Thursday, October 29, 2009

Religion and Leo Africanus

The Reconquista and the Fall of Grenada in 1492 provided the Iberian penninsula with religion idealism that further fueled the desire to expand their empires. Additionally, it influences other religious aspects such as the Inquisition against Jews.
I feel as if religious motives can be exploited by people to justify any act if you try hard enough. The records of documented crimes against the Spanish Church are laughable. For instance, Luis de Stangel was accused of heresy for his belief and practice of the Jewish faith. To avoid punishment, Stangel composed a written confession; and consequently, he was later charged with heresy and perjury. It was assumed that after he had written his confession that he was lying so he also was charged with heresy.
Things like slavery can also be justified through religious means. The natives of Africa were considered heathens, as they were not Christians, and it was assumed that it was the holy duty of Christians to enslave them so that they would convert to Christianity and experience salvation.
Religion is really a difficult subject for me, as I went to Catholic school for the majority of my academic career. I see how that is is blindly followed and so easily exploited so that few will benefits. I mean, if it wasn’t for modern science the Pope might still be torturing people who thought the Earth moved around the Sun. One of my favorite quotes is that “you can believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God if you want. But it strikes me as odd, that Shakspeare—a mere mortal, was so much better in terms of basic writing skills”. I would constantly bring up that since man wrote the Bible from what was inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and man is inclined to sin… couldn’t it have been written down wrong?
I do not believe that a person has to be religious to have ethics and morals. I don’t need to believe in God to not want to kill people, or kick puppies. I think morals and ethics are inherent to people. Besides most major religions follow the same basic code of conduct of being a good person.

The life of Leo Africanus reminds me of the fable of Prester John in that both were the Christian that lived among the Muslims and were seen as a tool to defeat the Muslims. I do find it ironic that it alledges that Leo Africanus reconverted back to Islam before his death. It makes me feel as if he too was using religion for his own personal gains, like escaping oppression from Christians.

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