Wednesday, October 14, 2009

on criticising religion: by John Barlow

the problem with criticizing religion

is that it's all too easy.

it really makes you wonder

about the religion forming enterprise,

the seemingly natural tendency for the world religions

to, like anchors bumbling across lakes,

gather up all sort of stuff in the lake

and become attached with (besides branches, innertubes, flung clothing)

sexual violation, warmongering violence, terrorism, international vendettas,

repressive mores, inflexibilities around human relationships,

unhealthy garb, pathologically vindictive seizures of mind,

and obedience to business and false authority,

colonial holocausts and, for all that, crushing boredom as well

and yet this is the fate of most world religions;

it'd be easy to just conclude they all suck,

but for all the hegemonic monothetic aggression

all the our-way-or-hell admonitions, the religionists

are often milder than corporations, murderers and rattlesnakes;

or often were, in the past, milder than national entities and soldiers;

assessing how harmful religion is has to be weighed

with the perpetual warrings of all power,

then subtract out the perversities caused

by so many religion's hatred for sexuality,

the unexplainable sickness in most religion

and conventional bourgeous shit too,

almost always hypocritical, implying

it isn't even meant in earnest;

most of us in the 70s influenced modes

tend to see the violent deranged pathological hatred for sexuality

as a religious hangup, or a bygone quest to harvest and control sex,

like an alien takeover of the planet, "invade their sex life"

"become the bosses of their families" "then stray several religions

identical to each other with tiny sick twisted differences onto them

and make the different religions hate one another, besides sex - i giving the aliens too much credit for their depth of conspiracy

against us? think of it the other way, if you

were the alien, trying to paralyze another planet

for takeover, if you paralyzed their conception of sexuality

and family life, wouldn't they be then easy knockoffs in all else?

of course we humans have never been in a position

of having to invade another planet and fuck everything up.

europe was though, and really fucked up the other continents

and so we have this hodgepodge of religions trying to act nice with each other

even though none of them are good plans for life

and they can seem naturally quite hostile by definition,

remarkably presenting themselves each as the only

path to heaven and avoidance of eternal hell

in the afterlifes. if only people would just get away from religion


Editors note
: the two final pictures represent the savage persecution and expulsi0n of the Cathars of southern France in the 13th century, in which 500,000 Cathars were killed in a crusade waged by conventional Roman Catholics against a parallel Christian belief which was condemned as a "Manichean heresy." The crusade against the Cathars has been called the first medieval holocaust. For more information, Google "Cathars".


  1. This would be more sensible if the concept "culture" replaced the word "religion". Religion as such, even organised, is not the thing this is about.
    Otherwise one gives credence to the cultural excuse. And many other stupid things. "I.E.,I am excused by my culture" or I have no objectivity and reality in culture, only in words(in this case religion)! Like in honor killings, false oathed testimony, slander and so on..
    Deeds being, as they are, detatched from the words that describe them, even in the mind part of the brain, in the gap between thought and sound. An always unstable and ulitmately absurd relationship.
    Your culture however, not your religion is what is incarnate.

  2. I would say that religion and culture, as lived phenomena, are inextricably bound together. We do not yet experience a culture without religion, and many of our own cultural concepts and practices are heavily influenced by religion, and vice versa, of course. As "Anonymous" I think suggests, the signifiers "culture" and "religion," and their signifieds (the mental concepts they evoke) are not fully adequate to the representation of the reality as it is experienced and lived.

    Even if culture is in fact the "incarnate" element in this relation, I wouldn't agree that John Barlow's text would be more sensible if the word "culture" replaced the word "religion."

    That would require an entirely new and different text, with an entirely different approach and style.

    Maybe someone will write it for us someday.

    Cheers Jamie Reid (aka Schroedinger)

  3. What differentiates religion is its assertion of absolute truths
    that flatly refuse any pursuit of answers to the questions asked.
    It thus insists a manner of thinking that amounts to insanity.
    Almost no one has a means of knowing of the afterlife,
    time before time began, how or why any entity or process
    produced a world, nor does anyone have any explanation
    for why basic human choices should be made according to
    millenia-old criterion locked into place by people we will never
    meet. "Culture" does not imply these assertions of fixities,
    but is open ended and always forming. To criticize culture
    is to pick and choose among cultures, all different and all
    changing, but I was referring to criticism of the insertion
    of fixed (unproveable) certainties and fixed life choices which
    being fixed eliminate the act of choosing, which is absurd.
    Examples: 1, imposing an unfounded version of history that
    completely disincludes 80% of human beings; 2, staying in an abusive marriage until it kills you because it is a
    marriage before God; 3, sustaining the authority of a
    given figure based on position in a church, even if they are
    depraved practisers of the most heinous awful crimes.
    That is basically what I was criticizing as well as noting
    it was too easy to criticize it. Cultures on the other hand
    can be just about anything.