Posted by: johnhourihan | October 2, 2012

Religion and foreign policy

I believe these are more serious times than politicians seem to grasp.
I’m not one to have gone the way of religion. I once asked a nun if she thought I had “the calling,” She said, “Oh, God, no,” and blessed herself.
Religion had my love as a child, my fear as a young man, my respect in middle age, and my devout curiosity now as I get older, but I don’t think I would be called a religious man by many people.
I did learn more about mine than most, during nine years in a Catholic school while growing up in an Irish Catholic home.
I tell you this only because all this “holy war” stuff coming out of the Middle East is beginning to raise my hackles.
I have a healthy respect for those who went the way of the cloth, in whatever religion.
Here’s why.
I figure the ones who gave themselves to their religion, for the most part, (there are weirdoes in any profession) wanted to do what is right so bad that they have devoted their lives to trying to figure out just what “right” is.
And I figure that the guys at the very top of their respective religions must have found out something. Whether they actually tell us what it is or not is a matter of debate, but I’m pretty sure after all the studying and living, they have found some answers that I don’t have.
My own meek assessment is that life couldn’t possibly be a game, because games come with instructions; and if it is a test I think someone should have put in more time trying to get us ready to pass it with more clarity of instruction and fewer parables.
But whatever it is, I’m pretty sure there are some answers for the unanswerable parts and those answers must come from religion.
Follow me on this. I’m not a religious fanatic. I’m just starting to think there might be something in this.
Now, I have seen the guy at the gas station who sort of appeared in front of me around 35 years ago while I was pumping gas into my Gremlin and said, “The end is near. Repent. Give yourself to …”
I don’t pay attention to those people. They don’t know anything. They are just guessing like the rest of us, and it bothers me that they always think they must be better than I am without knowing anything about me.
And I’ve seen the guys who showed up on my front lawn 20 years ago while I was mowing, to tell me that there is only one way to get to heaven “and it’s a secret.”
I let them know that if they didn’t want to be behind or under the mower they should get off my lawn and leave me alone. I didn’t pay attention to them either, and I didn’t read the little pamphlet. If there is a right way to live, why would good people want to keep it a secret?
BUT. . .
When the heads of the major religions in the world start saying the future of mankind depends on what we do right now, at least one ear starts to listen.
I mean if that isn’t something we should be listening to, then we may as well never listen at all.
And that is what the pope has been saying for a few years.
I always thought there was probably more to religion than they were telling us, so I figure he knows more than I do, and if he’s worried, I’m worried.
The pope said to his Muslim counterparts:
“… we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.”
He said the future of mankind was riding on it.
He pleaded, saying, “I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. …”
As I said, I’m not a religious person, but I do think we should be paying attention to the religious aspects of what seems to be insanity emanating from the Middle East.
I think if there is any chance of ending this fanaticism before it wipes us all out, it is going to be with dialogue.
That is why I don’t think America’s foreign policy can go back to the Republican policy of, “Yur either wiv us, or yur agin us.”
I think these are more serious times.



  1. Serious indeed. Aztecs predict 21 Dec 2012…

  2. You may not be of religion but I see you as religious.

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