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Switch to Forum Live View What is the purpose of religion?
2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 12:45PM #11
ted08721
Posts: 3,752

I think the problem with religion and I am speaking as a Catholic about the Catholic Church is most of the time the hierarchy is to much about themselves, many just hear homilies on Sundays about upholding the laws of the Church and commands of the bishops, and their obsession with sin, and not enough teaching of the Gospel message of love, peace and helping the poor which falls under the catagory of loving one and another same goes for peace, they are to caught up with this American exceptionism etc.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 12:57PM #12
cherubino
Posts: 7,277

I really don't care what my religion is as long as it's better than my neighbor's religion. He's such a jerk.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 1:47PM #13
StephenK.Adams
Posts: 1,832

I think the number one reason that a religion comes into existence is the human races fear of the unknown.   If death is our number one fear, --- and it is for many people, then promising an afterlife is like giving someone a sedative to calm ones nerves down.  I think Buggsy had it right in a submission near the start of this thread.  (paraprhasing)  "Religion is a lazy persons way of avoiding the tensions involved in trying to understand something that is currently beyond our ability to comprehend." 


This dilemma may well continue ad nauseum into the future, but it is also true that we do not know what the creative dimensions of the human mind are.  As has happened so often in the past, things which we thought were beyond our capacity to understand, can suddenly become old hat.  I like the following expression.  I would have called it a quote but I don't know who the author of it is:  "Why is it that searchers into the jungle of the unknown must always venture forth blindfolded and backwards." 


Or the following quote that says:



"Truth is allowed but a short interval of time between the two long periods when it is either condemned as paradox or belittled as trivial."



But in Cherubino's words,  Excuse me while I digress.



I think the number two reason is to put forward rules for the "game" of life.  While I believe that the rules put forward by Christianity have much value, in the Catholic version thereof, they have adopted one rule for the laity and a --- "fly by the seat of ones pants" --- set of rules for the hierarchy of their religion --- writ large.



The third reason is to give meaning to life itself.   In my opinion, it is disgraceful to think that a Creator would bring all of Creation into existence simply for the express purpose of dividing the human race into those who will go to an imaginary heaven or an equally imaginary hell. 


Of course the religion itself believes implicitly in the veracity of the above two concepts of heaven and hell even though, in reality, it is only the suggestion of those who supposedly were inspired to write the Bible.  I think they were inspired to do the best that they possibly could at the time when Christianity came into existence.  Which was a time of abject poverty, barbarity and almost total illiteracy. 



I could also add that it was a time when no investigative press was around to challenge the veracity of the words that the "inspired ones" decided to put forward.  My last word, to your great relief, Smile on this subject is as follows:  If the Christian religion tried to get started today, DNA testing would prove that Joseph or some other man was Jesus natural father and the whole mythical belief system would never get off the ground. 


"Praise the Lord."

We have nothing to fear except our lack of understanding of fear itself.
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 2:04PM #14
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,744

May 4, 2012 -- 12:35PM, ted08721 wrote:


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




Thanks, ted, for that lovely post. You're right it can be tough going it alone. We'd like to have the support of other people in all our endeavors. I'm so happy to hear you found a supportive community, and about the growth you've experienced! 


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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 2:27PM #15
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,744

May 4, 2012 -- 12:41PM, jlb32168 wrote:


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.




I do think that dealing with death is an important service religion provides to people. I suppose most non-religious people have some kind of memorial service. When our parents died, we had a priest come in at the funeral home and had a burial service at the cemetary. I thought it was kind of odd, since neither of my parents were religious in their old age, and none of us is religious, but we had to keep up appearances. Plus there was somebody there to do something, as none of us is very good at presiding over ceremonies or that sort of thing either. So the priest did provide a good service to us. Unfortunately he was also a pedophile and thrown out of his parish, but that's another story. 


There are secular ministers nowadays. A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law and his wife were married by one. He did a great job at the service, which was held at their local arboretum, which was lovely because my mother-in-law (groom's mom) was a master gardner and now has Alzheimer's. I have gone to a secular contemplative group that is led by a secular minister. He's a very smart, warm person. I should look into him leading a service for me if I croak soon!


What's wrong with working together, for example doing charity work or participating in faith-sharing groups, and building relationships with people at church? Surely there's no obligation to participate in church activities outside of formal services, or to even speak to people, but what's wrong if people think that's a valuable part of their experience?

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 2:31PM #16
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,744

May 4, 2012 -- 12:45PM, ted08721 wrote:


I think the problem with religion and I am speaking as a Catholic about the Catholic Church is most of the time the hierarchy is to much about themselves, many just hear homilies on Sundays about upholding the laws of the Church and commands of the bishops, and their obsession with sin, and not enough teaching of the Gospel message of love, peace and helping the poor which falls under the catagory of loving one and another same goes for peace, they are to caught up with this American exceptionism etc.




It was homilies that dealt with telling people who to vote for that was the last straw for my husband, in his late teens. The rest of his family left too, over the next 5 or 10 years. His father and mother had been very devout for many years, so claims like, "well, they were practically Protestant anyway" are off base for them.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:05PM #17
mokantx
Posts: 3,824

News (et al.)


Thanks for the thread: great topic!


There's an article in America Magazine today that I think touches on at least one aspect of this topic.  The topic of the article itself is about religion and politics.  But along the way, I think it addresses at least ONE aspect of the nature of community, in this case, Catholic Colleges.


As to religion and politics, the article asks this:


In light of these developments, we ask what should students in Catholic colleges and universities know about the role of religion in public life? What sort of religious literacy will prepare them to read today’s headlines critically? Here are a few topics that schools might explore:


Religion’s role in public life goes far deeper than politics. The churches, along with synagogues, mosques and temples, are “the first of [American] public institutions.” They are the places where neighbors first examine local issues and learn to speak in public. Church volunteers are recruited for civic roles, poll watching, hosting blood drives or collecting disaster aid. Religious congregations sponsor schools, hospitals, clinics and retirement homes. All these belong to what the Catholic tradition used to call “society,” the set of associations that are intermediate between politics and the market. For individuals, families and communities, society remains an alternative to and a bulwark against both big government and big business.


Obviously, I agree with Ted that Religion and one's spiritual life are not the same thing.  I see religion as a framework, that can help shape/form one's spiritual life, and provide a frame of reference  for our everyday decisions. I see several key components to this framework.


I see religions as being something akin to "libraries" of truth as know/understood by adherents to the religion.  Where I disagree with conservatives is that I think that just as we update our libraries over time (when was the last time anybodyhere went to a library to look something up in an encyclopedia?) as we learn more, so must we also be willing to revisit what we once thought to be "truth."  Again, that doesn't mean it all gets thrown out when inconvenient, but then too, neither should a truth be maintained if evidence suggests it's time to rethink what we once thought we know.


I also think there is a very important community aspect to religion.  Those faith communities are really important, first in shaping us (think education), then supporting us as we grow.  The article to which I linked above, offers a good example of what might be possible through an education by a religious-affiliated college.  To expect all within a faith community to be at the exact same point in their personal journey, or to have identical interests, is just plain silly.  Some (like Ted) will be motivated to act: social justice and public action becomes critical.  Others may find lives of quiet study, or quiet prayer more to their liking.  Others will will focus on ecumanism, service to the poor, or perhaps many of the other service ministeries offered by a congregation.  And it is this diversity that is so critical to keeping that faith community alive (part of the reason I see the conservative push in the church today as being near suicidal for the church, for if they are successful in driving out the progressives, I doubt there will be enough left to man even half of what the church tries to do today at the local level.)


We are (I believe) called to live in, and to change, society, and not to withdraw from it (save perhaps for a very small subset of us who really might be called to a monastic-styled life...) So religion can help shape us, support us, and offer references for us along the way.


But at the end of the day, spirituality is an intensely personal journey, despite religious trappings.  When we die, even if surrounded by people on our death bed, when the eyes close, we're alone, facing whatever comes next, alone.


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2 years ago  ::  May 05, 2012 - 11:53PM #18
Buggsy
Posts: 4,731

May 4, 2012 -- 1:47PM, StephenK.Adams wrote:


"Religion is a lazy persons way of avoiding the tensions involved in trying to understand something that is currently beyond our ability to comprehend." 


This dilemma may well continue ad nauseum into the future, but it is also true that we do not know what the creative dimensions of the human mind are.  As has happened so often in the past, things which we thought were beyond our capacity to understand, can suddenly become old hat.  I like the following expression.  I would have called it a quote but I don't know who the author of it is:  "Why is it that searchers into the jungle of the unknown must always venture forth blindfolded and backwards."



Interesting ideas Steve.  One question . . . when you say we don't know the creative dimensions of the human mind - is it important that we do know and what would we know that we don't already know?  I think content and thinking are not the same although they are interdependent

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2 years ago  ::  May 06, 2012 - 2:07PM #19
jlb32168
Posts: 13,341

May 4, 2012 -- 2:27PM, newsjunkie wrote:

What's wrong with working together, for example doing charity work or participating in faith-sharing groups, and building relationships with people at church? Surely there's no obligation to participate in church activities outside of formal services, or to even speak to people, but what's wrong if people think that's a valuable part of their experience?


I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people working together, but does that constitute “religion”?  If we wish to define religion in some other manner that’s fine but the classic definition of the word is that which binds us together with a deity or with deities and I think its purpose is to assuage the fear of the unknown, specifically, what happens when we die.


The Christian religion presumes to know the answer and I believe it has it right.

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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2 years ago  ::  May 06, 2012 - 2:53PM #20
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,744

May 6, 2012 -- 2:07PM, jlb32168 wrote:


May 4, 2012 -- 2:27PM, newsjunkie wrote:

What's wrong with working together, for example doing charity work or participating in faith-sharing groups, and building relationships with people at church? Surely there's no obligation to participate in church activities outside of formal services, or to even speak to people, but what's wrong if people think that's a valuable part of their experience?


I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people working together, but does that constitute “religion”?  If we wish to define religion in some other manner that’s fine but the classic definition of the word is that which binds us together with a deity or with deities and I think its purpose is to assuage the fear of the unknown, specifically, what happens when we die.


The Christian religion presumes to know the answer and I believe it has it right.





Well, OK, point taken. I've been out of Christian religion, for a couple of years. Is Matthew 25:31-45 still part of it? Maybe feeding the sick, clothing the naked, etc. don't have anything to do with Christianity anymore. I'm not out to redefine anybody's religion. I'm wondering what the purpose of religion is. I guess according to you, it doesn't have to do with building relationships with others or helping them.

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