Salman Rushdie: "Creation Myths are Rubbish"
Salman Rushdie spoke at Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota tonight.
Gems from Rushdie: "All creation myths are rubbish. The universe was not created in six days plus one day for rest... The cosmos was not created by the sparks caused by two udders rubbed together by cosmic cows..." I can't remember the rest. It was hilarious, and I applauded loudly, as did some others.
When asked the question, "Who gets to tell our stories, and who decides who gets to tell them?" Rushdie replied, "Well, you're talking about religion, aren't you? Religion is some people deciding to tell stories for the rest of us, to us."
When asked what spiritual practice he used in his writing, if any: "I have no spiritual practice. The word spirituality should be banned from the English language for at least 50 years... Talk about a word that has lost its meaning! You can't walk your dog without doing it in a 'spiritual 'manner, you can't cook without talking about spirituality!"
I needed to hear this, because working at my museum, at my job which I love, I am called upon to show tolerance for all creation myths, but I believe that I can do this without buying into those beliefs. And the truth is, I do not buy into these beliefs, not even Native American beliefs, or Buddhist or Taoist myths. I cannot. There has to be a fact of the matter.
As we walked from Northrop Auditorium and toward dinner, my boyfriend John, who adores Rushdie, said, "That was such a courageous thing to say!" about creation myths. I squeezed his arm and teased back, "Well, that's just what I was trying to tell you about Dawkins!" John had told me after we both saw "Root of All Evil?" that he found Dawkins to be "strident." Yet here was his hero (and mine), Salman Rushdie, saying the same thing and being the same wry, witty, and somewhat grumpy foil of religion as well.
Yes, strident. Rushdie's speech was a celebraton of crossing borders, both physical and political, of pushing the boundaries, of the writer (and presumably the scientist, the poet, the artist, and the dancer) of going "too far." Let's all be strident, then.