Spirituality vs. Fundamentalism

Exploring teachings and beliefs associated with Spirituality and Fundamentalism

Modern Religious and Political Freedom November 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Claire @ 6 p Tuesday

These videos are to be viewed consecutively. The people in the videos are atheists who discredit the top five arguments against gay marriage. (if the videos are not loading correctly, then go to youtube.com and search “gay marriage and religion” and scroll down and they are listed as 1, 2, and 3)

Since Thanksgiving is next week I thought to focus on modern religious freedom. Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in historical religious freedom of the pilgrims who adopted America as their home. They were escaping religious persecution in Europe and desired a place to freely worship their religion and religious ideals. Modern religious freedom, as it was in the past, is bound politically. An example is gay marriage whose primary objectors base their arguments behind religion. Though religion espouses equality, people manipulate religion and exploit it as an end-all excuse.

The five arguments against gay marriage stated in the videos are: same sex marriage is bad for children (according to religious conservative devotees), same sex couples cannot have children (what about heterosexual couples who cannot have children or do not want children, older couples), homosexuality is both unnatural and abnormal (homosexuality is present in animals), marriage is defined as one man and one woman (what about harems, polygamy, polyandry, bigamy), and marriage is a sacred institution and homosexuality is a sin (what about political marriages in history, priests raping young boys, marriage was not originally a sacrament, seen as an excuse for sinful acts).

The statements these men discuss are accurate and veritable. Religion should not be a pretext for why something is bad or wrong, but why they should be better understood and accepted. Though these videos will upset radical and conservative religious people, they bring to light why same-sex marriage is seen as wrong by religious people and why they are wrong. Religion is supposed to broaden our minds, not provide unexplained and unsubstantiated limitations. Things are not bad or wrong “just because”.  

Work Cited

Atheist Experience, viewed November 17, 2008. youtube.com

 

Differences Between Religion and Spirituality November 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Claire @ 2 p Sunday

This blog is my personal view of religion and spirituality through my own experiences and opinions. They are not to be taken as hardcore facts, but observations. (in the case of religion I will focus on Catholicism since that is my only personal experience with religion)

Raised as a Catholic and emerging as a spiritualist (or what I call myself “being of faith”, sometimes agnostic) was a journey throughout my childhood and beginning of my adult life. As a child I was immersed in Catholic teachings, raised in Catholic School education since pre-school, and attended the local Catholic Church. I was taught, both in school and at Church, that God was something to fear and love. I wanted to love God since this would make my mother, teachers, and priests happy, but I fell short. I believe I have always been a skeptic, being hardwired to need physical proof and to view it with my own eyes. I have never been given proof beyond a reasonable doubt for the existence of the religious God. I say religious God because there is a difference between that God and a God for spirituality.

I slowly became more spiritual in my beliefs once I gained confidence in myself. When I turned 13 or 14 (I cannot perfectly) I no longer attended services at Church because I could no longer force myself to believe something I cannot. Since then, I have attended Church during family ceremonies and the occasional holiday. My core beliefs about God is that he/she/it is something our minds cannot fathom to understand and the abilities attributed to him were created by those who did not understand the world and its changefulness. Floods, disease, death, geological occurrences, and time itself, among many things, have all been attributed to God when in fact they are scientifically proven they do not. I was taught the creation story, which I no longer believe. In turn I have more confidence in the Big Bang Theory. I was also taught the fire and brimstone version religious version of hell and I believe in the idea that we do not know what comes after death. We make ourselves feel better about passing on through the creation of ideas that no one can prove. In my opinion, no one knows what comes next except those who have already died.

For me, the above are just a few issues I have with the blind following religion. I will continue with my own thoughts on the differences between religion and spirituality now that you know my background on these matters.

In my opinion, religion can be an absolutist ideal that blinds people to facts because they want to believe in something far greater than ourselves so we are not alone. God must be both out of reach because of his greatness, but also close at hand because of love. For myself, I believe, through my own faith, in the great entity (called God), that it may or may not exist, but if it does, it keeps a close watch over us. I do not think we will ever truly know for sure. In religion, it is their beliefs and no one else’s that is important. Criticism, judgments, and assumptions are prevalent against those who do not follow a religion’s devout beliefs. This is proven throughout history, especially with the three world religions, that often war and death has its basis in religious ideals and religious political dramas.

Personally, I desire to think outside the box and form my own opinions without being told what to believe. We have this capability and let’s use it. I think religious communities that bring people together is a great way to communicate and create relationships with others and God. For myself, I prefer solitude and not having to sit inside a building to gain a connection to God.

In spirituality, one can talk directly to God, but in religion many times you have to communicate and confess to a priest or religious authority, teaching us that God is not connected to us personally, but only to the priests/religious authorities. I always felt the separation and disagreed with it. For religion, one has to follow strict doctrines and dogmas that tell you how, what, who, and why to believe something. I cannot have such ideas taught to me because it is limiting. I need the ability to be open in how and what I believe, to feel free and not held down by institutions.

In conclusion, these are only a few of my beliefs, which many will either agree or disagree. Since many of my family are still religious, I still partially participate with them. Though this seems random and different from my own beliefs, I will raise my children in the Catholic faith till they are of age to make their own decisions concerning their beliefs, be they more liberal or more conservative than my own. I decided this because although my own beliefs are different from the church, I still feel that the community and relationships it provides is a great learning experience. I applaud people’s ability to believe in something greater than ourselves and to openly accept religious institutions for their own beliefs; this route is just not my own.

 

 

A Meeting of Minds November 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Claire @ 3 p Sunday

On November 4, 2008 Time Magazine published an article pertaining to a speech the pope made concerning the idea of reason in religion, with reference to Islamic religious traditions of ‘violence’. The article is titled Vatican Launches Catholic-Islamic Dialogue by Jeff Israely. It documents the speech given at the University of Regensburg in 2006, providing a general review of the situation involved and continued with modern efforts of reconciliation and furthering of knowledge and understanding towards both religions.

In the speech, pope Benedict made a comment concerning the acts of violence that seem prevalent in modern Islamic communities. This generalization is both true and false. It is true since the political climate in that country has been quite hot for a long while now, which creates situations that are often rooted in religious and political differences. I say religious because religion is such an important fact of their life, therefore they live, breath, and express themselves through their beliefs. As a result, many times religion is blamed for or associated with political confrontations. On the other hand, religion can be the instigator of many violent interactions because their beliefs are so strong; this refers to the extremists, which are quite a small minority in Islamic countries.

It was stated in the article that many Muslims were insulted by the correlation between their religion and violence. They need to face facts that this does occur. Though the media fuels many beliefs, assumptions, and stereotypes associated with the Islamic community, they must also look toward the extremists for blame, instead of becoming mad over something that is in many ways quite factual. However, I do agree that the pope should not be the one who said it since it creates more dislike toward the Catholic religion, especially since he is the main representative of said religion.

Further on in the article, Israely discussed how a meeting or dialogue was to take place between the Catholics and Muslims. This is quite exciting since it may lead to understanding on both sides of the religion for the other. Therefore discontent and false assumptions towards both can be laid to rest and further relations can be progressive toward an end result accepted by both. The current pope is great in how he views things logically, so instead of focusing on commonalities between the two religions and drawing these into discussions, he focuses on how the differences MAKE the religions and how we can understand them as good rather than bad things. Based on this article, I feel encouraged that some sort of communication and relationship between the two religions will spell understanding that would lead to acts of peace and not tolerance, since tolerance never works when one involves religion.

 Work Cited

 

Israely, Jeff, Vatican Launches Catholic-Islamic Dialogue Time Magazine, November 4, 2008. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1856185,00.html

 

Jesus Camp November 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Claire @ 2 p Sunday

The following is a video clip of Jesus Camp, a documentary about a camp for Pentecostal children followers led by Becky Fischer. It is a disturbing look at how our youth’s innocence is tainted by adult’s extreme views. The children will never be able to function normally in society when their minds are filled with prejudices they believe are THE TRUTH. There is a series of these videos posted on youtube.com, this one being the first in the series.

Throughout this video and series it is astounding how the children are manipulated into hating something they have never experienced. It was mentioned that the world is a ‘sick old world’. This is probably one of the reasons they do not socialize much with the outer world, meaning the average citizen. She further makes mean remarks about overweight people when she herself is overweight. The most fascinating thing about this first video is the children speak in tongues, which is just gibberish and they consciously know it is neither language nor dialect, but endless voiced sounds that have no meaning.

The next video is the second video of the Jesus Camp youtube.com series. It continues from the first one with terrifying comments made by their leader, Becky Fischer.

Becky Fischer talks about her children congregation as ‘usable’ for her beliefs, thus they are seen as valuable only in how they pass along their beliefs, which in her mind is all they amount to. She continues with her beliefs that she wants her congregation to die for their beliefs, similar to Islamic extremists. It seems like she wants to create an army and take over, maybe potentially get rid of every other belief in this country. It’s terrifying how much conviction these children have in their beliefs and their inability to reconcile science and religion, especially when science does prove evolution, global warming, etc. Religion in general is not wrong to practice, and it never will be, but those who take it to extreme lengths should step back and realize what they are creating.