Posted on | September 11, 2010 | No Comments
9 years to the day after September 11th’s cold shower, the senseless book burning project led by an American zealot finally fell through. The rest of the country is torn over the need to raise a mosque over the ruins of the World Trade Center, and the Middle East is on the whole neither more or less safe than before.
Actually, the only global conclusion to be reached from these events is that religion is over all not a matter of faith, but of cultural organisation. In a country such as the USA, born on the promise of individual rights, religious expression diversified to an unlikely degree. Each 17th and 18th century sectarian group found there a fertile soil to lay its roots; countless heterogeneous offspring now explain the obvious contradictions in the discourse of theological elites.
But the main opponent of this ragtag assembly is no more centralized; it is a just as colourful assortment of imams that each inject their own values, prejudices and local culture in their reading of Islam. Church steeple mentality is pitted against minaret mentality, so to speak. Their common ground is a self-centered approach to truth, rejection of others and their ideas, which lead them to blow up their neighbours’ or to burn their favourite books.
The importance of culture in the declinations of the Christian religion is perceived in Great Britain (just as protestant, but much more homogeneous) or Catholicism, whose loss of steam in the Western World probably lies in the papacy’s inability to relate cultural freedom with the political grip of the Vatican. The role of culture is also seen in the various approaches to Islam in Turkey, Algeria or Pakistan.
Well, all these petty religious arguments are a long way from faith itself, which basically rests on not-quite-universal physiological phenomena (as described in a previous article). This forces me to question myself about the respect granted to religion. The right to faith, as a physiological condition, should be recognized (just as gender equity, or the right of handicapped individuals) but does religious expression, as a cultural phenomenon, deserve the same protection?
I’m still far from an answer, but I sincerely believe this is a matter we should investigate further.