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UniversalFriendliness

seeking true religion

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Hello All!  

 

After about twenty years of being either Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, I have decided that the religion doesn't do anyone any good. The people with the best personalities probably got their values from their life experiences, and church work itself is very repetitive and not conducive to the life of the spirit. I have vacillated over the years, but am now concluding that I am finally out of the business of considering myself Christian. Indeed I think part of the reason I returned several times was simply that I felt I was missing the completeness of experience in that department of life. Christianity offers an organized experience, and one needs to replace that or at least be mentally ready for doing without it.

 

The God-in-the-Eucharist thing seems quite pointless. Some people seem flushed with happiness afterwards, but a lot of people seem to pick right up with their hatreds within minutes. 

 

In Orthodoxy, one is enjoined to spend many hours a week attending, and perhaps helping to sing, services. I would think that 15 minutes of meditation once a day would be more beneficial.

 

I think if a person has a seriously chaotic life, such as being a recovering addict of some kind, the structure of religious life combined with the sympathy of many people, could be beneficial. And religion can inspire one to reverence, which is a good thing. 

 

My current thinking is that the core elements of true religion are:

  • some sort of reverence
  • some acknowledgment of the excellence of certain people who have gone before
  • some interior quiet, reflection
  • an ambition to be better in life, and guided by higher values
  • an ambition to transmute the bad into good, e.g. hate into love
  • there should probably be some degree of self-limitation, such as fasting, or foregoing excess pleasure, in order to make it easier to quiet the interior and hear the whispers of spirit

 

A religious establishment is beneficial to the extent that it promotes these things, and is wasteful to the extent that it takes a lot of time without encouraging these things. Repetitive, mindless activity taking many hours a week falls into the latter category. And it is necessary to look at the results one is getting. In no other area of life would so much time be spent without analysis of the fruitfulness of results.

 

So that's me! Thanks for reading!

- Universal Friendliness

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I think you make some good points.  From an evolutionary standpoint, religion as human behavior must confer a survival advantage, or it would not exist as it does.  Sigmund Freud said at least one correct thing:  religion exists because it fills a need.  The wherewithal to endure hardship, family and social cohesion, etc.  But that doesn’t mean that all the beliefs are true, or that it does not also have a dark side.  As human behavior, religion reflects the nature of man, and it can be used as mind control, or to justify things like war and genocide.  There are some non-theistic religions, and some non-theists in churches.

 

Everyone is not a benevolent sage; a large segment of society, left to their own devices, would choose to be Charles Manson rather than Ghandi.  So religion as a sort of moral law enforcement may be good on some level.  But it’s the dark side that people like us had to escape from . . . .

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Welcome!  After decades of studying religions I decided that the closest thing to true religion is a statement attributed to Jesus, and wise people before him, which is to  Love neighbor as self.  Or the golden rule, etc.  To me it is simple, rational, humane thinking.

 

I believe leaving the Catholic church was a very wise decision.  Much of their history is of being one of the most greedy, corrupt, pompous, institutions in the world.

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hello,

 

Well, hope you find your way. 

 

An insight just came to me. I mean I got something from your comment that got me reflecting on certain points. Religion as an organizer. Of people and experience.  Interesting point to me.

 

 

 

 

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Hi and welcome :)

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Welcome, @UniversalFriendliness ,

 

Glad you found us.

 

Religion and true - in the same sentence. Interesting.

I recon that depends on your definition but, in my book, religion means to adhere to a doctrine or set of beliefs even in the face of new information. BAD!

 

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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15 hours ago, UniversalFriendliness said:

In Orthodoxy, one is enjoined to spend many hours a week attending, and perhaps helping to sing, services. I would think that 15 minutes of meditation once a day would be more beneficial.

 

That gave me a chuckle. And it's quite true. 

 

15 hours ago, UniversalFriendliness said:

My current thinking is that the core elements of true religion are:

  • some sort of reverence
  • some acknowledgment of the excellence of certain people who have gone before
  • some interior quiet, reflection
  • an ambition to be better in life, and guided by higher values
  • an ambition to transmute the bad into good, e.g. hate into love
  • there should probably be some degree of self-limitation, such as fasting, or foregoing excess pleasure, in order to make it easier to quiet the interior and hear the whispers of spirit

 

If that's what you're looking for I bet you could come up with your own positive spiritual practice that's substantially better than these organized religions. You could even put money in your own collection plate and then give it back to yourself. 😄

 

15 hours ago, UniversalFriendliness said:

A religious establishment is beneficial to the extent that it promotes these things, and is wasteful to the extent that it takes a lot of time without encouraging these things. Repetitive, mindless activity taking many hours a week falls into the latter category. And it is necessary to look at the results one is getting. In no other area of life would so much time be spent without analysis of the fruitfulness of results.

 

So that's me! Thanks for reading!

- Universal Friendliness

 

The agency I worked for was striving to become 'accredited'. We worked for years and spent a lot of money on that endeavor with nothing to show for it (except the dubious honor of being accredited). An employee there said they dumped that program a while back. lol. It was a waste of time, effort, and money so they dumped it. That's what you do in business. So yes, it's good that you have analyzed church in a similar fashion. What are you getting for the time, effort and money? Nada. :)

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Decades ago when i still went to church, I first heard the comment that our worship was mental masturbation.  It occurred to me how true that was.

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Thank you for the nice welcome!

 

I just noticed this from an article in the blog section: "finding a new philosophy of life is the primary task in recovery from religion."

 

I think it is safe to say that a lot of us worked hard to be Christian. I know I had several hundred Catholic books and at least two hundred Orthodox books. I went to seminars, talks, retreats, music workshops, and as many services as time allowed. I put tens of thousands of miles on the car, ran through Gladwell's proverbial 10,000 hours, and spent thousands of dollars to improve my grasp of the faith. Perhaps the risk is that one won't work so hard at one's replacement philosophy of life, particularly when one is surrounded by believers who are not likely to support one's attempts to sidestep the mental buggery. I am lucky in that sense. Happily alone in the world, knowing a lot of people who don't give a darn what one thinks.

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From Marlene's article....

 

  •  
Quote

 

  • Human life on earth is unimportant in the cosmic scheme.
  • Pleasure is for the afterlife, and the “flesh” is sinful. Life’s purpose is to serve God.
  • Ultimately God is in control and will have justice. Humans do not need to understand His mysterious ways, only have faith and not question.


 

 

And the reason this "philosophy" came into being (MOHO's take)

  • I am the only one who can talk to God so listen to me.
  • Engage my enemy and smite him.
  • Take his valuables and give most of them to me
  • Do as I say - not as I do
  • Serving me is just like server God - so serve me or I'll tell God to smite you.
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Welcome! I personally mainly think institutionalized religion is bad, since the institution inherently distorts truth and reasoning to maximize its organizational persistence and power.

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On 9/5/2019 at 2:53 AM, DestinyTurtle said:

Welcome! I personally mainly think institutionalized religion is bad, since the institution inherently distorts truth and reasoning to maximize its organizational persistence and power.

Well know, you just gave a description of the ordinary human mind with its plethora of defense mechanisms, blind spots and cognitive bias :). Not surprinsingly groups tend to have the same issues only augmented exponentially, if it does not also do the hard work of inner and outer vigilance. 

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On 9/4/2019 at 6:19 PM, UniversalFriendliness said:

Thank you for the nice welcome!

 

I just noticed this from an article in the blog section: "finding a new philosophy of life is the primary task in recovery from religion."

 

I think it is safe to say that a lot of us worked hard to be Christian. I know I had several hundred Catholic books and at least two hundred Orthodox books. I went to seminars, talks, retreats, music workshops, and as many services as time allowed. I put tens of thousands of miles on the car, ran through Gladwell's proverbial 10,000 hours, and spent thousands of dollars to improve my grasp of the faith. Perhaps the risk is that one won't work so hard at one's replacement philosophy of life, particularly when one is surrounded by believers who are not likely to support one's attempts to sidestep the mental buggery. I am lucky in that sense. Happily alone in the world, knowing a lot of people who don't give a darn what one thinks.

Sometimes, to me, having read books went to monasteries, etc that , that a philosophy of life usually sprouts from actually a few simple things/ ideas, to only grow in complexity and depth. But, if you start having problems with a root, like for fundamentalists the innerrancy of the Bible, then everything collapses, the whole tree. This what I am starting to investigate. 

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4 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

But, if you start having problems with a root, like for fundamentalists the innerrancy of the Bible, then everything collapses, the whole tree. This what I am starting to investigate. 

 

That was a major turning point for me.

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My personal opinion is that fretting over the inerrancy of the Bible is not a good basis for rejecting Christianity, because the clubs that have been around the longest (Catholic, Orthodox) have a good answer to that one. They say it doesn't really matter, because the Holy Spirit guides the Church toward a correct, traditional, and sound understanding of the faith which includes the Scriptures (correctly understood) as a part. And if you spend time with them they can put together a superbly coherent picture. Protestant arguments sound like fingernails on chalkboard; Catholic and Orthodox discussions sound like real chalk, if you're hungry for that sort of thing.

 

A good way to question the Christian scriptures is not so much from within themselves but by external scholarship. For example, the books by D.M. Murdoch (Acharya S.), e.g., Did Moses Exist? And don't forget it takes only six days to walk from Cairo to Jerusalem! 

 

For me, the turning point is that the religion doesn't promote the activities and steps that seem to do the most to promote good spiritual development of the person. Instead it becomes a rabbit hole of apologetics and service prep. 

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9 hours ago, UniversalFriendliness said:

My personal opinion is that fretting over the inerrancy of the Bible is not a good basis for rejecting Christianity, because the clubs that have been around the longest (Catholic, Orthodox) have a good answer to that one. They say it doesn't really matter, because the Holy Spirit guides the Church toward a correct, traditional, and sound understanding of the faith which includes the Scriptures (correctly understood) as a part. And if you spend time with them they can put together a superbly coherent picture. Protestant arguments sound like fingernails on chalkboard; Catholic and Orthodox discussions sound like real chalk, if you're hungry for that sort of thing.

 

 

             That is why , when I gave examples of roots, I specified that this is only for some forms of fundamentalism, of which there there are many in the US. I am from a traditionally Eastern Orthodox country, Romania, and know a bit about about Orthodox interpretation of Scripture and how they hold it together. And they brush off many contradictions with meta narratives/ and or allegorical interpretations. It is pretty intricate, and impressive as well, to some extent. But even that has problems. Like when they say the Holy Spirit, what they really mean is usually the writings of the Holy fathers and some ecumenical councils. So basically what people said. It is as if, during Lithurgy, the Holy Spirit makes a physical appearance evident to all, in every Church, and says what he wants. No, that never seems to happen.

          So in this case, the innerancy part falls on the community of people which produced even the Scripture. And that, well, thinking that a group of people is innerant when they talk about God...if that were true, how come there SO many contradictions between these people? There is a plethora of the history of heresies. I mean, John of Damascus, 8th century famous theologian considered Islam, which he knew first hand, nothing more than a Christian heresy and refutes using, what else, Scripture and logic. More or less, they all have a certain ex cathedra theology. 

       In plainer terms, using your own term, the moment you disagree with the prevalent opinion on what constitutes spiritual development and how to get there, then you are basically out. The Church usually teaches unquestioning obedience to it as the greatest virtue, critical and independent thinking as satanic. 

 

 

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All religion is based on guesswork and wishful thinking, never on evidence. There is nothing "true" about it. Some beliefs are just less harmful than others. Not a great selling point for me.

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8 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

The Church usually teaches unquestioning obedience to it as the greatest virtue, critical and independent thinking as satanic. 

 

Right! You gotta be inherently inerrant! 😄

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17 hours ago, florduh said:

All religion is based on guesswork and wishful thinking, never on evidence. There is nothing "true" about it. Some beliefs are just less harmful than others. Not a great selling point for me.

           I consider religions to be much more than that, but I will leave that discussion for another time , if ever. 

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9 hours ago, Myrkhoos said:

           I consider religions to be much more than that, but I will leave that discussion for another time , if ever. 

 

If there is a “god spot” or “altruism spot” in our brains, if we (at least some of us) need some sort of external guidance system to function efficiently, if our species as a whole has a greater chance of survival if we have a social glue holding us together, then religion is based on psychological, social, and maybe even biological reality.  I think it must have evolved like other human behavior.  Even though the stories about talking donkeys are not literally true . . . .

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22 hours ago, TEG said:

 if our species as a whole has a greater chance of survival if we have a social glue holding us together, then religion is based on psychological, social, and maybe even biological reality.  I think it must have evolved like other human behavior. 

 

I agree.  Are you familiar with Kohlburgs (spelling?) theory of moral evolution?  And the christian god evolved from a vengeful one, to Jesus telling people to love one another.

 

23 hours ago, TEG said:

 Even though the stories about talking donkeys are not literally true . . . .

 

Are you sure? 😁 Remember Ed, the talking horse on TV decades ago?

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2 hours ago, Weezer said:

😁 Remember Ed, the talking horse on TV decades ago?

 

A horse is a horse, of course, of course.

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13 hours ago, Weezer said:

 

I agree.  Are you familiar with Kohlburgs (spelling?) theory of moral evolution?  And the christian god evolved from a vengeful one, to Jesus telling people to love one another.

 

 

 

I disagree. The dictum of love is to be found in the OT that is where Jesus quotes from, and also Jesus has a lot of threats , sometimes violent rebukes and even behaviour like the one where he banished merchants from the temple. Jesus is not more loving then Yahweh IMHO. He even says he has not come to abolish or change the Law but to fulfill it.

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I was thinking in terms of God destroying people in the flood,  and having the Israelites slaughter the Canaanites.  Then centuries later having Jesus give the  Sermon on the Mount, telling people to love each other, etc.  At least from that point on he never caused mass killing, or ordered it to be done.  To me, that is a kind of change, or evolutuon.

 

But then, it's all a bunch of convoluted myths anyway.

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2 hours ago, Weezer said:

I was thinking in terms of God destroying people in the flood,  and having the Israelites slaughter the Canaanites.  Then centuries later having Jesus give the  Sermon on the Mount, telling people to love each other, etc.  At least from that point on he never caused mass killing, or ordered it to be done.  To me, that is a kind of change, or evolutuon.

 

But then, it's all a bunch of convoluted myths anyway.

Well Jesus seems to change some things, about that love command, but then again the threat of hell is also there. Plus, in the post NT period, there nunerous stories from the church fathers or lives of saints where God is said to have caused genocide through natural disaster or famine. I mean it is said that God helped Constantine win a war , therefore killing thousands of soldiers and later in 1453 letting Constantinopole be conquered by the ottoman turks because of their sins, causing thousands of deaths, rapes and massive suffering. God the punisher is also very much present in Revelation. Along with stories of a saint who baljed barefoot on one leg for years in repetance for squashing a bird s nest. So...yeah....pretty out there from a point of view.

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