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How Much Is There Beyond Our Differences?

This week, the JOURNAL presented BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES, a film that explores the commonalities that unify mankind's religious and spiritual traditions, focusing on the universal threads of hope for positive change and healing throughout the world’s cultures.

We invite you to discuss in the space below.


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Payday economics;the current crisis...tells most that minimum wage is closer to 64 grand per annum not ten bucks hourly, hence comsumer debts, lack of savings. Anyone with answers?

The limitations and distortions possible because of the nature of the Internet have been well demonstrated by reaction to Bill's statements on Israeli excesses in Gaza, and on their de facto aparteid. A lesser pro-Palestinian response has been almost as shrill and has been complemented by raves from conservative Christianity. You really wonder if these people would advocate the apocalypses depicted in "holy" texts at a calmer and more personal moment. No one could consciously maintain the thoughtless hate and venom on the Middle East discussion pages without becoming physically or mentally ill.
Hate seems to be burning itself out on Moyers' blog, in a manner that precludes physical violence. Sometimes things get so bad all people can do is scream and cry. It was a good idea Bill Moyers, cleansing and cathartic. Now maybe we can discuss calmly and rationally, ignoring the organized campaigns by the extremist minorities. You owe us some caring and knowledgeable guests later on, Mr. Bill.

It seems as if our religious differences, prostituted as they are for purposes of power and money, are irresolvable. Chaos seems to rule at this moment. But consider the message coming from a spiritual Teacher whose stature is that of the Buddha, the Christ, the Messiah, the Imam Mahde, Sri Krishna, but who comes for all people, religious or non-religious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Wj6T9WaVA&feature=rec-HM-fresh+div

THE NEXT GENERATION OF JOBS

The worn out rhetoric that dismisses the painful loss of family supporting manufacturing jobs, the rhetoric that suggests workers simply get better training or further their education, loses legitimacy when our federal government has been out to lunch. For far too long American workers have been admonished with an unspoken acceptance that our economic downward spiral is an inevitable consequence of globalization, and we should just get over it.

Obama has expressed consistent interest in federal funding for research and providing incentives for business investments and innovation. As New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, often touts, “Wind, solar and stuff that has not been invented yet is going to be the next great global industry.” Therefore, the next country that most owns the clean power industry is going to most own the next great technology breakthrough that creates millions of good paying jobs.

I am concerned that the Obama Administration may allow his vision to become muddied with right wing compromises. Blue collar workers, for the first time in a decade, have a legitimate chance at acquiring tomorrow’s better jobs, the industries of the future, as long as he stays on point with his campaign promises.

.

THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT AND FREEDOMS


An impartial observer looking at who is behind the well-financed and well-organized campaign of misinformation “SAVE OUR SECRET BALLOT’, opposing the Employee Free Choice Act, would recognize that the manipulated information is coming from organizations that obviously do not have American family’s best interests in mind.

The Chamber of Commerce is providing much of the energy behind the “Save Our Secret Ballot” campaign to defeat the EFCA. Following on the heels of the UNION FACTS think tank that was also funded by trade groups that were taking a pro-active approach of smearing organized labor with an almost laughable approach. Referring to progressive union officials like Leo Gerard as “Union Bosses” and distorting their agenda as being unsavory and corrupt, is a little like watching a 1940’s mobster movie. We don’t need Elliot Ness wannabes distorting facts. The American public would be much better served if they understood that the correlation between the unions’ diminished influence in this country and the multitude of problems we as citizens face are more than coincidence.

Of course, using fear instead of facts worked for the Bush Administration with invading a sovereign country, so why not hire an unethical lobbyist like Richard Berman (see MADD and the cigarette manufacturers for his dishonest propaganda techniques) for the Hotel and Restaurant businesses. By warning the public that freedoms for a secret ballot will be lost if Congress passes the EFCA, and to place outdated references of corruption within labor organizations, which have better track records than even organized religion when it comes to financial integrity, their intent becomes obvious.

Let’s not forget, this is the same Chamber of Commerce that warned China in 2006 that if they did not resist the movement towards allowing workers to organize within the transplanted U.S. manufacturing facilities in their country, the Chamber would do their very best to find a cheaper, anti-union location like Vietnam to relocate these factories.

As far as intimidation of employees by the union-this argument has been turned on its head. The fact is for the last 8 years the NLRB has delayed a ruling to recognize a vote and to implement a contract for excessive months. In the meantime the employers have intimidated and harassed their workers into submission from any interest in joining a union.

Irene, my efforts are small and and yet with internet even small effort can inspire others especially now that the world is in the birth pangs of transformation.

Having followed Share International's info for about 23 years, I am greatly heartened that there are those who know the way forward, and who are just waiting for the leading edge of human intellect/consciousness to realize the depth of the change which must come. I point to the Share site in hopes that some may research for themselves. The commonalities within traditions offer a tapestry of spiritual truth, outwardly diverse yet inwardly unified. The Teachers whose followers began the various religions work even now as a group, for the purpose of helping humanity to save itself and the other kingdoms of Nature. They have inspired humanity since our beginning on Earth. They seed the great ideas, discoveries in art, science, and all fields of human endeavor. They have much more to teach, but cannot until we become a peaceful humanity. The technology to come is so powerful, we must become trustworthy before we can be trusted to not destroy the planet.

But Love's Objected,a book, chronicles a post-consumer credit capitalism. I HEAR FOLKS TALKING AROUND THE HEDGES, ONLY. What a pity.

Betsy: I mean you no harm or derogation. You're correct if you mean we understand one another abstractly through these words.
Maybe I'm sexist by saying so but male egos predominate on this blog. They demand the final word and miss most of the message.
I am relieved to find another lady who retains her intuition. My writing is emotionally driven, but I try to find some relevant information to discuss. I'm impressed by the originality of your writing, Betsy. I have visited the SHARE site, and understand that you hope for a similar solution to our predicament. I do love animals though and try to defend their rights. Anyway, when we die we would be just spirit, and if animals have spirit, they too, likewise. We just wouldn't appear to own them anymore. I try to fear the death of the planet more than my own. My own death is not my fault and there is nothing I can do to prevent it. The Earth's death is a different matter in that I can hurt or help, maybe even help prevent it. Assistance from outside might be good, but I find it difficult to believe help is coming.
I know you do what you're able too. Why not tell us about your personal efforts.

Irene, I am not offended and thank you for your consideration. Our conversation may, above all else, be an example of where discussions of differences might begin. I wonder whether vocabulary and definition of core concepts might be a beginning. Where there is understanding of those, then differences might become clear, and with mutual willingness to listen and understand, further progress toward understanding might be made.

I see the advancement toward justice and peace as more of a heart thing than a logical, rational head thing. If we start at the heart, speak and relate heart-to-heart, we are apt to begin the process.

Too Mild A People

Let me for a moment serve the affinities of the religious so that I might turn the poorly understood half-truths of a holy text to human advantage. I direct your attention to I Chronicles, Chapter 21 (the entire text, also in II Samuel-22) in the Judaic tradition as recorded in the Christian Old Testament. David, the Hebrew king, offends the sensibilities of his nation and provokes God’s wrath by act of a census and intended subsequent taxation levy.

Like younger President Bush who proceeded to war and torture against well-founded advice and popular opinion, David clearly exceeded (with poor motives) his vested authority of the time. Were I a literal believer or an extreme Libertarian I might take the text as a bludgeon to my opponents, that no one, no how ever has cause to conduct a census or levy a tax, but that would be absurd, and would totally negate the lesson of this tale. David relents, but God offers a choice of severe penalties upon the entire country, just for his having entertained the forbidden without proper forethought and consultation (also possibly Divine propitiation). Rejecting a long famine or a successful enemy invasion, David chooses a three day pestilence. Seventy thousand souls perished immediately, but when David made an offering of a neighbor’s oxen, mill and stored grain (compensated) God took pity and terminated punishment on the first day. Again, were I a literalist, I might now suppose II Bush had chosen a long term famine for his people in retribution for his own decisions. He seems not too bright but claims to be a religious man.

My view is that the issue consists of unlawful usurpation of power over others when charged with the trust and confidence of a people. Bush and David each violated the social contract. The most grievous part of the current violation is the negation of the American citizen’s rights of privacy as implied by precedent and the Bill of Rights. The Patriot Acts, other stepped up surveillance and provocation, and targeting of critics, comprise a specter of doomed universal human rights. Such intimidation and interference, as specific as library records, enabled other crimes of secrecy and commerce. In an age of flowering technology, and exaggerated rumors of technical prowess, this criminal strategy has been cruelly effective. After seeing his subjects dying en mass David prayed the punishment fall solely upon himself and that his faithful and confident people be spared. I do not expect the equivalent from our current leadership.

The fact was that the people were obedient, good and industrious. They willingly and eagerly surrendered to the state what was needed for administration, proper accoutrements, and the general safety and welfare. (I wrote this meaning mythic ancient Israel, but later I understood how Americans have generally been a good and generous people.) Americans had been victimized (Some say 9/11 was engineered and used as a second Pearl Harbor.) and had done nothing that justified such diminishment of their human rights. Maybe they had been too trusting, patient and faithful. The bottom line is that now we are suffering economic and competitive punishment and that our environment is at risk. Previous administrations and the business institutions that drove them share in the blame. The Bush administration is plainly culpable because they sought acceleration and excess when caution and reform were clearly called for. Like David scoffing at his enumerator Joab, they snickered in the face of sincere warning. Punishment and reform are clearly overdue. If I could target a pestilence, government officials, business executives and wealthy speculators behind the wars and frauds would certainly be in jeopardy.

Bill Moyers has discussed some of these things with Phillipe Sands (“Torture Team”) and various others, but never has he deduced or stated that we have been too mild a people. A majority of us must become curious and bold if we are to save ourselves. Solidarity, innovative social experiments and a generous and imaginative ingenuity will also be required. As for wealth accumulation, unitary centralized power and unilateral action; I think we’ve had an excess of those. (Reading the Bible and other holy texts can be enlightening.)

Wow! This is so cool, like philosophy class.

Betsy, remembering that I'm a miggle-aged insurance clerk with an inferior BS from an obscure college, please argue your mixed medium theory of kingdoms in greater detail. I believe you are arguing from tradition and authority using a mixture of scientific nomenclature and religious humano-centrism.

Flaws:
1.Whales, gibbons and platypusai are not domesticated and could continue to exist without humans, and without human perception. Think: What have we ever done for chickens? An existence, pleasurable to individuals of said species, in stasis, might be preferable to the mess we've made. Also, you've presented no evidence to support superior human worthiness.
2.You presume a hierarchy. Some creative force or teleology must rank above us in your conception. Do you presume to comprehend the value judgments of a superior force?
3. A teleology is but a belief, a faint hope. Do you impose your unproven outcome on this entire planet?

I present this not as criticism, but in hope of strengthening your resolve for justice and peace, by making your position more rational and better understood. Don't feel compelled to respond if you feel I offend your dignity, just consider my puzzlement.

Irene writes:"how do we know that whales or gibbons or even platypusia are not more spiritually worthy than ourselves".

I was assuming the difference in kingdoms - the animal kingdom and the human kindgom. I suppose spiritual worthiness, if you mean spirituality to be anything which refers to development of consciousness, might not be specific to the human kingdom. In at least one philosophical tradition, the animal kingdom evolves in consciousness through domestication, and the human kingdom has as one of its purposes the function of enhancing, where possible, that evolution. But the two kingdoms are not interchangeable even though at certain times in the long history of this planet animals who are ready may evolve into the human kingdom. In this tradition, there would be no animal kingdom if there were no human kingdom.

Jim, I've been thinking. You were somewhat abrupt to induct Joseph Campbell into atheism. I think an honest chronicler of myth has to accept both the truths they convey and the absurdities by which they convey them. I know you are not in front of the TV watching football and swilling beer on Sunday after watching Moyers on Friday night. I can see our religious friend in Washington state philosophizing over a brewsky though. Anyway, some of the NFL steroid freaks proclaim fervent Christian belief as part of their fellowship.
I hope you agree no one should be belittled or abused over innocuous religious beliefs. That would be like spanking six year olds for believing in the tooth fairy.

(Irene E. is back.)
As a vegetarian who likes animals I feel as close to Cannonball as to Betsy W. I think humans are a special animal, but how do we know that whales or gibbons or even platypusia are not more spiritually worthy than ourselves. After all, our bodies may be the only distinction between their emotionality/consciousness and ours. Without bipedalism and a jellied brain to compare, who knows. Betsy's star may shine for the coons and 'possums too, and my cat Stanley may have something wonderful to tell me. Chew on that chicken.

Cannonball, I agree with your comment if we are talking about our physical bodies and the instincts attached to it. However, the question of whether there can be commonalities among our religious and spiritual traditions requires consideration that we are more than our bodies. It is consciousness which separates human beings from animals, and as that consciousness evolves it is increasingly inclusive and thereby includes perspectives which heretofore had been excluded. This is growth of awareness. Our human problems stem from the materialistic culture which recognizes only our physical. Our brains are said to be a jumble of chemicals, but science has not asked the question "who is behind the brain"?. The old dogmas of science, religion, politics, social interaction are disintegrating. Those who cling to them might consider that a new way of living can be built on a more inclusive awareness.

There is no god except that which man creates. Man creates god to deal with our knowledge of our own mortality. Our need to be the center of the universe is born of our experiences through the five senses. We have no other perspective. In reality, we are the evolved ape, still fighting for territory and procreation rights. All the terms, like racism, theology, nationalism, faith, ethnicity, patiotism, etc., are really just replacements for genetic survival. We are a tribe species with a need for small family bonds, easily angered and usually violent.

Does no ethical or religious person care to comment on the Harriman, Teen. cleancoal disaster? Please do so at Allen Johnson: GuestBlogger. Just click "more posts" below the page roster in the right margin to find it in the blog list.
Thanks

Religion cannot be celebrated in a world that uses it as a weapon.

Religion cannot be celebrated in a world that uses it as a weapon.

Betsy W.- Your sincere take is very encouraging. Here's hoping we can "make it so."

(I too have noticed an especial brilliance of Venus, and Jupiter and Mars; in NJ's light-polluted sky. And I wonder why that is...)

Lark writes: "Betsy W.-Which quadrant of the night sky (North America) will the star appear? I'm into stargazing and often watch the space station in transit. It would be good if a spiritual authority could rein in the hate mongers masquerading as religious leaders. I'll bet the Chinese government is really worried about Maitreya."

Kark, I don't know which quadrant. Venus has been so brilliant lately that some have mistaken it for this new star.
From what I've learned, Maitreya comes not to change anything, but to inspire us to change the world. His inspiration is, they say, behind all of the popular movements toward justice in the world. Even the Chinese people are protesting govt response to the earthquake(s). All governments (and religious authorities) grip their centralized power at their peril now, including the US govt. Maitreya's energy, Love, is behind the world wide call for change.

It’s easy to spot the commonalities of the major world religions – the glaring exemption of women from any of them. Like most of history, religious doctrine was written about men, by men. As a woman, how do you find common ground with any religion when the only choice offered is being a virgin or a helpless victim?

The truth is that none of us knows the truth about God. Yet, we’ll never let go of that secret because we’re afraid the other guy’s hell might be worse than our own.

It would be good for people to concentrate on the common threads that unify the world's religious traditions, as shown in the film BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES. The differences in the world's religious traditions indicate that these differences are the creation of humans and not of a creator of the universe. If all people realized the differences were human made, religious conflicts would be eliminated.

Hi Brenda

I apreciate your comment about The Nine Spirits, however I did not say it was a book. I mentioned the concept of naturalistic spirits becaause I think it is highly germane to this particular Moyers program. It was a mistake on my part to italicize the construct. I'm pained to know my action may have distracted you and others from attending to my blog.

Klark,
My main concern is the acceptance of the fact that there is a creative force within nature that produces functional reality and that understanding that reality is consistent with the needs and desires of human beings is essential to understanding reality realistically.
Ignoring the obvious is counter productive.
On the subject of hell...
I think it could be just an idle threat. However, I like to remind people that it is a possibility. I think There should be accountability for intentional maliciousness.
Especially when thousands of people are murdered.
I think Religion should be consistent with people's best interests and that it should be a personal choice. I also believe people can be Atheists and still live a "good" life.
We all have to deal with physical reality and complex social issues that prevent us from living the perfect life. Some people have plush lives and others people's lives that are one disaster after another.
Making life a "Good" experience is a daunting task.
Dave

Mr. Godshalk:
Using this blog which is about a film to promote your book is crass. That is my opinion.

Yep, he would (threaten any non-believer). He must be on the board of that gated community: Hell. I imagine it's run similarly to GM.
But I'm pleased by posts like James G's who advises that our religious beliefs should at least reflect the physical realities and limitations plainly evident all around us. Belief should not be a license to deny climate change, the carrying capacity of nature or the effects of coal slag. You never hear of a "great one" detoxifying nuclear waste or restoring the ozone layer.
Betsy W.-Which quadrant of the night sky (North America) will the star appear? I'm into stargazing and often watch the space station in transit. It would be good if a spiritual authority could rein in the hate mongers masquerading as religious leaders. I'll bet the Chinese government is really worried about Maiterya.
Finally, I accept my own death and have decided to be surprised by any residual awareness I may find. I hope not to disparage any belief that gives comfort until it intrudes upon the belief choices of others. Believe what you will, but don't let it cause you to abuse others or deny their human rights.
I have the same right to discuss belief and religion as anyone else. I have the right to change or abandon my beliefs at any time.
If God (or any supposed immortal) exhibited evil traits or cruel behavior I would never follow IT or obey it no matter how powerful it might be. So if your chosen Being is described as violent and jealous, to Hell with IT.
In early Christianity some proto-Coptics believed Yahweh and Lucifer were the same THING. That's OK; I'll allow that, if that's what you prefer to believe. One attractive possibility is as good as another where mythic cosmology rules. (cosmology, not cosmetology)

Jim,
there is a lot more to the real world than beer and football.
Dave

Klark,
I think it was in Anne Franks Diary that there was a Jewish man who had convinced himself that if he stood behind a particular door in his house the Nazis would not see him. He was crushed when his ploy did not work.
My intent was not to condemn anyone. It was to make people aware that bad assumptions can be disastrous.
I am sure there is a special hot spot in hell for atheist pseudo-intellectuals who do not understand that there is more to reality than physical objects.
The subject is religion and there have been great minds with the time and energy to investigate religious truth who have found religion to be an essential element of humanity.
There are many truisms that people prefer to ignore. This fact Will be the reason that human beings become extinct.
Happy New Years.
This is the first day of the rest of your life. Find ways to make religion what it should be instead of undermining people's cherished beliefs.
We all have beliefs in unseen things.

what do all religion's have in common? joseph campbell nailed it when he said the purpose of religion is to allow the mind to accept death. he pointed out that god is a concept, but especially how the "mind" wants to live forever, but the body (including the brain) can't... religion has always created harmony between the mind and body with the promise of life after death. it all makes sense when you add it up... 2000+ years ago, people didn't understand why the sun set, or that the earth was round, why would anyone think they got the origins of man correct? lets dump the disney-land stuff and start living in the real world.

CL Shea writes: If religion were susceptible to scientific-style proofs or disproofs, there wouldn't be a lot to argue about.

Yes, CL I agree. And I would add that coming right up is the beginning of a series of events which will lend themselves to those scientific-style proofs.
When the new star appears in the heavens, and the Teacher begins his public teaching, we'll be able to test, to question, to observe objectively divinity in action in full, physical view. The problem will be that those fundamentalist sects will spread fear and distortion, and will try to hinder understanding in any way possible the fact that the essential tenets of all religions are similar. Maitreya will show that the dynamic figures whose followers started the world's religions, have worked and now work together in the closest harmony and cooperation for the good of humanity. Let's give him a listen. He speaks for all those who have no voice, no choice but to live in abject misery. His ideas, if we accept them, will transform, and save the world. Without sharing there can be no justice; without justice there can be no peace; without peace there will be no future. justice4peace.org

After reading all the blogs thus far it’s obvious to me bloggers are for the most part very intelligent and socially concerned citizens. More such people are needed if we are to preserve life on this planet!

What most distresses me is the paucity of alternatives to today’s religions. Why shouldn’t 21st century homo sapiens invent a new spiritual story that conforms to what we know scientifically about the world and universe. Such a spiritual paradigm would view the commonalities among religions as simply verification of eternal natural forces the seers experienced but could only be interpreted in the magical, or mythological reasoning of the day.

Yes, there are suggestions that we seek our moral guidance by looking within, and/or experiencing nature, but I believe there are more specific and definitive instructions available in the phenomenon of organic and inorganic evolution. All we need do is observe the world around, an in us, to see evidences of the natural forces which propel all life and our planet’s formation. I believe these invisible forces are nine in number. I refer to them as The Nine Spirits. Their expression is as real as the natural forces and entities fundamental to the sciences, such as gravity, magnetism and subatomic particles. We know they are there by their effects on observable things.

Because the survival of any individual organism, species, life form or ecosystem is governed by their capacity to express these spirits, a system of ethics, or morality, can be inferred, if we value the story of our existence...... a story told in terms of contemporary scientific and historical knowledge. The Nine Spirits could be seen as the rhythm and meaning of the universe and life. A life lived in concert with the spirits would in essence be an existence in harmony with self and nature.

J. Godshalk
jgodshalk@centurytel..net

C.L. Shea's quote from DiscWorld about sums it up.
Most people have a feeling of something commomly held and spiritual that permeates the human experience. The mystery is often satisfied with a truncated cosmological myth, as taught in a particular homogeneous community. And then anyone from those communities having out-sized or puzzling questions about the inadequacy of the myth is feared, despised and often punished.Their is a lid on thinking outside the doctrinal box or exploring other explanations. The trial of Galileo Galilei being an oft cited example.

Such irrational encapsulement of belief also facilitates intergroup conflict and supports war. We observe in our society how belief communities become captive and are utilized for political and economic ends. Knowing the particular primitive ideologies and superstitions of a group makes it easier to mobilize hate and xenophobia. Because most people remain "childlike in their faith" they are easily manipulated and end up not knowing what to believe.

I think it is well illustrated by Mark Twain's "War Prayer", in which an angel arrives in church to warn of the horrible consequences should God answer the congregation's prayer for victory. ("It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.") Some here are so fearful and so trapped in a primitive superstition that they can make no sense of peace. A new book "The Shack" might be a good stepping stone to their spiritual emancipation. It is on the best seller list so there will soon be many escapees.

Let me also admonish the small-minded hodaddy who threatens Helen with eternal suffering in Hell. (Would he threaten another man thusly?) Were there a Hell, an especially hot corner would be reserved for unChristian bullies.

Helen,
Yes, and what a surprise it will be for those evil and greedy people when they find out that God is not a myth and that they are accountable for their sinfulness and their selfishness.

Eternity is a long time to suffer and life is but a grain of sand in the hour glass of eternity.

This was a wonderful program. Loved seeing Ghandi holding the little child.
However, of all the people who follow religions fail to recognize is that the only thing being worshipped by many of the so-called religious is MONEY. How sad. I too feel that if this mythological god didn't exist in the minds of mankind, it would be a much more peaceful world. I find it hard to believe that these leaders who profess to believing in a god, and then burden mankind with death and destruction, know very well that there is no god, but just build this fantasy in order to be in control.

Humankind is now all riding in the same airship. Nobody's passenger. Everybody's crew.

This film introduces the gestalt for all of us to take the next necessary step. My hope is that all humans have been hard-wired for this journey since The Beginning.

Try this one on for size:

"The big problem with religion, for a dispassionate observer, has nothing to do with belief versus proof. If religion were susceptible to scientific-style proofs or disproofs, there wouldn't be a lot to argue about. No, the big problem is the disparity between individual human spirituality-the deep-seated feeling that we belong in this awesome universe-with the unmitigated disasters that organised, large-scale religions have at various times, including in all probability yesterday, inflicted on the planet and its people. This is upsetting. Religion ought to be a force for good, and mostly it is...But when it isn't, it goes spectacularly and horribly wrong." (pg. 208,The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, by Terry Pratchett)

The book Small Gods, also by Terry Pratchett, is an interesting examination of the role of belief in religion...and what happens when "a big, powerful priesthood latches on to what started as one person's awe at the universe." (Science of Discworld II, p.222)

"The only safe home for one's personal spirituality is oneself." (Sc of D II, p.222.)

Try this one on for size:

"The big problem with religion, for a dispassionate observer, has nothing to do with belief versus proof. If religion were susceptible to scientific-style proofs or disproofs, there wouldn't be a lot to argue about. No, the big problem is the disparity between individual human spirituality-the deep-seated feeling that we belong in this awesome universe-with the unmitigated disasters that organised, large-scale religions have at various times, including in all probability yesterday, inflicted on the planet and its people. This is upsetting. Religion ought to be a force for good, and mostly it is...But when it isn't, it goes spectacularly and horribly wrong." (pg. 208,The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, by Terry Pratchett)

The book Small Gods, also by Terry Pratchett, is an interesting examination of the role of belief in religion...and what happens when "a big, powerful priesthood latches on to what started as one person's awe at the universe." (Science of Discworld II, p.222)

"The only safe home for one's personal spirituality is oneself." (Sc of D II, p.222.)

Try this one on for size:

"The big problem with religion, for a dispassionate observer, has nothing to do with belief versus proof. If religion were susceptible to scientific-style proofs or disproofs, there wouldn't be a lot to argue about. No, the big problem is the disparity between individual human spirituality-the deep-seated feeling that we belong in this awesome universe-with the unmitigated disasters that organised, large-scale religions have at various times, including in all probability yesterday, inflicted on the planet and its people. This is upsetting. Religion ought to be a force for good, and mostly it is...But when it isn't, it goes spectacularly and horribly wrong." (pg. 208,The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, by Terry Pratchett)

And in case you're stuck for a recent horrible example, take a look at the pasting Gaza in currently taking.

The book Small Gods, also by Terry Pratchett, is an interesting examination of the role of belief in religion...and what happens when "a big, powerful priesthood latches on to what started as one person's awe at the universe." (Science of Discworld II, p.222)

"The only safe home for one's personal spirituality is oneself." (Sc of D II, p.222.)

Try this one on for size:

"The big problem with religion, for a dispassionate observer, has nothing to do with belief versus proof. If religion were susceptible to scientific-style proofs or disproofs, there wouldn't be a lot to argue about. No, the big problem is the disparity between individual human spirituality-the deep-seated feeling that we belong in this awesome universe-with the unmitigated disasters that organised, large-scale religions have at various times, including in all probability yesterday, inflicted on the planet and its people. This is upsetting. Religion ought to be a force for good, and mostly it is...But when it isn't, it goes spectacularly and horribly wrong." (pg. 208,The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, by Terry Pratchett)

And in case you're stuck for a recent horrible example, take a look at the pasting Gaza in currently taking.

The book Small Gods, also by Terry Pratchett, is an interesting examination of the role of belief in religion...and what happens when "a big, powerful priesthood latches on to what started as one person's awe at the universe." (Science of Discworld II, p.222)

"The only safe home for one's personal spirituality is oneself." (Sc of D II, p.222.)

For many years now, I have felt ashamed of the selfish religious fervor in my country and around the world. Fundamentalists blowing up their fellow human beings in the name of God. Evangelical bigots threatening loving individuals because they live with a different sexual orientation, and voting to take away their rights. Childish behavior that destroys the human family. Many supposedly religious people have utterly no grace or spiritual foundation. Organized ideology usually makes me sick to my stomach because it doesn't teach respect for other traditions. Though I am rooted in the Christian tradition, I could never believe that my spiritual understanding is in any way better or more right than yours. I mean, who are we kidding? Are we or are we not all children of God? I understand the benefit of putting a face on God. It's easier to think, "I know God, he is like this, he is like that, I know him, I walk with him and talk to him everyday." But we all know that this is not literally true. If there is a creative spirit on this earth with us, it is not an actual human being. The spirit is in us and in this world and in the Universe. We sense it in nature, in friends and family, in fun times and hard times. We are called by it to offer ourselves to the weak, the poor, the defenseless. God simply is all around. That is all God can ever be. No one knows what form that takes, other than the realization that there is a Creator and we are not Her. We all share this planet, so let's get real! Admitting that all the central religious figures who were in their time living embodiments of peace are valuable and worthy of respect is a good place to start. Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, their teachings have changed the world for the better, as have many others. It is when people use these saints to prop up their own egos that religion becomes useless and harmful. We need to reject the notion that we know who God is, without losing faith in God. Faith in God is something we feel and experience in that deep indescribable dimension that brings us greater peace and understanding for all living things. The beauty of Christianity in my life has been the awareness that each person is capable of lighting a candle in a dark world, and living the truth of all religious tradition.

For many years now, I have felt ashamed of the selfish religious fervor in my country and around the world. Fundamentalists blowing up their fellow human beings in the name of God. Evangelical bigots threatening loving individuals because they live with a different sexual orientation, and voting to take away their rights. Childish behavior that destroys the human family. Many supposedly religious people have utterly no grace or spiritual foundation. Organized ideology usually makes me sick to my stomach because it doesn't teach respect for other traditions. Though I am rooted in the Christian tradition, I could never believe that my spiritual understanding is in any way better or more right than yours. I mean, who are we kidding? Are we or are we not all children of God? I understand the benefit of putting a face on God. It's easier to think, "I know God, he is like this, he is like that, I know him, I walk with him and talk to him everyday." But we all know that this is not literally true. If there is a creative spirit on this earth with us, it is not an actual human being. The spirit is in us and in this world and in the Universe. We sense it in nature, in friends and family, in fun times and hard times. We are called by it to offer ourselves to the weak, the poor, the defenseless. God simply is all around. That is all God can ever be. No one knows what form that takes, other than the realization that there is a Creator and we are not Her. We all share this planet, so let's get real! Admitting that all the central religious figures who were in their time living embodiments of peace are valuable and worthy of respect is a good place to start. Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, their teachings have changed the world for the better, as have many others. It is when people use these saints to prop up their own egos that religion becomes useless and harmful. We need to reject the notion that we know who God is, without losing faith in God. Faith in God is something we feel and experience in that deep indescribable dimension that brings us greater peace and understanding for all living things. The beauty of Christianity in my life has been the awareness that each person is capable of lighting a candle in a dark world, and living the truth of all religious tradition.

For many years now, I have felt ashamed of the selfish religious fervor in my country and around the world. Fundamentalists blowing up their fellow human beings in the name of God. Evangelical bigots threatening loving individuals because they live with a different sexual orientation, and voting to take away their rights. Childish behavior that destroys the human family. Many supposedly religious people have utterly no grace or spiritual foundation. Organized ideology usually makes me sick to my stomach because it doesn't teach respect for other traditions. Though I am rooted in the Christian tradition, I could never believe that my spiritual understanding is in any way better or more right than yours. I mean, who are we kidding? Are we or are we not all children of God? I understand the benefit of putting a face on God. It's easier to think, "I know God, he is like this, he is like that, I know him, I walk with him and talk to him everyday." But we all know that this is not literally true. If there is a creative spirit on this earth with us, it is not an actual human being. The spirit is in us and in this world and in the Universe. We sense it in nature, in friends and family, in fun times and hard times. We are called by it to offer ourselves to the weak, the poor, the defenseless. God simply is all around. That is all God can ever be. No one knows what form that takes, other than the realization that there is a Creator and we are not Her. We all share this planet, so let's get real! Admitting that all the central religious figures who were in their time living embodiments of peace are valuable and worthy of respect is a good place to start. Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, their teachings have changed the world for the better, as have many others. It is when people use these saints to prop up their own egos that religion becomes useless and harmful. We need to reject the notion that we know who God is, without losing faith in God. Faith in God is something we feel and experience in that deep indescribable dimension that brings us greater peace and understanding for all living things. The beauty of Christianity in my life has been the awareness that each person is capable of lighting a candle in a dark world, and living the truth of all religious tradition.

Unlike many of the posts seen here I thought this was very good. I go to a Lutheran Church where the senior pastor should have seen this and just maybe he would "be enlightened" after watching it. However, I don't think that he watched it nor would he become enlightened to see that an ecumencial approach is what is needed in today's world. He is Seminex trained and he might was well have been trained LMS. He rarely if ever attends any ecumenical event, even though this is a "college/university" town. He and others like him are what were referred to in this film, i.e. holding narrow views similar to "my way or the highway" type. Too bad the folks who probablly need to see this film, missed it. It would be great if someone with money would "pay" for it and put it up on internet.Or paid for it to be mailled to all Lutheran Churches claiming to be ELCA --like mine claims to be ELCA but treats its members more like they want to be in the dark ages.
Brenda

John S.
While I agree with what you said; I do not agree with what you did not say.
The Catholic Church has become a secular organization with the trappings of religion but they are not consistent with the teachings of Christ. They have become dictatorial and materialistic. Christ taught humbleness and compassion. The Catholic Church does not condemn the murder of innocent people or malevolent dictators. They do not use their vast wealth to care for widows and orphans in their distress.
Christians should do down the middle; not to the left or right. They should be doing the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, few there are who find it.
Therefore; everyone should seek the "Golden Mean" no matter what their religious convictions or "lack there of".


I am a Catholic who is glad to see different people with different beliefs. I am however, concern about the Religious Right and the Secular/atheistic Left. When I look at both groups I know that they are more similar than different. I have found that the Atheistic Left and the Religious right have used fear and intimidation to promote their values and impose their beliefs. both the Atheistic left and the Religious Right want to use government as a means/tool to impose their beliefs. I trully find it odd that the Atheistic Left has accussed religion for much human suffering and human death. What the Atheistic left has left out that they have quite a bit of "blood stains" on their hands. In the 20th century alone, Atheists have killed more people and violated the human rights of more people than all people of all religions throughout time combined.

Intollerance is the main problem and I have found the atheistic Left and the Religious Right to be the most intollerant people I have ever known.

I was truly awed by the video as it put into words everything that I have felt for years and then went far beyond what I had the ability to even imagine. The Spiritual leaders who were in the film came across as one, speaking universal truths that tie all of mankind together. We need more films and work like this, not the prejudice and hatred that we see and hear everywhere in the media today. When looking at your poll I saw that 17% (so far) feel that our Spiritual commonalities are not enough to bring about the change needed in this world. I was surprised and wondered if they really saw the same film I had. Sadly I should not have been surprised though as my sister goes to a church that believes that as Christians we are at war with anyone who is a Nonbeliever particularly Muslims. She also believes that I am not a true Christian as long as I feel we can all live in harmony. This film is extraordinary. Thank you for allowing us to see it.

"Beyond our Indifferences" would make an interesting Part II...

We need a "common ground" for the improvement of human nature and the condition of human kind.
Religion should be a neutral area of human relations that is a personal choice not a source of contention.
Religion should be benevolent and support the welfare of all humanity.
What improves the quality of people's lives is the technical ability of society to provide the goods and services that make life functional. First it is required that people have the education, moral principles and social skills to maintain quality societies. Fighting over limited resources (*survival of the fittest) is a disaster for human kind. What we need is survival of humanity through human kindness and efficient organization based on human compassion.
We need to embrace our differences and make a concerted effort to avoid indifference toward other people's needs.
If you take human out of humanity; all you have left is an it and a (why?).

(Mt 9:13) "But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." - E-NASB

It has been over 2000 years since Messiah spoke these words to the "religious leaders", and they still have not learned the meaning of compassion, but condemn Humanity over the "proper form" of sacrifice!

(Jude 1:11) Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. - E-NASB

It is time that they make room in their hearts for the other siblings as we are ALL the work of the Creator's hands!

(Job 33:6) "Behold, I belong to God like you; I too have been formed out of the clay. - E-NASB

The simplest "common denominator" which applies to ALL MANKIND:

We can ALL entrust our souls to a FAITHFUL CREATOR in doing what is right! (re: 1 Peter 4:19)

(De 32:4) "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He. - E-NASB

An excerpt from the Song of Moses - come sing along!

This was a really stupid film that only served to remind me that ppl, even clerics, understand even less about religion than they do about monetary economics and politics. There are and always have been three different understandings of religion, and correspondingly of politics and economics, too, which we can perhaps most easily differentiate as making up the three persons of the Trinity. The conflict over these is precisely why we developed the Trinity baloney, and why we have mixed constitutions. The Father represents a jealous monarch, the Creator, whose being is entirely will, demanding loyalty or faith, and is venerated by those whose desire is to boost their own egos in the process. Thus shame is important here, and there is no shortage of duplicity. They wish to identify with the greatness and power, like a servant with his lord. A nation is viewed as the lord's family. The political party equivalent is the Tory and the economic equivalent is the bullionist, who believes possession is wealth. The Son, in contrast, attempts to atone for sin seen as debt and fulfill or service a contract and is bound up with the elevation of the mother to divine status. Worshipers hope, indeed are greedy, for forgiveness and to be loved, and they cannot be happy without scarcity and affliction. They feel guilty, are forever envious and show status anxiety. Whigs are the political equivalent, and they represent the legislative branch of constitutions, but not the idea of a social contract, rather the social fabric is held together by an heirarchical system of incentives and rewards. In economics they measure wealth by debt. The Spirit, is essentially not religious at all, in the sense of the other two, but represents the idea of natural good, reason, virtue and justice in philosophy, and its branch is, of course, the judiciary, which once included the legislature, but not since the latter was taken over by the Whigs. In politics and economics, it is genuine socialism, where there is neither money, in the sense of gold, nor debt and its sort of money. St Paul called this caritas, and it assumes a universality and receptivity not present in the other two and sees sin as a lack of honesty. Even our languages give different meanings to the same word depending on which viewpoint is involved. It should be obvious that all of our wars have in some way involved a collision of one or more of these, and not conflict within any one of them. Alone the first named tries to prevent large-scale fighting by territoriality and posturing, as on the India-Pakistan border, and by largess. The second maintains peace by dependence, altho it is given therefore to excess and enervation, and attempts to expand its base, as wealth is transferred upwards. The third, by self-restraint based on perception of the greatest good. The last was held by most of the speakers as being central to all religions, which is manifestly untrue, and I don't see conflict among them going away unless the underlying differences go away.

I'm a confirmed secular humanist/agnostic, yet I found this documentary to be very moving and inspiring. Certainly there is much to criticize in any form of organized religion, but unlike others commenting on this blog, I felt that the film was very open about these criticisms. I should add that I also enjoyed the film 'Religilous' which exposed all of the hypocracies of the major religions via Bill Maher's acerbic wit. 'Beyond Our Differences' examines our common humanity our shared desire for peace, love and community. Yes, religious institutions are often hypocritical, self serving and contradictory, but we as humans still share these common desires, and yes, spiritual yearnings. I would be very open to the idea of a dialogue between religious and nonreligious thinkers on our common concerns for human rights, equality and the general promotion of the common good. If we are able to strip away the veneers of Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, atheist, agnostic etc we might be surprised what we can learn and gain from viewing one another simply as fellow humans. Well done.

When I first started watching the movie, Beyond Our Differences, I felt very uplifted, but about midway through it I got tired of hearing the word God without any mention of the Goddess. Then I started remembering the history of all these God-based religions. Most were the result of a violent conquest and suppresion of people who worshipped The Great Goddess. Considering that none of us know with any certainty what Divinity is, the dogmatic insistance that It is a He flies in the face of the core message of this film, and by the ommission of The Goddess it allows the beating and raping and mutilating of women because they seemingly do not partake of the Divine essense and are less than.... in effect unspiritual, unclean, unholy and excluded from the priesthood in most God-oriented religions.

The absence of The Feminine from the story told by most organized religions is so widespread we do not question it .... even in such a well-intentioned and in many ways beautiful film as this. Yet this premise of only a God is exactly what we do need to wonder about. Why no Goddess when there are both men and women? Why is God the creator when in fact it is the Woman who is the bearer of Life? Where is the Goddess who was worshipped for thousands of years? How can any relgion be inclusive without the acknowledgement of The Feminine at its core... not alone or above the God but as a natural part of the Divine?

Bill Moyer,

Beyond Our Differences

The program showed the violence brought on by religions, although they all claim love and piece. It also showed the ignorance of even educated people how should know better – gods are and always have been created by man. They are all myths even though thousands believed in all the old gods. The new one is just as mythical and just as violent; allowing violent in the name of god by violent men. If I were a soldier in Iraq and saw the religious police beating up the women, I would shoot him dead even though I would never kill an animal. I would not do it in the name of religions. I would do it in the name do humanity. The program showed me how false the belief in a god is when women and children are killed, beaten, or are starving to death.

The hell with all your love claims in that program – a cover-up for religious corruption. It is time to get ride of religions.

Imagine a world with out religion. That is what the Freedom From Religion Foundation is advocating. Check it out and you will see how bad religion really is.

I was hoping for you to have a better program exposing religions like you expose other corruption with your fine programs. This one was not a good program for changing human though on religion for a more human approach to a live of reason.

God-frey.

Excellent educational and compassionate show, but the comments here are, I suppose, like us -all over the place.

What I got out of watching it was the inspiration for courage to respect one another and all creation, and thus the courage to respect oneself.

We have had an age of superstition and an age of reason, and it has landed us into a global state of selfishness and cruelty and indifference to suffering. Perhaps it is really time for the age of conscience.

On the road to Shambala.

Mr. Moyers,
I saw the Beyond Our Differences movie this evening. My viewing of it was somewhat by accident as I am visiting my sister, and when I couldn't sleep I looked to see what she had recorded on her DVR. Your show was the only thing I had not yet seen.
It was beautiful, moving and inspiring. Thank you for making this movie a part of your pbs show. What you are doing is important. Sincerely, Leah Bray Nichols, Memphis, Tennessee

Religion caused more death and destruction in the history of mankind than any other belief system to my knowledge.

More people commit irrational acts in the name of religion than atheism. Why is that?

I find most religions to be nothing more than a way to excuse our weaknesses as human beings and to gain explanations into things we have no understanding of, such a sudden death. Or airplane crashes.

What I find scary is that over 50% or more of the people in this country say they believe in angels and some mythical man who lives in space and watches over them. Yet they claim to be adults.

Of course religions promote the differences, even if some of their followers say otherwise. It's a zero-sum game with religion, and if you examine history you'll see that those who believe in the absolute have little tolerance for those who "don't get it."

Why does PBS and the Journal want to promote a myth? Even the video, in its very opening, makes absurd statements about humans having the same aspirations, needs, etc, etc. It is not so.

Most humans may agree that there's a God, but his (and, invariably, it's a HE) nature or attributes differ from religion to religion. If nothing else, he has told DIFFERENT stories to various people who've constructed their religions based on his divine revelation.

I had hoped for a more critical approach to this subject.

A great show on religion

great show!!!

If the major world religions had a transcendent spiritual basis surely women would be at least equally represented as major prophets, popes, rabbis, imans, etc. The fact that women are not spiritually elevated to male status within any of the major religions of the past three centuries proves that they are sorely lacking from their roots to their crooked barren twigs.

If the major world religions had a transcendent spiritual basis surely women would be at least equally represented as major prophets, popes, rabbis, imans, etc. The fact that women are not spiritually elevated to male status within any of the major religions of the past three centuries proves that they are sorely lacking from their roots to their crooked barren twigs.

Well you've wasted another hour with "Beyond our Differences". Do religions promote the golden rule? Tell it to the extinct Cathars. I remember anthems such as "Spread the word with the sword", mottoes such as Christ Killers, and how about Kasmir today. I recommend a counter program on how religions promote differences.

I did not really need to be reminded what religion is supposed to be about, nor how the lofty aims of any of the organized religions are inherently unreachable.

I would like to have seen a representative of the community of non-believers and believers without affiliation given the chance to make the point that one does not have to believe in god or allah or Jesus or whomever to lead a moral life.

It would also have been nice if there had been less pontificating and more proposing of ways in which religious organizations might overcome the subversion of their aims by those who exploit ignorance and belief to the furtherance of evil.

What a profound and appropriate program! If only people all over the world could see this, and see the forest for the trees in the way. I just happened to catch it this Sunday afternoon. It catches the essence central to most religions and human behavior in general...be childlike instead of childish, selfless instead of selfish, violence ALWAYS begets violence, war ALWAYS begets war, revenge ALWAYS begets revenge. Just look at history. Its always the same. Love your enemies and treat others like you would like to be treated. Have compassion, these simple principles that people have such a hard time practicing.

“What is how much is there beyond our differences?”
It is not the failure of system due to “beyond of our differences”of any religion.
As the tyrants roam the universe, “they come to the ... people with a gun at our
heads” and permitted the “whole financial system to collapse!” A system “develop
to put the “whole economy in jeopardy!” A dysfunctional “justice system” with a
corruption on rampage is the result “beyond our differences!”
The denial for the people to participate in the process in democracy to express
“THEIR WILL ON ALL ISSUES” is “beyond our differences!”
The religions could guide “beyond our differences” for the people to ask and
express their “WILL on ALL ISSUES!”

How much is there Beyond our Differences?

Is anybody here concerned with human rights? If you want them you have to stop religioning and realize:

Unless MEN (and women) create human rights and fully understand that they are creations and why they were created, then MEN (and women) DO NOT HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS.

This is one of the best shows explaining religion that I have ever watched.
Thank You!

Fortunately I had my Tivo set to record Moyer's Journal when the premier of Beyond Our Differences, aired on the 26th. It really rang true to me and I just want to go shout it's message from the rooftops. But when I went to do so, I found it extreamly disappointing that this film is not available on-line "due to restrictions"?

WTF?!?!?!?! The only way you can now see this film is to cough up $25 to have the DVD sent to your home?

If that is indeed the case, then very few people will see this important and courageous film since it is unavailable on-line.

I would think that the creators of this important film would want it to go viral and spread across the face of the planet if it is going to have an impact.

As it is, there is no way is it ever going to reach its intended audience if they're required to pay $25 to order the DVD.

It's a great message, but, it is really tempered by the fact that the creators got greedy and just want to make a buck on it instead of spreading this important message.

Oh well....at least I got mine, which seems ironically to me, to be the antithesis of the film.

*see "Guest Blogger: Allen Johnson on Bush's Environmental Policies"

Religious people often become stuck on poorly framed or non-existent issues. The idea of Earthly Dominion has crippled a rational Christian response to environmental issues for decades. It is easy for vested interests to use the superstitions of religion to protect their profits using a "love offering" or book deal to "Reverend Mouthpiece." Refusal to accept scientific solutions, but insisting upon religious ones can be deadly. It is as silly as a kid refusing to accept any gifts that don't come from Santa.

A narrow view is crippling. Jeremiah Wright, a progressive pastor, warned us that Barack Obama is a lawyer who puts political expediency first. Now we see him betraying our well-being on "Clean coal" and nuclear energy, as a favor to some lesser known supporters. Where will Billy Don Moyers come down on this? Is he in the same boat as Barack?

I ask because now we have to fight the clean air and water battle again. "Clean coal" may work fine in a video game but I have never received any drinkable water from cyberspace. Get real, Bill! Get real, Obama! You can make God say whatever you want when you control media. Rich people and their corporate capitalism have their invisible hand up God's behind, working them jabber-jaws. (and maybe Barack, maybe Bill, we'll see.)

PS: Removing the walls of difference would unite the universe, make her One, and truly set her free.
Peace at last.


AP - Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says there are no plans to occupy Gaza, after two days of airstrikes in the Palestinian territory and the callup of 6,500 Israeli reserve soldiers.


A Solution!

I wonder if the solution to this problem is as simple as tearing down the walls that so destructively divide them.
Has anyone ever noticed how a dog doesn't bark when there is no fence or leash?
Perhaps its only the walls that need to be bombed and destroyed, not mankind.

=
MJA

Peter Bisanz’s documentary "Beyond Our Differences" is a wonderful contribution to the growing movement for tolerance among the various religions on the planet and an effort to see past the differences in dogma and practice to reach the core that we all share in common so that we can move away from an epoch of wars, exploitation, occupation, and abuses conducted, allowed, and promoted in the name of religion.

Still, we must ask ourselves, what is it about human nature that makes us so vulnerable as a species to manipulation in the name of religion.

Research into the way we think show that most decision making is really unconscious, based on values and deep frames that may be contradictory and illogical. We need to ask ourselves what is the foundation for these values and deep frames? One place to start is with the Nine Spirits paradigm, which describes the observable natural spirits which propel all life. We share these Nine Spirits in common with all life, and they therefore underlie our deepest instincts, beliefs, needs and values. The Nine Spirits are observable and describable living spiritual forces. When we are in contact with the spirits of life within we can see clearly. The choices we make will reflect that clarity. The values of compassion, inclusion, respect and tolerance naturally emerge from the felt realization that we are all part of the same unity. An ethics based on observable reality can be embraced by anyone, whatever their religious or non-religious background. The Nine Spirits offers an approach that will help us make wise decision at this crucial time

I was very upset by this show. It protrayed the Islam religion as the way of hope and Peace. It gave a very netative view of the Christian religion. It did not show the negative side of Islam --how many young women leave the reliion or how many take their own lives. It did not show how many terriost and violent Islam people there are. I am friends with many Islam people and while I respect them their religion is not hope

Humanity as people with similarities and differences...
When it comes to our physical bodies; the only major difference is male and female.
When it comes to our non-physical differences; there are many differences. Three of these differences are the level of intelligence, the level of aggression and the attitude.
Survival is an important consideration. Despite this imperative, people are very risk orientated.
People have a sense of there being more to life than physical survival.
Religion is an important part of our concept of reality. We make decisions based on spiritual as well as physical considerations. We consider our emotional as well as our physical needs. We draw strength not only from our energy; we also draw strength from our state of mind. We can respond physically or emotionally to the challenges of life.
Social organization makes it necessary to manage our responses in a rational way. Religion helps us to establish a way of life that is consistent with the needs and desires of everyone. Deviant behavior is the enemy of human life because it prevents living in peace with each other in a quality society.
Atheists see no need for religion but still enjoy the fruits of its harvest.
There are religious people who also fall into deviant behavior and become a threat to themselves, other people and the stability of society.
The quality of life is dependent on both spiritual and physical systems of social organization as well as human compassion and ethical behavior.

So many of the people who commented focused on the negative passages in the writings of past religions. I feel that the purpose of this film was to wake people up to the real purpose of religion which is to inspire humanity to mature and forget our differences.
Then we could work together for the common good. I am happy that this film was made, grateful for the inspiring people who appeared in it, and thankful that Bill Moyers showed it on his Journal.

I was absorbed yet again by Bill Moyers Journal. Beyond Our Differences presented a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak religious scene. Just when I thought there was some hope I checked the news in the morning, as I always do, only to see that Gaza was in flames again. This time Israel struck in significant fashion. So far nearly 200 Palestinians are dead and 400 wounded. There are Israeli dead too. Hamas has been striking Israel consistently breaking the cease fire time after time after time. They must know the Israelis will not sit back and take an onslaught. So the beat goes on. Tit for tat again and again and again people’s bodies are dismembered and death reigns supreme. Nothing gets resolved except the willingness of each side to inflict more death and more destruction on each other ad infinitum until, I suppose, the end of time if necessary.

The hopeful aura of Bill Moyers Journal of “Beyond our Differences” showing the commonality of the religions of man to me this morning was rescinded as reality spoke otherwise. I know the voices of peace are out there. I know it because I am one and am no less a Jew than many who are more militant. Our voices though soften with the reality of the tears we shed, and by the incredulity and powerlessness we feel. How many more, for what and for whom? Is a life worth land, dirt, stone, pebbles, a 5000 year old text or a less than 2000 year old text? What is a life worth and who says so? Who wrote these edicts? Did a sky god come down from on high? Each group claims that He did and claims He did for that particular group and no other.

The criticism I have of this episode of The Journal is that for every sentence of peace in the Torah, the New Testament or the Koran one can find an equal and opposite sentence of violence. Those sentences of violence serve as justification for the never-ending mayhem inflicted by religionists. The Journal in its effort to seek common ground fails to state the very elements of those texts which are NOT non-violent and from which fundamentalism gets its fuel.

One of the statements on this part of the Journal said that 95% of humans on this planet believe in a Creator of our universe. 95% is very high. I must be among the five lonely percent who does not believe in a Creator who personifies himself and takes one side of man over the other. I am sure in the Middle Ages one could say 95% of all men thought the earth was the center of the galaxy and the sun revolved around it. They were consummately wrong. So what does 95% mean? As an agonistic I labor about the question of the first cause and as Bill Maher says in his wonderful film “Religulous” I don’t know. I just don’t know what the first cause for the creation of the universe was.

What I do know is one can pray until infinity and no god is going to answer your particular prayer. Why would He answer your prayer and not the other fellow’s? Why would he save one five year old from Israel and not another from Gaza? Could there have been some all powerful something that began our universe? I suppose there could have been but is that all powerful something going to reserve particular plots of land for certain people and not for others? Most emphatically NO He, She or It will not. That, man will have to do either by taking the land or blowing someone’s head apart for it and he does that very well, indeed, on his very own.

The Maitreya show premieres in January. Which network, I dunno, maybe replaces Entourage on cable? I sure would be glad if it pre-empted the plethoria of police-worship shows and homeland security fairy tails. (I heard Santa was chasing Kiefer Sutherland around Venice Beach with a battery drill.) Anyway, there will be a new star! Hear that Entertainment Tonight? Gottago, late for Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.

Being religious is an intensely personal matter, not to be shared lest it lose its value.

As Mark Twain said about education and schools, don't let religion get in the way of being religious. Even these few words are too many.

Let those who think they are religious keep it to themself so that the rest of us spiritual beings, who happen to be going through a human phase, can do so in peace.

I felt moved by the comments of the many spiritual leaders who were interviewed in the documentary. But I too felt that the non-believer, who is spiritual, is a point of view that was not well represented... this would include my husband and myself who are Unitarian Universalists.

To say that only religion provides charity and social programs is simply incorrect. While religions have been the primary method for that in the past, when religion and society were seamless, we can see that in social democratic states, social programs are provided based on humanistic, not religious, basis.

As someone who does not think that god answers prayers nor is uninvolved in the world, all of the respondents on your program sounded a bit looney. To me they were making up their premises and justifying their beliefs based on opinion, not facts.

One could make an argument that all religions do not espouse peace with other communities, but specifically state in their holy books that the other is incorrect and to be vanquished either doctrinally or often physically. There is more than enough support in the holy books for those who the speakers say are incorrectly using religion to justify their violence. I say that your speakers are the ones who are picking and choosing what passages to keep, in their call for peace and brotherhood in exactly the same way that those that espouse violence focus on the passages they need and discount those that speak of community and caring.

When Karen Armstrong says that all religions say that all human life is sacred and inviolable, I wonder if she has actually read the Bible and Koran. It would be very easy to make a film using holy book quotes to argue exactly the opposite, that justifies violence.

Shukria Barakzai was correct, but like so many others find it difficult to let go of their religion and what parents and society have instilled in them. She said she is ready to die for peace, freedom, democracy, stability, solidarity and accountability. She is against religion, but is unable to say so or perceive that in fact that is what she is doing. She is moving away from the tribal to the global.

If you and others in the film and the world, would simply admit that the religions of the world are fundamentally flawed and work together to form institutions that promote peace, solidarity and equality, the world would be a much better place. Instead of trying to disingenuously make existing religions into something they are not, lets make institutions that do not have to cover up or ignore the errors of their past .

Wisdom for Modern Life by Daisaku Ikeda
Saturday, December 27, 2008

Religious strife must be avoided at all cost; under no circumstance should it be allowed. People may hold different religious beliefs, but the bottom line is that we are all human beings. We all seek happiness and desire peace. Religion should bring people together. It should unite the potential for good in people‚'s hearts toward benefiting society and humanity and creating a better future.

http://www.sgi-usa.org/encouragement/dbd.php

I was saddened that this great individual's contribution to religion as a force for uniting and empowering people was ignored by the movie in favor of those who have made bigger waves in the news. I hope that the next presentation of this topic is more democratic and includes the voices less commonly heard yet equally and even more valuable in some instances.

Sincerely,
Marc Ginsburg

Our failure to recognize life clothed in all its glorious and remarkable colors creates much undue strife and hardship in this world.

God is ME and YOU. God is simply a name given to The Source of Life. Each of us is unique and must cherish our individuality in order to honor The Source of the universe AND if we are to understand our purpose in this lifetime. It is quite easy for each of us to be attached to names or expressed meanings of our chosen ethics, values and morals. We easily become defined by who and what reflects our mind’s limited personal perspectives of what really matters. In the end, we see that the best we can do, is to be the best we can be.

Each of us is a child of The Source of Life. As the near-death experience points out... the only mandate to us from The Source is: “show me what you have learned.” We comply by revealing our multi-dimensional life review. This is when we finally make sense of all we have done and see the true meaning of life... ours and the others who we have shared moments with.

Let’s not get caught up with names such as: atheist, Christian, believer or nonbeliever, etc. We are all children of The Source. We have all come to establish our individuality while we make our unique contributions in this lifetime. Life is much simpler when we do not get distracted by slanted media reportage of political, religious, sexual and racial symbolism or biases.

Simply, we are all brothers and sisters learning how to live together, love each other and honor The Source... (the power in this universe that has made anything and everything possible to us, for us and with us.)

while I believe that the various faith traditions and religions teach much the same basic morals, human interpretation and application of their personal belief is hugely intolerant of others. The essential problem is the effort to impose one's traditions and doctrine on any and all others who differ. Humanity has very little tolerance of other humans who are different.

I have found the amazing writings by Howard Thurman to be of the most inspirational and insightful and your broadcast of Dec. 28, 2008, recalled to my mind some of his words:

THE LORD IS THE STRENGTH OF MY LIFE

The Lord is.
Is God an idea in my mind,
A rumor planted by old tales born of fear when life was
young and death lurked behind every waiting bush?
Is God the desire in my heart,
A longing that goes always unfulfilled?
Is God the restlessness I feel after dreams have come to
pass
And all my hopes have built themselves into facts?
Is God the indescribable tenderness that creeps in the
voice unawares,
That steals into the fingers as they linger momentarily
in the hand of a friend?
Is God the endless churning of the turbulent sea
Or the steady shining of the stars against the blackness
of the sky?
Is God the quenchless aching of the conscience over sins
committed
And the vast cleansing in the soul riding on the wave of
forgiveness that sweeps all before it?

The Lord is!
He is more than tongue can tell,
Than mind can think, than heart can feel!

The Lord is my strength.
When day is done and in weariness I lay me down to
sleep,
When fear becomes a lump in my throat and an illness
in my stomach,
When the waters of temptation engulf me and I strangle
beneath the waves,
When I have thought myself empty and the solution to
my problem hides,
Lurking in the shadows of my mind,
When the disease of my body tightens its grip and my
doctor picks up the broken lances of his skill and
knowledge and takes his leave,
When the tidings are of brooding clouds of war
And of marching feet and humming planes moving in
the awful rhythm of the dirge of death-

The Lord is the strength of my life.
Of whom
and of what
shall I be afraid?

--Howard Thurman

I understand that since 95% of the world's population professes some type of religious faith, this documentary attempts to speak to this "vast majority" by appealing to their religiousness. It exhorts the religious to find and focus on the commonalities across religious doctrines. There is certainly no harm in preaching to the choir and perhaps it will catch the attention of a few who might attempt to take action to build and foster connections between practitioners of the various religions.

It seems to me though, that this program is likely to be heard by viewers who are already listening. I also find it very interesting that the majority of posts I have just read about this film are people who proclaim no religious affiliation, yet this group was never addressed in the film. Who is watching and listening to the critical lesson this film hopes to convey? I continue to wonder if our global community needs more, not fewer atheists.

A glaring fault of this movie was that no atheists were included. I found myself shouting at the television. "Cherrypickers!"only choosing the "good" morals of the various holy books while ignoring other passages that urge on and condone intolerance, slavery, rape, and other disgusting immoralities that theists want to pretend aren't there.

The fact that humans have survived as a social species is evidence of societal morals: sharing of food, protection of the young, and other beneficial social behaviours which were in place long before any religion or god was invented.

Strip away the divisive supernatural assertions and dogma of religion and what remains is humanism. Secular humanism.

The question of whether or not people of differing faiths have enough in common to get along seems to me somewhat trite. As Sidney Hook pointed out in Religious Liberty From the Viewpoint of a Secular Humanist, "Religious tolerance has developed more as a consequence of the impotence of religions to impose their dogmas on each other than as a consequence of spiritual humility in the quest for understanding first and last things." Theocratic systems do not dominate everyday life. Rather, the power of the State, money, and high finance are the principalities that rule and wreak havoc on the world.

Lastly, a word about atheism, which Bill Moyers (whom I deeply respect) still can't seem to get his head around.

A god without a theology would be worthless to everyone but philosophers. The question of whether or not God exists is, in itself, trivial except to the theocratic systems which purport to dominate the question.

There are three ways to be an atheist:

An atheist can be a person who denies the possibility of a sentient creator or a person who views all metaphysical statements as unverifiable and therefore meaningless (logical positivist) or a person who is a-theist in the same sense as an animal is a-moral i.e. has no theology.

Atheists are, generally speaking, intelligent, analytic people who were raised in one religious tradition or another but who gave it up as "an illusion of childhood, outgrown under proper education.".. Auguste Comte.

Given this fact, atheists are often the very people who have thought through their own (previous) religious beliefs more so than the average "follower." The perspectives of one or two atheists like Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens would have been a great boon to your documentary IMHO.

RE: BILL MOYERS JOURNAL 12/26/08

At first blush the film "Beyond Our Differences" aired on December 26, 2008, seemed to give hope that humanity, steeped so deeply in religious values, can save our world from it's self destructive actions of the past several decades. Unfortunately, a more thoughtful evaluation of the film directs us otherwise. The film indicates that better than 90% of the world population believes in some form of religion and higher being, with each religious faith expressing a belief in respecting one another. One need only to read the daily newspapers and listen to TV news broadcasts and, yes, even to watch your highly regarded "Journal" to see that not only does religion hold false hope but, in many cases, it is the cause of some degree of unrest and often violence among men.

The failures of religion are many. It has thoroughly failed to drive out the baser motives from the hearts of men and replace them with love. One need only to glance at a world map to see where violence resides instead of religion's pious expressions of peace on earth. Untreated AIDS, substandard or nonexistent healthcare and education, and unacceptable levels of hardship and poverty abound. Even the film interviewed various experts spouting platitudes about religion, but showed scenes of destruction and suffering in so many places around the world.

As we viewed the film, it made us think about the 5000 years of organized religion and how we could evaluate it against any humanitarian project. Our conclusion is that it failed miserably. Maybe it needs another 5000 years but we doubt if mankind can wait that long.

Len & Paula Klein
6560 SW Boundary Street
Portland, OR 97225
503-224-4194

The commonalities among our religious and spiritual traditions are many, but only from an academic or objective perspective. In the all too common exercise of man's inhumanity to man, it appears that religion is less a sane modulator, and more a perverted embellishment to each side's armamentarium.

Instead of talking about our spiritual commonality, maybe we should talk about our biological commonality. That places us in the larger context of the animal kingdom as well. The fact that we are physical beings that experience pain and suffering is more likely to make us more empathetic towards others (animals included)instead of mouthing the tired platitudes of religion. In my opinion, we need to overcome religion before we can make real progress on this planet. An evolutionary ethics as espoused by folks like Michael Shermer and Richard Dawson seems like a much more constructive approach. By the way, doesn't the golden rule predate any of the religious formulations of this rule?

As has been previously posted, it was a shame that more atheists were not interviewed in the documentary. When you consider there are probably at least 25-30 million of us in the United States of America, and some European countries have even a larger percentage of atheists, the absence of atheists is an obvious error on the part of the film makers. Some may find this hard to believe, but we atheists also believe in a shared humanity. We believe in the importance of family and establishing caring relationship between others, even our enemies. Turning the other cheek is not just a good idea but a moral imperative to us. Atheists believe in caring for the young, too. We also have spiritual experiences, especially when viewing the wonders of our natural world and discovering goodness found in others. We believe in tolerance and equality regardless of a person's religious belief, sexual orientation, racial difference, ethnic heritage, or nationality. We believe in freedom and peace for all of humanity. We abhor murder, war, and irrational thinking. We desire the best for humanity just as much as the believers interviewed in the film. Similarly, atheists believe that all of us have a dire responsibility to take care of this world we live on, so that those coming after us can enjoy its fruitfulness. All babies are born atheists, so why would anyone making on film on religious tolerance not include atheists is beyond me. Oh, well, there's always the possibility of a sequel.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This piece is all about intentions.

Further, the film maker's equating of "do not" commands with "dare to sacrifice" admonitions demonstrates the kind of greeting card mentality governing the whole project.

In my opinion we all start off human. We're all the same until religion gets in the way of things. Just do good for goodness sake. The only reward that is required is the one you feel as you do a good deed. I expect the same thing after I live as before I was born. Nothing. This doesn't frighten me. I just want to live a good life, help others and enjoy the time I have.

Beyond Foolishness

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" Shakespeare

Beyond the foolishness of faiths, of Gods and Gods, of difference, beyond sacrifices and murders, holy crucifixions and holy car bombs, beyond the blood of Christ and the blood of others, beyond the spread of democracies, and the spread of religions, beyond the prayers to the east and the prayers in any direction, and those that only wish but never pray at all, beyond the inequities of the unjust, and the inequities of heavens and hells, beyond the angels with wings and those who can’t fly, beyond the theories of science and their uncertain measures, and beyond the complexities of problems and equations is the solution of truth. For beyond the dark is the light, beyond the coming has come, beyond the foolish thought that mankind is this and nature is that, beyond memory and knowledge is wisdom and truth, beyond thought is I, beyond theories and faiths is truth, beyond the fairness of justice is truly just, beyond inequity is equality, beyond fools is the unfooled, beyond uncertainty is certainty, beyond the absolute speed of “C”, is the absolute of nature herself, beyond our own reflection, is our own true self. And beyond our true self, most beautifully and most simply:

God is One.
As was, as is, as All, as always will be!

=
MJA

As much as I would love to believe that most faiths, especially the three monotheistic religions, are filled with nothing but love and compassion for all of us, I cannot bring myself to such a delusion. Yes it is true that most adherents of these faiths are good people who wish to bring peace and love to humankind, but when you look at the writings of the “holy” scriptures, whether they be the Torah, New Testament or Koran, you can find many passages which seem to contradict and even “command” their followers to undertake the exact opposite actions all in the name of the faith. This is what disappointed me most about this program. It reminds me of a classroom filled with thirty children. As we can all recall from childhood, if even one child disrupts the class, it often creates chaos in the classroom and the child needs to be removed. If the religious teachings in these traditions can cause such a small group of people to “rebel” against society because their religion teaches them to do so, then it shouldn’t be hard to see the chaos and killing and intolerance that such a small group of people can inflict upon our society. While I feel it is vitally important to focus on love and tolerance and creating a better world for all, if these religions didn’t have such writings in the first place, we would be in an infinitely better place. Just imagine if all three monotheistic religions had adhered exclusively to Ghandi’s principles of love and justice and made it absolutely clear that killing in the name of God or for any reason other than self defense was completely against the religion. Millions of people around the globe would be alive today, devoid of many of the problems in our society.

I was very sorry to not find a serious mention of atheism in your religious piece. We need to be considered in any "can't we all just learn to get along" missive. So many of your vignettes were their own counter argument.

I really enjoyed that program. Because I am doing some research on this very topic, I would like to have access to the transcript. Tell me when you expect to have it available. At times, it was hard for me to read the subtitles. Thank you

Julia: Moyers don't believe in Noam Chomsky. He's even a little afraid of Amy Goodman.

Think: If one were a cowardly radical, kind of half-assed, he would use his religion as a shield against elite retribution. These are the type of goody-goodies who pooh-poo a 9/11 conspiracy and ignore the global water crisis (caused by global capitalism).

I've also met some brave religious who are not afraid to demand justice and speak their minds, but their belief is not a crutch.

The program was outstanding, but could have used a narrator to facilitate continuity.

Unfortunately, the documentary didn't deal with the issue of the "fact" that those with guns, bombs and clubs also claim to be God-fearing, etc.

It's simply much "easier" to carry a weapon than study your spelling.

Religion and spirituality means many things to many people. Unfortunately, too often it's just another club with which to beat opponents over the head.

Christmas Miracle soon!

Thank you forte program on Dec. 26. I found it heartening to see what religions have in common.

Is it possible there will be new a star in the sky this Christmas Season of 2008?
A reputable source out of London says, look for the biggest miracle of all!

This non-profit source, with correct predictions to its credit in the past, says a surprise is coming. A press release entitled Christmas Miracle, dated December 12, 2008, sent to media around the world states: in the very near future a large, bright star will appear in the sky visible to all throughout the world -- night and day!

Unbelievable? Fantasy? Benjamin Creme, author, editor of Share International magazine, lecturer, says: no, it's not fantasy. It is a simple fact. Around a week later, Maitreya, the World Teacher for all humanity, will begin his open emergence and -- though not yet using the name Maitreya -- will be interviewed on a major U.S. television network program.

All faiths are expecting a teacher: Christ, Imam Mahdi, Messiah, Krishna, Maitreya Buddha and others. Creme says this time he comes as a Teacher for all, religious or not, an educator in the broadest sense and that he is NOT here to start a new religion. His teachings can be summarized as "Share and save the world".

With Maitreya and his group working openly in the world, humanity is assured not only of survival but the creation of a brilliant new civilization. www.Share-International.org

Good program, but I was wondering... where was Noam Chomsky? His name was among the listed interviewees for this program, and he's even on the homepage of the Beyond Our Differences website (there's even a clip and a bio for him), but I saw no sign of Prof. Chomsky in the film as aired on PBS. Was the aired program a shorter version of the whole film, or...?

Perhaps less than 95% of the population believes in a god. It is still too dangerous to be an agnostic or atheist. The "chosen ones" always have had "god's support" to persecute, burn or torture to death "the others".

When it is not possible to propagate myths such as a 5000 year old earth then it is easier to respect other humans and to seek ways to live in harmony.

Bill, in this show or perhaps another recent one, you dealt with the US in Afghanistan. As always your coverage was fair and balanced - to a point in this case. You mentioned that the armed forces of some European countries had special provisions and essentially were not coming up to the plate. You were correct, but there was no mention of Canada which has been there every step of the way.

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/12/05/afghan-soldiers.html

More than 100 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan but we get no credit, no mention, no gratitude. Canada was in WW1 in 1914 (US = 1917), and in WW2 in 1939 (US = 1941). My father served in WW2, and later was in the the United Nations Emergency Force in the Gaza Strip.

I'm crying as I write this. Please do a program about Canada - we're sure not perfect but we've got universal health care, gay marriage is not an issue, nor are small amounts of marijuana, there is no death penalty; no politician makes religious references (a private matter).

A program on Canada would enlighten a lot of listeners / viewers. And you could show the down side: perhaps we are too tolerant.

Your program is excellent, but I do feel you've overlooked the Great White North.

Happy holidays

Allan in Tokyo

The percentage of people that claim to believe in God varies widely depending on the survey. The number quoted in the movie is surely only for the USA. In Europe the percentage is less than 50% in some countries, and less than the percent that believe in UFOs in some countries. For the rest of us, it is certainly possible to believe in peace, justice, and goodwill toward all without consideration for imaginary or supernatural beings. I was a little surprised to see such a one-sided, almost myopic viewpoint on a show which normally presents issues in a far more open-minded and even handed way.

We are in a time of globalization that creates a movement if not the necessity to realize that the world religions are from one higher source to bring together a people for our common good - the unity of mankind.

Watching "Turn The Other Cheek" testimonials is conflicted for me. On the one hand, of course I accept it, and it touches me to tears. I endorse this, and have for many years. On the other hand, I recognize that many of my young brothers are moved to be warriors for their people, and that I myself might be an angry, if defensive, killer, in taking their side of things.

Have you heard of One Laptop Per Child? (laptop.org Give One Get One) The XO laptop for third world kids. I bought one, gave one, got one last year. Was sitting out front of Starbucks this afternoon, cruising the news online on my childsize laptop, when a dude appeared at my shoulder (white guy, grubby, punkish style), said "Sorry, man" and gently lifted it up and walked away. Then ran.

Running after, he hoped, the next hit of his substance of choice, I'm guessing. Driven by a police system (here in Cali, USA) which made his drug much more costly and thrilling to obtain.

Me, I'm too old and fat, and cardiac, right now, to chase him far. Felt real damn bad wondering how it might be used to rip me off for the little I have, and then just plain sad (hurt-feelings-wise), but not too mad. For once again, even though with no laptop anymore to go to the coffee store, I wasn't ready to go all warrior on his ass (called the cops, not that they much gave a damn), and that's testimony to something or other. Probably getting to a Ghandi-Moyers place, finally, altho in fact this could only be so if some of that damn prefrontal miswiring finally got straightened out. Anyway, nowhere near as violent an impulse as that I had recently directed to the proud grandpa directing his young flock to hate gay people for the love of God. Isn't that odd?

I don't know. We are all the same. We aren't all the same. We all have (should have) the same human rights. Some people feel entitled to deny them to others. Also, there are some psychopaths out and about, and much as I continue to be a sucker for redemption, there are some who are irremediable, unredeemable.

Ghandian ethics are for those of us who lack the power, and who face a power which is less than fascistically ruthless. It calls on the conscience of the oppressor, and that relies on our facing an oppressor who recognizes our humanness and possesses a conscience (a conscience in working order, unlike that of the guy who stole my OLPC laptop today).

I appreciate the eternal thoughtspace of Joe Campbell and Karen Armstrong, but I find myself still a little uncomfortable with this whole "All True Religion is Peaceful" thing. Is it? It's a nice thing to say. I am, in my religiousity. But is it? Y'know, some of it, *true* religion, has been bloodthirsty as hell. And I still might kill some maniac who threatens something too precious. That seems like reality. Would we be better off sometimes ringing in the blessed new year with talk about complex reality in all its beautiful ugliness?

The only reason anyone could come to the conclusion that it is the religious differences that outweigh the religious commonalities among and between faith traditions is because too many of us insist on keeping our thumb on the scale.

If we want to accept our equality and commonality, we will not charge this much for a DVD proclaiming same.

If we want to accept our equality and commonality, we will not charge this much for a DVD claiming same.

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