Saturday, June 11, 2005

Bibles (and other books) don't harm. Peole do.

I'd been meaning to write a critique of the "10 Most Harmful Books" meme, but hadn't had the time; real life does intrude on blogging much of the time.

One of the things that comes to my mind related to this was something that Nakagawa Roshi said, which is something to the effect of if you read even tabloid newspapers the right way, they can be seen as sutras.

I've always appreciated the NY Post for its encapsualtion of sordidness, and for the Haiku (俳句) nature of its headlines (one recent headline about the Koran flushing incident was titled "Holy Shiite," without apparent regard for the fact that it was Sunnis involved). But Nakagawa-roshi was right: The NY Post shows vividly the hell of anger and hatred and violence, and encourages us to be nonattached to it, and to feel compassion even for Rupert Murdoch if read correctly.

Which brings me to Joe Carter, who asserts that the bible is the "most hamful book in the world."

His reasons:

  • The bible "refutes every cherished idea we hold about humanity: We think people are 'basically good.' The Bible claims that no one is good.We think that corruption and injustice is caused by our situation or environment. The Bible says that it is our nature that is corrupt. We think we are deserving of peace and happiness. The Bible tells us that we are deserving of eternal damnation."

  • "We think we are alive. The Bible delivers the disturbing news that we are already dead. (It is hard to imagine what could be more harmful to our sense of identity than to hear that we are as good as dead.)"

  • The Bible talks of a war being waged throughout the universe, with humans being on the wrong side. Not only are we classified as the enemies of God, but we're called to surrender unconditionally.

To which I reply:

We appear to be and have awareness and do things that have effects, but "in principle or phenomena there is no hindrance," outside of the hindrance we make, where hindrance is understood as suffering. So neither good nor bad nor the absence of both. The mere phenomenon of us being aware a book saying we are good, bad, or what I just wrote is a mere phenomenon. What we do with any of these expressions - how we take them into our minds, how we live them- are our responsibility.

But if you call me an "enemy of God," well, I don't care as long as you don't try to burn me at the stake or draw and quarter me or others, or do other nasty things like that. But you will have consequences for your actions regardless of whether you claim to be a follower of an absolutely good god or not. Please choose what you do wisely.

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