Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Politics of God

There is an interesting article in the New York Times Magazine, "The Politics of God" which mentions a letter Iranian President Ahmadinejad sent to George W. Bush. The NYT article quotes it as saying:

“I have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him) and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth,” Ahmadinejad continued, reminding his fellow believer that “according to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine Prophets.” There follows a kind of altar call, in which the American president is invited to bring his actions into line with these verses. And then comes a threatening prophecy: “Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today, these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems. . . . Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice and the will of God will prevail over all things.”
The Politics of God essay is adapted from the upcoming book by Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West, which will be published next month. It's quite an interesting article. It relates to something that will be in my book, which is also in the previous blog post, about the parallels between the earlier violent era of Christianity and the current violence within Islam. He discusses the beliefs of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes who "changed the question" that people of the day debated from "God and his commands" to "man and his beliefs" and talked about how humankind's fear led to assigning divine powers to all manner of things - animals, women, leeks... and then they feared those things that could control the whims of the universe. Ultimately it was fear of God, and he argues that because their souls were at stake they fought, and that led to wars, and that led to fear and led to people being more religious.

I'm not convinced that "because their souls were at stake they fought." I think that if people had serious concern about their souls, they wouldn't fight! I think most religious people engaged in bloodshed have deluded themselves. However immature religious people do fight to convince others of their beliefs, and to force others to think like they do. I think that is what led to wars. And what does today. I can't wait to get my book out there.

1 comment:

F said...

I felt it was a very bad article! Lilla fails to understand history and makes up a convenient new category of 'political theology' instead of tackling the irelationship between politics and ideology and understanding what theology is. Not to mention his treatment of morality which he separates from religion so that he can attack religion. The article is flawed on many accounts. For more you can check my blog