Air's Corner

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

N/A

sO I liked the article The Belief Trap, and think others should read it too! I also like Eck, and think that her book is a good start to learning more about others, as I think this is her main purpose - to educate, as can be clearly seen in her quote (on page 296) "After all, the first response to difference is often suspicion and fear. Fear of the unknown is not so astonishing, especially in a country where we have done so little to make the cultural and religious traditions of the world better known and understood". Without education, there is prejudice. She thourougly explains the religious practices of some of the more "unusual" religions in American society, and was sure to throw in some examples of what can happen when there is little understanding (all of those horrific hate crimes she cites). Her book is one I would recommend to those living out in the sticks and who are unaware of the changes afoot in America, and are still living with the old ideals (anti - immigration, etc). For these "type"- its a "must read"!

Oh and PS - Please forgive my bad spelling.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

YAY for ENLIGHTENMENT

So i just have a few ideas i am going to post, nothing special, just some things i have been jotting down and meaning to get out there to the world.. or atleast whoever is reading this.

Some things to contemplate:

-Why aren't there any regulations as to who goes to third world countries in an attempt to recruit new people to their religion? I mean, missionaries, shouldn't that be more fair, from a global standpoint, not just to have christian missionaries (and I am only saying Christian, because that's the only religion I have ever heard of as having missionaries)? It just seems like its a free for all, and christians are the dominators.

-What if religion teaching stated that people of other faiths are going to "hell", and therefore you can not associate with them, they are "evil" -- If this were to happen, could people break the mold -- break away from the very teachings of their religion and say "no"? Can a person go against his/her religion, against their "God", to become pluralistic? If the answer is no, which I might think is very possible, as religion is the end all be all to some people. Think about this, this could be a very scary situation if it ever were to happen, it would mean no opportunity whatsoever for pluralism and peace to ever exist.

- What would Jesus think of all "his people" questioning religion and religious diversity if Jesus really were the messiah? Because there are so many religions and Gods, all claiming they are true - would this be grounds to argue that all religious beliefs are false - from an outsider's perspective??

-Eck really explicitly explains how she involves herself in the rituals of the temples she attends, as though giving us a pointer, suggestion. When we go - we should do the same - is the message it seems like shes trying to deliver. But I wonder, did she learn the meaning of what she was doing before she did it? Or began by doing it mindlessly/heartlessly?

-How beautiful the idea of mixing the Ganges and the American rivers!!

-How do you feel about this quote - "A lifelong Methodist, I found myself touching the feet of each of these images in reverence". Should she be revering these images, when they are not of her religion? Is this morally okay?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

i spy.

I spy...

I spy a lot of things each day in my life, but who cares about all that?

What does pertain to you reading this is what I spy that has to do with RELIGION.

So I'll tell you.

Lately, I have been noticing religion peeking up in my daily life, my daily activities, and when I say this I mean, my daily surroundings. It is so unbelievable how often the subject or subject matter comes up. It is such a major part of life. Duh, right? Well I always knew this... of course... but really, it is such a major part of the majority of people's lives, in some way or another. It is a major part in my life, I am sure, without even knowing it.

But now I am beginning to realize it.

The other day I was sitting in on the monthly medical ethics committee meeting at Montgomery Hospital that I attend, and I took down some interesting notes I'd like to journal. One of the committee members, a doctor of which I do not remember who, made the remark "We will have to become religious in the way we document". They were referring to death records, and there new policies with hospice care, and drug use. Hmmm interesting use of the word.

The head doctor on this committee then started to tell a story. A story of death, and what the family of the man who was dying experience was. The story was of a family of creole background. They were huddling around an older man who was admitted into the hospital earlier that day, and who was not going to make it. The family was bent over talking to him. One of the doctors made out "it is okay to pass on". That was the only thing that was heard. Although so much had gone unheard, it was easy to see what was being said. The witnesses saw physiological changes take place in the dying man. As the family was all bent around the old man praying, he began to deep breather, become calm, and welcome the next world. After he passed, the medical staff found out the family was catholic, and that they all agreed that it was good, the way he passed.

Another note, it was said at this meeting that teamwork involves: doctors, nurses,and chaplaincy.

The other night I saw on TV an advertisement to fly out to northern Arkansas, to stay free for a couple of days to check out a new community that is "peaceful, pristine, and close to nature". Reminded me of the Ozarks, the way it was advertised and the location.

This weekend I woke up early Saturday and decided to have a bowl of cereal in bed, and watch cartoons. As I was flipping through the channels, the evangelist channel caught me dead in my tracks. There was this wierd puppet show that was called "Little Angels", I think. It was all about the scripture and God's message, and how we should live, geared to a young audience. It was so third rate (the quality and stuff) that it seriously freaked me out. After that show, another kids show came on, "Colby's Clubhouse", I believe. This was of girls and boys dancing, singing, and telling stories of Christ.

So in conclusion, I have really been noticing lately religion's omnipresence. It is totally blowing my mind. How about yours?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Soon One Mornin'

I have been feeling a bit challenged lately in this course. Not with the readings, or the workload, but solely with my feelings. Before this semester, I had a pretty good idea as to where I stood in the religious/spiritual realm. I believed in "God", an extreme energy/force which connects all of us here on Earth. I believed in reincarnation until the point of ultimate truth and good was accomplished here on Earth, at which point you ascended unto another dimension, or heaven.

As you can see my thoughts and beliefs were not "traditional". I would say they are collective from my experience so far... a little buddhist, a little catholic, some jewish, a bit agnostic, but all very spiritual...

I remember actually reading the book BE right before coming to school. This book is so real, such a masterpiece. In short, everyone should read it, its by AC Ping.

It talks about happiness, and how each of us should find ourselves, meditate, escape from the box that society has for each one of us. It is truly a remarkable book. However, how this ties in is that, I read a certain part of that book, that talked about a certain belief of a certain religion. At that point I felt as though I had a "spiritual awakening". Come to think of it, I dont remember what that enlightenment was. Wow. I think, it is partly because I am so twisted now with my beliefs that I forgot.

At the start of the semester, I felt like a had a grasp on what was life and what was death, the sheer purpose of the two of these most extreme concepts. Afterall, isnt this what religion is really designed for? Purpose of life, and to take away from the fear of death? Today I stand a nonbeliever. Why? Because this is what my science explains. It explains a world that has been around for billions of years. It has evidence, fact, which reveals that the "modern human" has been around for 30-100,000 years. Before this modern human were other homonoid animals, animals that had the capacity to evolve into us. The theory of natural selection makes sense. It is logical, but more importantly it gives us answers. This theory can explan virtually everything about the world around us. Some would say the knowledge of such a complex world would prove the power of the almighty. It is so intricate because it was designed. My neuroscience book tells me differently (indirectly ofcourse).

Our brain has simply evolved to do all the wonderous things that it is capable of doing, to the point where we develop a sense of identity, and thus thought. Because of this revelation that occured many years ago, is why (I now am starting to believe) we created religion. It is another aspect of human culture that seperates us from other animals. But just like thought, and superior intelligence, religion has evolved just like our minds did.

So as I was thinking this the other night, I kind of thought, yeah Science explains a lot, maybe even everything (or atleast one day it will), but how do we know, I mean really know that this is truth. Science than seems just like another religion, a set of beliefs that you hold. Instead of Noah, it was Darwin. Instead of the ark, The Beagle.

So in closing, I would like to say that I am at this point of my life unsure. And I have a question for you... what does this mean for someone when they want to study religion? Is this why I am having troubling/challenging thoughts? This whole concept of religion is totally complex. Yes I can approach it from the scientific point of view, but why should I? I have been thinking a lot lately about what religion is, what classifies a system of beliefs or practices as religious. Surely science must be a form of religion, just as much as other non traditional areas: civil religion, Thanksgiving, etc. etc. I am much liking the readings, for I feel as though they are opening our minds to the idea that religion is not just that concrete idea, involving God, religion is another facet of our brain that enables us to act in a certain way to certain beliefs. I am in awe that religion is all around us, whether we are conscious of it or not, it surrounds us, simply because it is an integral part of human life. It might not be the church sort, but other actions and words point to religion or religiosity. This might be a trait that humans have evolved, but each one of us has this capacity, and use it in some form or another in all of our lives. The readngs have proven to be very beneficial in teaching us this fundamental into religious study.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My back hurts

SO. I am sitting here in my room, my back is hurting from being hunched over at my desk for too long. Although I am tired, and in a bit of discomfort, my mind is still alert, and begging to share some of its thoughts.

But what are thoughts? Why does the brain "think"? Certainly coming from a scientific point of view, the brain thinks because it is reacting to the environment, external stimulus. Some might argue the brain does not really think, but only reacts. And why does it perform the way it does? It is able to react and behave in such a complex way because of thousands of years of evolution, from the premodern man, primates.

So what is the point?

The point that I am getting at is this ---

I am like what the hell is religion.

Religion to me

is

a part of human culture

something that has come from the evolution of the modern human brain

Because our brain is able to form higher order thoughts

Our brain is capable of establishing identity

We humans are aware

We are aware of now, the present, of the past, of death, of life, and ourselves

We have given ourselves names, we are unique and we each are different from any other member of our species.

We set ourselves so high, that we consider ourselves different from the rest of the animal world, and actually the entire physical world.

We have not simply been born, randomly, but

We have been created,

There is a higher power that has designed us in His image.

Yet really? Is this true?

This is religion. The fact that the higher order human has created these concepts of higer power.

Want to hear something that might blow your mind? Yeah?

Aristotle in the 4th CENTURY came up with the idea that humans behave the way they do because of the psyche --- today called mind, but then synonymous with "soul".

Aristotle was the one with the bright idea that this seperate entity resides in the human brain and controls what human does.

And guess what happened many moons later?

The christian church adopted this idea.

Sorry to bust your bubble (its okay - it blew up mine) but no holy deity came down and whispered in someone's ear --- how you humans are different than other creatures walking the earth. You guys have souls.

Nope. This idea was created by a mortal mind ---

And if that whole discussion is not enough to get someone commenting --- I will try to be even more controversial and temper provoking ---

I liked the Lame Deer story. I thought is was interesting. How very different other people can be in their religious practices. To think that they all stemmed from one population of humans a long time ago to diffuse and infuse into the world we now call Earth.

HAHHAHAH

Good night Kiddies, I am hitting the hay.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

PADEN

According to Paden, extensive knowledge about other religions, which comes from the study of comparative religion (which is an easy area of study when living within an environment of such extreme religious diversity), is "deprovincializing". This term to me means to take identity away from the small communities that many world religions in their home countries, and in their new countries, have.

I like how he points out - comparing religion should not be a means of finding a better religion FOR YOURSELF. "Full comparative perspective involves more than simply describing side by side or serially the religions of the world, as though one were just sampling or judging various claims to truth". I also like how he says we can (and I think should) "study not just the different religions, but of the structures of religion".

In essence, the study of religion should be strictly from an objective point of view. This is what Yearley was getting at with the notion of "spiritual regret". This is why such a virtue would be so important, because ultimately there are two sub-studies of comparative religion, 1)comparing different religions, and 2) studying the structure of religion.

In order to properly complete both these tasks, one must not be seeking out new truths, or ultimately a new religion, one must be learning --- and without any form of emotional endearment. Once a longing for belonging to a particular religion occurs, one can no longer compare religion successfully, and unbiasly. The question we ask should be: what do we learn from the many different forms of religion, and about the idea itself. It should not be what disciplines do I most agree with? This should be a human study, not an individual study. It should benefit all, not just the self. We should not blend various ideas, but should contain them and know them, clasifying them unobtrusively, objectively, and most importantly scholarly.

A good point of Paden's- we should try to study a common theme that is heard through out all religions. He, smartly, states that comparison can be dangerous, as it can be used to denounce religions, giving superiorty to one religion, while deeming the others inferior. We must look past terms of good and bad, "comparison is almost always a function of self interest". THIS IS THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE - Do not fall victim to this status quo!

I especially must take this to heart. I already have preconceived thoughts and feelings towards religion in general. I feel religion is merely a political tool. I do not mean to offend anyone who is reading this, but its the truth. For whatever reason I feel this way, does not matter. I must myself let go of these critical preconcieved notions, and look through observant new eyes, a clean slate, and a scholarly perspective when I venture into the world of religion.

Monday, January 23, 2006

On Virtues--Spiritual Regret

Religion's main objective is to create virtue. This is why it is so important in a civil society. Where else are people going to learn integrity, morality, right, wrong? This is why religion has remained around for so long. It teaches people how to become the best people they can be (or atleast according to the specific religion followed). However, on creating a new virtue -- "spiritual regret", I do agree that we need a structured plan when learning the differences between religions, and how to handle the knowledge.. but from what I gathered from the text - and correct me if I am wrong - is that there should be no adopting other beliefs. Spiritual regret is the virtue of studying and learning novel and maybe even perfect other religious models, yet refraining from practicing these virtues in our own lives. Why is he suggesting such a thing? Maybe to have solid grounds of assessing differences, without views becomming skewed. A way to think scholarly, objectively. To observe from a distance and take notes. I dont know. What he does say however that particularly peeked my interest was how higher education presents the ability to utilize imagination. That with an intellectual stand, and a little imagination, people can make decisions, and thus new virtues. Hello! Are we talking something new? Could that possibly lead to the formation of a civic religion? A religion in which there is no priests, only scholars? Is this what he is saying? Sounds like a political philospher I know of.