Good or Bad?
They way I have potrayed religion you must be wondering whether anything good has ever come out of it. Well nothing is entirely bad or entirely good. Ditto here. In the example of Christianity (I hope you will forgive my lack of knowledge about other religions!) education has assumed significant importance among those priests with a missionary bent of mind. The large number of centres of excellence in education in India run by the Church is a testimony to that fact. I am not aware about missionary activity in other religions but I am sure something must exist.
If it had not been for the reforms under the Vatican II in the year 1962-65 Christianity would have been a dying religion. There would have been a mass exodus of its members. It is to the credit of the Church that they were proactive in recognising an era of knowledge and intense inquiry into matters of religion. They plugged most of the holes that had been left by the fighting of their predecessors. More than anything the Church changed its stance from a rigid patriachal system to one which signigficant control was handed down to the people who constitute the Church. Though people are satisfied the scam continues. Christianity is still restricted by symbolism like the Mass, the Cross and certain rituals called sacraments. It will be a long time before the old mindset of blindly accepting something handed down by authority changes.
Not all religious leaders are rabble rousers. While most of them have blindly accepted what has come down the ages as the truth. Few have stopped to inquire and those few have been persecuted, burnt at the stakes, excommunicated and killed. A few have managed to survive though.
Which is why yesterday's Good Friday Homily by Fr Nigel Barett came like a refreshing breeze on a humid summers day. Fr Nigel challenged old concepts like suffering and sacrifice and gave it new meaning. It was a welcome change and for the first time in months I was excited. Suddenly religion looked like an 'applied' theme; from which you can actually do something. God and religion seemed one for a brief fleeting instant.
Convergence will take place the day everyone practices his/her religion in its truest and purest form and we will stop scamming ourselves.