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Author Topic: Religion!  (Read 25768 times)
Ben Lehman

Posts: 2094


« on: April 04, 2004, 08:53:04 AM »


This is the new religion thread.  Post here.

I am curious as to people's religious beliefs.

I ask this because I am in a muddle about my own beliefs right now, and like to cannibalize off of others.

So what do you believe, and why?  Do you think other people are wrong?  Why your religion?

Shreyas Sampat

Posts: 970

« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2004, 09:14:30 AM »

I think belief is beautiful.
I don't have a personal belief, however; I dwell in wonder instead.

Christopher Kubasik

Posts: 1153

« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2004, 09:20:47 AM »

Roman Catholic.

Let me be specific: American Roman Catholic, which, for many of us, means left of Marxists as far as the Pope's concerned.  Where this broo-ha-ha will end us all, I don't know.  A priest in Chicago once said to me, "The Vatican is steep in the tradition of Monarchy.  American's aren't.  There will be issues."

I believe I love going to mass.  I believe I love singing with other people. I believe that in the readings each week I get some little nugget of metaphore that lets me live a better week.  I believe just seeing familiar faces, offering my talents as a lector and having a place to go make me a better and happier person.

I have no idea anymore what I believe about the Church's fundemental supernatural concerns.

I believe that in terms of imagination the Church is fucked, because we've got a bachelor god and virgin mother, and despite Vatican II's attempts to reasure us all, "No, no, we really do like the human body -- that delight is reflected only in the Church's almost subversive history of lucious and sensual art.  It's simply not in the dogma, it's simply not an active part of the narrative.  It's simply not there in the actual *faith.*

I don't have much truck for people who think other people are *wrong.*

In fact, here's my new bugaboo: after all the self-serving nonses around Mel's movie ("No, *you're* making *me* suffer!" heard from Jews, Chrisitans and even -- wait for it -- Italians upset at the portrayal of Centurians -- I'm concerned that too much of what religion should be about is usurped by yahoos who want to know everyone else in the world is out to get them.  It feeds into the darkest, worst aspects of self-pity, paranoia and self-justified rightousness that let's folks know that they're right, others are wrong, and thank god we can all huddle together against the terrors offered by the bulk of all the rest of the world.

Feeling persecuted, I've noticed lately, is the great motivator for what some folks think of as religious sentiment.  Not mine.  I'm a happy, God made us to love each other through this world post-Vatican II kid.  I honestly see people using religion as a reactionary cover and think, "What the fuck?"

Also, this:

There seems to be this notion (not widespread perhaps, but wrongheaded I think), that Muslims are after the US because it's a "Christian" nation (you know, with a few Jews thrown in.)

I think this misses the game entirely.

I really don't think myopic muslisms are upset that we're a Christian nation.  We're a pluralistic nation.  If you compare our society to the classical pagan years in Rome and Greece, you'll see we share a lot in come with those societies when it comes to religion: People shift churches, denominations and even faith as required by their needs.  You can be a Presbiterian who owns a crystal, does yoga and reads the horoscope.... and that's cool for you.  (Others might object -- but you don't hang with them.)

We're not playing the one true god game that well here -- which, I think, explains why we're such a "religious" nation.  By allowing faith to be fluid, non-stiffling, and meeting the needs of those who need faith... it works.  It doesn't shut down commerce, social interaction, creative freedom and so on.

Now, this bothers some folks in the US.  But their born and bred americans, so it's kind of confusing... Monothesitic obsession runs counter to the democratic principles of this country so everyone worried about this is left hanging even if they can't articulate why.

Not so myopitc muslims in middle eastern nations.  A One Way is still an option.  And *that* is the problem with the US for them.  It's not that we're a Christian nation.  (We're clearly not.)  It's that we're a nation of Many Ways.  And I think *that* is the infection they're afraid we're going to bring to the world.

So, basically, I'm becoming, in temperament, a Pagan, with the Church as my main faith.  I mean, I don't know what the hell else to call it.


"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2004, 09:31:21 AM »

Great stuff from Christopher... There's been an upsurge in Finland lately trying to explain U.S. foreign policy from the viewpoint of rapid fundamentalism (the whole "escapees from English persecution" angle). The Americans are largely simpleminded christians, it's said, and this explains why they are ready to tramble over anything good when their crazy president says so. Nice to see that someone upholds pluralism out there.

Anyway, about my religion: I'm hard line agnostic, assuming everyone who believes otherwise is a little dull of mind. On the other hand, if someone is ready to pledge allegiance and stay true to something, even fictional something, that more than counteracts the initial stupidity. Be as stupid as you wish, as long as it's accompanied by nobility.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Posts: 869

« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2004, 09:45:20 AM »


Things change.

Posts: 370

Aidan Grey

« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2004, 10:03:28 AM »

Celto-Norse Shinto-Shaman. It's complicated.

Aidan Grey

Crux Live the Abnatural

Posts: 1557

« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2004, 10:03:34 AM »

I don't really have religion at all -- that's why I study it instead.

Chris Lehrich
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2004, 10:14:12 AM »

On my father's side, my family is Episcopalian. My father was an altar boy in his youth, but was a staunch atheist when I was growing up. Once I was in college he started dabbling in Buddhism. While he was studying and meditating he wondered: if there's no such thing as a self, then what reincarnates?

My mother's father's grandfather's grandfather was a direct assistant to Brigham Young, but he was excommunicated. The family story was that Brigham & co. had wanted my ancestor to take a second wife, but that he had refused. One never can be quite sure of the truth of such things, but when my grandfather was a little boy, his father took him to the old family cabin outside of Salt Lake, riddled with bullet holes, which my gg claimed were from shots fired by Brigham's men, trying to get rid of my ancestor. My grandfather himself was ecumenical in the extreme - he spent several years trying out different religions with all their rules for a year at a time, to see what they were like. My mother's mother was a Swedish Lutheran.

My mother was and is a member of a Yogic group out of Los Angeles, Paramahansa Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship, that believes in Jesus and Krishna both and spends lots of time meditating. That's what I was brought up in.

My best friend my senior year of high school was a Muslim, and he was one of two best men when I got married to my wife, who is Jewish.

Me? In terms of formally observed religion, I suppose I mostly practice Judaism these days - I do weekly sabbath, the High Holidays, and Passover every year, and occasionally go to schul. I almost converted, but it didn't seem right to me to finish the process - I get a lot out of my wife's faith, but ultimately I don't think it's mine, at least not now. I still do some of my mother's yoga meditation that I was trained in as a child sometimes. And sometimes I pray to a nameless god.

I'm deeply committed to humanism and liberalism in politics, which sometimes makes me think I'm really an atheist deep down. But there are certain parts of my life - most centrally my love of the beautiful and the sublime - that make it impossible for me to give up on religion completely. Something keeps drawing me back to reading a hundred different scriptures and contemplating the Ultimate in a variety of forms.

So I guess I'd characterize myself as a 'person of faith', but I don't think I'd pass muster with anyone remotely orthodox about anything. I tend to regard holy men as just people and scriptures as just stimulating writings, even though I think they're both in at least some cases speaking about something centrally important to human life and experience. On the other hand, I don't really ever stop looking at my own life and experience from a religious point of view, either, so - I suppose I have a lot of work ahead of me to figure this all out.
Simon W

Posts: 191

« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2004, 10:49:52 AM »

I am yet to be convinced about any religion. This from a guy who has lived with a (ex)Jehova's Witness and a (ex)Mormon. Perhaps because of this.

I also don't believe UFO's have landed on earth, that there is such a thing as ghosts and such like, or that anyone has any psychic powers.

I guess I must be a born sceptic.
C. Edwards

Posts: 558

savage / sublime

« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2004, 11:11:15 AM »

I'm with Shreyas, except as I get older I find that I'm developing this hard crust of cynicism. I'm going to go have it scraped off next week.

Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes

« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2004, 11:35:35 AM »

Skeptical, cynical wonder with an underlying core of hope.

I believe that the best of all possible afterlives is nothing at all... the idea of the christian heaven freaks me out much more than the idea of the christian hell, and reincarnation speaks of pointlessness to me.  Oblivion, the idea that my life will simply stop when my "ugly bag of mostly water" stops moving, is comforting and safe, so I act with that hope, because all the alternatives are horrifying.

My father died when I was young.  His family was Jewish, but mom tells me he was Christian.  My mother is "Christian" - she'll happily wander into any church regardless of demonination, and once told me she'd rather see me as a member of the KKK, than as a Hare Krishna (given the choice of those two possibilities), because at least the KKK has its roots in Christianity.  Although I freely use "God" as a profanity, and might reflexively refer to him, I don't believe I believe in an entity like him.  I know for a fact it's not nearly that simple, and that "God" works best as an allegory.

Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming

Posts: 202

« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2004, 03:55:04 PM »


That is, while I think personal belief systems are good, I think history has proven organized religions to be bad.

As far as personal philosophy, I have found a lot of insight in Taoist teachings (not the religion, the philosophy).

Jay Loomis
Coxcomb Games
Check out my http://bigd12.blogspot.com">blog.
Jack Spencer Jr
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2004, 04:16:49 PM »

Quote from: Ben Lehman
So what do you believe, and why?  Do you think other people are wrong?  Why your religion?

Hrm. This is the second such thread I've run into in the past week.

My religion is a lack thereof. What has happened is knowledge and experience has piled up in my life that has led to a crisis of faith similar to yours. I had been raised with christianity in the background, which eventually came foreward when my father became religious. I still didn't feel very strongly for it, but I sort of gained "beliefs" if it could be called that. But, various things have since piled up which has irreparably damaged these "beliefs." By extension, so has any possibility for belief in most other religions, especially those with any sort of deity, creator gods in particular. The whole thing strikes me as unreal and, to my point of view, founded on similar evidence. This, naturally, is not mean to be a slam at religion or those who do find faith. I just do not find anything to put my faith in. Maybe someday that will change, but I cannot see that at this point.
J B Bell

Posts: 267

« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2004, 04:47:46 PM »

Welp, I'm still a Buddhist. I still swear a lot. However, I have recently renewed my subscription to the Five Precepts and am avoiding meat, pot, and booze. I need to tinker with the diet some because I'm pretty sure the no-meat business is making me overdo the carb thing.

I'm calling it "Liberation Amidism," as it's a Pure Land form of Buddhism that has a very strong "engaged" (as Buddhists call it) element, seeing Buddhism as something that properly is concerned with a better life in this world, and not merely preparing the ground for more favorable future rebirths.

I'm still helping out with the local Unitarian Universalist youth group, which is a joy and a source of continuing nervousness as they keep letting me train the kids to be radical social activists without so much as a peep. Do the parents just not notice, or is that what they want? Stay tuned.

I guess I'm also still a touch of a mystic, though I mostly don't believe in psychic hoo-ha.

I do believe that there are beliefs that are less useful and even tragic, though I'd steer clear of "wrong" if I'm thinking about it carefully. E.g., I have problems with monism--the idea that all spirit is joined by some sort of substratum such that my "soul-stuff" is somehow contiguous with and of one substance with yours. I've come to believe that real compassion and love arise not from my seeing my essential sameness with you, but rather by fully and truly seeing you as someone apart from me, with your own concerns, needs, values, and basic worth. In this way it is my self that disappears in contemplation of the other, rather than coming to non-self by some hyper-inflation of my own boundaries.

I'm considering entering seminary school to become a Unitarian minister but haven't really decided about that yet--I have a general disdain for certifications, and wonder why I would need one to do what comes naturally to me anyway: being decent to other people and acknowledging and strengthening their own compassion for themselves and others.

OTOH, there are some seriously hot babes at that school, and men are a minority. And I've sure had my fill of computer work.


"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes
joshua neff

Posts: 949

« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2004, 04:49:55 PM »

Lately I've been feeling really drawn to my Jewish roots. Except I come from a family that is, traditionally (at least going back to my great-grandparents) staunchly secular Jews. (My great-grandparents were big-time Communists, so religion was "the opiate of the masses." My great-grandmother used to spit on the ground everytime she saw a rabbi.) And I just can't find it within myself to have any kind of relationship or attitude towards YHWH, God, Allah, or whatever you want to call Him/Her/It.

The attitude of Taoist & Zen stuff speaks to me. But what really speaks to me, what really reflects my worldview & moves me spiritually, are the words of Timothy Leary, Ray Bradbury, Dr. Seuss. And dada & surrealism. Which, I suppose, makes me...a Discordian. Hail Eris!

Edit: I was raised Unitarian-Universalist. In fact, my father was a UU minister throughout my childhood. But both of my parents have abandoned the UU church--my mother has started going to synagogue (despite being a firm atheist), while my father ignores religion entirely. Personally, I find the UU church a bit too bland for me. A quiet personal spirituality is great, but if I'm going to actually get up & go to church every week or so, I want baroque--I want candles & incense & chanting & singing & dancing. I want mandalas & elaborate cosmologies. & body paint & bargains with spirits.


"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
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