Interdependent Spirit Child (tea_spirit) wrote in secularspirit,
Interdependent Spirit Child

Questions about religion and spirituality

I am posting a short series of questions to a wide variety of religious communities (and communities that list religion as an interest) on LiveJournal. The purpose is to try to get as broad a set of answers as possible, and to find distinctions and commonality among the responses. I have tried to select the broadest community for each faith, but I am only posting to communities with open membership, frankly because I don't want to cross-post something this broad into a protected community, out of respect.

Some of the more mainstream communities have membership approval, which will certainly limit the range of answers I'm likely to get. I also was unable to find much in the way of communities catering to indigenous spiritual practices, which will also limit the range of answers significantly.

What I'll do with the results depends upon how much response this gets. It can easily get difficult to read each response, as I'm posting in several communities with a lot of members. Hopefully, I'll be able to compile a list of responses that approximates the common answers I receive, as well as the ones that particularly stand out. I may also cite responses in an essay on the subject.

Feel free to respond anonymously. Anywhere I repost or republish responses, quotations will remain anonymous unless you specifically ask to be named (and even then, I may choose to keep everything anonymous).

If this is inappropriate for your community, and maintainers would like me to remove this post, please be so kind as to email me at gnosis AT gmail DOT com with your reasons.

All of that said, here are the questions. Responses can be as long or as short as you wish.

1. How do you define "religion"?
2. How do you define "spirituality"?
3. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, does it require belief in the "supernatural"? If so, how do you define "supernatural"?
4. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, do you believe its founding or supporting texts (such as the Bible, Quran, and so on) are literal truth?
5. If you adhere to a faith or religious/spiritual doctrine, do you practice in a place of worship, or follow a guide/teacher/leader of some sort?
6. What role should religion or spirituality have in social/political decision-making, and why?

Thank you all in advance!

Posted to: buddhists, celticpagans, christianleft, freetobelieve, interfaith, interspiritual, islamicfeminist, jewcrew, ljbahai, om_bodhi, quakers, radicals, religion, religiousdebate, sanatana_dharma, secularspirit, shintoism, sociologists, sunsmoonsstars, theism, theravadins, chalice_circle, wiccan
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There are no simplistic, meaningful answers to your questions. Non-religious people and others who have not studied at least one religion in depth generally have a misconception about religion. Many look upon a religion like they would a club, to join or not, to follow all or some of its rules and elements of its culture as one chooses, etc. But a religion is not a club. It is a way of life, whose rules are followed because the basic tenets and understandings of that religion are accepted by the person as whole truth - because in living that truth one believes he/she is living life honestly. If it is a God-centered religion (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), then one who lives it does so because he/she wants to live as God has stated He wants people to live. Now, how that is interpreted is what makes for these three fundamental religious differences.

Learning in depth is key because, to illustrate with one example, in mixed marriages where the children grow up with superficial/limited learning/training in both religions, many of these children become confused adults when it comes to making complex moral decisions, and when, as they grow older, they eventually start to think about where and how they fit in the universe.

Judaism has an added element that is different from the others in that one's birth parentage really makes a difference. Understanding this concept is not as simple as it might at first seem.

Simple books on comparative religions are insufficient if one is really interested in understanding religion. It takes hard work to make up one's mind intelligently.

Irwin Tyler
Confused about the Middle East, confused about Judaism today?
1. an organized belief system which includes rituals, icons and either scriputural or oral traditions
2. the study of the "other half" of the human experience accomplished by self-study with the goal of experiencing "revelation", "enlightenment", "Truth", "God", or a hundred other terms for what I personally would call the one-ness of all of creation beliefs do recognize a consciousness superior to that of human consciousness, however there is nothing in my thinking that is beyond the natural, and I am not completely certain that this superior consciousness isn't an accumulation of "lessor" consciousnesses in a "Universal" consciousness (which I suppose is the definition of God to some, but I don't see this as seperate from mankind, but an extension of human consciousness) --it is also my belief that it is possible to connect to this supreme consciousness through a moving or re-focusing of the human consciousness to a different level through intensive self-study
4. all religions and spiritual systems contain seeds of truth, but none contain the whole plant--and none of the texts as we have them are anywhere near the "literal truth"
5.I do not--and no church or teacher is required, the search for meaning is a personal quest, only possible through the efforts of the seeker
6. they should play a prime role, however in practice it is impossible as long as the vast majority of people are nowhere near realizing their spiritual potential, and for that matter nowhere near even recognizing their spiritual "other half"