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Excersus CXI: When Regular Heresy Just Won't Do


Before moving to weightier topics, a couple of publication announcements. First, I'll be having an article in the next American Atheist Magazine about the idea of collective punishment and its current use by the extreme fringes of the fundamentalist movement in America. Also, in the next issue of The Freethinker, the article about La Mettrie and arguments against the existence of the human soul (with a brisk Schopenhauerean aside) that I thought was going to be in the September issue will be published. So, that is all entirely neat.

It seems like I ought to have a lot to say about the recent protests throughout the Middle East, but I honestly don't. Five centuries ago, THE WHOLE WORLD was this way - that violent insecurity fed an Inquisition in Europe, the Hindu-Muslim civil wars in India that preceded the rise of Akbar (the Moghul Emperor, not the Mon Calamari Admiral), and the conflict between Ottoman and Habsburg that culminated in the Battle of Lepanto. Rather than be frightened at those few thousand protestors who are willing to kill over a shitty movie, I take some comfort in the fact that such murderous levels of self-deception are items of news rather than business as usual. A group with a primarily politico-economic agenda is using religion to achieve its end (though, really, is any organized religion much more than some political-economic agenda dusted with the sweet sugar coating of personal immortality?) and that will work to the religion's detriment in the long run, just as the politicization of the monasteries lead to their downfall in Christian Europe those centuries ago. It will hurt, and good people will die, and it's hard not to feel an intense anger about that - an urge to just shake those protestors by their shoulders and say, "Grow a pair!" But this is what religions do as they die, what they have always done, and as stupid and wasteful as it all is, there is something to the thought that this might be our last time through this horrendous dance, and once it is settled perhaps we can get back to doing something worthy of our heritage as human beings.

- Count Dolby von Luckner