Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coexist: Does the moderate voice fan the flames of the extremist mind?

Islam and Christianity, the two main religions of the world. At the heart of both there is no idea of Coexistence. In fact both are pretty explicit in that, both the believers and non-believers will be divided. Now I know the moderate voices from both try their best to Coexist, but are they being honest with themselves? It may be the extremist who speaks loudest in regards to division. We all know the words, "saved, damned, heathen, infidel" and it is painfully obvious that it is a "Us vs Them" mentality. Yet it seems the moderate voice does not acknowledge the roots of their religious faith. In fact by avoiding the obvious nature of division of what they believe, do they not fuel the flames of the extremist mind? I will acknowledge that the more liberal voices can be heard espousing love and community, but while this is happening the extremist is spewing hatred and division. The interesting thing is, they both garner their views from the same book(Bible/Koran), depending on the faith. I think it needs to be asked, "If your core is the same, is the message of Coexistence possible?" It seems the house is burning yet no one is willing to stand up and yell "FIRE"


Luke said...

as an owner of a COEXIST shirt and a believer in the mindset... i have to say no.

i think this is a generational thing... the Millenial, Y, XY, neXt, whatever you wanna call 'em, those born between 1980-2000, have a higher tolerance for diversity and a lower tolerence for intolerance.

i'm conducting a congregational study right now and reading books such has Millenials Rising, UnChristian, Tribal Church, Emerging Churches, and A Generous Orthodoxy which really shows the dual nature of this new generation. they look into the past and use the old hymns, liturgies, and devotional practices, but look for common threads versus the differences.

does this fan the flames? no. however, the fundies will get hyped up over anything they can't get their minds around and that doesn't outright say "WE HAVE THE TRUTH!" if anything, the Yers say "no one has the truth, let's talk about what each of us is dealing with and go from there"

hope that explains it. yes it is right in the holy texts, there is a dualistic strand running through these texts, but it is these same texts that lay out how best to coexist as well. Koran has the "People of the Book" (meaning fellow monotheists of Judaism and Christianity) and Christianity has the notion of helping your neighbor.. and your neighbor is ANYONE in need. and the help comes without strings attached.

mac said...

I think unless the midset that YOURS is the only way to salvation, differing religions may never co-exist in harmony for long.

One side will always try to convert the other. Strictly because they are worried about their eternal souls, of course. But the other belief will resist conversion, even try to convert the (first belief) to convert, for much the same STATED reasons.

I don't believe any of 'em anyway, so I may not be on target here at all ;-)

Redlefty said...

Mac's first sentenct nails it, in my opinion.

Many of the cultural and textual issues still revolve around who people think is going to eternal reward and eternal punishment.

Anonymous said...

As a member of an older generation let me say this, in the 60's it looked as if we were headed in a more open and tolerant direction as well, but by the time we reached the 80's the right-wing was running the show again and we were back to intolerance.

I agree that the younger generation is much more tolerant, but who know how long it lasts? History is filled with cycles of tolerance and intolerance. One of the things I find amusing yet sad is that at the end of the 1800's the leaders of Europe declared they were now too civilized to fight any more wars. This same mentality was prevalent at the end of the 1980's when 'peace was breaking out all over' after the fall of the Soviet Union, yet all my kids remember is our country at war.

Thank goodness my kids are part of the tolerant group. Unfortunately they have fundie cousins who are not. I was interviewed about my views of religion by a professor from Princeton and when I mentioned this one of my nieces commented, "As if he would know anything about God." Yikes.

In reading Tanakh one can see that this shift between tolerance and intolerance has been going on forever. The earliest writings do not even claim there is only one God and certainly the idea of God evolved over time. It was only at a much later date that people started getting their undies all bunched up over this stuff.

Luke said...


you're absolutely right! all this has happened before and will happen again.. but if you repeat a complex mathmatical problem enough times, something will change, and a different result will occur. call it chaos theory, an act of Divine will, or chance; we gotta go for change because the same thing is getting old.

Anonymous said...

I think understanding that the divide in any belief be it islam or christianity or any other is fear based,ex:if you do this than this bad thing will happen to you. In the same context they, being the extremists use that fear to recruit others into their sect. This has been done for thousands of years and when the other does not comply they must be evil and purged of their evil ways through violent actions. You don't have to look far beyond the political events that drive many of the "Jihads" or "holy wars" to see that this divide comes from within. Maybe we should look at other peoples beliefs undressed of our own before we can understand and appreiciate each other as human beings.
Phil G. aka,Papa G

Lucian said...

Islam and Christianity, the two main religions of the world.

Apart from the 2 billion Eastern-religion followers, as well as the 1 billion Hindus, You mean ... Here's a map or two for Ya, son ...

Tit for Tat said...


Thanks for the lesson. Wikipedia breaks down the percentage of the top 3

1. Christianity 33%
2. Islam 20%
3. Hinduism 13%

Based on the population of the world.

Anonymous said...

"If your core is the same, is the message of Coexistence possible?" (John)

Yes. All things are possible but not all things will happen. I am very different than many people on this planet - but u know - don't we all share the same selfish core as humans?

As for your critique on faith and history - you are right - this is where the flames get fanned from and denying what is actually there is denying the basis of either faith - I have to admit - it started in opposition.

I actually want to give a message of hope - but in all honesty - I am not sure that is being honest?

Christianity is founded on division, splits like a log every few years, is exclusive, has horrible theology, etc. I admit this as someone that reads and studies Jesus - puts aside the denominational thing - to see this faith as purely as I can (no tainted view from an outside source). It thrives on divisionary statements like 'Jesus is the only way...'

Now my view of faith is nothing like that mind you - and maybe it is (I am divided against intolerant and ridiculous versions of Christianity)...but I am a moderate. But I also care - and in fact - moderates are writing a lot of books on these subjects - so they are not doing 'nothing'. They just don't support violence - and he who injures others gets heard - media society and all.

Co-existence is possible for the enlightened (I speak as a Gnostic here) but for the masses they shall continue to eat cake.

Anonymous said...

I think fundamentalism is the problem in either direction. As soon as any religions group believes that their truth is the truth and that everyone else should convert to that truth, the seeds of intolerance are bred. But as soon as you realize that god is big enough to deal with the myriad of people and cultures in different ways, that intolerance subsides.

Thordaddy said...


You don't seem to realize that the road to absolute tolerance is the road to absolute tyranny. Or do you and that's why you call for it?

Yael said...

I have no clue why your comment is directed at me. I re-read my comment and see nothing there about 'absolute' anything. And since you don't know me at all, how do you know what I do or do not realize?

Thordaddy said...

Yael said,

As a member of an older generation let me say this, in the 60's it looked as if we were headed in a more open and tolerant direction as well, but by the time we reached the 80's the right-wing was running the show again and we were back to intolerance.

Excuse me if I read an implied desire for absolute tolerance, but that's what you appear to say. Further, you seem to suggest that society is even less tolerant than before, but this is almost certainly untrue.

Now, with this in mind, what exactly are you trying to say?

We know you want more tolerance, but how much more so as to not make it absolute?

Yael said...

You know, Thor, I have no patience for whatever stupid little game you're trying to play.

Get a life and learn English. Then you won't have trouble understanding what is being said.

Tit for Tat said...


Thor is one of those black and white guys. You know the type, always trying to find the absolute "truth". Never about finding wisdom only about verifying his own position.

Yael said...

Well, you know, 'absolute tolerance' is my middle name! Obviously it fits me just like a glove. ;)

No one, but no one, epitomizes the anything goes lifestyle better than myself so of course of all the comments posted here mine was the obvious choice to be singled out from the rest for censure.

But, as you can see, my constant preaching of absolute tolerance allowed me to practice it myself. Man, they just don't come more tolerant than me, do they? :D

Besides, John would be bored if I didn't provide him with amusement now and then with my twisted sense of humor.

Luke, it is absolutely true you're a good man. There. Just wanted to help out the man in his quest for "AT", another one of my sterling characteristics, BTW, ever the helpful one....

Thordaddy said...

Tit for tat,

That's an awful broad pronouncement for a person that most likely has only read a few posts of mine about one issue.

Man, those tolerant types that call for tolerance are a mighty funny bunch.


Just clarify what you said earlier. Are we a less tolerant society and are you part of the problem?

Tit for Tat said...

Man, those tolerant types that call for tolerance are a mighty funny bunch.(thor)

Who said I was tolerant

shrink on the couch said...

Excellent post. Extremism is the obvious culprit. Religious leaders who continually endorse the book whose passages preach love and acceptance on one page but intolerance on another, that's the root of extremism. Like you say, when will leaders actually lead in a way that encourages coexistence?

Yael said...

Good grief, what is so hard to understand about my original post?

My claim was that tolerance and intolerance HAVE CONSTANTLY CYCLED BACK AND FORTH THROUGHOUT HISTORY.
If we are more tolerant now than we once were, that's nice, but how long will it last before before we get hit by the next wave of intolerance? (And just to clarify, since you seem to become confused quite easily, that question is what is called a rhetorical question and thus is NOT being directed at you.)

Am I part of what problem? Being too tolerant, as you claim, or being intolerant, as others claim?

Now would you please let it all go already. I'm starting to think you have a crush on me.

ArchangelChuck said...

The core beliefs of these religions is that theirs is the "one true way" to salvation. Moderates don't realize (or won't admit) is that their "version" of the faith, though acceptable and functional in modern society, is a far cry from what these religions truly are. It is the moderate who has bastardized the religion; the fundamentalists and so-called "extremists" are merely religious purists.