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RELIGION: Many roads to heaven

Maurice Harari's excellent piece on religion was very well received by WAISers. Bob Helliwell simply said "Right on!" Miles Seeley wrote: "I must reply to Mr. Harari's idea that all religions should agree there is no single pathway to heaven. I agree completely. Living abroad for 20 years in several different countries led me to the same conclusion. I found good and bad in Christianity, Islam, Shinto, and Buddhist religions, but it always bothered me greatly that each insisted they were the only way to salvation and that all others were doomed. That seemed a purely man-made, self-serving notion". Maurice should get in touch with Stanford's Dean of Religious Life, Scotty McLellan, whose ideas are very similar.

A few dissenting voices were heard. Tim Brown says "I'm not even a Catholic, yet I find their demands that the Roman Catholic Church adjust its doctrinal positions to comply with their particular personal preferences, because they are not about to accept any Church doctrine they disagree with as an amazing exercise in absolute self-righteousness. I've always held that you are not a Muslim if you do not accept Mohammed, not a Christian if you do not accept Christ, and not a Roman Catholic if you do not accept Church doctrine. That's why I've never become a Catholic, or a Mormon for that matter. My impression of these particular schismatics is that, much like several Jesuits I've met, they consider themselves smarter than everyone else in the world, and probably smarter that God. Extraordinary, but sadly a rather archtypical exercise in exactly the sort of self-certain fanaticism that makes people like bin Laden tick".

Not so. Many of these people are very thoughtful, going through the same process as that which led to the Protestant bodies to which Tim adheres. At best, only one of the religions is right. They may all be wrong to different degrees. One angry letter rejected the idea that there is a crisis in the Catholic Church. There certainly is. Indeed, there is a crisis in all religions. Many are questioning the very existence of God. The collapse of the towers of the World Trade Center has had an effect like that of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, the worst in European history, in which most of the most pious city in Europe collapsed and has to be rebuilt. Much has been written about the intellectual and religious impact of this tragedy. The attempts to answer the current doubts seem silly. A Franciscan priest said that two metal beams of the collapsed towers formed a cross, and people were shown staring at this miracle. "There lives more faith in honest doubt. believe me, than in all the creeds".

Ronald Hilton - 10/20/01