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.

3 comments:

fRED said...

One reason why I gave up on Christianity (and RCism) is the lack of identity of what it means to be such a person. Each group seems to have a different definition and all hinge on accepting a literal, historic Jesus as God incarnate. This is the straw that broke the camel's back for me-I could not honestly accept that.

This morning I encountered a nexus that kind of startled me. A family member who is a RC nun is going on retreat where she plans to ponder the writings of Richard Rohr, OFM as she has done for several years. Coincidentally (?) I find a post at a traditional RC blog that denigrates RR as a dissident priest.

Reading RR's entry in Wikipedia leads me to an idealistic perspective of RCism: "Eight Good Reasons for Being Catholic" [http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0888.asp]. If this article was an accurate description of RCism, then I could envision myself as being Catholic. Perhaps you could too. The trouble is finding such a place.

I found the links at the end of the RR wikipedia entry to be worth exploring. I don't see how RR (and John Dear, SJ) and others can remain RCs with such views.

AJL said...

I'm over being RC.

fRED said...

Ooohhh dear. I was afraid I might not be clear. I'm not trying to steer you to being RC. I am not a Christian or RC. Rather I was trying to show the discrepancies between what RCism says and what they actually do. The RR article cited is a far cry from RC-it is impossible to find such an organization.

That being said, it is hard to escape one's RC background especially where family is involved. Despite rejecting Christianity and RCism years ago, many of my family are RC and/or Christian. So religion is still a topic of discussion.

Also if you have a desire to encourage free (and skeptical) thinking, it helps to know what the arguments are. Plus if people are trying to woo you back, it also helps to be aware of what strategies might be employed.

Have you seen the article in the June issue of The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/. It is a respectful view of atheist and a strong indictment of Christianity. Browsing the comments can also be enlightening.I didn't realize there are campus organizations for atheists.

One of my criteria for leaving Christianity was to ask myself to view Christianity without any preconceptions. If I was a "brother from another planet" and did not know Christianity, would I (could I) believe in Christianity based on the kinds of arguments presented by most Churches? That kind of objective perspective helped me move away from RCism.