Sunday, September 7, 2014

Stick with comedy

     "As a comedy website, we tend to stay away from too much talk about religion. Sure, we'll run the occasional article about Jesus riding dragons -- but no way are we going to start declaring huge aspects of major religions 'wrong.' That's just not our place, and we'll never do it ... after today.
     Oh, relax. We're just going to point out some popular misconceptions about certain religions. Of course there's no wrong religion.*
*Except for Scientology."

Above is how kicks off "5 Myths You Probably Believe About Major Religions". It is still somewhat tong-in-cheek but overall is meant to be taken seriously. So I will. Though, they are not outright "wrong" they are themselves assuming far too much. The whole piece is based on a specific set of interpretations and biases. The "myths" described in the piece are just as accurate a portrayal of the various concepts and beliefs as those expressed by the author, Pat Carnell. Basically, in the strictest sense of the term "myth" they are not any such thing.

The 5 "myths" Carnell claims to be setting the record straight about are (the appear in descending order):
#5. The Amish Do Not Use Technology
#4. The Star of David Is the Official Ancient Symbol of Judaism
#3. Creationists Have Been Dragging Down Scientific Progress for Millennia
#2. Muslims Reject Jesus
#1. Buddhism Has No Heaven or Hell

I'll use #2 as an example of what I mean. It isn't a myth. It is a misunderstanding that is sometimes used  to bash Muslims. Most Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet. That much is true. If you stopped with that little factlet it would seem to be a myth that Muslims reject Jesus. The problem is that the Jesus figure means different things to different groups. Just accepting that Jesus is one prophet among many other prophets does not express his significance to Christians. Muslims DO REJECT the idea that Jesus was more than another prophet. They do not accept him as a savior. They do not accept him as an incarnation of God/God made flesh. In effect they do not accept Jesus in the way that Christians do. Stated more plainly, they do reject the Jesus virtually every Christian means when they invoke the name. So, yes, in fact from a Christian Theological perspective Muslims definitely reject Jesus (the Messiah).

Most of the other explanations of these "myths" are similarly flawed. They can only be seen as true from a very specific and narrow interpretation. This should not surprise any one who has spent any time studying religion. Religion by its nature is highly subjective and amorphous. What may be viewed as "myth" or "stereotype" in one set of circumstances ends up being true in others, at least to the practitioners of that religion.

Cracked probably should stick with their usually comedic take on subjects. Comedy does not have to be accurate to be funny. You don't have to back up what you write or say with anything substantial. Carnell doesn't seem to have the interest or ability to really comment on religion in a thoughtful manner.

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