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Eric's Sunday Sermon; A Look At The Attacks On Religion

Updated on January 12, 2016

My buddy told me to sleep tight we would climb this in the morning

Now how can a man sleep with this on his mind?
Now how can a man sleep with this on his mind? | Source

The problem

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

I think this is Piute, so really not that old. Cool that a cross is used. I wonder what it meant to them.
I think this is Piute, so really not that old. Cool that a cross is used. I wonder what it meant to them. | Source

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.

She is filled with spirit. But I don't think she likes church that much. But she has come to watch me give a sermon -- so you take what you can get ;-)
She is filled with spirit. But I don't think she likes church that much. But she has come to watch me give a sermon -- so you take what you can get ;-) | Source

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.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I truly believe it is the most rewarding aspect of having children grow up.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I've tried to do the same with my Daughter, I think it's one of the best gifts a parent can give, to be willing to talk things through and explain why (as much as we're able) to our kids.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      It brings a tear to this old boy's eye to meet a man who had a father to debate the issues. I hear it is rare today. My children threaten me with violence if I do not see their way -- Amen and God bless. What love is born of honesty and the desire to bring that out.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      I'm honored! Dad took pride in the way we used to 'debate' stuff like this, he wasn't 'educated' in the traditional sense but always made sure we knew what we stood for and why! It's probably been where I got the 'stubborn streak' that searches out answers to hard questions.

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence you are fortunate and blessed to have a dad that discussed such matters with you. It helps explain your rock solid firm base of understanding and desire to learn more. Your latest piece was outstanding and any reader of mine is encouraged to read it at: https://hubpages.com/education/Exodus-History-or-H...

      That thorn in Peter's side - perhaps it was drinking to excess. Who are we to say when it should be removed. God has denied me relief from cancer. -- so alright let us see where that leads, it is all good in His hands.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 20 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      Much to think about here. My own Dad struggled with the hypocracy he saw in church attending people, yet he also saw and respected those who just tried their best and knew they weren't perfect!

      When I was going through the 'it's wrong to drink' that some folks teach he always used to challenge me with the story of Jesus turning water into wine! (How can it be wrong if Jesus used to make the stuff? was his challenge!) I never could come up with a satisfactory answer and learned that those who know they aren't perfect are just the way Jesus wants them, and any changes he'll take care of.

      Great hub

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Mary it is good to hear from you. I sure hope every religion centers around love. I know where I get my religion it sure does. It is the one thing we can focus on that never disappoints.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 20 months ago from New York

      I applaud this "sermon"! You have said so many things I have been saying for years. May I add, "Judge not lest ye be judged."

      Bill has hit the proverbial nail on it's proverbial head. LOVE. Every religion centers around love. I'm sure you get my meaning.

      As always Eric, beautifully done.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you DDE that is a great compliment for me and I appreciate it.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 20 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting hub the questions got me thinking about my beliefs.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Dora, perhaps my "sermons" are that I so take stalk. My heart is firmly planted in Jesus -- but admittedly I allow my head to wander. It is good to be tethered by good friends like you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, you ask many questions here. They all encourage the reader to think and take stock of their beliefs. That's a very worthy outcome of your sermons. Thanks!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Dana, I have noticed that there can be all kinds of routes to changing one's heart. They all require some devotion and personal sacrifice in some way. I just know that for me, there is a gentle overwhelming peace in finding that peace of heart in Jesus. So much so that I would like to share it with others. Religion to me is a place to gather with like hearted people. And share. Sure there are those who have not undergone a change. That ain't my deal, I say "in God's time".

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 20 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I know in my early days of being a follower of Christ, I hated the way people studied me. It was as if they were looking for a reason to say "Aha! look she's doing this or, that and she is supposed to be a Christian!" We continue to seek "man" in order to look for standards we should strive for. I have always felt and voiced that it is the understanding of the word, not knowing the word, or,"religion" that changes the heart.

      I have known people who have gone to church for years and they do not understand the gospel. They depend on their pastors to teach them and do not study the word for themselves. Most of them are judgemental and have little to no compassion for others. The first thing I noticed when I began a relationship with the Lord is the changing of my heart.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Vladamir, you make a very good point about my use of the word "attack", I reckon I am guilty as charged for overstating the concept. But it is quite grabby in a title ;-)

      You flesh out your argument very well and I will scoot back to read your article: https://hubpages.com/health/Choosing-between-inner... as you make good points there also.

      There is a wonderful notion about a word being both a shield and a sword. Perhaps you are correct in pointing out more explicitly that religion can be a good or a bad thing depending on the user.

      That concept of yours of hiding behind or using religion as a crutch is very valid. I think to common. And even on a deeper yet more common lie to oneself -- "I will attend a religious service so I am good with God". What would we say? about half of attendees are so prone.

      So we come right back to it. Is at least having some religiosity better than having absolutely no connection with spirituality? We answer yes, in most cases. So we say that religion can play a good vital role in people's lives.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks much Linda, she is a real good looking gal. Smart as a whip also. Writing this one sure got me thinking. That is the only thing that really keeps me sane -- at least to a reasonable degree.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Eric...You asked me if I thought that it was possible for you to be religious. Here is my honest answer. On the face value, you might as well be the most religious person that I have ever known. The problem seems to be that I am not competent to answer that question, only someone who is also very religious, because they would have a developed standard of comparison, which I don't - not being religious person.

      To keep beating on the same drum of my hub, that was potentially unfriendly to your eardrums, I have an enormous respect for complexity of human nature, so I will say: I don't know you enough as to know what significance religion has in your intimate and social life. At a risk of sounding like a parrot, to me religion is only as valid as we make it. In your case, I would say it enjoys a great place in your life and you have inspired many folks towards more peace and harmony.

      However, in case of other people, I would simply say that they are always selective about what they make public about themselves. In an extreme case, a dude could be a Mafioso and go to church. Or he could be a sociopath with a "mission to kill the sinning prostitutes". Or, religion could be his chance to hide his inferiority by hiding behind something big which he is pushing in front of himself as his strength.

      At this point, let me mention how the word "attack" is a little too strong, almost paranoid, because nobody is really "attacking" religion, just disagreeing. Sometimes people infuse a little emotion into their arguments, just like religious folks go passionate advertising their faith, and it's O.K. If you told me that my "vision" of God has caused people to be burnt at a stake, I would take it as a historical statement, not as an attack. Everything that I have said is simply pointing at my relativistic view where religion's significance is not an absolute constant, but subject to its interpretation and use.

      Again, your devotion to matters of faith is truly admirable, and I salute your resume of all those wonderful encounters with spirited teachers, plus your formal education - everything pointing at your being religious. I can only say that I wish I had such an opportunity to get enriched by the presence and stories of those teachers. They might not make me more religious, but they would certainly add something to my spirituality. So, keep being yourself, my friend, more people will be inspired by your example.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 20 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric - Well done my friend. Your final two paragraphs sum it up perfectly. I enjoy each of your sermons--you make me THINK and really consider the things that I believe and feel. (By the way, your daughter is beautiful!)

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby we are reminded that God did not make accidents. People and faiths come in beautiful hues of serenity and beauty. A cloudy day versus a sunny day -- we need both to survive and flourish. I did not choose to love others of different faiths. God chose that for me. And as you know, to me God is love and love is God. Can I possibly love a man in a pew sitting next to my young son, more than I love a Hindu? Not possible where I come from. I have been blessed to sing with Deva Premal the little angel that is in that video.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 20 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I am happy to learn that you have studied and learned from different religions. I believe there is good in them all, of course I exclude the radical ones who preach hate and genocide. The main factor being love. If you love it's impossible to hate. The video is beautiful and soothing to listen to. Thank you for all your sermons, they cause one to stop and think, and that's good..

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Oztinato, On the one hand we have this need to convert. Which is really a Western condition. On the other hand we have this need to "put down" that which is not in sync with our own beliefs and regrettably that is mostly Western in nature.

      Perhaps the competing objects are necessary for a balance. I don't think so. We can balance the good of all if we so choose. But the attacks need to be toned down for progress to be made.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Eric

      a very important topic.

      My beef with modern day critics of religion is that they accuse various religions of religious intolerance but the critics themselves practice total religious intolerance! This fulfills the dictionary definition of hypocrisy which is a strong word used for certain serious ethical abuses.

      The religion of fragile indigenous cultures is essential for their survival and attempts to eradicate their religions is cultural genocide. The critics use a small group of fundamentalists to stereotype all religions. This is another serious ethical breach.

      Thank you for including the Hindu gayatri. Hinduism is the most underrated religion on earth whose inbuilt policy of Tolerance and appreciation of all religions could save the planet.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Vladimir, as always I appreciate your position on such matters. Can we agree on a base? Religion is a group of people trying to help other people get a handle on a belief. Organization here and there. Religion is like the passing down of semi-spiritual traditions. Religious ceremony or litanies or dogma is intended to be there to help.

      Hey this may help, I centered somewhat on Christian though I hope the message was universal. You seem to center somewhat on "the Church" which we take to mean Catholic, with a large C. Let us go in between and mean Western "recognized" denominations of Christianity. They are really pretty similar - protestant and Catholic aside.

      Now we will reach an impasse if you insist that I cannot be spiritual in many aspects and at the same time religious. I preached and I attend Christian services regularly. I also studied under a Navajo shaman, a Buddhist monk, a Yogi and grasp atheism. I think that I can give respect to much and that my religiosity teaches me harmony and love beginning with my inner self.

      Are you saying it is impossible for me to be religious?

      We come from the same bent. Love is the crux. But can there be more than one path?

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill I thank you for reading and giving a steadfast truth to good folks like you who not only talk the talk of love but walk that walk. I don't mean it in a trite way, I mean it with sincerity when I say -- you are above the fray. Religious and non-religious folk would do well to look up to you as I do.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 20 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow thank you for that Brian. What an eloquently spoken truth. I will ponder it for quite some time.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I've got one religion and one only....LOVE! Let's see someone find fault in that. :)

    • ValKaras profile image

      Vladimir Karas 20 months ago from Canada

      Eric...Teaching is only as good as its applicability. If I tell you that you are an angel who can navigate between skyscrapers, I am not teaching you anything "bad" - but impossible. Likewise, religion is not "bad", but it is not tailored for humans. Not because I say so, but because nothing in this world is proving that 2 millennia of its being around has been effective. Churches and cathedrals are still outstanding structures in a city panorama, but I would have a different story to tell about their visitors - other than curious tourists.

      Unlike you, I am not flexible about "being religious", I don't allow half-hearted approach to love. The focal point of religion will always be the people who are supposed to apply it. There is a whole string of religious terms that we could joggle with here, that might let people get away with "believing - but not really".

      We could use that term "forgiveness", and turn a blind eye on a church goer who leaves the church and then gossips about someone she saw in there. We could use the term "unconditional love", and just love that gossiper because she is a God's child who just doesn't know what she is doing. We could call her a "born sinner" who needs some more time spent in church to stop sinning. We could ask me, "what makes me an innocent judge to blame her gossiping". O.K. probably more than that, but I am not that good with Scripture's slogans. So far we see that church is a kind of letting that gossiper off the hook. I am not.

      My point being that we are either loving, or we are not. We either follow Jesus' teaching or we do it only when we feel like it, which makes us part-time believers.

      So we are having a problem here: is religion meant for humans or for some more advanced beings, because humans don't seem to be doing well there.

      That has been a central point in some of my hubs - this capacity to give life to religion. For, faith without deed is dead, and so is the teaching behind the faith.

      I am not talking here about you personally, whose spiritual advancement I admire. It's a fact that intelligence is not evenly distributed and folks simply can't utilize what they hear in the church, because they are not mentally wired to do so. It reminds me of all those participants who attend a weekend seminar given by an inspirational speaker - only to slip back to their old miserable selves by Tuesday.

      My hubs, humorous at times with a dash of irony - accentuate this lack of people's active implementation of religion. Being a life long student and "self-disciplinarian" I know exactly about the obstacles on their path.

      To round it up, no teaching can stand on its own as a system of ideas, without people making something of it. It can't be like a "great-sounding" Constitution written in fancy letters and framed into an even fancier frame - but with no government administration respecting it to the letter.

      Religion was not meant to be applied "liberally", because its central idea - LOVE can't tolerate "half-love, occasional love, selective love, and individually modified love." If being neutral would be at the opposite side, it would be just nice, but there is a lot of hate among religious folks. If I am wrong about this one, then I will gladly shut my mouth and delete all my hubs having anything to do with religion, because then I got it all wrong. In that case God may be occasionally found at a bar telling dirty jokes.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 20 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I have observed persons give reasons for their [fill in the blank: kindness/meanness, generosity/avarice, integrity/opportunism, humility/power-tripping, honesty/dishonesty ...] based on their [fill in the blank and add the sect or variety] Christian, Marxist-Leninist dialectical materialist, secular humanist, pagan, Taoist, behaviorist, ...] philosophy of life. One of the fundamental spiritual truths is ever: it's not what you've got; it's what you do with it.