Thursday, October 21, 2004

Nandor - when a Religion is not a Religion

After reading the Herald interview with Nandor Tanczos I was curious enough to visit his web site.

He greets visitors with -
Greetings in the name of the Creator, the Most High
JaH Ras Tafari.
But then paradoxically tries to reassure us that
RasTafari is not a religion.
It seems a strange form of denial. What is a religion if it is not a philosophy of living combined with a belief in a "Creator"?

This philosophy is based on what is "natural" (as opposed to the un-natural) -
Natural living is a must. The foundation of Rastafari livity is to seek a life that is natural and earth-loving.
Other religious groups make moral judgments on the basis of what they consider to be natural. In particular, conservative Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin because it is not natural.

This belief in the natural extends to our essential nature as a species -
The natural human being is whole, one, content in themselves and with no need to exert power over another.
And to explain why we fail to live up to this natural nature -
RasTa seeks to strip away the conditioning that tells us to pretend to be this or that.
And the source of this "conditioning" -
In reality it is "civilised" humanity that has defined the depths of human depravity...
This may come as some surprise to those who have studied humanity in the natural state - hunter-gatherer societies free of "civilisation". Such supposed states of grace are in fact characterised by a degree of violence and lethality that is proportionally greater than that of Europe last century.

It is the myth of the Noble Savage once again. And as Steven Pinker has pointed out in The Blank Slate this form of romanticism did not lead to liberalism, quite the reverse.

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