Blasphemy and Religion

One assumption behind some of the debate over the Danish cartoons is that blasphemy is always antithetical to religion. But, of course, many great religions began in what was then deemed blasphemy. Jesus was a blasphemer, and he died in part because of his blasphemy. Religions that enforce rules against blasphemy are defensive, cramped faiths, closed to the possibility of error, which is to say, closed to the possibility of a greater truth. A reader echoes this point:

"I'm a religious person, Jewish by birth and still identify as such. But I have read widely in other religious texts - Christianity, Islam and also Eastern religions like Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Anyone who has really thought much about God, and anyone who has real respect for God, knows that each of these religions has something good to say on what God is about.

What the fundamentalists fail to understand, and this is how they land up betraying the greatness of God, is that none of us humans, small and probably insignificant creatures in a huge cosmos, really can claim to know anything about the mind of God, the nature of God, and what he or she or it truly is. All we have is hints, and all we can do is grasp, often unknowingly, to try and touch and understand God's greatness."

I couldn't put it better myself. I have a great deal of respect for Islam - for its ritual simplicity, its artistic and scientific legacy, its insistence on prayer. But God is - no, God must be - beyond the reach of even our greatest religious teachings. Humility first. Which is to say: fundamentalism can sometimes be the real enemy of faith, not its ally.