It's only a week since I started blogging A Word A Day, and already I'm prepared to test the waters. Testing the waters, however, is not my intent. Blogging seems if nothing else to be about freely expressing oneself. So, if I can't express myself freely on my own blog then where else can I?
I choose the topic religion, not because it is near and dear to me. It isn't. But while I'm no fan of religion, I recognize the significant place it holds in nearly every society and the lives of so many people. Toward that end, I will try to avoid critisism of any particular religious faith, and offer a balanced view.
Where do I begin? ...I promise this will be brief. I see an irony in religion in that while it often claims to hold out salvation, the reality of its effect on people's lives is often more like damnation. What I mean is, instead of setting people free, it often tends to constrain them. They have to be careful of not only what they do and say, but even of what they think. OUCH! That's tough. How can the knowledge that someone is watching and judgeing you every single moment possibly be liberating.
Nonetheless, people subscibe to their various faiths, and suggest that they gain some amount of liberation in it.
That's one thought. Now, I must say that I find religion interesting in the sense that it has a very significant cultural aspect. If I may, I shall take India, for example. I love to see and visit the temples there. I love the colorful and passionate festivities that still take place, even as the world becomes more oriented toward pragmatism. There may not for me be a bit of logic or intrinsic value in any of what they do, but it is rich, beautiful, artistic and expressive. It is human culture at its greatest intensity. The passion that adherents display can hardly come from anything but religion.
So, the truth is, I cannot totally knock it. Even beyond the illustration of Indian practice, there is the undeniable fact that religion does help people in times of stress.
Take the Japanese, as another example. Despite the holy Zen-like characteristics that even the ordinary citizen displays, the Japanese are for the most part non-religious. They--and I generalize--acknowledge no conscious awareness or devotion to a supreme being or religious creed. Yet, at life's milestones and when under duress, they unfailingly turn to religion. They may not even be able to express for what or to whom they have directed their thoughts and wishes, but they nontheless gain some consolence from the exercise.
That is my take on religion--a part of it anyway--enough for today's word.
Tried a little quiz at QuizGalaxy.com which let's one identify where he/she fits in a spectrum of religiosity/spirituality. What do I find--I'm a Humanist. That's right on the mark--they couldn't have fingered me any better:
You fit in with: Humanism. Your ideals mostly resemble that of a Humanist. Although you do not have a lot of faith, you are devoted to making this world better, in the short time that you have to live. Humanists do not generally believe in an afterlife, and therefore, are committed to making the world a better place for themselves and future generations--20% scientific, 40% reason-oriented.(No mention of Islam is included in the resulting graphic which charts the world's faith in a spectrum. A deliberate ommission?)
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