As a young child I used to wait for Easter holiday to watch religio-epic movies on TV. They made me think of the unjust human world, of the infinite mercy of God and the righteousness of Prophecy. While growing older and becoming more academic, my anthropological and psychological training made me look at things in a rather more critical way. I was intrigued, among other things, by the fact that Christ and Christianity were always predominantly white, candid and highly inspired. Theirs was always a life of sacrifice, pain and suffering, unseen in peoples of other world religions. This in contrast always with a rather black, aggressive, hateful, expansionist Islam, with the enchanting females, always exotic and oriental, i.e., otherized. Nowadays, I intentionally skip these. Enough of politicizing the religious! Those images tend to increase hatred among peoples, especially among those who descend from the common Abrahamic root. We wish a Happy Easter to our Christian friends. How can it be a happy occasion if deep inside the season focuses mainly in the imagery of Christ's constant suffering and consequent hatred regarding the "infidels"?! I want to say: can we move on, please?
Coincidence or not, this Easter season has been marked with some other kind of hatred - that which addresses the Catholic hierarchy and Church; mainly focused on Pope Benedict XVI. Common sense has split itself among that of the victimization of the hierarchy of the catholic church and the crucifying of faith itself. Christianity is becoming blurred. For me it becomes clearer everyday that the popular Christian world, that of the adoration of the icons, and suffering, and pain, never accepted Ratzinger as the Pope after John Paul II, mainly for his intellectual, rigorous and firm views about Catholicism in the modern days. In spite of the ignorant speech delivered in his theology class in Ratisbone, when Prophet Muhammad was depicted as nothing but evil brought to humanity, Ratzinger, I believe, wished for the intellectual upgrading of the Catholic community. Yet, it is hard, very hard to introduce change. Especially when belief blinds up rationality. I say it because as Shia Ismaili Muslim myself I can see the difficulty the community faces adjusting to new formats of intellectual discourses coming from the present Imam - HH Aga Khan IV - while taking refuge in the language of his grandfather, the late Imam Shah Sultan Muhammad Shah. That's fine, as there was a great deal of wisdom and vision, but we need to move on!
It is good to take some different routes sometimes and go from belief to questioning constructively and wisely; to let doubt lead you to believing not only in God but mainly in His signs - the "ayats" - in nature, in peoples, in knowledge and learning.
There is a crisis, but it is more than religious. It is social, political, and ideological. It is not a Christian crisis, as some have written in the media; Islam has been living it as intensely and conflictingly. Among Jews also, not all agree to a mythological history that has divided, killed and displaced so many peoples in the Middle East. Pedophile activity is not exclusive to religious peoples, or to Catholics. In fact, the more moralist someone is, the least I think we can trust him/her. Muslims also have their own pedophiles, usually apparently highly moral individuals. Some are part of a respected clergy. And of course, we expect that the example flows from above, from those who preach the Good - religious or not. It goes without saying that it rarely happens. Secular societies also have their hands dirty, however we are proud of being laic and republicans, in spite of our corrupted powers.
Society as a whole is in crisis. A new code of ethics is needed -that which encompasses humanity - including believers and non-believers. Sexuality and criminology have been evolving as social and political issues and now is the time to start building a world that is more just, without hatred. Religions, because they are conducted and ritualized by humans, will eventually take the train of thoughts - of a renewed ethical framework, which will be cosmopolitan, where every human being, a believer or not, will look at each other as human, in their aspirations, anxieties, fears and hopes. Essentially because of their common humanity.
PS: To my regular readers I apologise for the delay in posting my papers due to health reasons. For those who detest them, I appreciate the patience to wait for my coming back to produce their always interesting critical views.