Stephen Prothero on “The Colbert Report”

In case you missed it, here’s the clip of Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University and the author of the new book God Is Not One, on The Colbert Report earlier this week talking about why we can’t overlook the differences between the world’s major religions.
“I got in a few jabs of my own … including my argument that the atheists (who say all religions are one and bad) and the liberal multiculturalists (who say all religions are one and good) both have it wrong,” Prothero writes on the CNN Belief Blog. “The world’s religions aren’t different paths up the same mountain, I said. They are ‘going up different mountains with different techniques and different tools.'”

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One Response

  1. Ron Krumpos says:

    Orthodox, institutional religions are quite different, but their mystics have much in common. A quote from the chapter “Mystic Viewpoints” in my e-book at on comparative mysticism:

    Ritual and Symbols. The inner meanings of the scriptures, the spiritual teachings of the prophets and those personal searchings which can lead to divine union were often given lesser importance than outward rituals, symbolism and ceremony in many institutional religions. Observances, reading scriptures, prescribed acts, and following orthodox beliefs cannot replace your personal dedication, contemplation, activities, and direct experience. Preaching is too seldom teaching. For true mystics, every day is a holy day. Divine revelation is here and now, not limited to their sacred scriptures.

    Conflicts in Conventional Religion. “What’s in a Word?” outlined some primary differences between religions and within each faith. The many divisions in large religions disagreed, sometimes bitterly. The succession of authority, interpretations of scriptures, doctrines, organization, terminology, and other disputes have often caused resentment. The customs, worship, practices, and behavior within the mainstream of religions frequently conflicted. Many leaders of any religion had only united when confronted by someone outside their faith, or by agnostics or atheists. Few mystics have believed divine oneness is exclusive to their religion or is restricted to any people.

    Note: This is just a consensus to indicate some differences between the approaches of mystics and that of their institutional religion. These statements do not represent all schools of mysticism or every division of faith. Whether mystical experiences vary in their cultural context, or are similar for all true mystics, is less important than that they transform each one’s sense of being to a transpersonal outlook on all life.

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