What’s Wrong With the Virgin Mary Depicted as a Barbie Doll?

Catholic and Hindu leaders—two religions that normally appreciate religious statues and images—have decried “Barbie: The Plastic Religion,” a new exhibit by Argentinian artists Pool Paolini and Marianela Perelli, featuring 33 Barbie and Ken dolls dressed as saints, prophets, and deities from world religions. The dolls aren’t arranged in blasphemous poses or otherwise used to offend religious sensibilities, so what exactly about the exhibit is upsetting?

The answer may be that Barbie is herself profane. An editorial backed by the Italian bishops conference objected to depictions of the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc, and other Catholic saints and virgins, asking “What is the difference between provocation and bad taste?” Commenting on the Barbie dressed as Kali, Times of India noted a long pattern of the West appropriating Hinduism for commercial purposes. Rajan Zed, a Hindu cleric and interfaith leader remarked, “Barbie-fication of Kali is simply improper, wrong and out of place.”

The most outraged group appears to be devotees of Argentinian folk saint Difunta Correa (the deceased Correa), who’s also “Barbie-fied.” According to legend, Correa attempted to cross the San Juan desert with her baby after becoming separated from her husband during the Argentine civil wars. When Correa’s corpse was discovered, her baby was still alive. Miraculously, her body was still able to supply her baby with milk even in death. A spokesperson for a sanctuary commemorating Difunta Correa claimed the saint’s image is copyrighted and threatened to sue. Paolini and Perelli have announced they will not make a Muhammad doll because, they said, Islam expressly forbids images.

Paolini and Perelli have claimed to be surprised by this response since they feared getting sued by Mattel, not religious organizations. As self-described “low brow” artists they seem to simultaneously have warm nostalgic feelings for Barbie and to regard her as an embodiment of a soulless mass culture. Their exhibit, they claim, is meant to humorously demonstrate how mass culture discourages individuality and alienates people from their history, culture, and ideals.

It’s likely this juxtaposition of “lowbrow” and the sacred that is upsetting to critics. Sociologist Emile Durkheim famously defined that sacred as that which is “set apart and forbidden” or as that which can be defiled. For some, the very term “plastic religion” would seem to be an act of contamination, mixing the sacred with the profane.

But perhaps the message of the plastic religion exhibit is that Barbie herself is profane. Maybe by using a generic doll to portray extraordinary beings and individuals, the artists invite us to reflect on our culture and the different role-models we’re offered. If we really wanted our daughters to emulate the loving ferocity of Kali or the pious courage of Joan of Arc, why haven’t these figures been portrayed as Barbies already?

 

  • Jim Reed

    This is an issue of religious authority. The question goes up to those who have authority to decide, and they make their ruling. Then the rest of the world divides into the two groups, those who care what the authorities say, and those who don’t. This creates a new opportunity for the two groups to look down on each other. The details can be escalated if necessary. If they don’t care about the Barbie Virgin Mother, then something a little stronger will be created to see if the authorities will care about that. At some point we will have a religious problem, and we can then have the fun of dealing with it.

  • cranefly

    Ooh this is a cool story. It’s cool because there are plenty of churchpeople in good standing who make comfortable livings selling shiny golden idols and plush toys of Jesus and Mary. What the Catholic bishops object to is not the hypocrisy of expensive golden commercialism masked as Christian religious art, but the shocking honesty of religious art openly wearing the trappings of commercialism.

    The Jesus doll is pretty weird, because he’s grinning like a movie star on his deathbed of torture, but the Mary doll, if it wasn’t in a box with the “Barbie” logo, would be no worse than anything 2000 years of Blessed Mother depictions have given us.

  • Joan59

    Yep, religious images have always been sold.
    Yes, they are somewhat commercialized by religious institutions.
    But people object because they venerate what the image represents to them; they are spiritual metaphors/symbols. Perhaps children get and receive Barbie because they adore the feminine image Barbie represents. Still, they are not quite the same motivation to purchase.
    I’ve seen some awful depictions of Mary, and many beautiful ones.
    It’s inconsiderate to misrepresent traditional images of religious symbols, even if it is meant to say something about the commercialization of our culture.
    Most of all, it disrespects the spiritual authenticity of another; it’s rude and hurtful and mean, yes, mean, to deliberately depict these images people love, in a manner that mocks – yes, mocks – their love.

  • Joan59

    What nonsense. People aren’t motivated by authority when they are offended at the mockery of the images of their faith, even when the art is meant to depict the rampant commercialization of our culture.
    I fear and disdain religious authority a great deal, and this isn’t an issue that is effective or meaningful to defend people against religious oppression.
    The only impending “religious problem” we can anticipate comes from our lack of compassion and respect for each other. And the repercussions of that problem is not limited to religious authorities.

  • Jim Reed

    Are you saying there is something wrong with mocking images of someone else’s faith? I can understand it is something you wouldn’t want to do, but other people might want to. We can’t have religions deciding there are some things that shouldn’t be mocked. They can decide that for their own followers if they want, but they can’t decide that for the rest of us. Who is lacking compassion and respect? If you are demanding respect, then it is not respect. If you are asking for compassion for something that is nothing more than a concept, then exactly what are you asking?

  • PieRatz

    Joan you are reiterating and establishing the old “built-in-shield-and-respect” that religion and no other body has asked for and received from free societies for years. Time to end this. It’s a ridiculous notion that religion should receive special protection from mockery or the related. Come on.

  • phatkhat

    It’s likely this juxtaposition of “lowbrow” and the sacred that is upsetting to critics.

    Seriously??? And brightly colored WWJD rubber bracelets, gaudy crosses and crucifixes, neon wall plaques, etc., are “highbrow”? There is no end to the tacky junk marketed to religious audiences. No, there is more to this. These artists intended to provoke a reaction, as all good artists do, and to make people evaluate their slavish devotion to images.

    Good job! I like the pics at the link. :o)

  • phatkhat

    Art often mocks as it questions. I see nothing wrong with the exhibit. I think it DOES raise valid questions about the point of meeting between the sacred and the commercial.

  • phatkhat

    Maybe we need to question why we need images – idols if you will – of religious figures to start with? Is it because we are too shallow to contemplate the divine without anthropomorphizing it? I think Islam has a good point in forbidding religious images.

  • Jim Reed

    Is there actually something wrong with idols, or is it due to the Moses calf story in the Bible? I think it might be a case of religion just getting too involved in an issue and trying to make it a big deal, and religion is arguing on both sides of the issue anyway. If you don’t take religion that seriously, then it doesn’t really matter either way. I think religion is just trying to stir up trouble because they are always looking for more ways to meddle in people’s lives.

  • Jim Reed

    That is a good idea. Art that mocks as it questions.

  • cranefly

    I understand your concern. Perhaps you don’t understand mine.

    The social gospel of Jesus, including his criticism of wealth and materialism, means the world to me. I watch this gospel contorted and blasphemed on a daily basis, everywhere and by practically everyone, including his most rabid self-proclaimed mouthpieces. I appreciate an artistic project that turns this blasphemy on its head.

  • joeyj1220

    Yes… and I’ve never understood people’s anxiety over something like this, and yet they have no problem at Christmas time when you walk into your local Christian gift store there is a nativity where all the characters are teddy bears!!! WTF?

  • StrangeFly

    Although this may not have been the artists’ intentions, I also see the dolls as adding something to the conversation about the mixed messages of identity we send to children, girls in particular. I am now an atheist, but was raised Catholic and I have firm memories of the confusion arising over certain children’s sermons I experienced. On one hand, we discussed a girl’s desire to emulate Mother Mary’s “kindness, patience, and love” – asking us to use her as our role model. Then we were given Barbie dolls, in bible class, to play with whose whole message (especially in the 80’s) reduced me down to appearances and biological function. We talked about the “beauty” of the Holy Mother and were then told to go play with our dolls – Barbies!

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Now THAT is a good question, phatkhat! I’m led to understand that there was a time when most religious adherents were to a large extent illiterate, and various statues, icons, carvings et.al . served to tell the story of the particular belief.But now? One wonders.I’m willing to concede they may still serve that purpose in some places; still, in this day and age…

  • Serai 1

    Well, people who are obsessively religious tend to lack a sense of humor about it. What’s funny to me is how the accusations they make almost always miss the point completely – what they’re accusing the artist of doing is exactly what the artist is accusing the dominant CULTURE of doing.

    Myself, I’d love to have a collection of Barbie dolls dressed like religious figures. There’s an artist on the web who makes a living crafting lovely hand-made costumes for dolls, among them some that turn the dolls into goddesses. Had I the money, I’d definitely buy them, to give to my nieces as well as to keep for myself. After all, wouldn’t a Guadalupe Barbie be much better for a child than a Barbie dressed in a bikini or a slutty miniskirt? What a great way to introduce little girls to their religious heritage!

  • Serai 1

    So if a religious statue/doll has the spiritual significance the owner gives it, what’s wrong with a Barbie Mary? You may see it as inappropriate, but someone else might see it as a fitting gift for a little girl, to introduce her to the figure of the Virgin. It’s all in how you look at things – why insist on looking negatively when you don’t have to? Whether it’s “mocking” is in YOUR eyes, not the artist’s. Change your viewpoint and try to hear what the artist is saying.

  • Serai 1

    I’ve seen dolls of King David and other biblical figures EXACTLY as plastic and silly as these dolls, made and sold without any irony. Why aren’t those a mockery and a blasphemy? I find them far more offensive than this kind of thoughtful artistic expression (and much more poorly made than these hand-crafted works of art).

  • Serai 1

    The problem is it’s RUDE. But since you don’t care about the dignity of others, that wouldn’t count, would it?

  • Jim Reed

    Religion doesn’t like to be questioned, and they have had lots of times when they were in control and they could stop any questioning. This might be one of those brief moments in history when we can break through and question them, so I think we should take responsibility for trying to do a good job of it.

  • Serai 1

    Religion is not a person, so it can’t like or dislike anything. Mocking is rude to the PEOPLE who believe in it. So pretending you’re going after some inanimate thing when you’re actually attacking real people is self-serving and mean-spirited.

  • Joan59

    Because Barbie and Mary are two entirely different symbols. I have nothing against Barbie myself, but come on, Barbie is the archetype for the idealization of a cultural female ideal that is used to SELL PRODUCTS. Barbie is a symbol of sexualized desirability, thoroughly commercialized. Barbie is Consumer-America.
    The symbol of Kuan Yin, Mary, Shakti, and other religious symbols are worlds away from our
    Barbie.
    I get the artist may be making the point that Barbie has replaced authentic symbols of spirituality, and I accept that as a cultural critique, but I’m not about to accept Barbie as an authentic spiritual archetype.

  • Serai 1

    That’s your point of view. But a little girl sees Barbie in a completely different light. Perhaps instead of arguing that we should force her to see it your way, the more productive thing would be to use the way she sees it to introduce her to things she doesn’t know about. That’s the whole point of all those alternative Barbies that put her in different contexts, after all.

  • Joan59

    I can accept that is the artist’s motivation, to mock and question. But the point, what is actually being mocked, can be easily misconstrued. Using Barbie to point to similarities between worship of Capitalism and veneration of spiriutal archetypes isn’t be best means to get the point across in my view. But I am not an artist, although I love art – as a means to reach the deeper levels.
    The reason for mocking flies right over the heads of the very people who understand the importance of spiriutal symbols. It hurts them, but it’s doubful it bothers the high priests of materialism? NOT ONE IOTA. In fact, they rather enjoy the idea that spiriutal symbols that art can be controversial, they fell reckless and riske, when the are merely empty.
    When art becomes just another means to “push the envelope” it has lost the ability to transfer authentic meaning to the culture. Sure a small artsy elite get it, but how does that fulfill any social purpose for art?
    Of course none of my points matter if we consider art as little more than personal critique. As important as that is, . what good is it – its lasting value – if most people don’t understand what is being expressed?

  • Joan59

    I don’t force anybody to see thing my way. I probably had Barbies when I was a kid. I don’t remember being in love with them, but I am sure they left an imprint about what THE APPEARANCE I should develop as a female, not what I should become as a woman person. If I had a child, for the reasons stated above, I would not want to give her a image such as Barbie (of course she would want it and I would give in.) Not would I present her with images of a dehumanized Virgin, but and other images and Kwan Yin would be about the house.
    As far as presending an image of Mary outside the bars of virgin and mother, I have many, many images in my home that show that, many books that inform, and my own words and understanding would be given to any child.
    I wouldn’t need a corporate symbol of idealized & deformed female sexuality for that.

  • Joan59

    Because people need symbols to light the way before they can access the unknowable.
    Archetypes are powerful. Allegories are powerful. Symbols are powerful.

  • Joan59

    Yes, I agree there, religious fundamentalism IS inserting itself into public life in a very destructive manner. I bet I loathe and fear it more than you do, because I know first hand the damage it does.
    But it would be nice if people would become informed enough to become make distinctions. All atheists do not fit the same pattern; some are even humanists of the first degree. Same with people who claim faith.

  • Joan59

    I cannot believe in this day and age people are still unaware of the power of symbols. Greater learning (note I don’t say greater education) leads to deeper understanding rather than dismissal.

  • Joan59

    Ok. What do you love? Can we mock that? Take a moment to imagine how you would feel. Perhaps you don’t care at all about what others think of you, and so don’t care that they are hurt by mocking.
    I get that. I don’t like people much either. But I don’t often go out of my way to make them unhappy.
    And why on earth would anybody want to listen to the point – if there is one – if one’s most personal loves are mocked?
    Do we want dialogue or do we want nothing more than personal assault?
    By the way, there is no law limiting freedom of expression. Go ahead and offend. But do not expect that you are also free from the reaction of those offended. The sword of freedom cuts both ways.

  • Joan59

    I am not obsessively religious. I have far more in common with you and fundamentalists. But I love beauty and its symbols, in all its forms, in word and image and especially in nature.
    So, yes I take spirituality very seriously exactly because I am have an existentialist perspective, and this culture has very little that is meaningful.

  • Jim Reed

    You see value in being respectful of other people’s religion, and I see value in being disrespectful of other people’s religion. Can’t we all just get along.

  • Jim Reed

    Personal assault doesn’t do any good, but we see a lot of damage that religion has caused, and we just want to make sure we are not giving religion a pass in the name of not insulting anybody. It would be too easy if all religion has to do is feel insulted, then nobody can be critical.

  • Jim Reed

    The point of art might be to push the envelope of the meaning of society, or culture. The artist might think those who attach too much importance to spiritual symbols need to be taken down a notch.

  • PieRatz

    Mock whatever you like. In general I do not go about my day mocking things people love. But mocking for a purpose…specifically power structures? Vital. Hitchens sums it up best.– “Mockery of religion is one of the most essential things…one of the beginnings of the human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority, its indispensable”

  • Jim Reed

    I think we can OK with that. You don’t have to accept it. There are differences of opinion, especially in a religious discussion like on RD.

  • phatkhat

    Art has ALWAYS been about pushing the envelope. Much of what we revere as “classic” art today was totally on the edge at the time. Your whole question boils down to: “What is art? And what is art’s place in society? What should art do?”

    Art doesn’t really even have to have “lasting value” when you get right down to it. Most of it doesn’t. It is created and enjoyed in a moment in time, makes a statement, and is forgotten. This exhibit is such. But if it causes people to stop, think, and question WHY they feel the way they do about it, then it has accomplished its purpose.

    You seem to think that mindless veneration is a good thing, or at least okay. I do not. Question EVERYTHING.

  • phatkhat

    And you don’t think that the Virgin Mary is used to “form little girls when they are most imprintable, with the ultimate aim to form their self image to sell products a hyperfeminine, chaste and submissive female self”?

  • phatkhat

    But to most people – especially religious ones – mocking is fine, as long as it isn’t THEIR devotion being mocked. Xtians mock Muslims all the time. And Buddhists, Hindus, and even other Xtians of the “wrong” denominations. Evangelicals mock Catholics regularly.

    I wouldn’t dream of mocking another person for what they are, be it old, fat, handicapped, or whatever. But, yes, I’ll certainly mock their beliefs, because beliefs are chosen (and can be un-chosen), and when they are crazy, unsupportable beliefs… well, they deserve mocking.

  • phatkhat

    Hitchens was an ass as a person, but he did come up with a lot of profound thoughts.

  • phatkhat

    If you can access the unknowable, it isn’t unknowable. Your post is awfully new-agey. Sure, archetypes are powerful. Myth is powerful. But these are holdovers from days when everything in nature was a great mystery, and people attempted to explain it all somehow.

    ALL religion, or at least all the mainstream ones, is a holdover from the Bronze Age or earlier. Consider that. Isn’t it time we let it go and look for new, relevant meaning? Our dependence on outdated religion will be the death of the planet and everything on it.

  • phatkhat

    I would say if one is educated, symbols might not be so important. But, then, I’m an atheist. What do I know? (I used to be a fundie Xtian, and once was new-agey, so I’ve BTDT with all that jazz.)

  • phatkhat

    It’s one of the 10 Commandments. No graven images. Whatever graven images are. A Muslim and a Catholic would have very different interpretations.

  • Serai 1

    Well, I take spirituality very seriously too, seriously enough to see it in everything, not just in the things that some people find significant. I think those dolls have a great potential to teach spirituality if used the right way. Why shouldn’t Barbie teach little girls about la Guadalupe or blue-mantled Mary? Everybody hears keeps denying there’s any potential for good in these images, but there is always potential, if one is willing to imbue a thing with it. I think you’re all passing up a chance to use a powerful teaching tool just because it’s got…what? I don’t know – some kind of plastic cooties attached to it in your mind. Me, I’m going to make some of these outfits if any of my nieces acquire Barbies (which they haven’t yet).

    Everything is sacred. We just need to see it.

  • Serai 1

    So then upend the archetype and make her a symbol of the feminine sacred. Make her yet another face of the Goddess – the Goddess of the toybox or the playground. Syncretism and adaptation is how the goddess has survived for millenia, after all. What do you think Mary is, but the face of the goddess hidden in the heart of a religion that rejected her? I think you miss the point if you see these figures as a replacement for spirituality – I see them as an extension of it, an incursion of the sacred into the world of playthings and a teaching tool for little children. Barbie speaks far more to a six-year-old girl than any jeweled icon installed high up on the walls of a church, and the Goddess is not some distant, untouchable figure. She is always right in our hands, at our fingertips. That she can be represented in something as mundane as a child’s doll is a wonder and a joy to me, but then, I like to find the Divine in everything, and that includes toys.

  • Serai 1

    Yes, but you’re not a six-year-old girl. How do you know what impact one of these dolls would have had on you? I always hear people going on about how these dolls distort little girls’ images of themselves, but I don’t really buy that. Dolls are almost never realistic – I certainly didn’t take my Barbie to be a realistic interpretation of how I should look. I didn’t expect to look like Barbie any more than I expected to look like my Fisher Price figurines. She was Barbie! Far worse were the media image – the photos in magazines were much more central because they were of real girls. I think it’s pretty patronizing to make the assumption that a little girl doesn’t know that a hunk of plastic is just that, and not what a real person looks like.

  • Serai 1

    Easy to say when it’s not YOUR belief system being mocked, isn’t it?

  • phatkhat

    Since I’m an atheist, I understand what it is to be mocked! But it doesn’t bother me. Atheists are one of those groups in America – one of few – that it is okay to mock and criticize.

  • sabelmouse

    archetypes are part of the human psyche. they don’t disappear because our lives have changed, ditto the religious impulse which just gets transferred onto something else like belief in science or that there really is no god.
    in some ways that can be as dangerous as those see themselves as 100% rational and non religious while they are not.

  • Joan59

    Of course a little girl doesn’t think rationally about her adult self image, but that image is imprinted in her subconscious: the Barbie figure is the preferred image of an adult woman looks like. Your projecting an adult’s rational faculty onto a child who can’t make the distinctions you now make.

  • Joan59

    I understand syncretism and finding the divine in the ordinary. After all, what is more extra “ordinary” than the divine in nature? But I personally do not agree that think a figure so closely tied to commercial uses can be an effective spiritual archetype. I could be wrong, but I do not believe Barbie can be separated from her capitalist purposes.

    I’ve known for decades that Mary’s images are archetypal symbols of the Eternal Feminine. I have in my home so many diverse images that do not fit traditional images, some contemporary, some not so much.

    I don’t think we can assume the jeweled window doesn’t still have the capacity to touch any child. I have seen some contemporary images that are completely dreadful (that Medjugorje statue comes to mind) but I personally still find a spiritual path from the graceful images of Kwan Yin or any other image, and refuse to reject traditional images out of hand but on their merits.

  • Joan59

    The effect of commercialized female ideals are far more than “plastic cooties.” Sure, everything is sacred, except greed and the misuse of others. Our culture’s use of children’s toys and games to imprint……..what?……..the desire to purchase things that serve those images…………is not sacred.

  • Joan59

    Our culture’s form of higher education tends to emphasize rational materialism. If it can’t measure, see, or test it, it cannot exist. “End of story.” But quantum physics tends to pick at those assumptions a bit. It is a fine line between being willing to believe anything is possible merely because we can image it (that seems to be the condition of many Americans today; they will believe the most outrageous things with crazy “evidence”, and acknowledging that we are not able to conclusively pin down reality. There are many things that might exist that are sensed best by poets, artists, musicians……..and even mystics. Our culture suffers from a literalism bias; we think if only we find the right formula for truth, we will get it to answer all our questions. We have to learn to live with uncertainty; it is hard to reconcile our human rational faculty with our unconscious instincts and insights. I don’t know if we will survive without it.

  • Joan59

    What we mean by the Unknowable is not reducible to human logic or understanding. It can be approached by art, music, love.
    A lot of what we call New age are formulaic recipes for “well being” and commercialized
    devolution of eastern practices. Some practitioners, however, are serious students of eastern medication & philosophy. It doesn’t do to paint them all with the same brush.

    For that reason, I beg to disagree that mainstream religion is merely a holdover from the Bronze Age. Granted, fundamentalists of all stripes seem to be stuck in an odd sort of Bronze Age “morality” which they misuse for their own purposes.

    But IMHO they don’t understand their faiths very well or in any depth. They’re almost insane, and they need to be countered. But reducing mainstream religion to the beliefs & superstitions and mores of the ancient past ignores the developments of religious thought over the past centuries, especially the last 100 years. You might be surprised at the depth and breadth of thought – and the questioning – coming from theologians these days.

  • Joan59

    Yes, they certainly do, not necessarily in the images themselves, but in traditional interpretations of Mary, all that drivel about spotless purity and irreproachable motherhood. I think women have often dismissed the drivel and related to her as an Divine image of womanhood. Unfortunately the church and its men have not.

    A lot of religious images seem to be meant to present the Divine as compassionate, peaceful and loving. The images of Buddha and Jesus are also often presented as mirrors of beneficence. We have an image in the church I grew up in that I have never seen elsewhere. I loved it, still do, and It didn’t prevent me from comprehending the depth of misogyny in the institution and in all its effects.

  • Joan59

    Good God, “mindless veneration” is THE ONE thing the people who knew me would never accuse me of! Certainly not the mindless, and what I venerate is not tradition merely for tradition’s sake.
    Art should do whatever the artist and the culture decides it should do.
    Seems to me if the art outlasts the culture, it has something more broadly relevant to the human condition. If a response to art outlasts the era, it have more value than the flash in the pan, the flavor of the month, the unquestioned “trend.”
    By “pushing the envelope” I don’t mean to challenge art’s responsibility to mirror and challenge and question the culture. But I also think art’s mirror & challenge should be comprehensible and not restricted either to an esoteric elite or to the lowest possible denominators of commercialized popular culture. Yes, I understand that comprehensibility might be interpreted as advocating mediocrity, but it is not. It is much harder to be a great writer and remain comprehensible; ask our greatest novelists. Profound simplicity is genius.
    When I criticize pushing the envelope, I mean deliberately going for outrage – for outrage’s sake. I find that offensive and meaningless, just as I find music that glorifies violence and sexism to be offensive – and meaningless.
    Of course what qualifies as offensive and meaningless is open to interpretation.
    That should be part of the dialogue art inspires.

  • Joan59

    Yes, I can agree with that. Can we now mock Hitchen’s narrow-minded absolutisms?

  • Joan59

    YES, because religious fundamentalists are attacking our rights in the public sphere; they are a danger to us.

    But I don’t accept that requires condemning people’s right to freedom of thought. Even of faith. Seems to me the artist might also think that those who attach too much importance to the values of rational materialism also need to be taken down a notch. With apologies to atheists who are fellow humanitarians, I see the influences of libertarian attacks on the common good too much in the atheist camp. The sword cuts both ways, when we are taking talking about the misuse of ideology in politics.

  • Joan59

    Yes, agreed.

  • Joan59

    Ok, but is it then OK to disrespect other people’s ideologies of disbelief? The goal is to respect freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, maybe even learn a bit from them.

  • Jim Reed

    I don’t know that it is condemning right to freedom of thought or faith. We can be critical of the logic behind faith without condemning it.

  • Jim Reed

    Disrespect other people’s ideologies of disbelief is fine. If disbelief is based on logical reasoning, then disrespect can’t hurt it. That might be the heart of the split between belief and non-belief. Religious belief is based on things that can’t be justified, so the religious side wants respect, no questions asked. Non-belief, if it is properly done, expects and appreciates questions.

  • Serai 1

    Fine, whatever. You want to divide the world into sacred and not-sacred. Have fun.

  • Serai 1

    And I believe any symbol can be reclaimed and transformed. Sorry you don’t.

  • Joan59

    Everything changes, even images. Yes, I have a very hard time believing a symbol of capitalist materialism lends itself easily spiritual purposes. Kinda seems contradictory.

    So we will just have to agree to disagree.

  • Joan59

    I rather think that the idea that “the sacred is inherent in everything” doesn’t mean what we think it does. In other words, surely we should make distinctions between peace and violence, justice and injustice, faith and materialism?
    Don’t think we’re getting anywhere here,so perhaps we should agree to disagree.

  • Joan59

    Well, it’s a matter of perspective that “religious belief is based on things that can’t be justified.” If you mean proof solely via logical reasoning, no, there isn’t much room for dialogue. When such reasoning can account for the effect of art & music & poetry, or life & death, I’ll buy that logical reasoning is the last word.
    Belief, when done right, also welcomes doubt. It NEEDS doubt to become authentic!
    The difference between our perspectives is the method that arbitrates our verification of reality. I don’t believe the Bible, or tradition, or rational logic – any of the diverse forms humanity uses as a framework to hang our thoughts – provided absolutely definitive answers (they should provoke more questions than answers), not even when science examines particle physics.
    I’m not saying we can’t know reality. Reality is……….different that it appears though. An object might look solid, might cause bruises, but in “reality” it’s full of empty space at the atomic level. Of course we can’t experience it at that level, so our reality is that it is solid. But science itself demonstrates that our reality is in some sense an illusion.

    So we have to tread our Certainties a bit lightly, that’s all. Surely respect is part of that. I can empathize with an agnostic or atheistic stand; I am not offended by lack of “faith.” But too often I find militant atheists are offended by the very thought that people hold faith in something other than rational materialism. This is an intolerance that is too similar to fundamentalist intolerance for my taste. Yes, atheism is the underdog right now, and intolerance against atheists is disproportionate, but rational literalism hold the day even religious dogma, where it pretends to “prove” dogma via scripture.

  • PieRatz

    Feel free!