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Spirituality v. Religion

Spirituality Religion

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#61 Godeskian

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 01:22 AM

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and I wanted to ask a question, of those who feel that controlling the populace is somehow bad.  What makes it so? 

Let me start by saying that it isn't necesarrily bad, however it can be if control of population is used to opress the population. Having power of something (a group, a pet or a country) requires a level of responsibility towards that something that you'll use your power wisely. I think it was socrates that said that a goverment enjoyed a moral authority to be obeyed, but only as long as the goverment remained moral and just towards it's people, and I very much agree with that.

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Is it bad because we don't trust the controller?

In the case of goverments, in my mind, more is less. I want a goverment to collect their taxes and keep the roads, schools and public instances running. everything else, i find it questionable that the goverment needs to interfere at all.

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Is it bad because the direction of control is bad? Or is it bad in general?

Because of the control, in my view. Goverments change, even dictatorships get overthrown, even religious leaders once ousted find their more questionable policies might be changed by a more moderate replacement. any entity that has unquestioned control over something, has to either be capable of enough moral strenght not to abuse the power, or become a tyrant,

I have seen no evidence of any goverment, anywhere, that if it stood by itself, it would have that moral strenght, therefore I support the checks and balances that keep goverments from becoming tyrannical.

The same pretty much goes for religions. I have no particular issues with people practicing them, but as soon as a religion decides it has a God given right to take over a country and demand worship from everyone in it, they too have become tyrannical (as happens in several middle-east countries run by hardline muslim clerics, or what happened in the dark ages in Europe with Christianity)

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#62 QueenTiye

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 09:47 AM

Thank you.  The issue here is not, however, religion taking over countries, but controlling populations by virtue of demanding specific moral standards.  These strictures have come under the scrutiny of many, as being inherently bad, as though people should be left to do whatever they want.  

On the one hand, I would say, people SHOULD be able to do whatever they want. Because the majority of us want good things, and we learn that the acquisition of good things requires something of us, a degree of responsibility for self, and to others, etc.  I think, CH this would be the humanistic point of view.  OTOH, we know that sometimes there are conflicting interests, and people do not want to do things in a way that allows for maximum happiness of everyone.  Laws are imposed to resolve these conflicts.  

Religion always articulates the divine way of resolving the conflicts, and answers questions about the moral rightness of this or that thing that may be perplexing to the populace at any given time, OR, in many cases - especially in the governing of our instincts - puts boundaries around them, because it can be readily shown that people will not easily put those same boundaries around themselves, especially if nothing makes them do it.  Many people will eat and sex themselves sick if given the chance.  Because the consequences of that are not felt in the short term, it isn't easy to know that there will be consequences, painful, possibly irreversible ones, so religion regulates these things before we get that far.  We know that some of the regulations of some of the old religions are dated, and illogical, and so we judge harshly the religions themselves, for imposing on us regulations that are too constricting.  It isn't a far stretch to go from judging some religions harshly to judging religion harshly, but I am challenging the leap that has to be made to do so.  I do not agree that it is logical to assume that because a religion that was revealed some 2000 years ago in a different social context than the one we live in today has rules that are too constricting for our existence today, that we should now condemn religion in general, particularly since the religion itself has not actually done a whole lot of imposing, but rather, human institutions built on the basis of the religion have done so... (and therefore can undo so).

Lil's point about men speaking on behalf of God is a valid one - there are no religions that I'm aware of today outside of my own that have the structure of the faith specifically revealed, making all the various and sundry permutations of religious organization all human invention.  But even then, it doesn't seem terribly logical to me to condemn religion for this, since human beings are very inventive, and very ingenious - there is no good reason why human beings cannot take the rules of a faith and create organized structure that harnesses the human potential without harming the humans inside the structure.  

I think what I'm trying to get at that I find religion itself inherently worthwhile.  Before I became Baha'i I was Muslim, but my practices were pretty much all over the map. Having grown up in the church, I was not particularly happy to not have an organized base for my spiritual practices.  It is easy for (as LoP says) the organization to overshadow the personal spiritual work that each individual must do for themselves, but that doesn't mean that the organization is therefore superfluous.  It serves the purpose of making real in the world the spiritual principles for which you live.  The danger you speak of, of religions "taking over" and imposing, are real enough, because that's the strength of organization.  But, we live in danger of the US simply taking over small countries and annexing them - it is an organized structure with the might, strength, and sense of right... no one feels that the US should not exist, or should become less of an entity just because there is a perceived danger in its strength.  Rather, the individuals who make up the United States of America look to the core values of being American citizens, and guide the strength of the nation in a more positive direction.  Similarly, the individuals who make up any religious organization have that same task - and I don't agree that we should sacrifice organization in spiritual matters just because some fear the past history of abuse.  Religion has a long history of positivity as well - but that's taken for granted as what's SUPPOSED to happen, because of what it is.

HM07

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#63 Bad Wolf

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 11:20 AM

I think in a case like this where religion is (to me) man made and run by men that it's not possible to separate the religion itself from the persons running it.  I think the Catholic Pope is downright reactionary but he did not create those doctrines in his Church that I find objectionable out of whole cloth.  They've been there for a very very long time.

Edited to say that I'm talking about the people *in charge* of the Church, when I talk about not separating them from the institution and its doctrines.  As I said before, I think there's a big different between that and the millions of individuals who are practicing Catholics.

Lil

p.s.  I'm not singling out the Catholic Church.  I keep using it as an example because it's the one with which I'm most familiar.

Edited by Una Salus Lillius, 04 August 2004 - 11:22 AM.

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#64 Coffee Please

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 12:14 PM

Very interesting thread. I agree with what several people have proffered. Here is my take:

1) Spirituality is an inward experience, an expression of a part human nature greater/higher/different than the simple consciousness (mind).


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Cyn: I see spirituality as the individual search for spiritual meaning or experience… But, spirituality of any kind automatically assumes that humanity has a spiritual nature. That we are more than just the physical container we inhabit, and that the spiritual nature must be explored and developed.

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Themis: To me, spirituality is a sense that there is something greater than oneself, even if you might not be able to define it.

As it is expressed in the New Testament, the word “spiritual” is inextricably linked to “the Spirit” (literally – wind).  

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Spiritual – Strong's Number: 4152 from 4151 ; TDNT-6:332,876; adj
pneumatikoV  Pronunciation: pneumatikos pnyoo-mat-ik-os'

Definition:
1) relating to the human spirit, or rational soul, as part of the man
which is akin to God and serves as his instrument or organ
1a) that which possesses the nature of the rational soul
2) belonging to a spirit, or a being higher than man but inferior to God
3) belonging to the Divine Spirit
3a) of God the Holy Spirit
3b) one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God
4) pertaining to the wind or breath; windy, exposed to the wind, blowing.

2) Religion is more about action and reaction. “Religions” are more about control.

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James 1 (The Amplified Bible)
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless (futile, barren).
27 External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.

Personal religion is about how you act in accordance with your belief (i.e.: your rituals, your service, your ministry, your observance, or your perceived duties (to man or God).  Religions as codified practices or institutions are about social control and behavior modification that can be based on the spiritual interpretation or as a spiritual expression. One’s spirituality can guide one’s religious practice(s).  Religion is often about social responsibility (see quote above from the Bible).

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Handmaiden: Religion … in many cases - especially in the governing of our instincts - puts boundaries around them, because it can be readily shown that people will not easily put those same boundaries around themselves, especially if nothing makes them do it.

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Lil: The difference when it comes to religion (for me) is that most religions purport to be manifesting or preaching or furthering the word of some higher power, which, according to the religion, gives them the right to impose some kind of control...

3) Spirituality and religion are neither mutually inclusive nor exclusive.  One can be either spiritual or religious or both.

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Sierraleone: You can be both spiritual and religious, but you don't need to be religious to be spiritual…To me, personally, religion is more of a grand organized thing.

4) Spirituality is about the inward motivation and the quest for understanding.

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Kevin: We can't help looking for patterns in the world around us, and that leads to spiritual beliefs, and eventually the beliefs get codified into religions.

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Delvo: Seeking explanations for how the world works...

5) In the broad sense that religion is about behavior modification, social responsibility and social control, many political systems and scientific systems of thought – philosophies - are ‘religions’ in that they codify a set of beliefs which govern ones actions and reactions.

Edited because my code broke.

Edited by Coffee Please, 04 August 2004 - 12:17 PM.


#65 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 12:30 PM

My concern with the function of religion as a social control is not the social control itself, but its abuse.  Religions are normally followed on faith, which generally means that only the grossest abuses of influence tend to be questioned, and those with difficulty.

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#66 Bad Wolf

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 12:39 PM

^  What he said.  :)

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#67 sierraleone

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 10:03 AM

I'm planning (eventually ;) ) on reading more up on all of the religions, but I don't think I'll ever find one to match me. Religions I find, don't only tell you not to harm others, but to not to offend god in other ways, or to (supposively) not harm yourself and sin that way. And these aren't always explicate stated in their source material ;). That can include anything from birth control to masturbation to homosexual sex to eating pork to working on sundays. And its always on these kind of points that I shake my head at. People who do these things are not harming other people, heck only 1 & 1/2 of them even involved other people. And in my opinion they aren't harming themselves. And I have yet to find a religion that doesn't frown on homosexual sex, other than some new-age pagan religions. Though I suppose, in religion, since god is all seeing, everything you do, whether in private/alone or not, is his purview. I suppose I see god similar to how I see the government: why should he care as long as we aren't harming someone else? Why are these things seen as inherently wrong anyways? By god or other people? Anyone wonder why I don't follow any religion :)

Edited by sierraleone, 05 August 2004 - 10:04 AM.

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Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
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Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#68 sierraleone

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 03:53 PM

As a side note, I just finished reading a book in which one of the characters had never bother to officially divorce her husband despite being seperated years, because she was catholic and didn't want to be excommunicated. Not that it matters to me personally, but I didn't think the Catholic church excommunicated people who had obtained divorces. Was what I was readng a piece of fiction (or rather, I know it was fiction ;), but was the particular part of the story fiction of saying that of the Catholic church? I assume if you had divorced, and then converted to Catholicism they don't look at your previous sins, but what do I know *shrugs* :)
Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#69 QueenTiye

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 04:05 PM

Why should God care?

That is always the age old question, isn't it?  There is no answer to the question if you start from a place of not believing in God.  If you have an open mind to the idea of God, then the question becomes somewhat easier to answer.  If indeed, God is the Creator of all there is, then God knows why "She" created what "She" created.  That gives God a rather different perspective than the one we have.  We may sometimes find ourselves introspective - asking why we are here, what is our purpose in life?  But that's not a question God has - that is information God already knows.  

I believe that God created us to return to God, and so saying, I believe that God knows best how to direct us toward "Herself."  It is sorta like being told to go around the bend and under the bush to get to some distant destination - from where we are standing it may seem quite inconvenient, but upon arrival, it seems perfectly obvious that we took the shortcut.  Was there another way?  Well, yeah, but why take the long way when there's a shorter faster route?

I also believe that the "Way" to God may change as times change - that is, what is best for our spiritual beings in this age may be different than what was best in a prior one.  

HM07

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#70 Mr. Synystyr

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 04:35 PM

HM07, I have an honest question for you, and anyone else that would like to give their input.  How does God provide the directions, the instructions for the "Way"?

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