Choosing my Religion

I’ve long been fascinated with religion and the ways in which the best of intentions can become so completely screwed up.

  • Jan. 25, 2011 8:00 a.m.

I’ve long been fascinated with religion and the ways in which the best of intentions can become so completely screwed up.

On the weekend, I attended the 7th World Religions Conference — an Interfaith Symposium held at the University of Victoria entitled: Religion: Resource for Peace or Reason for Conflict.

I know what you’re thinking: If that’s what he does for kicks on the weekend, what kind of a boring git is he the rest of the time? I want to party with that dude.

So, it wasn’t the most exciting four hours I’ve ever spent in a lecture hall. There were no impromptu fist fights, beat-box contests or a surprise appearance by the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue.

And, in truth, despite the best of intentions, neither was it the most enlightening. Hearing from distinguished scholars of Aboriginal, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism, it was clear that the topic of religion and faith is just too large for a layman to fully comprehend. Some speakers were naturally better at shedding some smidgen of light on their faith than others, but the fundamental question of whether religion is the path to peace or the root of conflict is something that has troubled humanity for thousands of years — and will likely continue to trouble us for thousands more (if we survive that long).

The one nugget I did glean, however, was that the seed of all religion is peace. Every prophet from Muhammad to Jesus, Buddha to Guru Nanak, abhorred violence. Which just goes to show how easily we humans can take something that is considered divine — the voice of our creator — and twist it into a horror-house travesty of itself.

And by humans, I actually mean men. All religions at their core tout men and women as equals (how can we not be?) but in practise, the egotistical, war-hungry male has suppressed this gospel at his peril.

Growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, I witnessed first-hand how people who worshipped from the exact same holy book could turn to violence when someone wore the wrong colour shirt or scarf in the wrong part of town. In Glasgow, green meant Catholic; blue was Protestant. Green meant you supported the Glasgow Celtic football team; Blue meant you supported the Glasgow Rangers. You didn’t have a choice about this. It was stamped on your forehead at birth.

Oddly enough, I never read anything in the Bible that said: “On Saturday, thou shall worship eleven players kicking a pigskin ’round a green field, and fill thine heart with hate for thy neighbour (who shall be separated from you by a wire fence topped with steel barbs and guarded by uniformed police) whether your team wins or loses.”

And if two religions based on the same holy book can’t get along, what possible hope do we have to bridge the gaps between all the holy teachings? Even the scholars didn’t quite have an answer for that one.

But maybe if more people read the scriptures for themselves before jumping on the agenda-heavy bandwagon that others are preaching, they just might see that every prophet’s prayers can be boiled down into five simple words: “Be good to one another.”

Shalom.

Song stuck in my head

“JCB Song” by Nizlopi.

If you’re a son or a dad, it’s difficult not to get choked up when listening to this emotional, catchy and engaging song about a young boy hanging out with his builder dad on a giant yellow digger. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This image released by SYFY shows Meredith Garretson, left, and Alan Tudyk in the new series "Resident Alien." (James Dittinger/SYFY via AP)
B.C.-shot ‘Resident Alien’ invader gets lift-off with viewers

New Syfy series catching on, proving TV doesn’t have to come from premium cable

The original artwork created by local artist Emily Thiessen, is featured as the Commercial Alley’s eighth installation. (City of Victoria)
 The original artwork created by local artist Emily Thiessen, is featured as the Commercial Alley’s eighth installation. (City of Victoria)
Victoria calls for artists to fill Commercial Alley gallery

Competition open to artists in the Capital Regional District

Cowichan Valley author Teresa Schapansky’s books for young readers have become a phenomenon on Amazon. (Submitted)
Cowichan author tops Amazon charts

Award-winning author Teresa Schapansky learned of a need for low-level readers in the classroom

Nadia Rieger restocks some of the art supplies at the Crows Nest Artist Collective. Their move to stocking more art supplies over the course of the pandemic was a response to increased demand, which she thinks shows people have been turning to creating art to cope with mental health struggles due to lockdowns and restrictions on other activities. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Vancouver Islanders using art to conquer COVID blues

It seems people have been turning to their creative sides to stay mentally and emotionally healthy

Chris Bullock, Parksville artist, stands next to his ‘Mermother’ series, on display at the McMillan Arts Centre until Feb. 29. Bullock himself will be at the MAC from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. every Saturday until the end of the month. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville artist Chris Bullock’s unique illustrations on display

‘I’m heavily influenced by old comic book styles from the 1950s’

VIU music instructors Hans Verhoeven, Ben Henriques and Ken Lister (from left) are presenting a weekly jazz performance series with pianist James Darling (not pictured). (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
VIU music instructors presenting online jazz concert series

Musicians getting ‘back in shape’ performing American Songbook standards

Nanaimo’s Todd Cameron won the $1,000 Fan Favourite prize in Vancouver radio station CFOX 99.3 FM’s one-minute movie contest for his version of ‘The Big Lebowski.’ (Photo courtesy Todd Cameron)
Nanaimo man’s 60-second stop-motion ‘Big Lebowski’ remake wins fans’ choice award

Todd Cameron takes home $1,000 prize in Vancouver radio station contest

Kathryn Calder, City of Victoria’s artist in residence, is facilitating a performance and songwriting workshop for youth. (YouTube)
Online music workshops available for Greater Victoria young artists

Artist in Residence Kathryn Calder to host songwriting, performance series

Protection Island’s Valley Hennell has been inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy Ronan Lannuzel)
Protection Island resident inducted into B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame

Valley Hennell recognized for 50-year career as writer, producer, manager, publisher

Most Read