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Author Topic: Talk About Your Religious Beliefs  (Read 10244 times)
Danny_K
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2005, 10:48:02 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Somehow it survived in me that what matters most is family and friends, and what matters next most is guests and hosts. Food binds all. Preparing food, eating food, cleaning up after food. Now that Meg's sister owns land and sheep and chickens and sugar maples and herb and vegetable gardens, add cultivating food too. I take my cookery as a priesthood. Keep your theologies and afterlives, for I know that Cajun shrimp recipe.


Absolutely.  Except, as a Jew, I know that shrimp are evil and the Devil's work.  

You can tell because they taste so good.
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I believe in peace and science.
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2005, 11:57:23 AM »

I'm at an interesting place right now, trying to reorient myself as to how I want to interact with spirituality.  So excuse me if this is a bit messy.

There's God, who's a cool kind of being and wants cool things for us.  My understanding of this is from the rather simple idea that as I've learned more and matured, I've become a nicer person.  Therefore, God being all knowing and all powerful can only be the nicest most compassionate being, not having any needs or conflicts to deal with, and understanding everything.

There's an afterlife for spirits, though all of what happens there, I have no clue at all.  

There has to be a reason for all the craziness that happens in life.  I have no idea what this reason is, or if its just a thing I'm telling myself to keep from losing it.  I've pretty much spent most of my life trying to figure out that reason.  I've learned a lot of other stuff while doing so, so it seems like a good thing to continue doing at the moment.

Morally?  Overall, life is easier when people don't trip with each other.  There are consequences to everything you do, and it doesn't have to be some fancy strange coincidental karma thing.  My understanding of karma is if I piss you off, you'll probably get back at me.  Or your friends and family will.  Or I'll piss off the wrong person one day.

The most actual religious involvement I've had was studying Ifa, a West African religion for 2 years.  It is more commonly known by its New World versions, of Santeria, Lukumi and Voudon.  While I agree with a lot of the basic tenets, the social structure that has arisen around it is very often abusive and crazy.  I think half the people come to it to try to learn "spells" and get power on other people, and that's not cool at all.  Some people also like the system of initiation, because it lets them feel like they're better than the average person, and that, too, is not cool.

I'll let you know next year where I stand, if I ever decide to do any kind of organized thing again :P
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groundhog
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2005, 01:06:10 PM »

Shreyas,

What you said about suspecting there's a divinity and not being worthy or capable of trying to discern its nature sounds familiar to me, from two places.  

Many Abrahamic believers believe in God but refuse to try to understand His nature, as it is divine and all-powerful. As such, it is unknowable and not understandable to our mortal minds.

Another is Taosim. I've not read the entire Tao te Ching (and what I've read has been translated), but here are some general paraphrases about the Tao that should be somewhat accurate from memory. The Tao that can be fully understood is not the true Tao.  The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao. The Tao must be one with you for you to understand it at all, and if you understand it completely even at that point, it is not the true Tao. The Tao is great but seeks not greatness. It is like the water, which does not seek to perch upon mountains but which gladly settles into the lowest places. Settling into these places, it changes them and the mountains too. The Tao is not boisterous, it says the most when it is silent.

I'm sure neither of these was your immediate source for your beliefs. I just think it's nice to know that the religions which have stuck around hundreds or thousands of years tend to reinforce one another on some level, and that independent thinkers come up with the same points over and over again.
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Christopher E. Stith
Meguey
Member

Posts: 250

Meguey


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« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2005, 09:15:27 PM »

Let me tell you about the sex.

See, one of the things, perhaps THE thing I think is most cool about Unitarian Universalism is the sex. No, I am not at all talking about any kind of sex-as-part-of-religion (although to each hir own), what I'm talking about is the attitude around sex, and the willingness to go right to the wall in talking about any aspect of sexuality or sexual identity.

The most basic parts of UUism are:

*Belief in the inherent worth and dignety of all beings.
*Respect for the interdependant web of which we are a part.

From that naturally flows a whole wealth of healthy attitudes around ethnicity, gender, orientation, identity, equality, and education.

I am a facilitator of the Our Whole Lives sex ed curricula, http://www.uua.org/owl/what.html , and I just finished teaching an intensive three-month cycle for 6 young men and 3 young women, ages 14-18. I have *rarely* seen adults so willing to step up and do the work of examining their beliefs and ideas and really work to grow and learn as I see in these classes.  I can sit here and tell you in absolute certainty that the OWL program, created by and provided by the UUA and the UCC (United Church of Christ, which split off from the UUs in the 1950s) has saved lives, and I mean that literally, not in a Christian 'saved' way.

I am honored and proud to be a part of a denomination that so highly values teens and youth as whole people, worthy of the whole picture and able to make their own wise, informed choices if given all the info. I am honored and proud to be part of a denomination that holds sexuality as vital and human and precious and holy and real and sweaty and gritty and not something to be ashamed of or whispered about.

UUs were among the very first to have women ministers as fully equal in the church. UUs were among the leaders in the American revolution, abolition, the Civil rights movement, the women's movement, the nuclear disarmament movement, and among the first to celebrate marriage between any two consenting adults.  

So, if you ask me what the one thing that is the coolest about my church, I will tell you it's about the sex.
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Leningrad
Member

Posts: 29


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« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2005, 09:19:52 PM »

I'm a straight up agnostic.  I don't believe in anything I haven't experienced first hand.  Sometimes I wonder if this makes me a spiritual slacker, but ... well ... *shrug*
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Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2005, 09:57:29 PM »

Quote from: groundhog

Another is Taosim. I've not read the entire Tao te Ching (and what I've read has been translated), but here are some general paraphrases about the Tao that should be somewhat accurate from memory.


BL>  Hi.  Spent a five or so years studying Taoism quite heavily.  If my university had let me get a double-degree, I would have had one in that also.

Don't mistake the ineffibility of the Way of Heaven for any sort of fundamental incomprehensiblity.  When they were written, the texts were intended to promote particular meditation techniques which would allow the practitioner to understand the whole of the Way of Heaven, thus understand the entire world.  There is humility there, with regard to language, but also hubris, with regard to understanding.  It isn't quite what you describe.

This is not to say that you can't draw your own doctrine of humility out of the small number of holy books that have been translated into English.  You can.  Many other people have, and it has brought them a great deal of happiness.  But don't confuse that with history, or the religion as it exists in Asia today.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  I recommend the Zhuangzi (AKA Chuang Tzu) heartily.  It rocks.  It's like William S. Borroughs does Taoist philosophy.
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Kirk Mitchell
Member

Posts: 268


« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2005, 10:55:55 PM »

You know, I could post this huge essay on my beliefs. How I am a complete atheist. How I like the way most of the people on this forum think and agree with the ethics of most religions but without the "thou art evil if you do not do exactly as I do based upon some book that came via fax from [insert divine being here]". How I go to a religious private school because it is the only decent school in my area. How every day I get religion shoved down my throat. (my apologies if I sound bitter but it does get on my nerves sometimes) How my ethical system goes as such:

Do whatever you think (and genuinely consider your actions) will benefit you and those you care about most, and then accept the consequences of your actions.

How I have a morbid (but strangely comforting) view on death: death is non-existence. All biological functions that create sentience have ceaced to function so I no longer exist. But since I won't exist, it doesn't matter because I won't care. Because I don't exist! How I think all religions will rock (RAWK!) when they finally figure out that other religions have a right to exist, that other ways of thinking are okay and that when stripped of all their stories and stuff all your are left with is a system of values so that we can live together in a society. How I am perfectly fine with your beliefs so long as I don't have it rammed down my throat. How it is the height of conceit to think that some all knowing and all powerful god created the entire universe (infinite or otherwise) for a bunch of monkeys living on a rock on one of the arms of a mid-sized galaxy. How I think you can be a good person without a god or without a religion.

But ultimately, the only thing that I can say with any real surety is that I honestly do not have a clue... oh, and that Meguey, you caught my attention.

Luck,
Kirk
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Domhnall
Member

Posts: 97


« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2005, 11:32:15 PM »

I've studied theology in earnest since ’91.  I lost my Christian Faith ~ 5 years ago.  

I presently believe in (generic) monotheism based on Natural Theology, most especially motivated by the Teleological Argument (that the most logical answer to an ordered universe is an “Orderer”).  Of course, this does not lend itself (necessarily) to any particular doctrine, nor does it say too much about the exact nature of the “Unmoved Mover” (Aristotle’s).  

Most people I’ve encountered through the years tend to be simply lazy concerning theology/religion (as in most matters of serious philosophy), and regurgitate pop-culture mantras rather than seriously getting into the guts of it.  But, since the Birthday forum is closing shortly debates on religion for us would be fruitless.
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--Daniel
joshua neff
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Posts: 949


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« Reply #38 on: April 08, 2005, 03:13:00 AM »

Quote from: Meguey
See, one of the things, perhaps THE thing I think is most cool about Unitarian Universalism is the sex.


So, here's a UU joke another UU told me.

There's a UU retreat for teens. When it gets time for sleep, one UU says, "Oh, rats, I forgot to bring my sleeping bag."

A second UU says, "That's okay, you can get into my sleeping bag with me. But I don't have a pillow."

The first UU says, "No problem. We'll just roll up my sleeping bag and use it as a pillow."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha...eh, nevermind.

(And I know that's not what you were talking about, Meg.)
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--josh

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

Posts: 372


« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2005, 03:46:18 AM »

I am a skeptical atheist. I suppose that in some technical sense I could be called an agnostic, since as a skeptic I acknowledge the impossibility of proving a negative and therefore the chance that there might be a divine being (or a supernatural reality of any kind, really), but in practice I don't act on that -- it remains to be proven, as far as I'm concerned, and until something changes I'll continue with my best working model, which is of a world where there are no supernatural intelligences.

I'm therefore an atheist in practice, and I figure it would be dishonest to call myself otherwise, but I try to use the term "skeptical atheist" in order to convey a sense of the origins of my atheism.

I think in large part that my atheism stems from my Catholic upbringing -- not because I was embittered by it, but because it led me to investigate the tenets of my faith, which led me to discover that I couldn't really believe in them. I still feel a powerful connection to the Catholic church as an important element of my cultural and (if you like) ethnic identity. I just can't be part of it anymore.

One thing that often baffles me in the world of smaller or "alternative" religion is the desperate attempt to make Christianity or the Bible say what you believe. I think it stems from the conflation in American culture of "Christianity" and "morality" or maybe even "piety, spirituality." I think that this has had a negative effect on piety, spirituality (not that I give a hang), morality (where I do give a hang) and on Christianity itself.
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pete_darby
Member

Posts: 537

Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


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« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2005, 04:08:43 AM »

UU door-to-door preachers caught me the other day.

All smiles, all friendly, then the sucker punch... "Hi, could we take a minute to listen to your beliefs?"

Punks. Everything I came out with they just said "Gosh, I never thought about it like that."

I ended up gving them some pamphlets...
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Pete Darby
Green
Member

Posts: 247


« Reply #41 on: April 08, 2005, 06:33:32 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
There's an afterlife for spirits, though all of what happens there, I have no clue at all.  

Morally?  Overall, life is easier when people don't trip with each other.  There are consequences to everything you do, and it doesn't have to be some fancy strange coincidental karma thing.  My understanding of karma is if I piss you off, you'll probably get back at me.  Or your friends and family will.  Or I'll piss off the wrong person one day.

The most actual religious involvement I've had was studying Ifa, a West African religion for 2 years.  It is more commonly known by its New World versions, of Santeria, Lukumi and Voudon.  While I agree with a lot of the basic tenets, the social structure that has arisen around it is very often abusive and crazy.  I think half the people come to it to try to learn "spells" and get power on other people, and that's not cool at all.  Some people also like the system of initiation, because it lets them feel like they're better than the average person, and that, too, is not cool.


This is eerily similar to some of the beliefs I have.  What I found particularly interesting is that after I realized I was Animist, my concept of spirits and the spirit world is more along the lines of African and Native American traditions (insofar as such traditions still exist).  If there were an African or Native American version of Shinto, that would be just right.

In any case, what makes Animism (as opposed to pagan) rock is that it's interesting.  The ability of a thing to stimulate the imagination is a very important component of my spirituality.  I would even go so far as to say it's crucial.  Far more than the answers a particular faith provides, I am drawn to the questions it raises, the possibilities it presents.  I am increasingly drawn to the notion that every creature, every object, every force is related to a host of similar spirits, most of which do not manifest.  For instance, say there are a bunch of deer in your town.  They are all manifestations of deer spirits.  Howver, there are only as many deer spirits manifested in an area as there are deer in that area.  This is the same principle I believe applies to all of physical reality.  What makes this rock is that it gives the world the same value and sacredness that exists in the native realms of spirits.  With such a variety of entities and forces, it creates a very lively understanding of spirituality.  And I won't even get into my jar full of jellybeans model of consciousness.

What makes it rock even harder is that advances in the sciences, rather than undermining my spirituality, helps to reinforce it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that physicists are closer to the truth of this whole spirit thing than even they realize.  I am eagerly awaiting the invention of new tools to their more interesting theories.  I guess that goes back to engaging my imagination since you need quite a healthy one to even wrap your head around some of the theories.
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Meguey
Member

Posts: 250

Meguey


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« Reply #42 on: April 08, 2005, 09:04:26 AM »

Actually, Joshua Neff, that's not far from what I'm talking about.  Acceptance of sex as part of life, and willingness to be comfortable enough to joke about it, and notice that in the joke no-one is being put-down or harrassed or made to feel shame.

One of my old favorite UU jokes: How many UU-LRY (Liberal Religious Youth being the '80s term for 15-18 yos) does it take to screw in a lightbulb? UU-LRY don't screw in lightbulbs. They screw in sleeping-bags. And sometimes hot tubs.

My all-time favorite UU joke is longer, and about holidays, so not really relevant in the thread.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


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« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2005, 10:23:44 AM »

Quote from: Ben Lehman
P.S.  I recommend the Zhuangzi (AKA Chuang Tzu) heartily.  It rocks.  It's like William S. Borroughs does Taoist philosophy.


Zhuangzi was my first real introduction to Tao, and it profoundly colored my feelings thereabout.

As an "Abrahamic" student, I will also say that, in my opinion (and in the opinion of centuries or millennia of mystic Jews before me) that the incomprehensibility of the Godhead should, in no way, prevent you from studying it arduously, developing your intuition, wisdom, knowledge, and logic in the persuit of what might be beyond the reaches of your perception.

Rabbi Akiva, for instance, who holds a place of Buddha-like veneration among many Jews, is said to have seen the face of God and entered divine consciousness. It is also said that three others who did so died, went insane, and became pantheist (respectively).

So, in Jewish tradition, it's not considered impossible, nor is it considered an unworthy persuit, but it is considered dangerous. Hence the proscriptions about who may study the more drash elements of Judaism.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Yasha
Member

Posts: 20


« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2005, 11:33:40 AM »

I'm not going to say that my religion RAWKS, in that my practice within a Gnostic Christian/Independent Catholic church may not make sense to a lot of people, and I wouldn't encourage anyone to attend unless they were already on that same wavelength.  (I mean, we don't get too many people attending on Sundays...)  But it I think it gives me the codes I need to access God.  I think I might also be able to get effective access codes as an Episcopalian, Sufi or Tibetan Buddhist, but I know that being a Southern Baptist or Roman Catholic wouldn't work too well.  But I think all religions RAWK to the extent that they provide people the effective symbolic systems and practices, allow suspension of disbelief and not oppress followers or others.

Do people need religion?  I think it's unhealthy for people to supress their spiritual nature, but people can exercise this part of themselves in ways that don't necessarily look like religion.  I know someone who gets a lot from communing with trees.

This "access code" stuff is part of my current model of religion and spirituality:

I believe that our brain is a tool that allows us to access the non-physical realm of consciousness, just as an abacus is a tool to access the non-physical realm of mathematics.  Our consciousness, in turn, is a tool that allows us to access the non-physical realm of spirit.  We exist as an intersection of all of these realms: part matter, part consciousness, part spirit.  

In all cases, there's not a sharp dividing line between us and the rest of existence.  There is not a fixed border between our body and the world around us.  Our consciousness is part of a universal consciouness.  Our spirit is part of a universal, infinite existence, which I will call God.

For some reason, we by default have the experience of being separate components locked into bodies, some of us having a hard time recognizing the spiritual world that we exist within.  People generally use belief systems to perceive and interact within this divine realm.  Belief systems give us access codes, in the form of ritual and symbols.  These allow our consciousness to contact the spiritual, either directly or by first using our bodies to modify our consciousness.

Different belief systems give us different spiritual experiences, but they are all effective if their rituals or symbols are effective access codes.  People who devote their lives to exploring the spiritual realm -- mystics -- end up having spiritual experiences that are similar, even if they start from different belief systems.  This is because the greater the experience, the more common spiritual territory is being accessed.

Many people hold to their belief systems rigidly, as if they are the only path to God.  This might be a helpful tool for them, especially if they have a hard time suspending disbelief.  It's also possible to be aware of ones beliefs as something that can be put on, like a suit of clothes.  I'm aware that these beliefs that I'm stating here are just the model that I'm operating under at this moment, a story that allows me to make sense of the spiritual.

I think faith is something distinct from beliefs.  Faith is trusting in our spiritual self and its connection with God, just as, or more than, we trust in the connection of our physical self with the world.
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James "Yasha" Cunningham
Chutneymaker... Mystery Chef... Abe Lincoln Biographer...
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