Saturday, 26 December 2009

The sacred and the sacrilegious.

Karen Armstrong seems to be detested, derided and deplored by a wide range of rightwing religious zealots. That in itself makes her a person of interest to DJ!'s humble scribes and bloggers.

Armstrong wrote in her Xmas opinion piece for the LATimes:

Unconcerned about historical accuracy, therefore, Matthew and Luke tell entirely different stories. Placed at the beginning of their Gospels, the infancy narratives act as a preface, giving the reader a foretaste of how each evangelist understood Jesus' mission. [...]

The Gospels paint a picture that is very different from the cozy stable scene on the Christmas cards. They speak of deprivation and displacement. The Messiah himself is an outsider. There is no room in the inn, so Mary has to give birth in the 1st-century equivalent of an urban alleyway. As victims of Herod's tyranny, the Holy Family become refugees; other innocents are slaughtered. [...]

For Luke, the pregnant Mary becomes a prophetess, proclaiming a new order in which the lowly will be exalted and the mighty pulled down from their thrones. [...] For the faithful and nonbelievers, for Christmas celebrators and skeptics, this is how to answer the question of what the season means: Religion has often been used to endorse an iniquitous status quo. But the Christmas story is a salutary reminder that faith has also encouraged radical visions for a more compassionate world.

As you can imagine, Armstrong's ecumenical perspective does not sit well with theocrats and islamophobic christofascists.
This review is typical of her detractors. I was curious about her Charter for Compassion and so checked it out.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
The power of this document lies of course, with those who are able to put its principles into practice. Easier said than done, when facing down shrieeekkking religious zealots, all spewing hatred in the name of their deity.

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