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Author Topic: What role should religion play in a modern life?  (Read 9521 times)
BGMarc
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« Topic Start: November 13, 2009, 06:49:06 am »

We often have threads here that centre around how people experience their religion. In particular, it is not uncommon to discuss what role religion actually plays in each of our lives. I am interested in seeing if anyone else is up for a discussion on what role it should play and why? I realise it's a bit rigorous, but there has been some comment of late on the lack of more 'advanced' material that's getting airplay. So...
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« Reply #1: November 13, 2009, 11:01:47 am »

We often have threads here that centre around how people experience their religion. In particular, it is not uncommon to discuss what role religion actually plays in each of our lives. I am interested in seeing if anyone else is up for a discussion on what role it should play and why? I realise it's a bit rigorous, but there has been some comment of late on the lack of more 'advanced' material that's getting airplay. So...

"Should" seems like such a loaded word.

But, I'll bite. Religion should:

1) be a refuge in times of trouble
2) be a joy in times of plenty
3) challenge us to grow and learn and be part of the divine

Mostly, it should fit the individual, not demand the individual fit to it.

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« Reply #2: November 13, 2009, 11:10:48 am »

We often have threads here that centre around how people experience their religion. In particular, it is not uncommon to discuss what role religion actually plays in each of our lives. I am interested in seeing if anyone else is up for a discussion on what role it should play and why? I realise it's a bit rigorous, but there has been some comment of late on the lack of more 'advanced' material that's getting airplay. So...

As I have said elsewhere, if I hadn't experienced my deity I would be agnostic.  So, for me, I don't feel any need for religion to really play a role in MY life.  But I do recognize that, for many people, religion is very important.  Because of that I think that religion should be available to each in the amount and the role they need (not want, need).  I realize this is very non-specific, but I think the role religion plays for each person should be different because we are all so very different.

And, to clarify, the reason I stress need and not want is because I do not believe religion should ever be a crutch.  a comfort, yes.  A crutch, no.  No 'opiate of the masses' thing.
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« Reply #3: November 13, 2009, 11:24:04 am »

And, to clarify, the reason I stress need and not want is because I do not believe religion should ever be a crutch.  a comfort, yes.  A crutch, no.  No 'opiate of the masses' thing.

Agreed, religion shouldn't be a crutch.

My experiances from living in the South have taught me that religion should:
1. Be private
2. Not a replacement for science
3. Not an excuse for bigotry
4. Not be a source for ridiculus superstitions
5. Be Private (this is a big one for me so I'll list it twice)

Granted, these mostly come from experiances I've had with fundies but they could easily apply to everyone.
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« Reply #4: November 13, 2009, 11:25:21 am »

Agreed, religion shouldn't be a crutch.

My experiances from living in the South have taught me that religion should:
1. Be private
2. Not a replacement for science
3. Not an excuse for bigotry
4. Not be a source for ridiculus superstitions
5. Be Private (this is a big one for me so I'll list it twice)

Granted, these mostly come from experiances I've had with fundies but they could easily apply to everyone.

Good list!
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« Reply #5: November 13, 2009, 12:02:01 pm »

I am interested in seeing if anyone else is up for a discussion on what role it should play and why?

Whatever else it may be, religion is an excuse for ritual, and I believe ritual is important.  From a purely anthropological standpoint, ritual does a number of things.  First, it creates ways for members of a community to reaffirm their social ties.  Second, it commemorates transitions, such as changes in life state (child to adult, single to married, alive to dead, acolyte to initiate, etc.) or merely the passage of time and other natural cycles.  Without this insistence that we take notice of what is happening to us, life can be a featureless, anxiety-ridden blur that ends before we really even notice it began.  Third, it helps us to establish a sense of who we are as individuals.

Ritual does exist outside of religion, and there are lots of secular rituals that we participate in over the course of our lives.  Religion, however, is a lot better at helping us deal with the really scary stuff like death and whether or not our lives have meaning.  And I don't know about anyone else, but I'm lazy.  I need the extra incentive to participate in ritual that religion provides.
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« Reply #6: November 13, 2009, 12:50:45 pm »

Whatever else it may be, religion is an excuse for ritual, and I believe ritual is important.  From a purely anthropological standpoint, ritual does a number of things.  First, it creates ways for members of a community to reaffirm their social ties.  Second, it commemorates transitions, such as changes in life state (child to adult, single to married, alive to dead, acolyte to initiate, etc.) or merely the passage of time and other natural cycles.  Without this insistence that we take notice of what is happening to us, life can be a featureless, anxiety-ridden blur that ends before we really even notice it began.  Third, it helps us to establish a sense of who we are as individuals.

Ritual does exist outside of religion, and there are lots of secular rituals that we participate in over the course of our lives.  Religion, however, is a lot better at helping us deal with the really scary stuff like death and whether or not our lives have meaning.  And I don't know about anyone else, but I'm lazy.  I need the extra incentive to participate in ritual that religion provides.


See, now, I have some trouble with this.  I don't need a ritual to help me deal with death or whether my life has meaning.  But I am willing to be in the minority on this. 
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« Reply #7: November 13, 2009, 01:06:41 pm »

See, now, I have some trouble with this.  I don't need a ritual to help me deal with death or whether my life has meaning.  But I am willing to be in the minority on this. 

I'm with you on this one.
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« Reply #8: November 13, 2009, 01:11:21 pm »

See, now, I have some trouble with this.  I don't need a ritual to help me deal with death or whether my life has meaning.  But I am willing to be in the minority on this. 

I don't think that you are in a minority-I don't need rituals to deal with everyday occurences, or to decide whether my life has meaning or not. I work with Deities but my life is not ruled by them. I don't feel the need to bother them with what, to them, are trivialities. My life is my own and I am the one who has to live it. Admittedly, I do make room for Deity in my life, but I am not restricted by it. I have to make my own decisions or there is no point doing anything at all.
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« Reply #9: November 13, 2009, 01:12:32 pm »

See, now, I have some trouble with this.  I don't need a ritual to help me deal with death or whether my life has meaning.  But I am willing to be in the minority on this. 

Different people have different needs.  I think I may have messed up part of what I was trying to say.  I don't know that it is ritual that helps people cope as much as it is religion that provides a framework that puts life and death into a more comfortable perspective.  Either way, I suppose this falls into the category of religion being a crutch, huh?  I'm OK with needing crutches from time to time, I guess.

One question, though:  Do you go to funerals?  If so, why?
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« Reply #10: November 13, 2009, 01:21:01 pm »

One question, though:  Do you go to funerals?  If so, why?

Yes I do-it is a mark of respect, and  it is also for me to be there to help others who are not able to cope with the loss. I have had to attend several funerals lately-one that was for a good friend who was murdered, so as a member of the motorcycle club that we were in together, I attended with the rest of the club. This is always done, without exception. The other two were members of my family, so as a mark of love and respect, I attended them both. At both I was able to help other members of my family who were not dealing well with the loss. They were all Catholic, so the funerals were all held with a Catholic mass. I sit in the church, but I do not kneel, sing, or accept communion, as I see that as hypocrisy, and I do not wish to be a hypocrite. I will say a prayer to my own Deity by the graveside, and that is as far as I will go.
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« Reply #11: November 13, 2009, 01:36:26 pm »

Yes I do-it is a mark of respect, and  it is also for me to be there to help others who are not able to cope with the loss.

The funeral itself is the ritual, not necessarily the way it was carried out.  It's a weird distinction, I know.  You feel the need to show respect for the dead.  By your own words, it is something you always do.  For you, attending a funeral is a recurring ritual.  You show up, you pay your respects, you help others cope, you leave.  I'm willing to bet that the thought of no one showing up to your funeral is at least slightly uncomfortable.  The funeral, for you and most other people in the world, is what is supposed to happen when someone dies.  If it didn't happen...the person would still be dead, but the people who needed that ritual for closure would suffer varying amounts of anxiety.  Does that better explain where I was coming from?
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« Reply #12: November 13, 2009, 01:56:05 pm »

Different people have different needs.  I think I may have messed up part of what I was trying to say.  I don't know that it is ritual that helps people cope as much as it is religion that provides a framework that puts life and death into a more comfortable perspective.  Either way, I suppose this falls into the category of religion being a crutch, huh?  I'm OK with needing crutches from time to time, I guess.

One question, though:  Do you go to funerals?  If so, why?

Yes I do.  As a mark of respect.  And of those I've been to, only one was religious.  I don't go for myself - I deal with such emotions on my own time in my own space.  I go for the other people and out of respect.
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« Reply #13: November 13, 2009, 01:58:04 pm »

See, now, I have some trouble with this.  I don't need a ritual to help me deal with death or whether my life has meaning.  But I am willing to be in the minority on this. 

A friend and I were recently talking about a related subject in e-mail.  My thought, from that conversation, is that it's not so much that we need ritual to help us deal with the "why did X have to die??" questions, but that ritual can make the transition from life-with-the-deceased to life-without-the-deceased easier for those who were close to him/her.  I feel like today we're expected to just kind of deal with whatever happens and move on as quickly as possible, but that doesn't always leave any room for processing or acknowledging what's happened.  Ritual can help with that by acknowledging that something is changing, something is different, and giving us a framework to help move through that transition.  If that makes any kind of sense at all.

But then I've found myself growing more and more ritual-oriented (religiously and otherwise) these days anyway, so take that for what it's worth.
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« Reply #14: November 13, 2009, 02:00:59 pm »

Either way, I suppose this falls into the category of religion being a crutch, huh?  I'm OK with needing crutches from time to time, I guess.

I think there's a difference between a crutch and a useful tool.  A crutch, in this context, says to me that it's something that gets leaned on rather than trying to actually deal with the situation, whereas a tool can help get you through it and stand on your own two feet again.  I think the use of ritual you're describing generally falls more into the "tool" category, although sometimes people do use it as a crutch.
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