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Religion, ethics, and critical thinking

October 1, 2009

I have been rereading Jack Forbes’ Columbus and other Cannibals, and couldn’t resist sharing a quote which applies well to some of the points I made recently in “Wild animals”, ethics, and veg*anism:

Religion is, in reality, living. Our religion is not what we profess, or what we say, or what we proclaim; our religion is what we do, what we desire, what we seek, what we dream about, what we fantasize, what we think–all of these things–twenty-four hours a day. One’s religion, then, is one’s life, not merely the ideal life but the life as it is actually lived.

Religion is not prayer, it is not a church, it is not theistic, it is not atheistic, it has little to do with what white people call “religion.” It is our every act. If we tromp on a bug, that is our religion; if we cheat at cards, that is our religion; if we dream of being famous, that is our religion; if we gossip maliciously, that is our religion; if we are rude and aggressive, that is our religion. All that we do, and are, is our religion. . .

Thus New York City, with its dirt, its slums, its crime, its violence, its greed, its wealthy elite, its tall buildings, its Mafia, its cooked leadership, and its art galleries–all of New York City–is the white society’s “church”…Many people often pretend that they can escape from the consequences of their own acts, but Native philosophy teaches differently. We create our own reality. Perhaps the acts of creation are our “religion” and the concrete creations are our “churches”.

Lots of food for thought there. It’s not far from how I’ve come to think about things, and it’s frustrating not even to be speaking the same language a lot of the time when such subjects arise. This is the kind of religion that requires critical thinking, as I touched on earlier.

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