Thursday, May 12, 2016


Here's a quick photo survey of the religions represented at the Tucson Book Festival.

See this line of booths--there were 3 more lines just like it.  Each regular sized booth cost $600 for the two days.  Got something you want to say to the reading public?

Or----just make yourself a sign and walk around with it.

I will begin my survey with Eckankar:  curious about these folks--click here.

I didn't get this story.

I won't burden you with a summary of each--I'm sure you can guess what most of them are about.

I once associated with one of these groups in DC.  
The Seth books of yesteryear (ouija board messages from beyond) brought this group into being.

These folks want everyone on the planet to have a bible.

There were 3 Islamic booths representing 3 versions of that faith.  Each more anxious than the other to persuade us they are peaceful.

 This program was aimed at children in private religious schools.

Curious about this guy? click here

The Muslims would do well to persuade the West that they are livable with.  They have a limited amount of time to "reinterpret" their Holy book as Christians have theirs.

Speaking of which---this association supports Christian oriented education.  (the indoctrination of children)

This was not a religious booth.  They really want to teach children how to get along without violence.
I read some of their stuff.

This brand of religion is the one most likely to destroy humankind---by resisting any sensible kind of population control.


These are followers of the teachings of Gurdjieff.
Want to "wake up"?  Check his views out here.
AAAAHHHH---Finally--we come to MY People.  The FREETHINKERS.
Got an open mind??  Give a listen here.
This guy must be one of us.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES;   We are soooo lucky to live in a secular tolerating society.  We owe a great debt to Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers who prevented the establishment of a state religion and at the same time allowed free expression to so many whacky religious ideas.

As for me --let me declare myself:  I am content to live in this mystery, enjoying the wonder around me; having no certain knowledge of our origin or destiny; participating in the creation of culture and ethics;willing to speculate and listen to others' speculations.

I have two ideas on how to reduce religious tensions:
1. Teach a course in school on indoctrination--how people come to believe what they believe.
2. Create a "Religion Warehouse." as I have suggested in my book: 4o Years A Nomad.


Kids are gathered outside at eight,
Doors are opened at nine.
They are here to sample religions of the world,
All strung out in a line.

Row upon row, every living faith
Represented in spacious booths.
And every booth has people anxious
To share their “eternal truths.”

They have pamphlets and films and all 27
Major “holy books,”
The Bible, the Koran, the Bagavad Gita.
Every kid’s invited to look.

As they wander up and down the aisles,
Believers of every bent
Urge the children into their booths,
Like barkers at a side show tent.

The Christian section has 200 booths,
Each with a different slant
On God, salvation, Jesus and heaven,
That they wish to implant.

There are nine different versions of Islam,
Six different kinds of Jews,
A host of Buddhist sects,
A hundred types of Hindus.

The New Age section is replete
With people pushing “spiritual” stuff,
Smiley-faced believers in a thousand things,
Like crystals and superstitious fluff.

The American Indians drummed up a crowd
With dancers adorned with feathers.
Truly believing that Shamans can heal,
And Kachinas can change the weather.

Cults took up a whole wall–
Gurus of every stripe,
Dominating tyrants trolling
For the total submission type.

The atheist booth had scrappy folks,
Dead sure in their conclusion
That religion is the opiate of the people,
A dumb and deadly illusion.

Agnostics had a cheerful booth
With banners above and below.
The upper one said, “Keep an open mind;”
The lower said, “Nobody knows.”

The Mormons were talking ‘bout golden books.
The Quakers pushed peace and hope.
The Amish urged us back to the land.
Catholics said obey the Pope.

Back in the corner were Unitarians,
Of all the churches most odd;
The only church that didn’t claim
To have a message from God.

Muslims were a backward lot,
Their religion frozen in time,
Their nations ruled by autocrats,
Their women treated like slime.

Voodoo believers sacrificed chickens;
Spiritualists summoned ghosts.
Urantia folks told of flying saucers;
Tantrics urged sex uppermost.

On and on the religions stretched.
Children came and went until
In a day or a year, their minds were clear,
Or perhaps just had their fill.

Then back to the world, having chosen
“Truths” that suited their taste.
Most took bits from several faiths,
With a job of “cut and paste.”

Gone was arrogance and dogmatism.
Their study of religion and history
Lets them tolerate ambiguity,
Embrace the human mystery.

In a few short years, religious wars ceased;
All nations made a truce.
Every civilized person now agrees
Indoctrination is child abuse.

Freedom to choose your religion
Is a universal human right.
Parents stopped laying their trip on kids,
And the world sleeps better at night.


Jim said...

It's so easy and disconcerting to see children in your own family being heavily indoctrinated with their parents nonsense -- so incredibly difficult to do or say anything about it without alienating the parents . . . who, after all, are OUR children -- the same heads we filled with OUR nonsense when they were young. I never did that with my own children but they had other parents and influences beyond my control. Somehow both of them are now adults with college degrees, very smart *and* able to think for themselves and I am so grateful.

Stuart said...

Excellent post, fantastic pictures and a very true poem! Just the sheer numbers of "faiths" present at that fair should have made a light bulb go on the the minds of everyone, "They can't all be right! Maybe they are all wrong?" This sectarian nonsense is tribalism of the worst kind. Unfortunately, the Free Thinkers are probably the smallest tribe. The dogmatism seen in religions unfortunately also influences peoples' minds when it comes to science. Science-deniers who object to evolution, deny man-made global warming and fear-monger about GMOs and vaccination safety are examples of non-experts thinking they are smarter than the experts. Too bad every idiot can spout his nonsense in the Internet. "Their women treated like slime," never was a truer verse said about Islam and you provided the photo to back it up!

Ritchie Gale said...

Interesting post - I teach Philosophy and Religion to 11-18 year olds in the UK and the courses followed encourages such discussions. Young people from all faiths (and mostly none) engage with the question of where belief comes from, which beliefs if any are true, and also the pros and cons of secularisation that they all know is happening at pace in much of England. For myself, I think religion should be more about practice than about beliefs - we really don't have the capacity to reach outside of ourselves and have our intellect encompass the whole truth, whether that is some form of deity, or a more reductive materialist truth. My religion could be described as Pagan or Druidism, due to whatever the deeper parts of myself are seeming to connect with the mythology, symbolism and aesthetic of Celtic spiritual history. I have no idea what is ultimately true or not, but my religious life is vibrant: meditation, prayer to various manifestations of spirit, walking in nature, participating in moving rituals which help me to connect fully with other life on the planet, and always seeking to awaken the spirit of creativity (my tradition calls this Awen - Welsh for flowing spirit)... all of this can be interpreted in atheistic or theistic terms. I don't think that this matters ultimately. I do know it enriches my life and brings much inspiration and ethical engagement. As a result, it is frustrating when some people label all religions as harmful, stupid or "the problem". For "the problem" see neo-liberal capitalism - a far graver enemy to people and planet than any religion.

Maxcactus said...

Wow, what prodigious proselytizing.

kaBLOOnie boonster said...

I wonder if a couple of your commenters would get anything out of "The Opium of the Intellectuals," by Raymond Aron.

Kimbopolo said...

Reading your post, all I could think of was The Religion Warehouse. Only outdoors. You say it all in that poem.

Carl said...

Every day I thank God I'm an atheist.

Marcia Hirschmann said...

Carl.... that was great.

Anonymous said...

The President of the Unitarian Universalists, Rev. Morales, said religions that survive will be inclusive...if I read and remember rightly. It's not that "they can't be all right" Stuart, It's more like they're all "some right for some one".

And most of what they say are simple assertions: clam shells are holy, God fights talking snakes, clouds are ancestors, etc.

Why not take what one wants from each, like Micheal Moore's new movie, and live with that?

Of course, if one is looking for a fight it's easy to start - start with your Mama (how come it is never your Father?), siblings, neighborhood, country, race, or religion. But if I want something positive, I can look around and use what suits, lifts, transcends and in fact, that's what I do.

What do you think Ran? Is there some value or is it all BS? You are the expert here.