Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Alternatives to debating things like religion and atheism


Am I open or closed to possibilities beyond my familiar expectations? Do I genuinely respect other ways of understanding the human experience? Can I get beyond certain stereotypes and baggage attached to language associated with (a particular) religion? Rather than asking if religious images, stories, and experiences can be shown to be adequately accurate in a more objective sense, can you see how the teaching and practices help you or others to frame, understand, and process human experiences that are better suited to poetry and ritual than dry, empirical rationalization?

As someone who used to invest time and energy into debating religion, atheism, and the like, I can state that it is really hard to get out of the mindset that there is always one best way to understand everything and that finding and defending this best way must somehow involve a battle of logical-sounding arguments that make you feel smart and superior to those ignorant people who disagree with you.

Even if you perceive yourself to be fair, open-minded, and tolerant of other views, this basic mindset is so prevalent in places like the United States that it can continue to color your perception no matter how fair you try to be.

These topics are emotionally charged, despite how coldly analytic some may wish to claim they are, and that energy bound up with attitudes about related experiences and engagements can take quite a while to dissipate. You can spot this by how aggressive or defensive someone is when discussing religious topics. Especially if this takes the form of emphatically and insistently protesting how they aren't wound up about such topics yet still have all sorts of reasons why they are so certain about their views.

If you can appreciate the questions I began with without feeling a need to start throwing out qualification after qualification, you might actually have those bonds loosened enough to thoughtfully engage with religious topics beyond the normal arguments posing as debates.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking that there some singular way, some right and true way, to understand spirituality and religion, whether this was by rejecting such things or by finding the proper way to practice leading to specific states of awareness, thought, or feeling.  Even when the teachers and teachings said to reject being too rigid about what is "supposed to happen" and so on. There may be broad indicators of going in a good and healthy direction, but this isn't the same as some step-by-step blueprint. Over-identification with a label or specific (ir)religious identity is just as problematic in that you can end up worrying about being a true, good, or proper whatever.

This is one reason why it is challenging for me to try to break down where I am on these thing into something that fits the preconceptions found in debates over religion. This isn't to say my perspective is better than anyone elses. It is just a reminder that there is something beyond the false dichotomies that so frequently dominate discussions of religion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hello! Thanks for leaving a comment.

Everything but spam and abusive comments are welcome. Logging in isn't necessary but if you don't then please "sign" at the end of your comment. You can choose to receive email notifications of new replies to this post for your convenience, and if you find it interesting don't forget to share it. Thanks!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...