Cruelty And A “Noble” Conscience

On CNN yesterday I saw a brief clip of a religious leader condemning certain people to the “burning fires of hell.”  Rather disturbing.

Have you ever noticed how moralism in whatever form it comes has this knack of expressing cruelty under the banner and guise of a good and noble conscience. The supreme example being this concept of hell and the so called eternal punishment that goes with it.  “O’ but they deserve it” it is said, when the belief is challenged.

I find it offensive and an affront to our sense of humanity, and so profoundly incompatible with the ethics of goodness and compassion.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
This entry was posted in Religion, Spirituality, Uncategorized, wisdom and insight and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Cruelty And A “Noble” Conscience

  1. Those guys identify with the “light” so hard that they get consumed by their own darkness. I am also frequently disturbed by the cruelty (verbal and physical) of highly religious people.

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    • Don says:

      I think that’s the tragedy for me Monika. So much of religion has this dualistic approach to light and dark which leads to the very thing you so aptly describe. Thank you for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. seaangel4444 says:

    Hi Don, I agree with everything you have said in this post. It seems literally as if this is a dichotomy. How can one express beliefs of spirituality, and yet encompass anything but that which it (spirituality) represents? It has no sensibility to me! Cher xo

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  3. Susan Feniak says:

    Kind of an oxymoron? The old eye for an eye tossed in for good measure. All very disturbing.

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Susan. It is an extremely disturbing concept. What is so much more disturbing is the fact that, as Dan says in his comment, so many believe implicitly in it.

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      • Susan Feniak says:

        Yes that is the most disturbing part of the entire scenario. So many believing so strongly and without question, following blindly. Eyes wide shut. It saddens me that even now in this day and age we still have the blind leading the blind.

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  4. Dan Antion says:

    It is an affront Don. The pity is that so many people listen.

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  5. And you have aptly framed the players of/in American political theater. Let’s fulminate, in the extreme.

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Eric. Wouldn’t be wise of me to comment on American “political theater.” Don’t know enough, but I love your word “fulminate.” 🙂

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  6. cindy knoke says:

    Yes I have noticed that, “Have you ever noticed how moralism in whatever form it comes has this knack of expressing cruelty under the banner and guise of a good and noble conscience” and it bugs the heck out of me. Especially when people act in total opposition to the teachings of their God, which the more fundamental one is, the more likely this becomes. People can be very cruel in the name of Jesus, Allah, God. I bet the Gods don’t appreciate it.

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  7. nrhatch says:

    Hell was created as a fear tactic to “keep us in line.” I’m amazed at how many still buy into the notion.

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    • In part, Nancy, because it is centuries entrenched and still (amazingly) being taught today. Beliefs are choice yet oblivions don’t always consider rationally.

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    • Don says:

      I’m so pleased you posted this video Nancy. John Shelby Spong has been a kind of hero to me fearlessly expressing what Christianity has had to hear. He has payed a terrible price for this, no doubt a modern day prophet, hated and loved. I have a deep, deep admiration for him and his work and when I was first introduced to it, a long time ago,he changed the very direction of my life and thought. I have devoured all his books. His is a voice of sheer sanity in the midst of so much religious absurdity and madness. Thanks again for this.

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      • nrhatch says:

        I’d return to church (on the occasional Sunday) if he was presiding over the pulpit. I’ve read one of his books ~ a brilliant AND compassionate man. So so many good thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hariod Brawn says:

    Thank you for this timely and heartfelt article Don, the content of which I fully agree with. Your thoughts here today reminded me of the words of Karl Popper as regards tolerance:

    “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

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    • Don says:

      Thank you Hariod. What a wonderful quote. I think these words are profoundly prophetic for our time and in what is going on around us. Beautifully put.

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  9. ptero9 says:

    Dear Don,
    It is amazing that anyone would need to believe in such an idea. Perhaps people have different reasons for buying in to such an awful view of the nature of life.

    Granted, there are charlatans out there peddling “salvation,” for those who seek healing they have not been able to find a salve for.

    My theory is that some people cannot make peace with themselves, or with someone in their past, and the guilt and ill-feeling festers to the point that it becomes, like Monika says, all-consuming. I have some family members whose lives are quite tainted in this way. Very sad to watch. It seems too, that our habit of thought over the years slowly strips away from us the possibility of a creative transforming of the wound into love and forgiveness. So, it seems, love and hate that is not experienced deeply and personally are then only seen in others. Resentment builds and destroys one’s ability to live each moment anew.

    I don’t think the charlatans would have any takers if it weren’t for the inability some people have to find a way to live with their wounds, make peace with themselves and their past, especially feelings of guilt or betrayal (we don’t talk much about this much anymore).

    Okay, more than my two cents!

    Debra

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    • Don says:

      Debra, the discernment you’ve offered here, as far as I’m concerned, is pretty astute and spot on. That’s the sadness of it all. What makes it even more tragic and twisted is that there are those, as you say, who are able to see this kind of woundedness in people and to exploit it for their on ends through the means of fear and absurdities. Thank you – way, way more than two cents worth. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It is a hard pill to swallow, for sure Don!
    Diana xo

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  11. I see little difference between the fire and brimstone crowd, CNN, and the pseudo-intellectual anti-religionists. While not particularly religious myself, and someone who considers both hell and heaven spiritual concepts rather than concrete places/states of being, at least the religionists have the courage of their convictions (despite the fact that I disagree with them). I have personally been involved in incidents where CNN has fabricated stories and outright lied to cause a stir and get ratings. So of the three groups condemning each other, CNN has the least merit, followed by the pseudo intellectuals for hypocritically judging others for judging. (Based on the comments, most – including me – probably fall in this middle group.) Thus making the fundamentalists the ones acting most morally in this odd situation…which is really unfortunate and more than a little disturbing.

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    • Don says:

      Thank you for your challenging comment. May I ask, do you define CNN and it’s stance as the middle group?

      I think there’s a very real distinction between using our critical faculties in order to assess and evaluate things on the one hand, and a hypocritical judging of others for judging, on the other. I just wonder if we don’t get the two all mixed up at times. I think you’re right, anti religionists can become so fundamentalistic and condemning that there is often very little difference between them and those they are condemning. And that is rather sad.

      Hariod’s quote in her comment, I think, is a seasonal word. I appreciate and admire you for expressing yourself so strongly. Again, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you saw past my delivery to focus on the message. Most of us fall too often into the middle category. We intend to look critically, but make up our minds impetuously and “critically” becomes “condemningly”. That’s why we must always look most critically at our own convictions. Re: CNN, no, they are worse. Their focus is to perpetuate churn and maximize profit, nothing more than poorly disguised, low quality entertainment. Metaphorically speaking, the international and national news agencies are all going to hell and CNN is leading them there. Even Al Jazeera has become more opinion and spin than fact. Objective journalism is now limited to individual reporters and small local agencies, yet the masses, particularly the middle group of which we speak, consider themselves informed. It is a sad state of affairs.

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      • Don says:

        I get you – thank you for that.

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  12. You are right Don it is incompatible with the ethics of goodness and compassion and hence to two shall not meet.
    Karen

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  13. ladyfi says:

    I totally agree – condemning people to the burning fires of hell is the opposite of true religion.

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  14. Mary says:

    I agree Don and thought-provoking as always.

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  15. If we want reminders of religion run-amuck, we only need to consider the Crusades.
    There’s a difference between religion and faith.

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  16. I so agree with you, Don. So much cruelty is perpetuated through the guise of religion – and much of the time, the religious text contains no such rules, they have been added by men. We were hearing again about FGM yesterday, this time in Egypt where the atrocity is carried out by women on girls.

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  17. Don, you are so brave with the topics you tackle on your blog. Hell is one of those topics I’ve never enjoyed in the least. For me, I think to be separated from a God of love would be hell enough without adding fire and brimstone.

    My personal faith believes that when we die we go to be with what we were drawn to. I’m drawn to Jesus. The Jesus that gave his life for us. But I’m not drawn to a preacher or religion that is hateful. Jesus reached out lovingly to the very people the religious ones were condemning. Jesus saves–not religion–and not hate. I don’t blame you for being turned off by that program.

    I’m curious what you think of Jesus? I know I wish I were more like him.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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