Faith/Ideology/Religion/Belief: Part III

Disclaimer: Yesterday, we discussed the difference between faith and belief. How this applies to religion and societal ideologies is fascinating, so forgive my lengthy posts. Yesterday I also got a swift kick in the butt from my internet “conscience.” I’m going to post what I wrote, but do please take all with a large grain of salt.

Back to ideology, evidence of history is all we need to see what is detrimental to society and what is not. We don’t need faith to see how certain ideologies oppress people or create poverty and war. Patriarchy exists because men have physically oppressed and coerced women into submission. They had the power to control every aspect of women’s lives by owning the laws, the courts, and the government systems. Women became property, like men’s animals or their homes. Men confined women to the domestic sphere and deprived them of education, community, and access to all that is necessary to lead an independent life. I don’t believe that just because it’s how the world has worked for all these years that it should be the deciding world ideology from here on out. Again, the powerful create the ideology. Faith in said ideology fuels it. Some men and women must believe strongly in the “rightness” of their ideologies to keep it going.

However, people and their ideas evolve. Belief in a system is fine, but things CAN change. This is where faith comes in. You can CHANGE what you have faith in. You can also change your belief by exercising faith. Faith is not necessarily a bad thing. Faith, unless you are a fundamentalist religionist, is not concrete and unchangeable. Faith is fluid. By faith, we can change an entrenched ideology and make it better for everyone not just a few. This is what Christians do. By faith in their ideology, they hope to bring about the world that they believe is espoused in the bible. There is nothing wrong with faith in a perceived future, but there is something wrong in a perceived future that marginalizes “outsiders.”

So, what do you do if there is disagreement about which ideology to embrace? Whose ideology or worldview wins out? This is where evidence comes in. There is ample evidence that societies and communities based purely on religious principles can be oppressive and dangerous places to live. History is the evidence. Just remember the Puritan colonies where it was punishable by shackles if you missed church on Sunday. Remember the Salem Witch Trials. Remember the Inquisition. Secularism, too, can bring out the horrific in men. Remember Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. Clearly pure theocracies or pure secularism are not good for society. So what’s an ideologist to do?

I heard on NPR this morning that a debate cannot occur between two opposing parties unless there is a good faith effort to understand and legitimize the motivations of the opposite side. In other words if men refuse to understand why some women do not care for being oppressed, or if they refuse to put themselves in women’s position and try to understand the arguments coming from them, they will never attempt to change anything as long as it benefits them. Conversely, unless secularists can understand the motivations that drive religionists to have faith in a Christian world vision, there can be no dialogue between them and you eventually get a stalemate. We can see this going on right now in our society. Both camps are entrenched in their own viewpoints and will always be diametrically opposed to the other. Conversely, Christians must also make a good faith effort to be reasonable and to understand the secular argument. What’s so wrong with this?

So, to sum up:

1. Ideologies are created by the actions of the powerful in history. Beliefs that we sustain about these ideologies are based on the evidence of history and science and how best to control societal norms to keep the powerful in power.

2. Religion is a subset of ideology based on God/s appeasement and faith in an end or particular outcome. Patriarchy and religion often go hand in hand and seem entrenched in its own viewpoint. Feminists usually leave the religion due to lack of vision and faith in new possibilities that include women and the marginalized.

3. Sometimes, we choose to put faith in our ideologies and religions despite scientific evidence. This is where atheists and agnostics part company with religionists. Again, debate is at a stalemate.

4. Unless people agree on the outcomes of their ideologies there will always be a clash of ideas in the world with no possibility of agreement. Is the aim for the good of all society? And if so, what is the good based on? Unless consensus is reached here, there will be no consensus.

So, unless Christians and secularists listen to each other in the debate and attempt to understand the others’ viewpoints without resorting to constant verbal one-upmanship we should just choose to live and let live and agree to allow a multiplicity of ideologies and religions to coexist without coercion from either party. Otherwise, there will be no peace for anyone.

Whew! That was hard. My brain hurts……Jon, I hope I “answered” your challenge without too much hubris. 🙂 Now I’m off to contemplate yesterday’s butt-kicking.


8 thoughts on “Faith/Ideology/Religion/Belief: Part III

  1. Hi Mystery,
    Yes, all this is indeed enough to give you a headache. To be honest, right now I’m more interested in your butt (can’t stop thinking about it actually) and its recent interaction with the foot that is from above. Did it leave a bruise? Colour? Size? Shape? Left cheek or right cheek? One good thing about a really sore butt is it helps park the brain for a while. Can’t wait for your next post!

  2. Jon,
    You kill me!! 🙂
    Said butt is a little sore. Kicked me right back into some of my Christian ruminations. I fled screaming back to my reading corner and right into bible again (no not the NIV study bible, I was a NKJV person myself). All I have to do is read post23’s comments on the Mark Driscoll post and I’m securely OUT of the fundie trap, but your comments and uchurch’s web site got me thinking about other things. THANKS A LOT!! 🙂

  3. Hi Mystery,
    I’ve just gotta love you! Now if you so much as even think about going anywhere back near that fundie tar-pit (unlikely thanks to our dear brother post23 and his multitude of verse-quoting cousins) I’ll come over there and give you a slapping myself! The main thing right now is to listen to your butt, which is most likely talking more sense to you right now than all of these blogs put together.

  4. I share your distaste for ideologies, since they strike me as excuses for their proponents to wield power.
    Such faith as I have is personal, and I believe what I believe purely because I feel it to be true and, as such, I wouldn’t seek to convince anyone else of its truth.

    It’s as vague as this. As a practising musician, in rare moments, I’m aware of being plugged into something a lot bigger than I am. Just for a moment, it’s like it’s not me playing. I love that when it happens. Sure, it may be some hysterical phenomenon caused by getting over excited, but, because it doesn’t feel like that:
    “Here I stand, I can do no other”.

    The media seem to love polarised debates with people screaming irreconcilability at each other, while our adversarial legal system thrives mightily on it.

    Having survived into my third marriage, an overwhelming need to be right would seem to be at the heart of much human conflict.

    The Israelis and the Palestinians are going to have to live together, so they’d better get used to it.

  5. Reg,

    Good points. Yes, ideologies do stem from the need to be right. To me, this is the “sin” of the world; this overweening pride in our own rightness all the time.

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