Thursday, November 12, 2009

Who would be against compassion? Me, I guess.

A friend of mine invited me to the Charter for Compassion - Madison inaugural event tonight. I thought: "Is that the Karen Armstrong thing? I'm not a big fan of Karen Armstrong." A month or so ago, she was on Here on Earth with Jean Ferraca - not a big fan of hers, either, you'll soon see why on both accounts - and they were going on about how true religion is peaceful and loving and non-dogmatic and doesn't make absolute claims about the character of God.

I am a linguist. Linguists describe language as it is, not as we want it to be. And in the English I know, religion refers to systems based on a belief in the supernatural and its relationship with the natural world. Some religion is peaceful. Some religion is loving. And some religion inspires people to fly planes into buildings, beat women for the sin of having been raped, jail and kill homosexuals, molest children, and murder relatives.

Not according to the Carter for Compassion Web site. It says
"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions" (emphasis mine)
As I said to my friend via Facebook,
"That's ... rose-colored thinking. Compassion is important, and it may lie at the heart of most religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, but there are also those that reject compassion, and I don't want to blind myself or others to that tragic fact. If I don't acknowledge it, I can't help change it."

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