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Eric's Sunday Sermon; A Look At The Attacks On Religion
My buddy told me to sleep tight we would climb this in the morning
I heard a preacher man, and he is a good one, declare that he is stopping using the word Christian. Instead he will use the word “followers” or “Christ followers”. Interesting isn’t it. The word Christian has become synonymous with religion. And religion has become a catch word for strange people that follow a dogma instead of a personal relationship. I read an article by a good man and a fine writer. He clearly has a bone to pick with religion. Fair enough. But he lumped folk with a fully personal relationship with a God of their understanding with religion. It was as though he was talking at instead of with the reader. Let me just come out and say it: Religion in and of itself is not bad. Bad people make it troublesome.
Let us be real fair here to others. Come on and get real. It is a times taking effort to develop a real personal association with God. It is easier to follow ritual and listen to speakers speak of such things. It does not matter what religion. I have spent a lot of time in what used to be called the Orient. We call it Asia now. Most Asians are not Buddhist or Shinto or anything else. They are just like most westerners. Trying to get by and in some spare time giving some thought and time to God and all that is associated with that. Most Muslims do not stop everything they are doing several times a day to get out a prayer rug, face Mecca and pray fully. But many attend their Mosque, church or temple fairly regularly. This is a good thing. Religions help a lot of people maintain some connectivity.
The so called hypocrite
Really now that word has taken on a personal bashing slant over the past few years. If you have an argument style discussion with someone about what is right. They call you a hypocrite because you do not follow what you are claiming perfectly. This somehow is meant to mean that you may not continue because you fail. The Christian that sins cannot talk about walking a walk closer to God because he sins. That is crazy. And yes a Christian can be perfect in church for an hour and then come out and do something wrong. By this so called hypocrite standard no one could ever speak of right and wrong because they are imperfect – really now! Get real. And do not blame that on religion.
Just a cool pictograph a short walk from the cabin
So this is a little chant/song about, maybe at least 2,000 years old. It is the tone that resonates. I reckon you would call it religious.
The platform can be abused. But not the intent.
Atrocities happen in the name of religion? Not likely. Sorry, bad people using something wrongfully does not make the something bad. Our bodies need sugar to survive. Some people abuse or overuse sugar which causes problems. That does not make sugar bad. It makes the misuse bad. Alcohol, drugs and guns are some areas where people use the same distorted thinking. It just makes no common sense that because kings and popes misused religion during the different campaigns and reigns of terror that religion is bad. The kings and popes were bad not the religion.
Let us get this personally so it becomes more real. I have had the great pleasure and opportunities to study a whole lot about religious practices. They are interesting and often, darn near, enchanting. Some seem down right silly and others down right mystical. Some are clothed in hundreds if not thousands of years of tradition and some are adaptations on those traditions. Except for a few quite unique if not strange sects of some religions almost all use music of some sort. Chants or hymnals, guitars or gongs, bells and organs. Criers and soloists, choirs and choruses. Just listening or participating; It is all to the good. Almost all use group prayers of some sort, handed down through generations and used because they work within each practitioner and for the group. Litanies to get folks into a rhythm and center their thinking. These I have found to be good things.
What more needs to be said other than just these words: Orphanages, Schools, hospitals and marvelous works of art and architecture and music.
Is religion the opiate of the people? Yes it kind of is. Here is the deal. Assume you have high blood pressure. A proper course in diet, combined with a healthy dose of exercise, relaxation and meditation time and a reduction in stress can normally cure such a problem. Who the heck has time for all of that in this busy world? So you take a pill. Now let us take a spiritually flat person. A healthy dose of some minutes studying your particular writings on the matter, meditation, reflection and prayer of some sort will cure this problem. Who the heck has time for all that in this busy world? So you go to a worship service. In both cases the quick fix is not the best but both are better than nothing and could save your life in one way or the other. Truth be told either remedy of the hard work can cure either malady. And then if you really want to get well you practice both. (that reminds me – I have got to take a break and go to the gym – oh well)
Whats a sermon without a picture of one of my children.
Some religious songs are just plain powerful.
Give people trying a break.
So if I call you a religious person or if I call you a spiritual person do they mean the same thing? Not really. When we think of a spiritual person we normally think of a person who has a personal thing with the spirit of their choice. When we think of a religious person we think of someone who goes someplace to worship with others and be taught. They are both great. A healthy believer does both. A really busy believer may do only one and that is better than none.
So the attack against religion goes on and will go on and the favorite two arguments against religion are problems caused by it and hypocrisy. Religion does not create catastrophe or monsters. Religion does not create hypocrisy and sin.
A while ago I wrote an article looking into whether big media outlets should be considered religion. So that gives us pause to wonder just what religion is and it is quite interesting. But that kind of loose thinking in exploration of meaning is not what we talk about here. A fun one to ponder is if certain sects can be called part of a religion. Really I do not think that brainwashing cults are what we are talking about here and if someone lumps them in with good old fashion tried and true religion they are just setting up a straw dog that they can knock down easily. Cults taking life whether by suicide or homicide are not really religions or religious. They are sad groups of people using a façade of religion in order to suit their purpose not the follower’s purpose. We could debate the fringes and that is fun, but not what we are talking about here.
So is there a bottom line here you ask. Yes. Don’t be one that lumps all religion is some bad category because of some weird personal experience. Don’t count religion out because some have done some bad things because of it. Check them out, they are fascinating and often their practices are very rewarding. And by all means do not be a knucklehead that does not see the difference between being religious and being spiritual. They can and should intertwine but they need not. There are many fine people in both camps and many more trying to combine them.
If you see me around town, go ahead and call me a religious name. Personally I can dig it.