You don't appreciate religion much, do you?

Most of today's religions aren't too bad - most of my complaints are about the past: incidents like the crusades come to mine. Many people also believe it is their duty to 'show the way' to people (such as myself) who don't believe the same way they do. Those are really my only points of contention.

Religions do a lot of good things too - the faith of the followers can be inspiring, they tend to be good people, and many churches run community service programs.

See the related discussion in Words To Ready By, and Things I Do Like About Religion.

Dude! A religion about beauty! It must be nice to worship supermodels!

Pay attention to the examples I give, and my definition of beauty. I only give one example of a person, which is one's current love - a relative quality. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford's idea that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder definitely holds here.

Things can certainly be beautiful in form - art, old churches, forests, or the stars at night. Other things are beautiful to our minds: mathematics, songs, and chess. Still other things are most concisely described as being beautiful to the soul: faith, loyalty, love, and the perseverance of the human spirit.

And personally, I've never been that attracted to the supermodel type anyway.

What about someone who does ugly things in an artful way?

In the movie Seven, a person kills and tortures seven people representing the 'seven deadly sins' to try and make the point that the world is slipping into evil, and needs a wake up call. This is basically the question "do the ends justify the means?" I lean towards no - I certainly don't want someone killing me or my friends to make a point.

But there are counterexamples. When terrorists hijacked a Russian plane on the runway, the government brought out a tank and destroyed the plane. There have been few if any incidents of Russian planes being hijacked since. Was one plane-load of people a fair price to pay for the safety of all later travelers?

In the case of Seven, making the movie was a much preferable alternative to actually killing people. Even then it introduces ugly ideas into the world. Still, always look for a holier way to achieve the ends. But I haven't made my peace with the larger question yet. You will have to find the answer within yourself.

This is so cool! I'm only going to worship you now!

Please don't. I can tell you haven't read Words To Read By yet. Please do.