Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Man doesn't merely know: he knows that he knows. With his faculty for reflective consciousness, he can't help but contemplate the finitude of his own existence. Questions of ultimacy concern him. He is a religious animal—whether he believes his fate lies in worm meat or the world-to-come.

John Irving seems to think only Religionists of the Book—Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews—impose their reality tunnels on the rest of us. But history's bloodiest dictatorship was an atheistic state. Aggressive secularism is a reality tunnel, too.

With a vengeance did Josef Stalin practice his godless religion on others. Christians perished by the millions in his gulags—the "scientific" holocaust that dare not speak its name.

Religious freedom should work two ways: we should be free to practice the religion of our choice, but we must also be free from having someone else's religion practiced on us.

-John Irving, novelist (b. 1942)



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