[OPE] The "Islamic threat" in Holland: mosques save the Dutch taxpayer 150 million euro

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sun Mar 22 2009 - 09:34:30 EDT

Arguably, a somewhat bizarre, alienated aspect of the Dutch research I mentioned is that the activities of mosques are evaluated according to what they cost, or whether they save money. If you are a Muslim, some questions might thus be raised about the sincerity of the motivation of the Internal Affairs Department.

However, personally I do approve of this research, because I think it raises the standard of discussion in my country. Geert Wilders lowers the standard of discussion in this country, and I don't blame the English that they don't want to let him into the UK, and don't want to watch his grotty little film. We need people here who inspire a better culture, not hate-mongers, and we need those people even irrespective of what political or economic system we have. A while ago somebody sent me a pornographic critique of "Fitna" which was quite good, but obviously pornography is really a very limited, underdeveloped medium these days.

I am personally not a believer, but I am certainly interested in the history and anthropology of religion, and I try to approach the spiritual beliefs people have in a respectful and sympathetic way, to figure out what they mean. Some Marxists dismiss religion as useless bunkum, but I do not see it that way, since, for thousands of years, every kind of human problem was reflected in religion, and thought about in religious terms.

Thus, an understanding of religious traditions offers insight into what makes us human, about human character, and into the meanings of human dignity and the human spirit. Significantly, although Marx was hostile to superstitious bunkum, he did not dismiss religion tout court, he just dropped the subject after concluding that, for better or worse, "humans are the measure of things human". He knew very well that religion was a pervasive influence among the working classes.

Some Marxists regard religion simply as sexual mystification, but, again, this again is a vulgar mistake I think. Well, actually, the Islamic people in my neighbourhood are sexually very sophisticated and they're very fast (perhaps I should explain that according to the City Council Statistics, in my neighborhood, i.e. Eastside Indian Quarter in Amsterdam (10,368 residents), we have (in rounded figures) 11.9% Surinamese people, 1.4% Antillian people, 12.1% Turkish people, 20.49% Moroccan people, 11.6% other non-Western immigrants, 11.6% Western immigrants and 31.9% Indigenous Dutch people; I am myself classified as non-indigenous Western, not because I lived 22 years in New Zealand although Dutch-born, but because my mother was born in Indonesia).

It is certainly true that sexual emancipation often removes the need for religion, but actually people also feel spiritual needs for which there is no sexual solution. The fact is, that the human personality features a natural spiritual (Geistliche) sense, or a spiritual "essence", which exists irrespective of whether that is expressed in organised religion or not, and irrespective of any particular language.

English empiricism often doesn't have a very good way of talking about this, but rather than simply dismiss it all as bunkum, a sensitivity to the meanings of human faiths and beliefs actually helps us to understand people better and get along better. For example, the Dutch-Friesian Communist Theun de Vries wrote not only novels, but also a religious history, called "Heretics: Fourteen centuries of heresy, popular movements and public trials" (Amsterdam: Querido, 1998, 699pp; he also wrote a book about Spinoza).

Because it concerns a domain of human experience in which direct scientific proofs are often not possible, human spirituality obviously attracts many quacks, frauds, and fakers exploiting human gullibility. But there are also more serious analysts such as the Swiss theologian Hans Küng, who are able to illuminate the spiritual problems of humanity in more depth, with real erudition and profundity. In this field, the question is not really "whose point of view is ultimately correct" so much as "who can provide genuine clarifying insight into the spiritual concerns and meanings of the people".

The intrinsic problem of theology is a concern with doctrine and orthodoxy which limits what the theologian can publicly say or argue about beliefs; but, at its best, there is a real attempt in theology at intellectual rigor and moral consistency, which is not to be taken lightly. http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/oveysystematics.html Just when the Marxist conservatives have demolished religion, it is time to salvage the radicality and integrity of humane religion. "We are different, but we can live that way".

I believe humanity's quest is not the hopeful search for a "homeland" territory in the world, as some followers of the Marxist Ernst Bloch, the Christian conservative George W. Bush and the Zionists believe, but rather a world in which all people can genuinely "feel at home" and "make a good home", wherever they are living, i.e. the idea that they belong in the world, a world in which they are welcome, rather than shut out or oppressed.

Actually, what Bloch himself says about it is: "But the root of history is the working, creating human being who reshapes and overhauls the given facts. Once he has grasped himself and established what is his, without expropriation and alienation, in real democracy, there arises in the world something which shines into the childhood of all and in which no one has yet been: homeland." (The Principle of Hope, Vol. 3, p. 1375-1376). Bloch's idea does seem to be, that the homeland is simultaneously the whole earth, and also the inner world: the human being feels at home there because he knows he is at home. A somewhat similar noetic idea is anticipated by Wilfrid Desan, via Sartre's existentialist Marxism (see my wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilfrid_Desan ).


ope mailing list
Received on Sun Mar 22 09:39:45 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT