Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ISIL's Theocratic Paradise

I described my fundamental problem with religious fundamentalists and their governments recently as follows:

I have a tendency to see theocracy as a kind of utopianism, in that the adherents feel like, if everyone started reading out of the same book, why, everything would be hunky-dory. It's just that once they've agreed on a book, all the other books have to get burned. Once they've only got the one book, they all have to get on the same page. Once most everyone is on the same page, they'll fight to the death over paragraphs. They are looking for something good to come out of an ideological OCD.
I think this narrowing of options is seen in some recent news out of the territory held by ISIL, where it appears that gay people are being thrown from roofs. When they are not being stoned to death. ISIL is also apparently persecuting educated women to death, and are believed to have recently executed several children for the crime of watching a soccer match on television.

This is not unlike the severe penalties the Taliban doled out for things like kite-flying. Anything that might be declared "un-Islamic" might be declared haram. Anything haram might be worth death.  And death got meted out to prove that the head religionists in charge could. The killing of regular folks giving into normal behaviors was proof that because they could kill sinners, they had a right to. And here are ISIL, being like the Taliban, and not worse or better than Boko Haram, I would guess, being entirely typical.  Because theocracy starts with casting the first stone.  It ends under a pile of them.

And me? Theocratic hubris I don't have. I could lob a brick or so at them. If only to show they are answerable to other people.

1 comment:

Formerly Amherst said...


Ha! Attractive background.

You present an interesting theory about fundamentalism. It seems to me that there are elements of truth in this theory. For God's sake, I have certainly adopted the comparative approach in my life.

We run into a problem in virtually all subjects that are not considered fundamentalist. We have people challenging one another's ideas and promoting ideas that they believe to be superior. Philosophy, poetry, great literature, psychology... At the highest level of understanding, people are constantly coming up with new ideas.

I still like the view of Paul Tillich:
“They confuse eternal truth with a temporal expression of this truth. … which in America is known as fundamentalism. When fundamentalism is combined with an anti-theological bias, … the theological truth of yesterday is defended as an unchangeable message against the theological truth of today and tomorrow. Fundamentalism fails to make contact with the present situation, not because it speaks from beyond every situation, but because it speaks from a situation of the past. It elevates something finite and transitory to infinite and eternal validity. In this respect fundamentalism has demonic traits. It destroys the humble honesty of the search for truth, it splits the conscience of its thoughtful adherents, and makes them fanatical because they are forced to suppress elements of truth of which they are dimly aware.”

Many commentators have discussed Islamic fundamentalism as an attempt to repudiate modernity. (And this is too bad, because there is a lot about modernity that needs to be repudiated, but we won't get a chance, because we have to defend modernity against all these killers.) If you go back far enough into many of our religious traditions, people are constantly being killed by stoning, flaying, and taking slaves. Judeo-Christianity, as well as other religious expressions, have left those gory days behind and have become modern in their approach to truth (Christian fundamentalists will try to save your soul and be obnoxious, but they won't try to kill you.)

Islamic fundamentalism is still operating out of the same barbaric and savage practices that were congruent with their part of the world centuries ago.

When religion is viable it is always a mixture of the eternal truth with the temporal expressions of that truth. When the eternal truth is lost because it has become completely obscured by temporal truth, religion is no longer viable.

As the poet tells us in 'The Insurgency',
Time crashes in
on your timelessness, ...”

In the metaphysical world we are interested in eternal truth, and it is understood that any apparatus or mental perfection that we bring to this endeavor is a matter of methodology.

The argument from our atheist friends is that religion contains no eternal truth. And the argument from our religious friends is that the temporal truth and traditional expressions are as important as the eternal truth. But we say religion is as viable as the eternal truths they reveal.

At this juncture I would say it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find eternal truth in a significant portion of Islam. And therefore we are simply dealing with people trying to justify murder and genocide. If it were me, I would be taking a much more aggressive posture on every front and not excusing any of their atrocities because they contrive it done due to religious motivations.