March 26, 2006

Religious Poison

Suffice to say, religious fundamentalism has become a mainstay of political and media discourse in the 21st century. It hasn't been a surprise then, this sudden surge in religious fervour. When faced with overwhelming unfamiliarity and displacement, Man tends to turn back to the basics in order to establish some form of stability. And in the rising tide of secularism and post-modernism, how could we not expect religion to have some say in the eventual outcome of these circumstances? Religious fundamentalism was always going to be a result of what's been happening and cautiousness should abound when attempting to approach or deal with it.

The September 11th attacks did little to help the cause of the religious right. What was proven in that event, however, was that when given reason and belief, a man will do anything to substantiate his faith. When told that 40 virgins and eternal paradise would be granted to him, Mohammed Atta undertook the most horrific act ever perpetrated on US soil. When suggested that white males were being short-changed by Catholics, Jews and gays, Timothy McVeigh set off a bomb in Oklahoma which killed hundreds. Faith and belief in the unseen are powerful tools, all too often manipulated by intelligent individuals who know the human psyche well.

And that is why I am cautious of the Charismatic movement sweeping across the globe today. In a few short years, acts like the Planetshakers and Hillsongs have seen their praise and worship songs touch millions of youth all over. You have pastors in the pulpits telling the youth to rise up and be counted, to spread the name of Jesus no matter what. And it's a worrying trend. Why? Because with fanaticism comes irrationality. And with irrationality comes irresponsibility. A mad man might go up to that pulpit and advocate the killing of millions and cleverly manipulate Scripture to substantiate his ideas. Then what?

It's already happening in the Islamic context, what's to stop it from spreading into Christianity? Deception is an art form, so cleverly woven into what's perceived as reality. And when faith comes into the picture, rational behaviour often takes a backseat. Religion should always be practiced with rationality and calm, but that is something charismatics don't agree with. And that, is the reason why we should fear this new upsurge in 'charisma'.

Traveller fell apart at 12:32 AM

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