November 29, 2007

The Fragile Religions

After all the brave assertions that the entire episode of naming a Teddy Bear as Muhammad was a mole hill made into a mountain, Sudan has sentenced the hapless British teacher, Ms. Gillian Gibbons, to 15 days in jail and then deportation. This is after all the diplomatic efforts at the highest level from a powerful Western nation, a member of the UN Security Council, to rescue Ms.Gibbons. I wonder what might have been her fate, had she been from a nation such as Sri Lanka, Mexico, or South Africa.

There appears to be a competitive insanity spreading among the world's major religions. A brouhaha is starting over the film, Golden Compass, based on Philip Pullman's novel. The movie is due to be released on December 7th, and the Christians are crying foul:

Atheism for kids. That is what Philip Pullman sells," stated William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Because of its anti-Christian and atheistic themes, the Catholic League has urged a boycott of the film. At the center of the controversy are the two main themes of the film: the rejection of organized religion and combating the abuses of a fictionalized Catholic Church.

In India, perhaps the most "spiritual" of all nations in the world, a billion people revere a million gods, and just about anything anyone does, says, or writes, is guaranteed to hurt the sentiments of one group or another. A Tamil film actress, Kushboo, is being hauled into the court for wearing slippers in front of a couple of pictures of Hindu goddesses in the studio where her new film is being filmed. Jesus, pictures of Hindu god and goddesses can be found in every nook and corner of the country. To make matters worse, most religions, including Hinduism, proclaim that god is omnipresent. Will someone please tell me if there's any place in India where I can wear shoes?

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