A Layman's Guide to World War III
By Kevin Filan
Since before recorded history humanity has sought to understand
the ineffable -- and we've been arguing about it for at least
that long. Despite our best ecumenical efforts, we're still
killing each other over religion. Sometimes religion is the
catalyst for conflict; sometimes it's a veil for deeper ethnic
and political differences; sometimes it's hard to tell which
There is enormous variation within religious practices; a
Jesuit scholar at Georgetown and a Korean Pentecostal missionary
have little in common spiritually, theologically or culturally.
There is even disagreement as to where the boundaries of a
tradition lie. Many Roman Catholics will tell you that Mormons
are not Christians, while many Evangelicals will tell you
the same thing about Roman Catholics. The Indian government
classifies Sikhs as Hindus; most Sikhs and Jains would beg
to differ, particularly those Sikh separatists who are waging
armed struggle against the Indian government. Unfortunately,
some of the most violent religious conflicts have arisen not
between different religious groups, but out of sectarian rivalry.
The Inquisition burned far more for heresy than for witchcraft.
No series of articles can hope to understand any one of these
religious traditions: people could (and have) write volumes
on their beliefs and practices. Rather, I have given a thumbnail
sketch of some of the religious movements which may be shaping
events in the ongoing "War Against Terrorism."
Next Month: Who's Been Carrying Pictures of Chairman
Kevin Filan is a freelance contributor to hybrid based in
New York. Last month, Kevin wrote a piece entitled The
Thermonuclear Men's Club.
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