Recently I started exploring my Jewish heritage. I was shocked to find that much of it is useful for me. By observing my own form of Shabbat I found ways of eliminating distractions in order to focus on my children more. The aspect of being required to stop the cell phones and sit down around the table at a designated time is very useful for a busy family. The rules help. The aspects of being reminded to do good deeds help. The reminder to treat others the way I want to be treated helps. It's not that these things don't come naturally, but in life we get caught up on the ins and outs we lose track sometime of the important things. For me I doubt a true belief in a higher being will ever exist, but the laws and rituals provide me with a comfort.
When you strip away the fantasy there is much wisdom. Many people lose out on this aspect of religion because they don't want to become indoctrinated into relying on false hope to function but anyone secure in their own beliefs has no such fears
I grew up in a religious home and ironically enough, despite not believing in a higher power, I do enjoy the music and hymns from my old church. People laugh that I'll hum along to these types of songs, but people find comfort in the music. In the Catholic church, there was reverence given also to Mary and I appreciated that aspect. I keep the statue of her I received for my first communion on a shelf in my dining room. She serves as a sort of archetypal reminder of the importance of being empathetic, a good mother and role model, and of reaching out to comfort and aid others.
There have been times I wish I could believe, but my brain is simply not wired that way. I am a very spiritual person though, just don't believe in a deity. For the religious people who focus on being truly Christ like - I have a great deal of respect. I think the Jesus figure (or the Buddha etc) are all excellent reminders of what to strive for. It's the dogma and the arguing and the self-righteousness many tend to get lost in that's unfortunate.
Although fanaticism has been the source of a lot of evil often done in the name of religion - I concede that in some ways good things have come from it too. I believe it is being outgrown now, and we are coming to higher understandings as humans, but I do believe it has had its purpose.
Christin, I did REALLY loved making a "May Altar" with a cigar box and blue silk fabric and artificial lilies of the valley. I loved putting the little votive light there and the little statue of Mary. Glad you brought that to mind:) (You're sweet).
Great answer. One of the reasons I asked the question is to show religious people that they maybe straying from the important things about religion when they engage in extremism and intolerance.
Christin, I agree with you, including the part about music. People find it odd an atheist like me loves carols and hymns but I do! Also, I too would often like to believe, but wishing something to be true and believing it are 2 very different things.
This is a very nice question for your to ask
I find quotations and hymns that stress care, concern, and kindness to others as well as a connection to each other, whether from a Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, or whatever perspective, to be the most useful aspects of religion for me. I cannot, simply cannot hold it together singing "Eagle Wings." I love "In the Garden," "Let There Be Peace on Earth," "Come to the Water," "How Great Thou Art," "Just As I Am" and the verse in "God Bless America," that goes "confirm thy soul in self-control; thy liberty in law." And it's not a hymn, but my favorite lyric of "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen "and even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song, with nothing on my tongue but 'Hallelujah". It's the poetry and rhythm of the words I love. I attach no meaning to them other then our shared humanity. Oh, and candles and incense are really cool. Church basement coffee? (not so much).
I think the greatest strength of religion is humanitarian efforts. A religious organization in my hometown works tirelessly to help hungry, poor and homeless people. Because they provide a stable organization, religion has the power to really make a difference in communities. Not all of them are great at it, but I think humanitarianism is where all beliefs can meet in the middle.
Very much agree. And tho' I'm not a believer, I suspect Jesus would also agree - if there is any truth to Biblical stories, then this good man would have favoured people doing good kind work, before people getting down on their knees to worship him.
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