Tuesday, August 26

Religion. Just what you're not supposed to talk about.

My dadness posted this on his blog a couple of weeks ago, and it has been much on my mind since. Here's what he posted:

"Although the US is one of the most religious nations in the world, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows many believe things which contradict their stated faith. 70% of those who claim religious affiliation believe multiple religions can lead to salvation and 68% believe in multiple interpretations of their own religion. 57% of self-identified evangelicals believe multiple religions can lead to salvation. 21% of self-identified atheists believe that some kind of God exists. 80% of respondents believe in moral standards of right and wrong, but only 29% claim their religious teachings help them determine those standards. A copy of the report can be read at www.pewforum.com (SFGate.com June 23, 2008)"

I found the study very interesting, mostly because I'm positively crazy about sociology and about belief in and wrestling with the divine. I'd like to know your thoughts about this study, if you're interested in discussing them.

My dad's comments, found here (click me) were principally about the aspect of human nature dictating that moral determinations are personal, and what we do and do not know about our religions' teachings. For example, our culture says it’s OK to adhere to the tenets we agree with and ignore others.

My opinion is that yes, culture shapes religion. I would suggest that making a religion constant is not possible; indeed, is not even all bad. Religion isn’t a way to “have eternal life” as mentioned in the study. If one adheres to the Christian scripture, it’s obvious that religion isn’t a path to God, the person of Christ is that path. I believe that religion is NOT equal to God, it’s just a way to practise knowing God while we’re in this form. Another thing to think about: is it possible that people are discovering the Divine — real, personal, tangible discovery of the living God — in ways that don’t line up at all with their religions? and… wouldn’t that be GREAT!!!!????

Interested in your thoughts.

Much love,
Stacey

4 comments:

Auntie g said...

I'm so happy you are reintroducing this subject. It is a favorite of mine.
I believe the study shows the shift that is taking place in our society. Some may think this to be a negative. When people change their beliefs, belief structures tremble. I believe the shift is the opening into the divine that has never been experienced in our culture. Therefore a good change. Anytime we are open to something bigger than ourselves is positive change.
As we learn some ideas change, some ideas strenghten and some weaken. This happens with greater accuracy the more open we are to change. If we are closed to change because it threatens some previously held belief we are less likely to experience this growth.
Science and religion are the greatest producers of cause for change. Although not all the changes have been positive.
I believe change is good if it is achieved with positive actions and results. If change is achieved this way then our cultural bias would not be involved. Positive actions are universal and cut across cultural lines.
All creatures seek safety and comfort. I believe this to be a universal need. So if we make change with this as our goal then individual culture would not be part of the decision.
You stated that culture shapes religion. Is it possible that religion is shaping culture? This seems to me to be an equal possibility to me.
The only thing we know for sure is things change. Nothing stays the same. Everything changes and everything is changing. There is nothing in this time/space that is not changing. And I agree with you, religion that changes is not all bad.
Ok I have a lot more to blab about but I'll shut up and let someone else have the floor.
I'll be back, I'm sure.
Auntie g

Ms. T said...

You know how I feel about religions. They're like football teams -- mine's better than yours, mine's the only way to "win," you can't join another team without being threatened with damnation, etc.

All creations of man. The universe is so vast, so unimaginably complex on a level that is beyond human comprehension, that religion seems just like another weenie little human superstition designed to shift power/money/sex from one group to another.

Every soul is trapped in the needy body of a human being. I don't think humans can get close to the truth of the spirit, God, universe, whatever, until their bodies are gone one way or another.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stacey,

I was praying yesterday and the thought crossed my mind that you were thinking through something about faith. Then I read your blog! Cool!

Becoming an Episcopalian has been the best thing to happen to me since meeting the love of my life (Christian). There is room to think, to question, to never find an answer, or to find 5000 more than you thought you would. I am positively orgasmic that I am no longer a fundamentalist, and no longer seek the kind of certainty which they seek. Thank God for the mystery of our faith!

That said, rigorous intellectual work has to be done to understand how God has and continues to reveal God's self - and that too is welcomed. I'm at home.

Love you very much! We need to talk about this in person soon.

John R

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