Friday, February 24, 2006

Knowledge: Good or Bad?

Something i was thinking about during the end of class on Wednesday that I wanted to save for a blog was the concept of knowledge. We were discussing how Eck was shyly suggesting that gaining knowledge and understanding of other religions may result in the change of one's own religion and that this is acceptable. She gave the example of how the Christian woman had Buddhist neighbors and actually adopted some Buddhist concepts into her Christian identity and that this was good. In class, we had been hinting at as a class that changing one's religious identity is not a good thing, that it sacrifices part of who we are and denounces the idea of 'faith.' Where was the faith that we had if we can quickly adopt foreign concepts and drop the concepts that we have believed in for so long?

Therefore I pose the question, is knowledge a good thing or a bad thing? Is it good to have a firm understanding of other religions, even if it sheds light on your own and may change your own beliefs? I would say that knowledge is good in all situations. To hold back on learning more because one could potentially change their identity and beliefs is uncivilized. I feel that if someone is enlightened to new ideas and concepts that make sense to them, then maybe they were believing the wrong thing all along because they did not have the more sensible alternative. I am a firm believer that everyone creates and operates according to their own religion. (if they, in fact, label themselves as religious) I believe that people create their own rules based on things they find more sensible. In a religion, for example Christianity, the only thing that is taught are rules and guidelines from that religion, leaving no room for growth. If there is to be growth on a national standpoint, let a lone an individual one, knowledge is the key ingredient, even if it means changing the identity that one has kept for a long period of time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Another Old Post from Pluralism Discussion (trying to get my Blog updated)

1.30.06

after todays discussion during class, theres only one reasonable conclusion i could formulate. that is that pluralism is a utopian idea rather than a reasonable concept. pluralism means sacrificing age old traditions and practices simply to assimilate or mix religions in a common area. Based on human nature of greed and the inability to truly understand inherent rites and rules of other religions, pluralism can never truly be achieved.
what possibly may need to happen for even a simple form of pluralism to occur, is in fact to separate. to accept anothers beliefs and practices is one thing, but to sacrifice parts of your own beliefs and practices and compromise your religion leads to tension and conflict. therefore, the idea of separate areas for separate religions may be the only way that all religions can keep their true identity. im not suggesting buddhists in asia, muslims in the middle east and christians in the west, but i am possibly suggesting religious communities without overlap all over the world. stupid and impossible as it may sound, the world could very well be headed in that direction right now. think about it, the amish are pretty much already isoloated as are mormons. as all religions gravitate to diverse areas of the world, conflicts will arise. being that it is unlikely a certain religion will compromise its beliefs, separate but operative areas could be the only solution to deter conflict and tension.

Old Post from the Nacirema article (couldnt post it correctly before)

2.1.06
I don’t really know what to think about this article. Some of the concepts he talks about are so foreign and some really aren’t that foreign at all. First of all, the area he is talking about is vague. It says it’s somewhere between Canada and Mexico, and I don’t understand the other jargon that describes where it is. Somewhere in the US but I don’t know where.

The hog’s hair in the mouth and the magical powders makes it seem as if these people were foreign to us, but the idea of seeing a mouth man with different instruments reminds me of a kind of dentist.

The concepts of the charm box don’t make sense. I don’t really get what he’s talking about there. Maybe medicine boxes of some sort? I don’t know.However, the breast reduction and implants are the same as our culture. Also, the sticking heads in ovens sounds similar to tanning. So all in all, these people sound primitive but their primitive concepts are strikingly similar to our advanced technologies. So how different are they really? Or are we really not that advanced as we think we are?

Branson and the Ozarks: Where Superficial Religion Reigns

Doesn't it seem a bit awkward that it takes a place like Branson, Missouri to bring out missing aspects of peoples religious lives? The fact that an oversized, cliche Jesus or gigantic praying hands may bring the conviction out in the lives of the tourists strikes me as a bit tacky. I understand how the whole simplistic, natural scene of the Ozarks can bring out an idea of selflessness (similar to that of Buddhism) but the fact that these monuments and Precious Moments dolls are recognized in the same context makes me lose all believability. (if that is a word)

It makes sense that religious people can find their religion in new institutions rather than churches and Branson would make a picture perfect place for the religious experience. But something that came up in class the other day needs a bit of examination. The fact that Branson "works" for the tourists makes me question the meaning of "works." If people need to see superficial monuments and dolls to believe and become closer to their faith, where does the concept of religion come into play? I believe a key concept of religion is belief in not seeing. If everything could be viewed, then there wouldn't be a question as to what the truth is. The idea of religion here is diminished by the fact that tourists can view oversized Jesus and praying hands and be personally convicted.

To me, when something "works," it means that that the picture becomes clearer or a solution to a problem is found. When I put gas into my car, the car works. However, when I see a Precious Moments doll, and I say that now my religion is "working," I fail to see how. A lot of times this is where religion gets a bad name in society; when believers say they believe based on tacky symbolism.

There is a possibility that I am missing the point of the article. But with the authors tone in writing the article from an etic perspective, I would say he would comply with my belief. His hint of sarcasm and disbelief is what lead my thoughts in this direction in the first place.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bellah Comments; very utopian

Bellah has a very convincing article going until he makes his own suggestions for the future. I believe he captures the idea of a civil religion excellently and even labels what civil religion means and has meant as an American nation. I agree that God has had a presence in our nation as a rallying cry as well as justification for certain goals and decisions. I feel, however, that this presence of God was a passive label. Using God in ways such as "one nation under God" is a method to placing fear in the citizens, to defent the nations leaders decisions and actions. That our nation is placed forth under the direct supervision of God and will operate through God's given will, is less than likely. The reason we use the term God is as a defense mechanism. Bellah touches on this when he speaks of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address; that the men died honorably is a sacrifice, and Lincoln was a martyr. All seemed to work out to God's divine plan. The same can be said for the American Revolution. The same can be currently said for our war in Iraq and our powerful position on the world. But I feel that using God to justify everything is a label, and not the real motive behind our actions. God is the shield, but human nature is the weaponry. Concepts of greed, power, envy and righteousness propel our national decisions. To say it is part of God's will seems almost, I don't know, anti-religious. It defeats the whole purpose of what an all-encompassing loving God would ultimately want, which is unity, understanding and love.

I am getting a bit off topic now, so back to my main point, that Bellah's closing statements are utopian. Hopefully, I have interpreted his conclusion correctly, in that he says he would like to see a civil union of the world, and America should be the example to which it is made. To say that American civil religion should be the basis of a new civil religion of the world would be saying that our nation is best, and follow our lead and join our paths and goals. Good luck with that. Also, this would be saying that God favors the American way ahead of any other way. Why would God favor anyone? And who's to say any other nations would adopt our way of thinking? This would work in a utopian society, where human nature aspects of greed, power, envy and righteousness do not exist. But definitely would not happen in the world we live in today