So over the last few days I've been having conversations about religion with all manner of people.
A few points that have come up:
* All the major religions denounce Hillsong because its rather cultish but are they not rather cultish in their own way, and being pointlessly restrictive by telling worshippers how they should be allowed to worship?
My own reply to this: "Evil done in god's name is still evil and good done in the devil's name is still good" Just because Hillsong songs have Jesus as every other word doesn't mean that they are actually worhsipping him. The other religions denounce Hillsong for replacing religion with song rather than using song to enhance religion as the others are meant to. Personally i have doubts with this argument too, since my memories of christian choirs and the chants and songs from synagogue seem to contradict it. The only saving grace i can think of is that at the last synagogue service i was at, the chanted and sung prayers were interspersed with the rabbi giving us lessons from the Torah
* The perceived chauvinism of judaism and catholicism. The argument goes that it is possible to give men and women equality but not interchangeability. This translates to not treating the genders exactly the same ( because as much as we can pretend we're the same, there are fundamental differences between men and women). Say what you will, but the position of priest/rabbi is essentially serving god in the most direct fashion possible these days (given that the ancient temple no longer exists). And the priesthood/rabbinate is only open to men. Until that point is resolved for me in a fashion which doesn't involves some remark that women aren't suitable for the job "just because" i will persist in viewing my religion as "sucks to be a woman"
* The interpretation of the written word of the holy texts. A prime example of this is the line that defines nearly half of kosher law for judaism, "you shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk". The possible interpretations of this are myriad. The rabbis interpret it to mean that meat and milk are not to be mixed AT ALL, not even in the stomach. I would personally interpret it a little more literally, as a command not to cook meat in milk in general, but other combinations such as cheese and cold cuts would be fine. Another way entirely to to interpret it would be to look at the exact wording "a kid in its mother's milk", and take it as an injunction against disrespect to your mother.
Theologically, the explanation for this is that at mount sinai the jews were actually given two texts, the Torah (written word) and the oral tradition which allows the rabbis to interpret the Torah effectively. Now my question is this: If god is so omnipotent and so forth, why would he dictate the Torah to be written in what is effectively a code that you need the oral tradition to crack? Unless he was afraid that any random person could pick up the Torah and understand the moral lessons written within? That really makes no sense to me. Further thought leads me along the line that if the torah was deliberately written to be cryptic so only the jews could read it, it could only mean that god intended us to exterminate everyone else who is by definition less moral than us... and if god does exist i can't accept that kind of callousness
(Thanks to Iva Matt and Robert for providing a sounding board and/or inspiration for most of this)