Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Museum to Inspire Cognitive Dissonance

"New Gettysburg museum explores role of faith in Civil War"
The museum in question seems to play on an all too common approach to history and religion. Faith ends up being used as a propaganda tool devoid of any critically thinking or any thought at all. I do find history inspiring and I am pleased that there is another museum opening but the primary goal seems a bit skewed. It doesn't, of course, occur to people that the premise of the article and that of the museum actually supports a basic criticism of religion in general. Faith can be used to justify and/or gloss over anything! This is apparently the opposite of what some intend.

“'People have found it comfortable to find a way to think about the Civil War in terms of valor and heroism,' said Barbara Franco, executive director of the museum. 'We want to really look at these other parts of it — causes, consequences — and leave people thinking there’s more to this than just the simple answers.'”
Simple answers is what religion/faith does best. It is incredibly rare that religious leaders encourage their followers to go beyond simple answers. In fairness, the leaders of many other institutions and social constructs often push such thoughtless simplicity as well.

Personally, I fail to see how pushing faith any further is going to help anyone gain more insight into history or contemporary society. Our culture has always been saturated with religion. Despite the tacit claims that this is somehow a unique approach for a museum, there are plenty of sources of information that already focus on faith's impact from the point of view of theism. Perhaps what we really need is a museum that looks into the negative aspects of faith. Even better would be a museum that shows both the positive and the negative under one roof. That would be unique.

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