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Switch to Forum Live View What is the purpose of religion?
2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:34AM #1
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748
In a recent thread, there was almost a discussion of what is the purpose of religion. I say almost, because mo said that religion "serves to meet the needs of people." jlb didn't like that assessment, but didn't really say what he thought the purpose of religion is (or if he did I missed it and, if so, I apologize for that). So I thought I'd put the question out there.

I see one purpose of religion as helping people get through rough times like death of a loved one, or serious illness.

People have a fondness for rituals, and belonging to a group, so can play a role there. So can collegiate and professional sporting events, but I digress.

I actually think mo's assertion was a good one. Religion serves people's needs. Anybody else have any comments? 
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:49AM #2
LittleLes
Posts: 9,994

The religious corporation keeps a lot of clergy empolyed who might otherwise be unemployable?Undecided

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:55AM #3
ted08721
Posts: 3,757

"The important thing to remember in the spiritual life is that religion is a means, not an end. When we stop at the level of the rules and the laws, the docrines and the dogmas - good guides as these may be - and call those things the spiritual life, we have stopped far short of the meaning of life, the call of the divine, the fullness of the self.

Joan Chittester

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:56AM #4
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748

May 4, 2012 -- 10:49AM, LittleLes wrote:


The religious corporation keeps a lot of clergy empolyed who might otherwise be unemployable?Undecided




True! And my cynical side would say that religion is also a useful way for a few people to control many people. 

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:01AM #5
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,748

May 4, 2012 -- 10:55AM, ted08721 wrote:


"The important thing to remember in the spiritual life is that religion is a means, not an end. When we stop at the level of the rules and the laws, the docrines and the dogmas - good guides as these may be - and call those things the spiritual life, we have stopped far short of the meaning of life, the call of the divine, the fullness of the self.

Joan Chittester




I like Sr. Joan (no surprise there, huh?). 


Sounds like she's saying that the contemplative aspect of religion is just as important as, or maybe more important than, the rules. I think a person can lead a contemplative life without religion, so that still leaves me with, "what is the purpose of religion?"


But thanks for pointing out that religion can encourage spiritual practices and deepen one's contemplative life.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:21AM #6
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

People invent institutions of permanence because everything changes as Heraclitus noted.  Images of permanence, contracts and covenants, sacred myths, divinely inspired holy books where every word is frozen in time, and rituals that harken back to the good ol' days . .  these are designed to provide comfort in an ever-changing universe.  So in that sense I agree with Mo.  The most powerful symbol of permanence is 'God' - unchanging, eternal and forever. 


All of this takes away questions about what it all means.  So religion becomes a mine of meaning for those who are too lazy to wonder and ask their own questions (in my view)

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:35AM #7
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

As one old fart once said about the leadership of all organised religion: 


"Boundless conceit masquerading as utmost humility"

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:57AM #8
cherubino
Posts: 7,277

"He had a theory, Walt, that the religious life, and all the agony that goes with it, is just something God sics on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world."

J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 12:35PM #9
ted08721
Posts: 3,757

I think organized religion can have a positive effect on a person’s spirituality, I agree that one does not necessarily need it to grow spiritually.
Sometimes going it alone can be lonely especially if those surrounding you have no interest in the spiritual journey.
But I do believe people that you meet through organized religion can be a positive,  just as people here have contribute to my understanding and growth over the years.
For those that might remember a few years ago I mentioned I was giving organized religion one final shot, I started reporting about the churches I had visited.
I was very lucky in finding the parish I am at now and feel in the past 3 or 4 years has been a very positive experience on my faith/spiritual journey.
It is the people in the community that you gather with to celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays that is important.
So it is not so much the institution of the religion but the people of the religion(God) if that makes sense.

I also suppose it matters where you are in your spiritual journey, I feel I have grown so much over the past three or four years I could survive on my own but being in my present situation and the interaction with those in my community being so positive and I am absorbing more all the time why would I want to break that off.
News, hopefully this answers the question better .  ted

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 12:41PM #10
jlb32168
Posts: 13,400

The purpose of religion has been linked to the etymology of the word “religion”.  It’s been debated by many but most people agree that its meaning is founded in ancient Latin “to bond between humans and gods”.  We die and we don’t want to die.  We want more life and religion helps us make the transition between the two by providing the answer to “what happens then” since gods don't die.


I don’t buy this whole “helps us to connect with a community” rubbish.  I can connect with a community at a bar or the Moose Lodge.

Victim of this, victim of that, your mama’s too thin and your daddy’s too fat, get over it! - the Eagles
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