Happy New Year, dear readers. In case you've been too busy digging for clues about Carrie Bradshaw's whereabouts in the Sex and the City 2 trailer to turn on CNN or read a newspaper, let me bring you up to speed on the specter of current events: the world is coming to an end. Al Qaeda has reminded us that they are still at war with the civilized world and on the opposite end of the crazy spectrum, it has now been revealed that American evangelical Christians have set the stage for the lynching of gay men and women in Africa.
If you're gay, you have little choice but to dismiss religion altogether. Then you would become, like yours truly, a self-righteous blowhard who looks inward for divine affirmation. Between the radical muslims who'd kill you for any reason, and the crazy Christians who want to divest you of any legal standing in this world (lynching by bureaucracy, if you will), anyone with a brain can deduce that religion will be the undoing of civilization.
Now, I can't take credit for this original thought. As you know, I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness and one of the things we were taught to look for as a sign of the end of this world (not the physical world, mind you, but the mechanics of a system that propagates war, poverty, greed, and so on...) was the unraveling of religion's prominence in world affairs. Soon, we were taught, mankind would feel defrauded by religion, offended by the presence of religious figures at the seat of political discourse, disgusted by the role that spiritual leaders have played in massacres and hate movements. Mankind will turn on religion, and then, poof - the end of this world. And of course there are other philosophers, scholars and bloggers who have waxed on the scourge of organized religion as well. So perhaps we're getting there, to that point where we lose any tolerance for the nuissance that is organized religion.
Which then begs the question: what do we do about problematic religions? Do we shut down the mega churches of the Bible Belt? Do we shut down our country's mosques and deny visas to anyone who is muslim or from a muslim country?
Tempting as all of this may be, that's not what civilization is about. We're meant to get through this, to struggle through the challenges of terrorism and religious fanaticism to become a better, more enlightened people. Not that we haven't had thousands of years to get better at getting along, but it's nice to keep trying.