Pope Francis recently promoted religious tolerance and peace during visits to Islamic countries, which is a commendable activity. He has similarly visited Israel with the same purpose in mind. But he might be treating symptoms and overlooking the real cause of the turmoil.
The sacred texts of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity - the Pentateuch or Torah, the Quran, and the New Testament - are all riddled with exhortations to brutality and violence at the drop of a hat that are considered the Word of God. Essentially, the same God. The one Abraham used.
That's why these three major religions of the Western world are known as Abrahamic Religions, and teach that the Word of God was Revealed to them through the prophets, back to the time of Abraham. All of them preach an extraordinary amount of mean, vicious stuff focused on each other, sometimes their own adherents, and sometimes against women in particular. Google it if you want to.
Many, if not most of the adherents of these Abrahamic Religions are unaware of this darker aspect of the Word of God, mostly because it is rarely brought up in these days of emphasizing the verses on love and peace.
This love and peace phenomenon has a technical term. It’s called “cherry picking”. Choosing what you like, and remaining blissfully ignorant of the rest. Or beliving what others choose to teach you, without reading any of it for yourself. Thank God/YHWH/Allah for the discretion of most of His ministers, imams, and rabbis for cherry picking.
But therein lies the problem. The wormy “cherries” are still there. Waiting for the inevitable fanatics in every religion to hoist the flag of jihad, the banner of the crusades, or the trumpets of Jericho to destroy the infidels (a term first coined by the Crusaders, incidentally), the pagans and the gentiles.
Now, after many, many, years of Christians killing Jews and Moslems; Jews killing Moslems and Christians; and Moslems killing Jews and Christians…and Christians killing Christians; Jews killing Jews; and Moslems killing Moslems. And all of them killing everybody else and making slaves out of their women, because the Revealed Word of God told them to, maybe it’s time for a new Revelation.
I would suggest to Pope Francis that he should convoke an Abrahamic Council attended by the leaders of every Christian denomination, every Islamic sect, and every Jewish movement. I suggest Francis, because I don’t know who the other guys are. He probably knows them all. I suspect they belong to the same Country Club.
This Abrahamic Council should be convened in a fairly neutral space, maybe the Tibetan Plateau with the Dali Lama serving as Master of Ceremonies.
And at Mr. Lama’s invitation, masters of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shintoism, and Confucianism and their subgroups should also be made welcome. Mr. Lama probably knows all these guys… different Country Club.
While violence sometimes also appears in the scriptures of most Eastern religions, as far as we know, they are at least not all commanded to kill each other and everybody else by the same Deity as are the Abrahamic Religions of the West. They’re more of a meditative, philosophical nature than the ones relying on divine revelation.
I choose the Dali Lama as MC, as he appears to be a nice fellow, and I enjoy his sense of humor. People with a good sense of humor make great Masters of Ceremony. I choose Tibet, as it appears to be only mildly infected by the proselytizers of Abrahamic traditions, and most of the other groups are not rabid proselytizers to begin with, and therefore the risk of interfaith riots would be somewhat lower.
Tibet, as I understand, is a cool place. Really. Cool… about 16˚ F on a winter night, and maybe 46˚ F during the day… which would be an advantage during heated all-nighter discussions. There are also many very nice old retreats in Tibet, some of which would serve admirably as a meeting place.
A Tibetan retreat would be a good site as it is not a cathedral, synagog, or mosque, so would be a reasonably unbiased facility. Some, I understand, are already populated with sacred monkeys, so the guests would feel right at home and comfortable. No, wait. That's India. Tibet's sacred animal is a vulture, which sounds somehow appropo if any televangelists attend.
I also choose Tibet because it is remote. Difficult to get to and from. And high. Closer to where God/YHWH/Allah lives, so He won’t have to yell when He talks with the Council participants.
The agenda of the Abrahamic Council will be simple. Ask God/YHWH/Allah to bestow a new ‘concurrent’ Divine Revelation upon each of these religious leaders of the world, telling them He has decided it is time to abrogate any and all violent cherries from their respective sacred scriptures.
The Revelation has to be ‘concurrent’ because as everybody knows, one guys Revelations are another guys Heresy unless they all “get it” at the same time. And even then, there is a risk, because by the time a new revelation makes its way down to the flock, if it hasn’t become heresy, it has become hearsay. Revelation is only Revelation to the guy who gets it directly from the source. They need each other to keep each other honest.
It was a mistake for the God of Abraham to reveal his word to the Jews at one time; and to the Christians at another, and to the Moslems at yet another. He can maybe be forgiven for that, as he was still new at the revelation business. But for the next edition, He needs to get it done for all of them at once, and make the revelations a bit more consistent than He did before.
And it wouldn’t hurt to add a bit more about ecumenical tolerance, love, and mutual respect, while He’s at it. All three of these establishments are pretty well loaded up on ritual and ceremony, and short on the commodities they are supposed to be selling.
Now, God/YHWH/Allah may be busy (He has a whole Universe to manage, after all.) and not get around to doing it right away, so they should be prepared to stay in Tibet until they get the Word. However long it takes. Even if they have to ask Mr. Lama to teach them some meditation or yoga for patience.
Or, they could, you know, just all agree among themselves to do it and pretend it was a Revelation and let God/YHWH/Allah catch up with it later on. Kind of like the prophets did in the first place.
When it happens, it would be nice if the leaders of the Eastern religions would join the Abrahamic ones in a spirit of cooperation, and resolve to adopt anti-violence resolutions and insert them into their sacred literature, too.
After all, religion is undoubtedly thicker than politics. As long as we have religions demanding perpetual warfare, all the politicians in the world don't have a chance of brokering peace. And the arms dealers will keep getting fatter and richer and never even have a chance of squeezing through the eye of a needle, which I understand is the real doorway to paradise, apparently designed to exclude fat, rich people and camels.
And one last thing. I don't think God has renewed his real estate license in a long time, and doesn’t realize that property abstracts need to be updated with each land transaction. He seems to have given the same chunk of land to different people at different times. Properly updated records would eliminate several such awkward situations. It’s unprofessional and unbecoming of a diety of his stature.
Surely there is one lawyer in paradise who could help him out with the paperwork.