I ran in to a great article by Sarah Posner, author of God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, on the Guardian UK Religion section.
Some of the blog comments are fascinating to me once you get past the usual hacks hanging around a comments page. The Americans may have the ingenuity and energy of enterprise part of the English Speaking World, but the Brits retain love of the mother language and real journalism and good discussion of the subjects at hand. No great American Intellectual Dumbing Down yet in Britainnia, I am glad to report.
I have run into an interesting way of looking at or dissecting Religion in terms of computer language and or terminology. I do not completely understand what is being said here but I feel obligated to pass it on to my readers for their own dissemination.
I quote from Commenter Label names – no profiles available - but listed as documentation of source.
The great evangelical rebranding
1 Jan 2010, 1:55PM:
It the world of IT we have the concept of the botnet. A botnet is what is created when a computer virus infects a large number of computers and gives control of certain aspects of those computers' behaviour over to a single individual or organisation. These botnets can be ordered to act like a single multi-component entity, but often lie dormant for most of the time and owners of botnet zombie computers ('zombie' is the term for an infected computer) don?t even realise anything is wrong.
When we become members of an organised belief system that dictates certain aspects of our behaviour, we are joining a human botnet. Over the last decade, there has been a growing divide within society as those who recognise the botnet nature of religion (in essence, if not in name) clash with those who would have us believe that religion is not a form of mind control. The critics of religion (such as Richard Dawkins) point out how individuals who are members of a religion loose a certain capacity to think for themselves, and that this can lead to acts of cruelty, violence and bigotry. The 9/11 terrorist act is an example of what happens when the controller of a human religious botnet activates his human zombies.
The botnet comparison is extremely powerful, as it is now widely accepted in Western Europe that organised religion acts this way (despite the contrary claims made by religious leaders and politicians), even if the botnet term is not applied...
1 Jan 2010, 10:49PM
I would say though that the botnet effect is all around us. I have worked with companies where you can see that the employees seem to share many beliefs (about the company) and personal characteristics. Sometimes the employees start to resemble their managers in mannerisms etc. You can see it also when you go to other countries and you find that ways of doing things, accepted values etc can be very different.
But I do agree that such things are common in religion too. I guess the worst examples of this have been the few occasions where mass suicides have occurred. We are used to belonging to groups such as tribes, companies and clubs and people tend to assume that this is also how to operate in spiritual matters, whereas it is inappropriate because it can lead to a lot of "control". I have experienced mild "control" myself in church settings, although there were a lot of good things there too. But if you look carefully at the teachings of Jesus, you find that what he started was not "religion" as we now know it. He started a kind of movement that people originally called "The Way". But at the time of Constantine, many got swept up into a "religion". In fact, if you look at Jesus, you find he is very different from founders of religions and sects. Many committed Christians nowadays do not atttend a traditional "church" because they have given up on religion...