Theater of Cruelty

The vision of life store has reopened

Have we become more concerned with faith because suddenly there are some Muslims among us?


After all, we were done with all the discussions about doubt and belief here in our secularized corner of the West. Some final blows never took place, but there were ever thinner ranks among the Christians and at the same time fewer who found any need to kill the dying.
But how long was Adam in Paradise?

New Time October 5, 2007
New Time October 5, 2007

Suddenly we are faced with a highly vibrant and pre-modern religion that has made old value debates as new. Many worn-out shoes are now being tried again – in the name of "dialogue" – and not even the biggest optimists dare to hope that the glam will subside immediately. Some believe that Islam is life-threatening and destructive, while others insist that it is fine-fine, and that the practitioners are just like us. Both parties are probably right.

Unfortunately, the confrontations between Islam and a secularized West have given some the idea that faith and doubt have suddenly become relevant again. But it is not so: We just have to sum ourselves up a bit in the encounter with barbarism as circumcision and pre-modern madness. The main opportunists, of course, argue for dialogue. And books. Here are two more.

God damn boring

Peter's answer

Kjell Arild Pollestad has been a fine front figure for the Catholic Church. Not only is he smart, he even drinks red wine with Jan E. Hansen and Thiis-Evensen in Rome. Not an ordinary Christian hanging head. His book Peter's answer is still a strange case. He has constructed a dialogue between a "Gentile" and "Peter" (the Peter who has been incarnated in all popes). The form of dialogue can of course facilitate communication, but it can also be an expression of manner of nonsense. Pollestad's heathen is a dream heathen he has designed to give himself free rein: This one lives with the materialistic lifestyle of the time, something he really regrets when he thinks about it, and of course he gets that in this conversation with Peter. Most are goddamn boring interpretation of "truths of faith". Our friend "Gentile" does not get to ask unpleasant questions such as how Christians know which parts of the Bible should be interpreted literally and which should be renewed / interpreted, and he is also polite enough not to rip up all the pedophile scandals in it Catholic church. Yet the reading of Pollestad's book was not wasted at all: On pages 123-133 we get in clear text that everything is as before: The Catholic Church is against sex outside of marriage, they are against homosexuality, they think abortion is the same as murder, and they is against contraception.

Pathetic imitation

Söderlind: Values ​​and dignity

The Human-Ethical Confederation also lives the happy days of the Lord and is constantly trying to profile itself in the value landscape. This is not entirely trouble-free, because it has never been clear what HEF stands for – other than that they have an organization that, in rather pathetic ways, mimics all the rituals and practices the church has endured indefinitely. Such an organization – where you agree that you do not believe in any god – will, of course, contain quite large disagreements when it comes to practical politics.

While Lars Gule has for a long time profiled HEF as an organization that will tolerate everything possible, including irrational beliefs and discriminatory practices; there are others, such as Sara Azmeh Rasmussen, who recently went out and criticized this embrace. She thinks HEF should concentrate on religious criticism to a much greater extent. It's easy to agree: If you are to get involved in religious issues today, then it must be most obvious to look at how faith here and now is used to prevent other people's life experiences and to suppress them. Obviously, there are some practices that should be lightening-modernized, so to speak.

Both Gule and Rasmussen are contributors in the book Didrik Søderlind has edited. Values ​​and dignity present a slightly odd bouquet of contributors: half are old HEF trotters, the other half are known and unknown who have somehow engaged in HEF-like interests. The best of all is the philosopher Lars Svendsen, who, regardless of HEF's whimsical claim that their humanism originated in the Renaissance, takes the reader on a lightning course in humanism, anti-humanism and posthumanism throughout the history of ideas.

More in-house HEF writers discuss what kinds of hymns and songs can be used in human-ethical ceremonies. For it is clear: If there is too much God, then it cannot pass in a humanistic ritual.

Lacks magic

As I myself have grown up, I must admit that such issues appear to me as childish: I worry little about pictures of Jesus, talk about God, and hymns, as long as friends of the deceased gather for a worthy mark by a person demise. HEF is also concerned about being worthy, but lacks the traditional and established magic that the church has in virtue of its history: They would like something that is just as great, but obviously have no idea where to begin.

It is not possible to understand what HEF wants: Everything talked about dignity, religious freedom, tolerance and human dignity, there are other and far more important organizations taking care of. I don't think HEF knows it either: Organized Christianity is losing ground for every passing day; at the same time, HEF is too politically correct to dare to make any settlement with Islam; and the sect-like collection on rationalism and science that HEF was originally intended to appear today is more stern than anything else.

To top it all off: I don't believe in God. Does that mean I have to join an association?


Kjell Arild Pollestad:
Peter's answer. Christianity for formed Gentiles and lukewarm Christians
Cappelen 2007
239 pages

Didrik Søderlind (ed.):
Values ​​and dignity
Humanist 2007
154 pages

(Published in Ny Tid 5 October 2007)

Kjetil Korslund
Kjetil Korslund
Historian of ideas and critic.

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