Muslim Wire

Religion without rationalization: dropping the dogma

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 30, 2009

With the possible exception of hardcore fundamentalists, every practitioner of religion is willing to enter into dialogue with others—unless or until the person across the table crosses YOUR sacred line.  Freedom From Religion Foundation

In his article, Can We Talk About Religion, Please? , New York Times columnist Randy Cohen writes about the Vatican’s invitation to conservative Anglicans (those opposed to women priests and openly gay bishops) into the Roman Catholic Church.

This is tantamount, he says to a secular institution like Wal-Mart or Microsoft advertising employment opportunities by saying—“Tired of leadership positions being open to women and gay employees? Join us!”

Cohen’s point is well taken.

If it is wrong for a potential employer to discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, shouldn’t religious institutions be held to the same ethical standard?
“Criticism is not contempt”, he says.  And, he is right.
Truth be told, whether you consider yourself religious or irreligious, everybody lives by a set of conscious (sometimes unconscious) principles that govern your beliefs and behavior.
In their book, In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic , authors Peter Berger and Anton Zijderveld write “The underlying question is how a community defines its boundaries of belonging…Who are “we” and who are “they”?…the boundaries of belonging.”
A Jewish friend recently reminded me of a teaching from Rabbi Hillel who once said the Torah could be summed up in one sentence—that one should not do to another whatever is distasteful to one’s self. “The rest is commentary”, he said.
Everybody has a religion—if you are an atheist, atheism is your religion. If you are an agnostic,  agnosticism is your religion.  If you are a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh—that is your religion.
Post-modern culture celebrates pluralism—meaning that everyone has some piece of the truth but no one owns all of it. The deeper question is how do you hold on to your personal convictions without becoming inflexible?
How can you worship your god without trashing the god of others?
Truth be told, everybody has a god—whether you are a theist, panentheist or atheist—everybody has a god. Your god is that to which you give your ultimate allegiance. Regardless of your philosophical assumptions or metaphysical conclusions, everybody has at least one god.
Whether engaging in religious dialogue or civic discourse what matters is what it is we really worship.
What is for you, non-negotiable? Where do you draw the line? The truth to which you give your heart and devote your life—that is your real god.
Everybody has a bottom line.
It’s easy and pretty painless to question the convictions of those whose beliefs are different from ours—even if we don’t say it out loud.
Perhaps the deeper question is not the dogma of others but about the actual convictions that hold our lives together
Perhaps the real question is not what you do say you believe but what do you really believe?
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must watch my life, how I live, eat, sit, talk, behave in general. The sum total of all those in me is my religion.”
Gandhi takes the question of religious and moral discourse to another level. Perhaps more important than asking others if we can speak honestly about our differences is the willingness to examine our own lives, the choices we are making and the consequences of our decisions.
Perhaps the deeper question is not “Can We Talk About Religion, Please?” Perhaps the deeper question is whether I am willing to examine not only what I think, but how I actually live?
This is what it means to practice religion that transcends rationalization.–Culture-Examiner~y2009m10d29-Religion-without-rationalization-dropping-the-dogma

2 Responses

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  1. intracoastalbob said, on October 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    If God wanted to speak to his creation he would probably do so through the creation itself.
    …and if he wanted to visit his creation and provide redemtion he would do so his way and without threat.
    If he spoke though Prophets and the written word that truth would be available freely to his creation.
    The Bible is a book that has been proven to be true and should be read if one is interested in knowing God.
    Some may say there is a newer book and read that book without comparing it to the origional “good book”
    I’ve read the Bible and know that it tells the truth about God, His Salvation, History past, present and future and it is not the same story as many “newer” books.
    There can be only one truth!
    May we all seek it!
    Have you read the book of Matthew?

    • muslimwire said, on October 31, 2009 at 5:37 pm

      some where in my life i tried to read bible and perhaps i finished the books of mark, matthew, luke and john. they were all a kind of different versions of the same thing. they were all good things.

      but there was a point that i could not carry on.

      i believe that when we read some book we come in touch with the mind that has produced it. it is the developed mind of the writer that gives us knowledge. in fact we develop in our mind the portion of the mind the writer has already developed. we call it knowledge. on the other hand it is just development.

      i also believe that the mind and spirit are two different things. we can say that the spiritual mind is a part of the other mind and it lies in the very mind we call non spiritual, but we cannot say that its function and development is like the function and development of the other mind.

      we develop in our mind the mind the writer has already developed naturally or unnaturally. if the mind of the writer is scientific we ll become scientific. if the mind of the writer is political, artistic or monetary we ll become like wise. we shall have to say that if the mind of the writer is spiritual we ll become spiritual. the information or knowledge provided in the book is the secondary thing.

      the holy quran has an advantage to be in the same language and sentence as it was given by the prophet. when we read it we come in contact with the mind of the prophet. when we read bible we come in contact with the minds of luke, matthew, mark and john. they were very pious people but they were after all not prophets. they reported the same thing but in different words and different angles. this has happened to the sayings of the prophet muhammad as well. different people have reported them in different angles. except very few most of the sayings are in the words of the people who are reporting them. if we ll go on reciting these sayings we ll go to the minds of the reporters not the prophet’s.

      on the other hand when we ll go on reading or reciting the holy quraan we ll get in contact with the mind and spirit of the prophet muhammad. religion is not for the guidance of mind only. it is also for the guidance and development of spirit.
      if the spirit is not developed or guided we cannot live with the guidance of mind only. it is bound to change with the change of the circumstances.

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