Sunday, February 27, 2011

PBS God in America

I've almost finished re-watching the PBS God in America series, which can be watched in its entirety via Netflix or on PBS at It's a very good series that I recommend. It begins with Spanish conquistadors and continues through Jerry Fallwell's Moral Majority, and beyond to George W. Bush and the changing face of religious plurality in the United States. It covers how Los Angeles is the most ethnically diverse city in the world, and also the most religiously diverse city in the world. It also discusses how 1 in 6 Americans are not religious, or atheist or agnostic. It shows Rick Warren talking about AIDS in Africa, and poverty. It concludes with President Obama, as candidate, talking about how faith can inform political discourse, but that, ultimately, arguments need to be made to make sense to people of different belief systems.

I have to admit, I find it fascinating to think about what causes people to believe the things they believe. Or, maybe I should say, I'm fascinated by listening to people explain the reasons for what they profess to believe.

I grew up respecting the parables and wisdom embodied in many religious texts, from Christianity, to Hinduism, to Buddhism, but not a follower of a creed or dogma. I am growing more and more interested in seeking to understand why individual people believe different things that emanate from their own religious or philosophical vantage point. It's important, I believe, not to look at religion as a "virus", something vile and despicable with an attitude like the so-called "New atheist" writers espouse. It's better to examine religion for what it is, and it is often changing.

I've started to listen to a course called "The Birth of the Modern Mind", which is a brief history of The Enlightenment, but I have not gotten very far yet. There are so many courses and materials I want to take and read.

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