Headlines from the New York Times for Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Does Religion Make People Moral?
(Below are excerpts from an editorial by Mustafa Akyol. Mr. Akyol speaks largely about Islam in his article, but I believe his words could apply to Christians, too.)
Over the past 15 years, my country, Turkey, has gone through a colossal political revolution. The traditional secular elite that identifies with the nation’s modernist founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, has been replaced by religious conservatives who, until recently, were largely powerless and marginalized.
The religious conservatives have morally failed because they ended up doing everything that they once condemned as unjust and cruel.
This is a familiar story: The religious conservatives have become corrupted by power. But power corrupts more easily when you have neither principles nor integrity.
Notably, some of the more conscientious voices among Turkey’s religious conservatives criticize this ugly reality. Mustafa Ozturk, a popular theologian and a newspaper columnist, recently declared that religious conservatives are failing the moral test miserably. He wrote: “For the next 40 to 50 years, we Muslims will have no right to say anything to any human being about faith, morals, rights and law. The response, ‘We have seen you as well,’ will be a slap in our face.”
But trying to nurture moral virtues is one thing; assuming that you are already moral and virtuous simply because you identify with a particular religion is another. The latter turns religion into a tool for self-glorification. A religion’s adherents assume themselves to be moral by default, and so they never bother to question themselves. At the same time, they look down on other people as misguided souls, if not wicked infidels.
For such people, religion works not as cure for the soul, but as drug for the ego. It makes them not humble, but arrogant.
Readings from Proverbs for Tuesday, November 28, 2017
It is worth our time to prayerfully meditate on the advice of Proverbs. Once you have integrated these words into your own life, spend some time asking God to grant leaders of nations to experience God’s wisdom.
Proverbs 4.4-7 – Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Prayers for Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Dear God, please help us to embrace your words, your understanding, and your wisdom.