the most partisan imaginable but also so racial that the "racist" name calling is more burning than in decades?

The easiest answer is that the presidential candidate image was a total construct: i.e. a fake.

It might be true, but it doesn't help in answering deeper questions: like those concerning the creeping civil war going on in America and in Europe.

So I don't want to focus on POTUS, but on two or three ways of looking at the racial issues.

One was that of Martin Luther King Jr.: he was a Christian, and not only reminded Americans of their being all children of God, but also called for forgiveness, as the way not to forget but to overcome past wrongs without falling into retaliations, wrongs of opposing color.

On the other side there were movements such as the Black Panthers – of which there is again talk nowadays.

A third side were the guilt ridden liberals, who recognized that racial discrimination went against the grain of their belief in the essential equality of all men, but forgot about the root of equality in God: those called by Tom Wolf radical chic, who would invite a token Black Panther to their fashionable parties.

Now it seems that with the first mulatto President of the United States (such he is, however he wants to renegade his mother and grandparents) we are thrown back to that.

Where is the fault?

Let me try this answer: in POTUS's inadequate understanding of religion, of which he has given many signs.

He has been able to gain the presidency back to the democrats by statements that recognized the importance of religion, so neutralizing the sting of the accusation moved to them by the center and the right of being all secularized and godless.

What came out, though, was that religion is nothing else for him than some kind of pious feeling concerning God and the meaning of life that whatever tradition can give. This was shown especially in his Cairo speech.

Now, that is a very partial view of what religion is about. It is, instead, also about what makes for justice among people, and can make, should justice have failed, for an appeasement.

Here there are several kind of answers, which show that not all the so called religions are the same. I'll focus on two, that more concern us.

There is the one pointed out by Martin Luther King, that of reciprocal forgiveness. Let's call it, if you like, conservative, because it requires a recognition in the tradition of an evidence of love that makes men virtuous.

The other one, let's call it liberal, doesn't demand that men be virtuous, but only that they follow the rules, by which some power from above equalizes (in the name of God or of the State) all men.

No doubt about which POTUS follows. My question is rather which is the one you would pick.


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