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Reconsidering Religion


Moxie
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I'm well aware of the repercussions of joining a religion, but at this point in my life, I can find no other way to establish structure and find safety, and those are two things I need right now. I've thought about taking certain aspects from most or all religions and synthesizing them, such as the OT Proverbs and eclectic pagan ideas.

 

I'm an outcast of my family, not because I'm not a christian, but because I refused to comply with the dysfunctional family pattern. I'm trying to make headway with the new family I'm living with, and I think things will work out. But I still feel exposed to unforeseen danger, and the only way I know to help that is to join a religion.

 

Comments appreciated.

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Religion is like an addictive drug. Sometimes when people have finally freed themselves of it, they are tempted to return to it when things aren't going well.

 

All I can say is you have to break the pattern. Cultivate friendships with regular people and get involved in activities that interest you. Perhaps a team sport or a service club of some kind. Take some night classes. Volunteer at Hospice or the SPCA. Really, there is life, friendship and activity outside of religion.

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Hello Alaska! Something about your post just makes me want to respond and say that yes, you can find another religion. I don't know where you live but was wondering if you have considered the Theosophical Society (TS), since you say you take aspects from other religions and synthesize them. I do the same thing. Have you ever heard of the perennial philosophy? I pull whatever makes sense out of a philosophy or a religion and discard the rest. In every religion I have found some things to discard!

 

I don't often attend the TS, since the nearest Lodge is 30 miles away in heavy traffic, but I have appreciated many of their programs and some of their ideas.

 

I understand the help that being in a religious community can bring. I wish you every success in your quest.

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Sadly, part of life is that we will always be exposed to unforseen dangers. And religion has no real way to protect us from them.

 

Best of luck to you as you sort these things out.

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If you do take up a religion again, don't go anywhere near any of the Abrahamic faiths.(Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.) If there is a God, a higher power, it couldn't be the vengeful, petulant god that all three of them worship. All powerful beings don't get pissed if you don't kiss their ass, and even limited gods, while greater than humans, are not going to care if they're not being praised constantly.

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Guest I Love Dog

I'm well aware of the repercussions of joining a religion, but at this point in my life, I can find no other way to establish structure and find safety, and those are two things I need right now. I've thought about taking certain aspects from most or all religions and synthesizing them, such as the OT Proverbs and eclectic pagan ideas.

 

I'm an outcast of my family, not because I'm not a christian, but because I refused to comply with the dysfunctional family pattern. I'm trying to make headway with the new family I'm living with, and I think things will work out. But I still feel exposed to unforeseen danger, and the only way I know to help that is to join a religion.

 

Comments appreciated.

 

I'm not sure why you feel exposed to unforeseen danger and I'm not sure why you feel that religion would protect you from danger.

 

Structure in your life comes from within you, not particularly from religion. Religions have their rules and their "laws" that you are expected to follow, that is really the extent of their structure. You perhaps need to work out what you want from life and then structure your life around your wants, needs, expectations, etc.

 

Your anxiety about being exposed to danger concerns me and there are perhaps deep problems/experiences that cause your anxiety. Most people don't carry around that fear and I think this is something that you could work on. I don't see how the answer could come from religion, especially the Christian religion as Christianity itself teaches fear; of god, of hell, of Satan, devils, demons, etc.

 

Perhaps it's a social atmosphere that you are in need of? I know that you are very creative in music and other ways and I'm sure you could find a local group or groups of people with whom to share part of your life.

 

Given that I'm aware(from ExC chat), of some of your your dysfunctional family's problems and why you have distanced yourself from them, I sense that one of your fears is that you, yourself could go down the same path. This ain't necessarily so and I think you are aware enough to break the pattern.

 

Good luck with your search for structure and safety, but I really have my doubts that you'll find them in religion.

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My decision is based on my overall life experience so far. Even though religion may not protect me from unforeseen dangers, I need some way to be calm without taken meds. I also need a group in which to actively participate. I joined the Math club at my university, but I need more.

 

There's a Muslim girl in my math class who I talk to (not about religion). She's an interesting person. She tells me about her family traditions and how they celebrate certain holidays by exchanging gifts. It appears that she's not a radical Muslim. Meanwhile, there are people in my family who wouldn't care if I got hit by a semi tomorrow. And they are not christians. They are people who have allowed big city life to make them callous.

 

How do I deal with this harsh reality without embracing religion?

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How do I deal with this harsh reality without embracing religion?

I don't know. How do you deal with it without a bicycle? It's a non sequitur.

 

Since you seek calmness, try meditation and/or exercise.

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Guest I Love Dog

My decision is based on my overall life experience so far. Even though religion may not protect me from unforeseen dangers, I need some way to be calm without taken meds. I also need a group in which to actively participate. I joined the Math club at my university, but I need more.

 

There's a Muslim girl in my math class who I talk to (not about religion). She's an interesting person. She tells me about her family traditions and how they celebrate certain holidays by exchanging gifts. It appears that she's not a radical Muslim. Meanwhile, there are people in my family who wouldn't care if I got hit by a semi tomorrow. And they are not christians. They are people who have allowed big city life to make them callous.

 

How do I deal with this harsh reality without embracing religion?

 

As Florduh wisely suggests, meditation can be a great controller of anxiety. If you adopt Islam you're still gonna have that same nasty god to deal with. Same god, same hellfire and threats. Also, I'm sure you wouldn't like, as a woman in Islam, being viewed as a second class citizen. That's not for radical Muslims, it's all in the Koran.

 

Perhaps take a look at Buddhism. Not strictly a religion, it could be a good way for you. Meditation included!

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Alaska,

 

I know a man who, in a practical sense , is an atheist. He calls himself a Darwinian Spinozan or Spinozan Darwinist or something like that.

 

He doesn't believe in the existence of God in the traditional biblical sense, yet he is an ordained Episcopalian minister. He seems to find solace, inspiration and direction in the symbols of the religion without taking them literally. I also believe he finds participation in the community surrounding those symbols and supporting those symbols to be especially important as well. I think having a sense of being part of long held traditions does much to feed his spirituality.

 

Is something like this the role you see religion playing in your life and filling the need?

 

Can you actually flip a switch in your mind and "turn on" belief in any given religion?

 

It sounds as if you are afraid of becoming callous and unloving. And, I assume, you also want to feel loved. And it sounds as if you are looking for a place where you can grow to be the kind of person you want to be: compassionate, sensitive and able to both give and receive love in a more or less safe context.

 

You may very well find this in a religious context. But it is also possible to find this in other contexts. It really depends on the maturity and character of the people with whom you develop relationships. Perhaps you should concentrate on doing what you enjoy and finding people who have the same interests as you. And if you feel some attraction to a religious community somewhere, pursue it. But make sure they will authentically accept you for who you are.

 

If you cannot believe in a Paternalistic personal god as described by the conservative, fundamentalist religions out there, then be sure to avoid those groups. They will not let you be the authentic you. There will always be the push to change you into their image of humanity. And it's not a pretty picture.

 

I can't tell you what to do. But you seem to be wanting to avoid danger. And there is much danger in embracing these groups. If you can't take the bible literally or accept a god of vengeance that declares its love yet sends plagues, pestilence and hellfire to the ones it claims to love, then you surely need to seek a religion that has a much more enlightened outlook like my old friend mentioned above.

 

I hope you find the love, support and affirmation you desire as you grow into the kind of human you want to be. It is a worthy aspiration. But many religions contain the very danger you wish to avoid.

 

Tread carefully, my fellow seeker! But never give up seeking until you find what you are looking for! :)

 

OB '63

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You say you need these: structure, safety, and calmness. We all need them. They are conditions that seem to promote our well being and satisfaction.

 

My car needs precision parts, finely tuned adjustments, and specific fluids. They are conditions that seem to promote proper functioning of my car.

 

I take my car to a professional when it needs these things.

 

I take myself to a professional therapist when my life seriously lacks structure, safety and calmness. These life conditions are more complicated than car mechanics. A good professional therapist can help you restore optimum conditions in your life. Part of that restoration may be to involve yourself in a community. I agree with others here that the Abrahamic faiths are not communities that can restore optimal conditions in your life.

 

Best wishes.

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This book helped me a lot when I was uncomfortable dealing with uncertainty during a difficult time...trying to escape that basic human experience of things being topsy-turvy (because they are!). The book's focus is on getting comfortable with uncertainty. It is Buddhist. I am not.

 

P

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm well aware of the repercussions of joining a religion, but at this point in my life, I can find no other way to establish structure and find safety, and those are two things I need right now. I've thought about taking certain aspects from most or all religions and synthesizing them, such as the OT Proverbs and eclectic pagan ideas.

 

I'm an outcast of my family, not because I'm not a christian, but because I refused to comply with the dysfunctional family pattern. I'm trying to make headway with the new family I'm living with, and I think things will work out. But I still feel exposed to unforeseen danger, and the only way I know to help that is to join a religion.

 

Comments appreciated.

 

 

I believe that every person has their own way that fits them best. I believe it's wrong to say: THIS is the way that ALL should go. So I think you should find the way that attracts YOU. There are many many different things that people believe. There are ALSO unbelievers. You should join what FEELS the best for you.

 

I personally believe that religion without a real BEING involved, is dead. BUT, like placebo effect, it can work for some people. Believing is what matters.

 

And I guess the path for some people is to be unbelievers. Is it better to be believers or unbelievers? Well, it's a matter of preference. The lifestyle and life outlooks are quite different in each path. The unbelievers are limited by this material physical world. There is much more out there. So they are limiting themselves by their unbelief. And why do they do that? It's simply because of their genetic programming. People are predisposed by genetic code and experiences whether they are believers in stuff or whether they tend to doubt everything. The ability to believe or not believe is not related to religion. It's related to how the person is wired.

 

Those who are wired to believe, will most likely be joining a religion of some sort. Those who are predisposed to unbelief, will probably join the ranks of atheists and agnostics.

 

So which person are you? Do you usually believe things? Then, you might want to choose a path of belief. Some of these are really great paths and really really enrich a person's life.

 

I personally believe that there are Beings who created us and who oversee our world. They are loving and good. And they don't have a preference as to which religion you choose. But do they prefer that you be a believer or an unbeliever? Well, as far as being a person of value, I don't think it matters. But as far as communicating with them, one has to be a believer in order to communicate. So because of this, they like when people are believers, so that they could communicate with us. But they also love the unbelievers. Because it's not the believing or unbelieving that matters when it comes to them loving us.

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The unbelievers are limited by this material physical world. There is much more out there.

Evidence?

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Some people are spiritual by nature. I myself can conceive of something out there much larger than what we can currently see. I often wonder if the many religions out there are an imperfect attempt by humans to get at something on the edge of our concious perception. I don't see anything wrong with connecting with a community that allows you to feel conected to something bigger than your life. If it is real to you, and it helps you make sense of your life and adds to your joy, then it doesn't matter if anyone else finds it to be silly.

 

I have a friend who is a Neo-Pagan. Her world view helps her make sense of life, and guides her in terms of morality. This is something I could never get into, but I whole heartedly support her in it, because it makes her a better person.

 

Maybe the opiate of the masses isn't such a bad thing as long as we aren't tying to force other people to take our prescriptions.

 

I am leaning toward Taoist philosophies, but without the polytheism.

 

 

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I can understand the need to belong to a community, and religion is an easy place to find a sense of community. My suggestion, if you want a community with a very liberal worldview on religion, would be check out Unitarian Universalists. I like having them as my umbrella group, while being able to work out my beliefs as I see fit. depending on the congregation, they can be fairly Christian to very Atheistic/Humanist. I like the diversity of thought, and it has become a place that my Christian leaning wife, my Jewish leaning ex-wife, her Atheist leaning husband can all gather together in common communion, there for our now UU son.

This works for me, but results may vary.

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I honestly do not intend to sound mean or condescending, but sometimes speaking bluntly is the best way to speak clearly, so..... I guess some degree of non-compulsory religiosity can be harmless, but it just blows my mind that someone can just pick a religion and decide to believe in it. How can anyone just pick a religion or just pick and choose things from various religions or just make up some all together new religion and just say, "I like that, I'll believe in that". Other than what we have the ability to change, reality has absolutely nothing to do with what we want to believe. It has nothing to do with what we feel or need. Various beliefs may be psychologically beneficial, but that does not make them true.

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Hear, hear the Monkey!

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Hear, hear the Monkey!

 

:woohoo:

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If a sense of community is one of the things you seek the most, you may want to consider the Universal Unitarians. They don't have a dogma,and welcome atheists, pagans, christians and people of all kinds of belief systems and walks of life.

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As Florduh wisely suggests, meditation can be a great controller of anxiety. If you adopt Islam you're still gonna have that same nasty god to deal with. Same god, same hellfire and threats. Also, I'm sure you wouldn't like, as a woman in Islam, being viewed as a second class citizen. That's not for radical Muslims, it's all in the Koran.

 

Perhaps take a look at Buddhism. Not strictly a religion, it could be a good way for you. Meditation included!

 

That's not true. Only Islam has the original and pure concept of God, that's why as a final revelation (completing the revelations before it including Christianity) it is complete and for the entire universe. It is the perfect religion, and everybody is born with this inclination to believe in God. But when he grows up, it is the society or parents that influence him. And women are NOT considered second class citizens, so please don't twist words of the book. Anyone looking for the perfect religion for peace for truth would find it in Islam if they find it from Islam without bias from other sources.

 

Gender: Even gender does not count as a criterion of superiority. In Islam, women are as human as men. They are not evaluated on basis of their gender, but on basis of their faith and character. Fourteen hundred years ago, the Qur'an recorded God's clear statements on this issue. Out of the four verses, I will just quote one: "Whoever, be it a male or a female, does good deeds and he or she is a believer, then they will enter the Paradise." (Qur'an: chp. 4, verse 124). So there is no difference in the degree or level of woman's humanity or honor in Islam.

 

The only difference there exists is concerning the role which Islam has envisioned for man and woman. This has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. In Islam, man and woman are equalm in rights; but equality is not synonymous to similarity. Islam believes that man and woman are equal but dissimilar. Islam looks at their different roles in society not as superior or inferior but as complementary to each other.

 

http://www.al-islam.org/begin/intro/rizvi.html#4

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I honestly do not intend to sound mean or condescending, but sometimes speaking bluntly is the best way to speak clearly, so..... I guess some degree of non-compulsory religiosity can be harmless, but it just blows my mind that someone can just pick a religion and decide to believe in it. How can anyone just pick a religion or just pick and choose things from various religions or just make up some all together new religion and just say, "I like that, I'll believe in that". Other than what we have the ability to change, reality has absolutely nothing to do with what we want to believe. It has nothing to do with what we feel or need. Various beliefs may be psychologically beneficial, but that does not make them true.

 

If I may chime in.

I have "offbeat" religious beliefs, but I don't feel that any of them were picked at random, or just because I liked them. I was drawn to the belief/deity/practice. It helps me at the time. My intuition DOES tell me what I need at the time.

Also, I'm considering actually taking classes and joining a recognized and official religion. Yes, it scared the pee out of me at the time, but I'm coming to like the idea. Since I have been doing practices styled after their tradition, I have felt calmer (overall). I think this religion will help me.

Alaska, I don't know if the same will to happen with you, (it's Kemetic Orthodoxy, btw kemet.org ), but you can practice other faiths with it, and the beginner's classes start in Feb. It's worth a look, and I feel the same need of order at this time in my life. They're non-dogmatic, and after the (free) classes, you can leave.

Just a thought.

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Guest Valk0010

You can't believe in several different supernatural belief systems, without ONLY, just liking the sayings.

 

You can't believe in Yahweh and Allah at the same time, for example.

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That's not true. Only Islam has the original and pure concept of God, that's why as a final revelation (completing the revelations before it including Christianity) it is complete and for the entire universe. It is the perfect religion, and everybody is born with this inclination to believe in God. But when he grows up, it is the society or parents that influence him. And women are NOT considered second class citizens, so please don't twist words of the book. Anyone looking for the perfect religion for peace for truth would find it in Islam if they find it from Islam without bias from other sources.

 

If you want to make ridiculous claims like that, you'd better show us some Nobel Prize winning, tangible, testable evidence that your god exists. Otherwise you're just telling us that your version of the My Little Pony is better than mine. Not very convincing, and not very helpful for the OP.

 

I'm waiting for evidence.

 

Also, any religion that tells women that they are to be subservient to their husbands and obey their husbands is treating women as second class citizens. Otherwise, you'd also be telling men that they had to be subservient to their wives. I don't know a lot of muslim men who'd agree with that, and I live in a town with one of the highest Iraqi populations in Australia.

 

Do you have to obey your husband? Or does he have to obey you? That'll tell you who is a second class citizen.

 

I also second the whole meditation thing. I think it's good for some people. You can practice yourself right now by finding a calm, quiet place to relax, and closing your eyes, and counting your breaths. When your mind wanders, go back and start counting your breaths from one again. I got taught this by a buddhist, it's how he learned to meditate, and it's good for calming you down because it forces you to think about other things.

 

Good luck with stuff, Alaska. Make sure you come back and tell us all how things went.

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You can't believe in several different supernatural belief systems, without ONLY, just liking the sayings.

 

You can't believe in Yahweh and Allah at the same time, for example.

 

You can't believe in multiple monotheistic religions without a lot of cognitive dissonance, but many of the polytheistic systems are set up to encourage people to choose to follow the gods and goddesses that best suit them. I am by no means an expert on the topic, but I've read that in Greek/Roman society, it was totally ok to be initiated into more than one mystery cult. Though I still disagree with the basic idea of gods/goddesses, it seems healthier to me to say "pick which god(desse)s, or which of the hundreds of aspects of the singular deity speak to you most" instead of a one-size-fits-all monotheism that Christianity claims. I wonder sometimes if that's why Catholics have so many saints, as a way to get a diverse set of people to feel like they can belong together. Sometimes when I feel lonely, I read about polytheistic deities to try to find an archetype/role model that appeals to me, just for the comfort of knowing that, at some point in history, there were other humans who think/feel like I do who imagined such a being.

 

I've also heard some hilarious stories of missionaries to India who told the natives about Jesus, the natives said "sounds like a great god!" and added him to their pantheon, totally missing the exclusivity part.

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