I’m absolutely blessed to alarm Michael Schulson a acquaintance of mine. We accelerating from Yale calm in 2012, took a science autograph academy calm with Carl Zimmer, and we both concluded up in Durham, NC afterwards graduating. Michael is consistently abaft some of my admired autograph on religion, from Salon’s account with Karen Armstrong to a contempo allotment account the afterlife of a self-styled active advocate in a absorbing Protestant Sect out of Guadalajara, and a widely-circulated allotment analytical some of Whole Food’s added arrant instances of pseudo-science.
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Most recently, Michael appear a allotment about the all-over COEXIST bonanza stickers and how generally we misunderstand the roots of religious battle and violence. He writes:
You’ve apparent them before, in Trader Joe’s parking lots and on Eastern Seaboard freeways, in the quiet streets of Asheville and Berkeley, on the bumpers of a agile of VWs and Volvos. White letters, dejected background, acute mood: COEXIST. Afterwards attack stickers, NRA decals, animation families, and those arrant “26.2” ovals, Coexist bonanza stickers may be the best accepted way for Americans to advertisement their worldviews in one chat or less, while driving.
Meanwhile, ISIS is burglary beyond the Middle East. China is binding Tibet in an anaconda anchor of cultural homogenization. Buddhists are causing abandon in Sri Lanka, far-right Islamophobic parties are on the acceleration in Scandinavia, and Muslims and Christians are slaughtering anniversary added in the Central African Republic.
The COEXIST bonanza sticker, Schulson writes, is “a evidence of a abundant beyond phenomenon, one that makes it adamantine for Americans to allocution actively about religious battle and history.” He goes on:
That abnormality is not bound to peaceniks with airy aspirations. It’s aloof as accepted amid hardline atheists as it is in doughy interfaith circles. It is, essentially, the affirmation on acquainted religious battle as the affray of big, abstruse beliefs, which bodies can accept to set aside.
In the mindset of the Coexist camp, those abstruse behavior accept become askance things, captivated up with hate. If bodies could alone abdicate their abhorrent ideas, they could apprentice to adulation one another. “Why,” the absolute catechism actuality goes, “can’t we all aloof get along?”
In the appearance of assertive atheists, those damaging behavior accept bedeviled people’s minds. As I’ve accounting before, there’s a addiction amid some atheists to anticipate of religion as a affectionate of virus, or a dangerous abstract infection—in added words, as an abstraction that hijacks minds. In this perspective, the catechism of religious abandon is article like “Why can’t bodies chargeless their minds from religion, and apprentice to get along?”
The accuracy abaft religious battle is abundant thornier and beneath calmly addressed by platitudes. Michael explains:
Occasionally, some people’s atrocious needs battle with added people’s atrocious needs. Telling them to coexist doesn’t abode that conflict. Telling them to be beneath religious or awesome doesn’t abode it, either.
Both strategies aloof let us absolved ourselves from any absolute assurance with what ability be happening—or, as Karen Armstrong has recently argued, any austere application of the West’s role in creating altitude for religious violence.
I’ve become beneath and beneath accommodating with atheists who book up adoration and religious battle about carefully to a amount of behavior or ideology. Behavior matter, the accepted burden goes, but this ignores how assertive accomplishments acceleration from assertive contexts, how behavior are generally marshaled afterwards the actuality to rationalize our actions, and how we’re generally acutely bad at accurately advertisement a beeline band from acceptance to action. None of this is new to anyone with any acquaintance with the amusing and cerebral sciences.
There’s article to be said that interfaith groups aren’t allowed to such creamy COEXIST sentiments, but every interfaith accumulation I’ve anytime encountered at atomic puts a abundant focus on account and generally does admirable work not to shy abroad from boxy discussions and disagreements.
This leaves us in a abode where, in a sense, religious battle has absent it’s simple answer, and now it’s abundant harder to accord with. But conflict, abounding stop, is adamantine to accord with. I’d rather absolutely face a botheration than application it with a bonanza sticker.
Read Michael’s abounding allotment here.
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