I know boring and quite overused title but my limited imagination at this time is not allowing for creativity. I can totally identify with the cultures and peoples who were approached by the missionaries in the past and unfortunately in the present. It is clear that we all experience a need to create meaning and to also move beyond this life into another more pleasant life beyond our death. For myself I have come to the conclusion this it is highly unlikely that my spirit will remain intact and move beyond my physical body. It is strangely comforting to realize this because throughout my entire pre-anti-theist existence I struggled with the pain of trying to conform and to adapt to the unrealistic doctrines imposed upon me.
To the less sophisticated people past and present this promise and this idea is enchanting and totally believable. My guess is that they must have been pretty impressed by the missionaries and their appearance of authority so much so that they were much like children to the parents. We are all placed in this position from time to time throughout our lives. When we are ill we go to the doctor and become the patient, we trust that he or she can help us, guide us back to health again becoming the child to the parent. When we seek knowledge we look to those who have been there, who have studied and experimented. We all have someone to whom we look up to and to whom we trust to have integrity and not to exploit our ignorance. It is a difficult road because there are many ways in which our ignorance can be manipulated and none of us are immune to this. We have only to do our own studies and to be assured of our own ability to be critical and not to allow the authority on the subject too much status. It is okay to admire but we must always be aware that we are dealing with another who has the ability to just as much wrong about some things as right. That their knowledge is finite and they too are the student as well as the teacher.
The new Broadway hit "The Book of Mormon" is telling the story of the Mormon movement in parody. In my humble opinion it must have been extremely easy for Trey Parker and Matt Stone to write this story in fact all they had to do was write down exactly what happened it is a comedy writers dream and frankly it is a mystery to me as to why this story took so long to make it into the hands of capable comedy writers. I am sure that there have been attempts in the past, but we have the bad habit of being respectful and tolerant of religion and it is a bad habit. In the human family religion is the manic drunken uncle who makes family gathering s a little less pleasant but to exclude him would be insensitive and intolerant.
How we have tolerated the existence of this menace at our family reunions for this long is beyond me. We have had to tolerate the rage, the hate, the menace and the crazy manic antics. We have experienced long periods of religious dictatorship, we have had to deal with bailing religion out of embarrassing predicaments (i.e. Priest on Altar boy action), we have had to accept that we cannot question religion because it will become full of anger and lash out at us for trying to destroy its fun. There has to be an intervention for the drunken uncle.
We have to start examining our heads and the heads of our neighbors and start asking the hard questions. Why do we allow this to continue in our world? Is there no way to eradicate this menace without hurting anyone? Anyone who has a lick of intelligence can foresee what religion will eventually do to our species if allowed to go on unchecked. Just like it would be inhuman to get rid of the sick and drunken uncle it would be almost be inhuman to get rid of religion cold turkey. We have to open the communication lines stop debating and start talking about how to live with it until it grows old and dies of liver failure.
It is clear that the tide is turning and the incredible success of shows like "The Book of Mormon" are a sign of this turn. I think the public is starting to realize that we need to be more critical and more intolerant of our society being run by the superstitious detritus that has been dumped upon the American continent for the past two centuries. Our entire make up and our tolerance of religious freedom has allowed this to happen and while it is, at the moment, painful it will eventually even itself out. It is a matter of allowing the conversation to continue and to allow these other religions to become aware of each other and hopefully they will at some point realize that they cannot all be right. Maybe that is what is happening finally. Maybe we are seeing a "brave new world" emerge from the 200 plus years of the melting pot and it has finally come to, hopefully, a gentle boil.
I have come to the conclusion that in my own life I must remain open minded but also skeptical. It is not easy being both, in fact it is hard.