Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happiness

Over the years of my "journey" of faith, friends and I would often give ourselves assurance that we were on the right path when aspects or practices of religion seemed to give better outcomes in life.  For example,  practicing chastity would protect you not only from STD's but also help you to not get into multiple deeply intense relationships.  Or another would be a life of simplicity could help to not get overwhelmed in debt.

There are multiple common practices that are a part of religion that I think are very beneficial to life, but I have come to the conclusion that religion doesn't hold the market or authority on them.  In fact, I bet they can be greatly improved with modern science and psychology.  I also think that it makes sense that religions would have figured out a few things over the course of thousands of years to hand onto people in order to give them some practical guidance other than about superstition.

Some of the things I find that are truly beneficial that religion often uses follow.

Generosity: seems simple enough.  Care about the poor, the needy, your fellow human being.  Being generous actually does make a person feel better and builds compassion and goodness in the world.  Unfortunately,  often times it seems that the secular world can get caught up with materialism and self ambition and leave this behind.

Community: this goes hand in hand with generosity, but it takes it to the next level.  I think of it as continual caring and relationships of trust over time.  This is a very beneficial element of religion at times.  Seeing the same people week after week, being able to have a common bond even where there really isn't much of one, and the security of an environment all can feel a part of greatly increase the possibility of community.  It is hard to replicate this in average American society these days.   I do remember it was similar though living in our small little town in Iowa.  The town literally had about 1300 people.  Most people had lived there their whole lives.  They were very inclusive of our family when we came.   People would wave at each other, talk to each other in the market and help each other out just because. This is the closest thing I found to real community other than church experiences so far.

Other beneficial aspects can be: continual self reflection (can be overdone) teaching (can be brainwashing), hope, music, art, sense of self worth, etc.  The list can go on and on.  But, the problem I see is that these are associated with and contingent upon fairy tales and myths.