There is a great post by Noah Millman over at The American Scene where he takes on several issues relating to religion, all of which are entertaining. I’m most partial to his description of how religion works:
…most of us who are in any meaningful sense religious are members of corporate bodies extending through time and space. And corporate bodies to exist at all must define their boundaries: this is who we are, this is what we believe, this is how we behave. And this requires an implicitly if not explicitly excluded not that.
This being the case, if freedom of religion means, most fundamentally, the freedom to be a heretic, it equally means the freedom to declare that the other guy is a heretic. In a very real sense, a social environment that is hostile to religious intolerance must necessarily be hostile to religious freedom.
Andrew Sullivan chimes in on this with an astute observation that points directly to the limits of First Tier approaches to Spirit when he suggests that none of us holds a monopoly on truth:
…the impossibility of humankind ever being able to know the Godhead with sufficient certainty to use power to restrain the heretic. Again: the true believer will, in my view, seek freedom for God rather than power against heresy.
First off, “certitude” is the source of the problem. Certitude is exactly what gives rise to the egoic division that says “I’m right, and you’re wrong,” which in turn begets violence. Our futile attempts at knowing God will forever frustrate us since God is precisely beyond the mind. Trying to know God is like trying to shovel away the tide.
Truly being still, on the other hand gets us past the boundaries of both the mind as well as the body. Practicing this expanse mysteriously pushes and pulls at everyone of our relationships, including our old mental and physical constructs. From here, difference and sameness become much less of an issue since they are seen as incomplete aspects of a bigger story.
Here’s a InfiniteSmile.org podcast that might be of interest.