5 Things I’ve Learned From Religion

I’ve gone from Fundamental Christianity, to agnostic, to new Atheist, and now to A-theistic A-gnostic. I use the hyphens in my current designation to bring attention to the basic meaning of the words. Basically, I don’t have a Theistic system I follow and I don’t claim to know jack.

I’ve gone through these phases by studying, reading, and conversing with leaders and followers of all types ( I call these ventures my field studies). After coming through all these titles to a less aggressive and open not knowing shit stance, I’ve had time to reflect, humbly and honestly, on what I have learned from religion.

1. You Reap What’s Been Sown

Ah, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) paired with “You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). This was a favorite of my farmer-turned-Pastor’s weekly sermons. The farming metaphor was drilled so far into my mind that it will never leave.

But it’s a universal truth that can be applied to anything really. What our parents down into us, will we see bloom in our lives later on: be it abuse, wisdom, or neglect. Bad attitudes often sow negativity, and creates a harvest cycle of negativity. Hospitality and good deeds, likewise, brings the same when down and the individual falls into their own hard times; after all, we’re all more likely to help those who helped us, aren’t we?

2. Not all Religions/Denominations/People are ” Religious”.

We’ve all seen Atheists do this a lot in defense of the “Atheism is a religion too” argument:

religion (rɪˈlɪdʒən)

— n
1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion
3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers

Newsflash: Google, Webster, and Collins are not the gods of word meanings. Yes, yes, it’s a dictionary. But language belongs to those who are communicating. It’s a tool, a subjective one. Words change meaning at the drop of a hat. A “wall” now, when one “posts” on it, for example, almost always means FB now. Before FB, it spoke of people tacking things physically to a wall.

So no, not all religions fit all mighty Webster’s definition. Which leads to my next point:

3. Not all Religions believe in a God, or find it necessary to do so.

I learned this soon after jumping out of fundamental Christianity and into atudying. Ancient and Reform Judaism. Both give no clear definition of God, no face, no none metaphorical descriptive words. Ask a Jew, oftentimes what or who God is and they won’t give you a definitive answer.

Ancient Judaism (think Old Testament) is riddled with doubt and woes over the focal question we all ask at times “Where are you God?” Reform Judaism was best explained to me in books and from meeting with a local Rabbi. When told of my disbelief, he responded: “Judaism has always queationed, and these questions are encouraged even questioning the very existence of god”.

As far as Christianity, some follow the ” once saved always saved” doctrine. In this case, I’m still a Christian since I did the prayer and was “born-again,” as my family says: “I’m just on a journey.”

4. Religion has many assholes.

We’ve all met these, they’re everywhere. And no, they’re not exclusive to religion. However. When one goes into an honest search and quest to “find themselves” and meet such people it can and does deter many from the religion. Instantly. The wiser seekers will head my last point below, but when one keeps trying and finding nothing by condescending, holier-than-thou, fire and brimstone preaching, guilt tripping, damning, judgmental representatives of a religion…. Well, one can only take so much before they cross that religion off their list.

5. Fundamentals, Hate Groups, and Terrorist do not represent the entire religion.

This can be best exemplified with a modern example: NYC after 9-11. Almost every was out from a Muslim. The ridiculous profiling (often those profiled, not a Muslim at all) went hay-wire for a while.

Despite many Islam-haters interpretation of the Koran, many Muslims are very peaceful people who have interpreted THEIR (its their book, let them interpret how they want) Holy Book in a completely different fashion than the Terrorist we like to jokingly describe as strapping bombs to themselves.

The old adage reigns true here: ” Don’t miss the Forrest for the trees.” Many religions have a vast wealth of knowledge concerning culture, community, spirituality, and life wisdom. Don’t miss it.

What do you think of this list? Is it true? Would you add any or take any out?

Leave your thoughts!

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “5 Things I’ve Learned From Religion

  1. It seems funny to have to emphasize the “a,” but I understand the drive to do so. I agree with all your points except for 2. I know that a lot of religious people don’t like the word religion, but they seem to keep the definition and simply replace the word “religious” with the word “faith.” It doesn’t seem to be the definition that they don’t like. I think a lot of people equate religion with a cult.

  2. Yes, it is true that many Jews are non-theists, or just don’t care whether God exists. it is just about relevant to most of Judaism, except for the strict Orthodox.

    • Thanks for your thoughts! Would love to hear more of them.

      Yes, the Orthodox are quite different. I wonder, can they be thought of as a more “fundamentalist” type though?

      • I believe the term ‘fundamentalist’ was created by Christians but in a sense, yes the Orthodox could be considered more as a fundamentalist type of Judaism. They formed in reaction to reform Judaism, with conservative Judaism then forming as what they felt was a reasonable middle ground between the two.

      • This controversy goes way back. In 458 BCE Ezra led a second group of Babylonian Jews to Jerusalem to reestablish the law of Moses. He compiled and redacted the Torah from a number of preexisting source documents and instituted very exclusive fundamentalist doctrines including a ban on Jews marrying Gentiles. Thus Orthodox Judaism as it is known to the present day was born. Later many Jews began to adopt the ways of the Greek gentiles who dominated them. They tried to cover the marks of their circumcision, built gymnasiums, and no longer observed the ordinances of the Mosaic Law. With some support of these secularized Jews, Antiochus IV Ephiphanes declared Judaism abolished, and dedicated the temple in Jerusalem to Zeus. Many of the Jews were ready and willing to abandon their old religion and accept the doctrines of the Syro-Macedonian king. The priest Mattathias began a set of terrorist acts to deter Hellenized Jews from sacrificing to Zeus. Jews who were caught breaking the 613 precepts of the Law were killed, and boys were forcibly circumcised. Eventually this campaign, which was based out of hiding places in the desert outside of the cities, became a full-scale revolution to return to the fundamentalist Yahwhist doctrines instituted by Ezra.

    • Yes! I kept thinking of them…. But I never studied much into Western religions. I have a friend and colleague for that who did general t religious studies as opposed to my bible based. 😛 So didn’t want to spout ignorance.

      Next time I get around to a list like this, I’ll have to give them some “field research” hours. Hehe.

  3. One thing that I noticed in your post is that the seeking and learning did not address truth, not even in a perfunctory manner. If there is a reason to seek gods or religious guidance it should be truth. Nobody goes to a therapist to be lied to, so it must be with institutions of moral guidance. Let’s face it, that is what religions claim to be. In this, atheism is not a religion and no matter how liberal a church might be they still profer moral guidance for their followers.

    There are those that will act in ways as to make a religion of exercizing but it does not make exercize a religion.

    if seeking truth is not what a person is doing as they experiment with or try on various religions how would this ‘journey’ be described? Are the simply looking for a good book club (pun intended) or just a bi-weekly social club? Are they merely seeking to find a group of people that believe in gods and morality the same way that they themselves do? If the latter is the case, what is the point of that? It would mean that you would need to find a new group each time your thinking changes.

    Your thoughts here do not address that all these religions actually claim to have truth on their side. No matter what the church social has to add to cultural values, is it truly needed if it comes inseparable from lies?

    If someone tells you cocaine will cure your cold… if you believe hard enough – to believe them requires ignoring the truth or not caring about it.

    Nice people can be nice without telling me about their god beliefs. We can work together and make the world a better place without having to argue about god beliefs. Religions, most of them, require the adherent to spread the religion’s beliefs. No matter how liberal they seem to be this one act is incideous. Consider the number of nice people with liberal god belief that do not believe in evolution. How can that be considered a satisfactory state of affairs?

    • That’s a good thought. Hmm, I’ll have to rethink next time around on that. Personally, truth is my goal… But the more I think about it, it’s more of a litmus test. Argument or statement made, and it goes through the test of “true, false, or subjective”. The later, being of no consequence to me (ex. Personal experiences).

      Wisdom is what I ultimately seek. And there is no people group with a monopoly on it. Although, I do find the more supernatural conservative perspective, the less there is. Most of the times.

      And actually, the 3rd point was trying to touch on the fact that not all religions start with a truth claim. My example, and experience, with reform Judaism was one of them. But that is something, again, I’ll have to flesh out more next time I get to one off these posts/thought experiments.

      I find the best religious people to be on the path of finding truth as well, just sway on the theistic agnostic side is all.

      I digress, I rambled too much.

      What I meant to say is just plain ” yes” to you bringing “truth” into the discussion. It has me thinking… It’s far too good of a point to not consider…. Hrm….

  4. I like that you distinguish fundamentalists, hate groups, and terrorists. Albeit, possibly unintentionally. While related, these groups are not the same.

      • If you want to take it a step further, you could also distinguish fundamentalists from extremists. As fundamentalism (the most base definition) is supposed to represent tenants or ideas within a faith which are categorically inseparable (or fundamental) to the belief system or philosophy. Even more liberal “progressive” believers tend to believe that being a Christian (for example) has certain underlying meanings.

  5. Pretty much agree with your post. I appreciate too that you don’t equate religion with belief in God. It’s such an important distinction, I think.

    • Yes. And unfortunately many nonbelievers do not see this. My understanding comes from experience. I was “I a relationship” for most my life. I was far from religious in any sense of the word. Most people I still talk to from my church family are the same – great people! 🙂

Penny for your thoughts....? Do share them here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s