Sunday, August 1, 2010

Anne Rice Still Doesn't Get It

Below are two excepts from Gerd Ludemann's Intolerance and the Gospel: Selected Texts from the New Testament, published by Prometheus Books in 2006.
1. From pages 208-209:
[T]olerance and intolerance are not directly related to power: it is not necessarily the case that a powerful majority becomes intolerant and those in the minority favor tolerance. Rather, the phenomenon we have seen seems to reflect the nature and the structure of the Christian faith. I suggest that the intolerant spirit of the faith, latent in its inherited monotheism, was aggravated and focused by exclusivist claims about Jesus Christ. Surely, intolerance seems to be characteristic of all religions that proclaim the unity of God, whereas tolerance is mostly at home among polytheistic religions. As Arthur Schopenhauer insightfully observed,
"Indeed, intolerance is essential only to monotheism; an only God is by nature a jealous God wh owill not allow another to live. On the other hand, polytheistic Gods are naturally tolerant; they live and let live. In the first place, they gladly tolerate their colleagues, the Gods of the same religion, and this tolerance is afterwards extened even to foreign Gods who are, accordingly, hospitably received and later admiteed, in some cases, to an equality of rights. And instance of this is seen in the Romans who willingly admitted and respected Phrygian, Egyptian, and other foreign Gods. Thus it is only the monotheistic religoins that furnish us with the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, courts for trying heretics, and also with that of iconoclasm, the destruction of images of foreign Gods, the demolition of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi that had looked at the sun for three thousand years; all this because their jealous God had said: 'Thou shalt make no graven image,' and so on." [Religion: A Dialogue (1851)]

2. From page 259:
[I]ntolerance seems to be an inherent, even necessary ingredient of the Christian religion. The noted theologian Karl Barth says it quite openly: "No sentence is more dangerous of revolutionary than that God is One and there is no other like Him. Let this sentence be uttered in a such a way that it is heard and grasped, and at once 450 prophets of Baal are always in fear of their lives. There is no more room now for what the recent past called toleration. Beside God there are only His creatures or false gods, and beside faith in Him there are religions only as religions of superstition, error, and finally irrelegion." Clearly it would be misleading to think that freedom in general and freedom of religion specifically are the consequences of the Christian message. Indeed, the religious tradition that claims as its founder the Prince of Peace has through the centuries shown an inability to endure other religious viewpoints. And this is as true today as even, despite the protestations of the church leaders who like to have it appear otherwise in order to retain their welcome within the institutions of power that comprise the secular state.