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My view regarding religion is that it is a cultural system relating to fundamental truths and values. It is intended to give meaning to life through rituals and symbols, narratives and traditions about the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and how they interact with human beings. Religion is hard work. Its insights aren't self-evident and have to be cultivated in the same way as an appreciation of art, music or poetry must be developed. - Karen Armstrong, The Case for God

Over the course of human history, there have been many religions and many sets of religious beliefs. Some have had a transcultural reach and significance, while others have been culture-specific. Since some form of religion has been found to exist in every conceivable culture known to man I would say that it evolved early in our history and satisfies a deep-seated psychological need to be able to make sense of the world around us and determine our place in it. This, in a nutshell, is what I think of religion.

However, if the prompt should be interpreted to mean whether I adhere to a specific set of religious beliefs myself, then all I can say is that I identify as a christian of the Catholic persuasion. Raised in an agnostic household, I nevertheless grew up in a culture in which judaeo-christian values and ideals are the norm, so when I identified the need to have a creed in my own life I chose Christianity over Buddhism or Islam or animism. In studying its history, its philosophy, its theology, and the history of the early Church, I became more and more convinced that the Catholic faith was the one for me, and I was baptised and joined the Church in October 1994. I stress though, that this concerns my personal belief system, and in no means implies that I reject others. I don't subscribe to the idea that Christianity is in any way superior to other religions or, indeed, the only way to enlightenment or salvation.


Day 05 - A time you thought about ending your own life
Day 06 - Write 30 interesting facts about yourself.
Day 07 - Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality
Day 08 - A moment you felt the most satisfied with your life
Day 09 - How you hope your future will be like
Day 10 - Discuss your first love and first kiss.
Day 11 - Put your ipod on shuffle and write 10 songs that pop up.
Day 12 - Bullet your whole day.
Day 13 - Somewhere you’d like to move or visit
Day 14 - Your earliest memory
Day 15 - Your favorite tumblrs
Day 16 - Your views on mainstream music
Day 17 - Your highs and lows of this past year
Day 18 - Your beliefs
Day 19 - Disrespecting your parents
Day 20 - How important you think education is
Day 21 - One of your favorite shows
Day 22 - How have you changed in the past 2 years?
Day 23 - Give pictures of 5 guys who are famous and who you find attractive.
Day 24 - Your favorite movie and what it’s about
Day 25 - Someone who fascinates you and why
Day 26 - What kind of person attracts you?
Day 27 - A problem that you have had
Day 28 - Something that you miss
Day 29 - Goals for the next 30 days

Comments

( 11 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
jonesiexxx
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
My Jewish studies class is teaching me many things I never knew or only half-knew. And it's prompting many THOUGHTS.

One random reaction to something in your post (not remotely judgey... really mainly revelling in the depth and variety of religious thought. Like you I don't think any way is superior or the only way... It's the way to what that's intriguing me at the moment.

or, indeed, the only way to enlightenment or salvation.

In Judaism, religious practice doesn't have as its goal enlightenment or salvation - enlightenment in itself, without consequent ethical behaviour, would puzzle the rabbis, and we don't believe humans require salvation. For the Jewish faith the fulfillment of religious faith is leading a righteous, ethical life day in day out in this life (as prescribed by God in the Bible).

Isn't it cool how differently religions define themselves? I love this stuff.
jonesiexxx
Feb. 4th, 2011 02:33 am (UTC)
Remind me not to get thinky right before bedtime. I reread my reply after posting it and boy is it badly written. Hope it makes some sense.
gamiila
Feb. 4th, 2011 08:05 am (UTC)
Remind me not to get thinky right before bedtime.

Reading my own 'thinky thoughts before bedtime', I think I may need you to remind me of the same!

For instance, I completely understand where you're coming from when you say "the fulfillment of religious faith is leading a righteous, ethical life day in day out in this life" and for myself, I would place the emphasis on that as well. Luckily, within Catholicism, that same rabbinical tradition inherited from the early Church, from the time when Christianity was still recognisably an offshoot from Judaism, has been preserved (although much obscured by later, counter-reformationary additions). It underpins the dogma of free will, and is incorporated in the ideal of the imitatio Christi (and I, for one, am always mindful of the fact that the historical Jesus was a 1st-century Jewish itinerant teacher). But there are certain Christian denominations with a much narrower interpretation.

My paternal grandfather was a Calvinist. I can't say other than that he was a good, God-fearing man, who lived his life according to the Golden Rule. He also didn't drink, didn't dance, never read any book other than the Bible and attended Church twice every Sunday. Yet he was terrified of death and what came after, and it was heart-rending to see him so afraid on his deathbed, because of the Calvinist dogma of the double predestination: it doesn't matter what you do in this life, as God has already decided before you were born whether you would be saved or not.

suze2000
Feb. 4th, 2011 09:03 am (UTC)
it was heart-rending to see him so afraid on his deathbed, because of the Calvinist dogma of the double predestination: it doesn't matter what you do in this life, as God has already decided before you were born whether you would be saved or not.

Pfft. I can't even see the point of that religion. If you are going to espouse that religion, and give up some great joys of life (wine, dancing to name but two), I'd at least expect a chance at paradise upon death.

If that predestination stuff is true, what on earth is the point of being "good" during your life at all? You could be Pol Pot and you could still get into heaven, so you might as well do as you please. Ridiculous!
gamiila
Feb. 4th, 2011 09:20 am (UTC)
Indeed, there's the rub -- but perhaps those who accept that dogma still try to live according to the rules on the off-chance that they might be among the chosen few to enter into heaven? I don't know, I never really studied it in depth as my immediate reaction when I learnt of it was "WTF?"

And how many people that are born into a particular faith really do take a good hard look at what it is they're supposed to believe in? My grandfather was an elder of his community, but I doubt he ever looked very closely into the theological side of things. The Bible, to him, was the received word of God, and if there were inconsistencies, he didn't perceive or question them.
suze2000
Feb. 4th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
My mother is Anglican, and brought me up Anglican as well. When I was 14 I got religion and started attending the local Baptist church. Chance being what it is, I happened to live nearest to one of the harshest versions of Christianity out there.

Perhaps if I'd lived closer to a Church of Christ or a Uniting Church, I might still be attending. But at 16 I discovered sex and realised I'd rather be doing that than actually going to church and feeling guilty about wanting to have more sex, and I decided that if God existed, he'd recognise my hypocrisy and rightly condemn me for it anyway.

So I gave up religion and subsequently, have decided that I have no use for God whatsoever and happily tell people I'm an atheist if asked. I do not believe that one needs a religion to live a good life, and by that I mean one that does not harm others or themselves. Which is all those rules and regulations Moses handed down were aiming for anyway.
gamiila
Feb. 4th, 2011 09:29 am (UTC)
Also known as the Golden Rule (one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself), or in its prohibitive form (one should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated) as the Silver Rule.

I do not believe that one needs a religion to live a good life

And there we are in total agreement. Religion, IMO, does not equal morality, though a set of morals is usually included in the phenomenon of religion.
meko00
Feb. 4th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
You know I'm not religious, but I still try to treat people according to the Gold and Silver rules... but it's just that a whole lot of people do not actually want what I want, so as much as I can, I try to find out what they want instead and treat them accordingly if it's within my power and doesn't hurt anyone else (physically or materialistically).

But I'm very interested in ways to find enlightenment (don't need to be saved, thanks), and in fact I saved a link a few days ago to watch later: Daniel Dennett on What Should Replace Religions_. I definitely think that we have some sort of spiritual spark within us (I tend to commune with nature, myself), but I am deeply, deeply sceptical of organised religion even if I realise the cultural system aspect. Also, as student of cognitive science, I know that our minds are tricky places.

(edited for double preposition)

Edited at 2011-02-04 03:57 pm (UTC)
gamiila
Feb. 5th, 2011 08:40 am (UTC)
I think we're all agreed that one doesn't need to be religiously affiliated in order to lead a moral, ethical life.But we don't need to create an either/or-situation, either. Religion is not inherently irrational...it's just another way of looking at things.

Edited at 2011-02-05 08:41 am (UTC)
vegmb
Feb. 4th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
I like your answer better than what I wrote. Religion is cultural rules for life. Personal beliefs are not the same thing as organized religion. Maybe I should start reading your answers before I post mine, lol.
gamiila
Feb. 5th, 2011 08:44 am (UTC)
Religion is cultural rules for life. Personal beliefs are not the same thing as organized religion

And I wish I could have put my argument as succinctly as that!
( 11 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )

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