By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 9/28/2020
Posted: 2/22/2006
Topics/Keywords: #ReligiousPolitics Page Views: 3327
It is clear to those who think about it that each of us needs no intermediary for us to contact God.

My mother, who spent her life in fear that she would offend some stranger, always told me, "Never discuss religion or politics." She was very clear on this, and though she brought my sisters and me up Catholic, she rarely discussed even our own religion with us; and, except for the 1960 election, never told us for whom she voted. Kennedy, of course, was the exception—perhaps because, for her, he united religion and politics.

The reason we are told that religion and politics are topics to avoid, is obvious once one attains adulthood: Of everything one might discuss, these are the only two subjects on which people are so unreasoning, so illogical, as to come to blows over a disagreement.

Why is it that there should be such a fundamental difference between these two topics and any other—for example, the cross-pollination of roses or whether Canada should be sanctioned for exporting Celine Dion or whether Chevy trucks outperform Ford? That last example shows it isn't just because there are no clear answers. There's no clear answer to the question "Do we really need another reality show?" but people don't actually wrap their fingers around each others' throats and squeeze until the last vestige of life has evaporated over that, either.

So, what is it?

I maintain it is because only religion and politics concern themselves with controlling human behavior—for "our own good," of course—and people are subconsciously embarrassed about the whole thing. In our heart of hearts, we know we don't need any institution telling us what to do. But in the face of non-stop media bombardment "informing" us of bodies found in car trunks, parking lot attendants being shot, or that guy that killed his roommate with a claw hammer because they'd run out of toilet paper, none of us dare point out that, in a world population of over 6 billion people, these misfortunes occur to virtually no one, relatively speaking.

Religion and politics have been illicit bedfellows since both were invented. Religion is older; the Sumerian "gods" got tired of their human groupies and hired "priests" to act as intermediaries. Humans would go to the priests and ask favors of the gods.

"My only son is sick with fever."

"I will tell Enlil. Please leave a donation of fresh vegetables in the bowl by the door."

"I can't get along with my mother-in-law."

"I will tell Enlil. Please leave a donation of fresh vegetables in the bowl by the door."

"My crops have failed; we have nothing to eat for the winter."

"I will tell Enlil. Please leave a donation of fresh vegetables in the bowl by the door."

It was probably a surprise to the gods to find that humans were so eager to look outside themselves for answers. But they were quick to react, and invented kingship to serve as an additional layer of intermediaries.

Now that we have grown to understand that the Sumerian "gods" did not create the Universe, nor indeed themselves, their cachet has fallen. As Captain Kirk once observed, "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one sufficient." And since that one God is multi-dimensional, and therefore lives in an "inward" direction, it is clear to those who think about it that each of us needs no intermediary for us to contact God. We don't really need priests; we don't really need kings. And if all humans looked within for answers to their questions, and cooperated with their immediate neighbors for solutions to common problems, we would need neither religion nor politics at all.

But religion and politics have taken on lives of their own. Neither is concerned with our problems any more; each is desperately concerned with its own survival. And the only way either can survive is to convince us they are needed…and the only way they can do that is to fill us with fear that we cannot answer our own questions or solve our own problems.

That's easy to do because both politics and religion possess all the money, and therefore all the major businesses, including the media. Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox (and Fox News) is a personal friend of George W. Bush; Murdoch publicly promised to hand Bush the 2000 election. Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts both own TV cable networks. It shouldn't surprise us that the airwaves are full of death and destruction and reminders that America is a "religious" nation that fears for the future; the airwaves are simply serving their masters.

The next time you find yourself speaking with someone who takes one position on politics—either conservative or liberal; doesn't matter—have fun by suggesting we don't need either. If the topic is Mormonism versus Catholicism or whether God prefers to be worshipped on Saturday or Sunday or at what moment, specifically, life begins—have fun by suggesting that God, the ruler and shaper of all the universes, doesn't really need Jerry Falwell's help in working out these issues, and that all that really matters is what God says to you.

As long as you stick to your guns, your verbal opponent will simply leave, confused; because your position is not one he or she has ever heard on talk radio or from an anchorperson. I guarantee the discussion will not degenerate into fisticuffs.

Of that, my mother would approve.