Thursday, July 12, 2007

Quotes on Religion

People seem so eager today to either defend, dismiss, or attack a particular view of religion which has over the past few decades grown in such prominence that it is hard for some people to give any serious consideration to any other current or historical use of the term. In particular it is the usage which can be summed up as fanatical devotion to comforting fantasies. So here is an offering to those who may be interested in learning about or reaffirming the greater (both broader and more worthy) use of the word...

Someone may say, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." That's fine, but what is the point? Someone else may say, "Mohammed is the final prophet." That's fine, but what's the point? Share it with me! Someone else may say, "I follow the Buddha." Yeah, that's fine, you have the freedom to follow anything, but what is the point? What is the bottom line? What is the Buddha teaching us?

People are getting tired and disgusted with religion. One reason this is happening is because religion becomes very exclusive. People talk about loving thy neighbor but practice only loving their friends; they bitterly criticize others with beliefs differing from theirs. But if people would look at themselves and consider What can I do with my life? then followers of each religion could live up to the principles of their religion. Each religion has beautiful principles to share with others.

-Rev. Koshin Ogui, Zen Shin Talks (pp.219)

The manifesto says that "religious humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man's life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now."

The seventh principle of the manifesto reads:

Religion consists of those actions, purposes,
and experiences which are humanly significant.
Nothing human is alien to the religious.
It includes labor, art, science, philosophy,
love, friendship, recreation-all that is, in its
degree, expressive of intelligently satisfying
human living.

Curtis Reese writes, "The chief and avowed purpose of religion is coming to be the building of personality and shaping of institutions to this end."

Charles Francis Potter says:

Humanist religion deals with the relation of
the individual to [the] power or energy resident
in himself and in the universe and concerns
itself particularly with the growth of the
higher consciousness or the personality of
man, socially and individually, believing that
man is potentially able by his own efforts to
attain to the complete and perfected personality
to which all religions aspire.

-Jack Sechrest, from "Religion, Spirituality, and Humanism" in the March/April 2003 issue of The Humanist, discussing the authors of the original 1933 draft of the Humanist Manifesto

Philologists disagree about the word's ultimate root, but all three of its possible derivations suggest just how opposite the "Life is random" philosophy is from an authentic religious worldview. The first etymology given by the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] suggests that religion comes from the Latin root religare, "to tie or bind together," and thus religion shares its origin with the words ligature and ligament. Augustine recognized this usage. This derivation suggests that religion somehow binds our lives together in a meaningful way, just as our ligaments hold our bones together and allow them to function. Without our ligaments, our bones would be rather randomly organized. With them, our bones work together effectively. In this sense, religion should "re-ligament" us...

Like religion, the word holy has become somewhat debased through misuse. Suggesting either a milksop piety or a "holy Joe" kind of righteousness, holy and holiness have become separated from their original meanings. They really are useful words, deserving of better understanding. They come from the old Anglo-Saxon root hal, which was an amazingly comprehensive word. Over the past thousand years, hal's various meanings have differentiated into words that seem unrelated at first, but if we put the modern descendants of hal together, we get some idea of what this old word originally meant. They include whole, healthy, hale (as in "hale and hearty"), heal, the neologism holistic, and, as mentioned, holy, and holiness. To say "Hello" to someone, therefore, is to wish them health, wholeness, and holiness altogether. Our holidays were originally holy days, days when we suspended our usual workaday activities and celebrated all those aspects of life that transcended the getting of our daily bread and made us whole. So, the pursuit of holiness is nothing less than the pursuit of wholeness, and our religion, the thing that binds us together, should lead us in that direction or it is worth very little at all.

-Gary Eberle, from Dangerous Words: Talking about God in the Age of Fundamentalism, pp.111, 115

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