A few notes from Huston Smith's lecture Religions of the World:
The world's religions divide themselves into 4 groups or families-
The Western family or Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
South Asain- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism.
East Asian: Taoism, Confuciansim, East Asian Buddhism, Shinto
Primal (or tribal or oral) religions: no writing or sacred texts.
How religions view time-
Western: time is linear.
Asian: time is cyclical.
Primal: time is
A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong
"A myth, therefore, is true because it is effective, not because it gives us factual information. If, however, it does not give us new insight into the deeper meaning of life, it has failed. It is works, that is, if it forces us to change our minds and hearts, gives us new hope, and compels us to live more fully, it is a valid myth."
A great point about how myths and religions are not about factual
The results of believing that your religion is the exclusive "Word of God":
"... Humans develop myths, each generation adding or subtracting details... There is no particular harm in all of this -- until the point is reached at which such creative interweaving of fact and fantasy, history and dreams becomes codified and perceived... as the Word of God. At that fateful point, the clouds of time darken, and the tribe marches forward to misunderstanding, hatred, and, inevitably, bloodshed."
White Heron by John Ciardi, 1958
What lifts the heron leaning on the air
I praise without a name. A crouch, a flare,
a long stroke through the cumulus of trees,
a shaped thought at the sky- then gone. O rare!
Saint Francis, being happiest on his knees,
would have cried Father! Cry anything you please
But praise. By any name or none. But praise
the white original burst that lights
the heron on his two soft kissing kites.
When saints praise heaven lit by doves and rays,
Here’s a fitting image of Biblegod: a grim-sized phantom!
poem by John Keats, 1818
To Percy Shelly, on the Degrading Notions of Deity.
What wonder, Percy, that with jealous rage,
Men should defame the kindly and the wise,
When in the midst of the all-beauteous skies,
And all this lovely world, that should engage
Their mutual search for the old golden age,
They seat a phantom, swelled into grim size,
Out of their passions and bigotries.
How do religions become disconnected with God or Spirit over time? This concise quote gives one possible answer:
"It is not God that is worshipped but the group or authority that claims to speak in His name. Sin becomes disobedience to authority, not violation of integrity."
Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
source: 2000 Years of Disbelief, edited by James A. Haught
One way to get a snapshot picture of religions is by looking at the vocabulary used:
Christianity: debt and payment. A banking vocabulary.
Eastern religions: ignorance and illumination. A vocabulary of enlightenment. In Buddhism for example, the goal is to attain an enlightened state (beyond fear and desire) and live out of that.
Transformations of Myth Through Time, Joseph Campbell:
"Christ comes to atone for our sins, evil atonement. The first people to listen to St. Paul we
I think deconversion could have been quite a bit less stressful if at the time I’d known about the concept of faith stages (that I was simply going from Dependence to Independence). The criticisms are serious but overall it makes sense and seems helpful.
Finding Your Religion by Scotty McLennan, summarized from pages 19-31
Magic stage: all-powerful God. Typically age 2 to 10. The world is full of spirits and demons, God makes everything happen.
Reality stage: cause and effect
"I'm afraid what we've done in a lot of formal religion is try to build a house for people starting with the 2nd floor. In other words, we come in and give people the conclusions, the doctrines, the answers they're supposed to have, the moral conclusions they're supposed to have come to. And I think that's why so many people are so angry at religion. Because this 2nd floor house, filled with answers and explanations that they have not asked for or struggled for or needed or desir
Aldous Huxley has a simple straightforward way of categorizing religions-
There are two main kinds of religion:
1) Direct acquaintance with the divine, or mystical experience.
2) Knowledge about the divine, or symbolic religion. There are two types of symbol manipulating religions-- a.) the religion of myth, and b.) the religion of creed and theology.
2a) Myths are non-logical expressions in the form of a story, image, dance, or ritual. They are unpretentious because they do
I thought this exchange was interesting- you can see the Christian virus at work through a missionary. It has no interest in the truth of what Akunna is saying, only in destroying the native religion. Excerpt from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart which is set in the colonial era in present day Nigeria:
'You say that there is one supreme God who made heaven and earth,' said Akunna on one of Mr. Brown's visits. 'We also believe in Him and call Him Chukwu. He made all the world and the ot
The Jesus Myth is comparable to numerous other myths. From the Monomyth chapter of David Leeming's book Myth:
The hero life often begins with a miraculous conception and birth. Water Pot Boy is conceived when a piece of clay enters his mother. The Aztec man-god Quetzalcoatl is conceived when God breathes on his mother Chimalman in his form as the "morning." Hainuwele is born of the combination of coconut sap and a drop of blood. In the case of the Buddha, divinity enters the world through t
Karen Armstrong's book The Battle for God has, by giving a historical background, helped me understand two conflicts: science vs. religion and the literal vs. figurative interpretation of the Bible. Quotes from various pages:
In the past, people "evolved two way of thinking, speaking, and acquiring knowledge, which scholars have called mythos and logos. Both were essential; they were regarded as complementary ways of arriving at truth, and each had its special area of competence. Myth was r
This could be one reason why Christianity, as lifeless as it is, just keeps hanging around. See below- "... and we hadn't a story nearly as good."
from At the Smithville Methodist Church by Stephen Dunn:
...But when she came home
singing "Jesus loves me,
the Bible tells me so," it was time to talk.
Could we say Jesus
doesn't love you? Could I tell her the Bible
is a great book certain people use
to make you feel bad? We sent her back
without a word.
It had been s
This quote from Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason summarizes why I quit going to church:
"Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe."
In other words, since I no longer believed in the Biblical God, I could not have been true to myself by remaining a Christian.