We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Monumental Tragedy Revisited

Yesterday, I reported on the actions of a small sect group, located in Lewis County but led and funded by an Ohio-based group, which destroyed a historical monument dedicated to the memory of a church and community located at Stow Square, NY—a place that no longer exists except in memory.  This group owns the land on which the monument stood.  It was, legally, theirs to destroy.  And, in the larger scheme of things the loss of a humble, otherwise unremarkable bit of the past is insignificant—except to local residents who saw in the Stow Square Monument a piece of their own story.

The intention, willful destruction of the Stow Square Monument was above all else an act of physical violence, which exposes the violent core of radical right-wing religion.  The hard core religious right exists to impose its ideological version of the Christian faith on the rest of us, who are deemed to be "unbelievers".  It does not respect differences of thinking or conscience.  What does not conform to its standards, so-called, it must force to conform.  When it gains political power, thus, it is eager to use the coercive powers of government to force its dogma on the public.  What it does not agree with it demonizes, and what it demonizes it feels necessary to destroy.

Thus a harmless, humble, and obscure little historical monument unobtrusively located in a farmer's field is violently destroyed because it reminds these hard core right-wing religionists of ancient Egyptian cult objects.  The link is so tenuous as to be laughable, but for the violence with which it is made.

This group, led from outside of the county and funded from outside of the state, visited its violent ideology not just a piece of physical property.  It visited its violence on the memory of a church and community, long vanished.  It visited its violence on neighbors who cherished the monument as a link to their own past.  It visited its violence on other residents of Lewis County who also valued the Stow Square Monument as a witness to local history and a memorial to "those who went before".  It visited violence on the Christian message, which is a message of peace, reconciliation, and love ultimately defined by Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ and the Prince of Peace.  Perhaps most sadly of all, this small sect group has visited its violence on itself.  It is one of the central principles of the Christian faith that a good heart is its own reward and a violent one its own punishment.  The anger, anxiety, self-righteousness, arrogance, disrespect for others, and almost impressive lack of love for neighbor that went into this act reveals what truly lies in the hearts of its perpetrators.  Such a group will not prosper, not in true faith nor in loving service.  Amen.