Those who will not read are no better off than those who cannot read. This seems to particularly apply to religious fundamentalists and fanatics who refuse – absolutely refuse – to try to learn anything other than what their minister, priest or rabbi teaches them, or has taught them in the past.
This came to light a few evenings back when we had a few couples over for a light dinner. Some in this group know of my religious thoughts; others do not. I don’t make it a practice to beat others about the head with the fact that I write an Internet religious skepticism column or that I am working on a book that outlines problems and failures with religion and Christianity.
One such friend, Sally (names changed to protect the guilty), does know and has had severe problems with this, stating that I am writing trash, that I had better stop writing anti-Christ material, that I am wrong and evil, etc. She pounced on this again during the evening in question.
She hates it when her husband Jack talks to me about religion, or asks a question. We usually have a cordial conversation until Sally chimes in with her vindictive hateful wrath about my “trash”, my horrible writing and my awful thinking.
The irony of all this is that she is not aware of this column, I have never read any columns to her, and she has never read any of my book – a work-in-progress.
Her complaints would be like my complaining about her food without ever having smelled, tasted, or eaten any of her meals. In truth, Sally is a fine cook.
Sally is a devout Catholic and yet can’t see the error of her ways. No – not the error of Catholicism – but the error in not considering the possibility of studying further, reading the works of theological scholars or studying and critically reading the Bible.
I think that there are several possibilities here.
1. She is scared to death to even think about believing anything other than the brainwashing that she received as a child.
2. She is scared to hear anything other than what she has been told and taught, even information from accredited theological scholars.
3. Her fear is palpable to the extent that she cannot even entertain the idea of discussing thoughts other than those that have been parroted to her by priests.
4. She is totally afraid to learn anything new that might call into question her “faith”.
5. That Sally is not interested in anything other than a very casual, shallow explanation of religion from very cursory Bible reading and reading only superficially and without any depth, detail or understanding.
6. All of the above.
Me, I am going with number six. And what is your take on all of this?