Religion...

Come here to talk about topics that are not related to development, or even Kansas City.
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GRID
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Religion...

Postby GRID » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:00 pm

This is a serious question.  I am simply not a religious person at all.  I have never gotten into it and even though I did attend a Catholic elementary school in urban KCMO for a few years, I didn’t really get that much exposure to religion.

My wife is into it enough that she wants our kids to be involved and I respect that and think it’s a good thing for the most part to raise your kids with some religious morals etc or at least expose them to it.

They attend Peace Lutheran in SKC.  I’m trying to be involved, but it’s hard.  I even joined the church, but have not even gone for years.  I just see how religion really screws up a lot of people if they take it too far and it seems easy to take it too far.  To me, even making your life about religion (jesus etc) and everything else second is taking it too far.  Not to mention all the extremes out there.

Plus, I'm super busy and devoting time to religion just doesn't seem right when I barely have time to devote to myself and my family like I should.

So without making this a religious "debate", per say.  I am curious to know what others do.  Do you go to church, are you involved heavily?  How were you raised?

Again, just trying to get an idea of what others are like.
Last edited by GRID on Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion...

Postby Boognish » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:10 pm

My father was a minister. I went to their trade shows (aka annual conferences) and saw the innerworkings of the business of belief. I haven't been in about 15 years, weddings and funerals notwithstanding. I also have no children. It just doesn't seem like how I would like to use my time, plus, you know, I've been many times in my life.

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Re: Religion...

Postby Jess » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:45 pm

Lifelong (ELCA) Lutheran, here, thanks to a strong German tradition on my paternal side, with an ebbing and flowing participation record (currently been going to Roman Catholic services sporadically with my boyfriend, since that's his background).  But, whether I am in a period of more churchgoing or not, the values I associate with my faith and background are pretty enmeshed in who I am.

My faith has always been something restorative to me, not something restrictive.  Belonging to a mainstream, mainline Protestant denomination that I find to be not particularly given to zealotry, or even evangelism of the in-your-face variety helps with that, though. My personal political views, which lean left, my sense of what is fair, and my commitment to serving the community and social justice are all things that were influenced in good part by my  spiritual upbringing, although obviously a person can value all of those things without ever having had any type of religious affiliation or spiritual leaning.  I attended a small country church as a child, chose a smalll Lutheran college when the time came, and went on to work post-college for a Lutheran church, doing social work.

Church was always something my family did together growing up, and having grown up in a rural, historically ethnic area, the church was a meaningful form of community as well as a house of worship over the ages.  So I have a lot of tradition and heritage tied up in my Lutheran-ness as well. It's a connection to my family and my lineage. My Italian boyfriend would say exactly the same thing about his Catholic background.

My mother, who converted to Lutheranism, was raised in a much more charismatic, fundamentalist church, and while I have definitely seen some of the damage that can be wrought by the spiritual and scriptual interpretation she was raised with, I haven't really experienced much but positivity from my faith. I don't agree with much of what I perceive as the fearmongering that goes with hellfire and brimstone preaching, which my mom grew up with, but this is because church, to me, has always been about complete and total forgiveness, love, grace and compassion - not fear or retribution. 

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Re: Religion...

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:16 pm

Born, raised, married in the Roman Catholic Church.  Taught in grade school by the nuns and in high school by the Jesuits.  Could have gone to just about any Jesuit college in the USA but at that time I wanted to experience something else and UMKC tuition was cheaper.  About 30 years ago I guess you could call me one who has fallen away from the church but I like to say that the pope and I do have some disagreements.  I have not chosen another faith to participate in because for me religion or belief in God in a personal matter.  Besides, there is still a part of me who still has some Catholic leanings and no other church would seem to cut it for me.

My wife still attends Mass on a regular basis and I even encourage her to go, not for me but for her.  She finds some peace and comfort in going and on special occasions I will go also to show support for her and as I said above there is still a part of me that is still Catholic.

Yes, I have known and do know people who seem to make religion their life but those numbers are few.  And besides, if they need that to keep their boat afloat then why be critical as long as they leave me to my own devices, and they generally do.

I still say some prayers during the day.  And if something good happens to me I give thanks and also when I avoid something bad.  Of course some might say why but then I counter with why not?  What harm am I doing?  Besides, it may actually do some good.  Who knows?  Guess we will all find out when we die.
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Re: Religion...

Postby LindseyLohan » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:43 pm

I didn't know who Jesus was until my mother started dragging me to church after she divorced my father. I was in the 7th grade and never really understood it.

Today, I don't practice any religion because I really don't see why anyone religion is right and the rest are wrong. I'd like to know what someone who hasn't been influenced by their elder generation or local culture would decide what religion they would be. What makes Catholicism more right than Deobandi?

The documentary "Jesus Cam" really turned me off. I realized I wasn't the only one who thought Christianity was almost becoming a Cult. I always felt like I was the fucked up one for not following.

Have you looked into Pastafarianism? It's just as easy to believe as the others IMO.

Maybe one day some light will shine down on me and I will feel different, but this is how I feel now.

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Re: Religion...

Postby ignatius » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:48 pm

I've always been curious why people believe what they believe from an anthropological perspective, that is through cross-cultural comparisons and by attempting to have an unattached understanding of human history.

We are sentient beings with incredibly powerful imaginations.  Early humanity was driven by superstition more than understanding of the natural world.  As our understanding of nature increases, the supernatural explanations make less sense.  To protect supernatural explanations is to protect a belief system rather than to understand.  Early thinkers were bounded by beliefs that were usually not allowed to be challenged.  Religion still works in those boundaries.  If anyone really wants to understand, they would have to be willing to completely let go of what they believe.  Most could not do that.

Do believers really think that prayers will conjure up supernatural forces that will impact their lives as they wish?  It seems so childish.  If they are out there, they are not very effectively communicating with us - and if they are above nature, it's suspicious there is no way to have an interactive conversation with them.   The concept of supernatural forces clearly comes from needs that aren't being met.  Concepts like hell come from humankind's desire for justice.  Even the concept of afterlife is clearly just a superstition.  But it's broadly accepted because it happened so early in humanity.  If you look at other cultures and their superstitions, it becomes more obvious that the culture you come from is no different - loaded with superstitions and embellished stories.

But most people are not able to step outside the confines of their learned culture.  Belief in supernatural things can be a very effective placebo for coping with life for most people, especially those easily influenced, and they don't want to think their existence will end.  There is no natural or reasonable suggestion that a soul continues beyond our physical bodies so it requires faith.  The power of faith is that is allows you to believe anything you want with no accountability involving reason.

I think in terms of natural forces.  The power of nature is incredible and has produced amazing things over billions of years, including us.  Most people do not understand the vastness of geological time and what power nature has given enough time.  As amazing as it is, nature is not a subject for worshiping.  Appreciating with gratitude, yes, but worshiping serves no purpose.  Our understanding of nature allows us to manipulate it to our needs (for better or worse).

Early humans also found it easier to attribute ideas to supernatural forces in order to manage society.  It was easier to attribute ideas (such as 10 commandments) to the pop culture supernatural force of the time than to imply a group dictates to the masses.  This happened all throughout humanity (in addition to dictatorship).  Constantine was the ultimate master of it.  Christianity would have become a dead cult without him.  The only difference between a cult and a religion is that a cult has no political power.  Constantine gave Christianity that power and the cult survived.  It thrived because it's one of the few early religions that you don't have to be born into.  It ultimately thrived globally partly because it was forced on others.


 
Last edited by ignatius on Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Religion...

Postby kcmetro » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:00 pm

Was raised Roman Catholic and went to Catholic school K-8. Went to mass every Sunday as a kid...until college when I was on my own.  My parents pretty much stopped going to church when I stopped going as well.  I think they had me go when I was younger because they felt obligated to, since I was a kid and they wanted to give me some sort of structure or something.  I don't know.  Anyway, we all came to see the church and organized religion in general as a bunch of bs.

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Re: Religion...

Postby kcdcchef » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:22 pm

practicing jew that goes to synagogue 8-9 times a year, mainly on rosh hashanna, hannukah, yom kippur, and passover. i celebrate and keep those days holy.

never preach to others about my beliefs, they are mine.

but i do agree that most people make their religion into a cult, and beat the shit out of others with their beliefs.
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Re: Religion...

Postby AllThingsKC » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:26 pm

Speaking from experience:

For the past few months, I have been happily attending Sheffield Family Life Center in NE Kansas City.  I am slowly becoming more involved because I want to be.  The Pastors there really seem to care about the needs of the inner city.  I think that's awesome.  However...

IMO, the problem with a lot of Christians is that they are too religious.  Yes, I think organized religion sucks!  The whole point of being a "Christian" is to be "a follower of Christ."  Going to church is fine and dandy, but it doesn't make someone a Christian anymore than going to McDonald's makes someone a hamburger.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father (God) except through me." - John 14:6  (Jesus always spoke in red, you know.  :P)  So, according to Jesus, the only way to get into Heaven is through Him.  I believe that because as a Christian, I am a follower of Christ and His teachings.  It's not about having a RELIGION with Jesus, it's about having a personal RELATIONSHIP with Jesus.  This is the key difference between CHRISTians and CHURCHians.

GRID, if you want to go to church - great, go to church.  It will help meet your spiritiual needs.  But, I wouldn't recommend following the teachings of religion in that church.  Religion is dull and boring to me.  I would recommend following the teachings of Jesus in that church.  Jesus says He gives life.  And I can tell you I'm having waaaay more fun just simply following Jesus than I ever did trying to follow religion.

[/preaching]
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Re: Religion...

Postby Jess » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:48 pm

kcdcchef wrote:
I never preach to others about my beliefs, they are mine.


Nor do I.  I do share, and explain what I believe and why, but only when asked to do so...and I never presume to tell others they should believe what I believe - it's a personal choice, and everyone finds what works for them.  I prefer to live out my faith by being as good person as I can, not by proselytizing. 

I also really appreciate the community aspect of church - having people who care for me like family is important to me.  I've also always preferred small churches for this reason.  No point in going to a place where those in my church "family" don't really know me from Adam.

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Re: Religion...

Postby mean » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:50 am

I was raised in a non-churchgoing household for most of my youth, although both sets of grandparents were and still are pretty seriously into their respective religions (RLDS and non-denom Christian). I started going to church with my non-denom Christian grandma when I was a kid, "got saved" and all that, but I never really put much into it. For me, it was a way to spend time with grandma and sing songs. I got out of it after I got old enough to start understanding what it was all about and I realized I didn't actually believe any of it any more than I believed in Santa Claus. I was about four when I figured out Santa, but it took until the fifth grade before I figured out Jesus.

Note: when you're in fifth grade, it is not a good idea to start telling your friends you don't believe in God, unless you want to be ridiculed, ostracized, beaten up, etc.

When I was 13 I started going to a Baptist church at the insistence of my then-girlfriend, who was devoutly into the whole thing. I never believed any of it, but I met a lot of good people and made friends, and I wanted it to be true so bad that I began to find myself acting as though it were. I adopted the language of belief. For example, when an obstacle to something I wanted to do cropped up, and others around me were considering not doing it, I would suggest that it was a "test of faith"--basically to manipulate them into finding a way to do it anyway. I got baptized at the church and even went so far as to declare, in front of the entire congregation, an intention to become a preacher. Not because I was full of faith, but because it looked like an easy job and our pastor had a really nice car and house. It came so easily that it was quite a while before it dawned on me that I was using my pretend faith to manipulate people and situations to my advantage. It disgusted me, and I realized that I had to be honest with the world and myself, ditch the act, and at least live with a clear conscience.

Today I'm a happy atheist, married for 11 years to a beautiful atheist wife.
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Re: Religion...

Postby phuqueue » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:58 am

Mom is really Catholic (her whole side of the family is), but not overbearing about it.  Dad is whatever, doesn't even care (I think he's Episcopalian or Methodist or something, but I've never known him to go to church in my entire life except accompanying the family to Catholic mass for major holidays).  Was raised to be Catholic by mom, K-8 in Catholic school, high school at Rockhurst.  Became an atheist in middle school/junior high when it just all of a sudden didn't seem rational and didn't make any sense anymore. Still went to church every week because of my mom until I went to college.  Still have to go at Christmas with my family, and occasionally at Easter if I spend it with my parents, but I haven't stepped foot in a church since finishing high school except for those holidays and the occasional wedding/funeral/etc and I don't foresee that changing.  I don't think I'll ever see eye to eye with religious people, I just can't really understand it at all, but I don't really care either.  Whatever works for you.

Note: when you're in fifth grade, it is not a good idea to start telling your friends you don't believe in God, unless you want to be ridiculed, ostracized, beaten up, etc.

I was maybe two or three years older and never got beaten up or ridiculed or anything, but did also learn this lesson firsthand.  Mostly I was just young and naive and thought people were on the same page as I was or at least would be once I said something, and all I really got was weird looks.  I just assumed that I was "normal" having no faith in anything, but it turns out most of the kids at Catholic school are actually Catholic.  Go figure.

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Re: Religion...

Postby mean » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:07 am

phuqueue wrote:I was maybe two or three years older and never got beaten up or ridiculed or anything, but did also learn this lesson firsthand.  Mostly I was just young and naive and thought people were on the same page as I was or at least would be once I said something, and all I really got was weird looks.  I just assumed that I was "normal" having no faith in anything, but it turns out most of the kids at Catholic school are actually Catholic.  Go figure.


Well, I didn't get regularly beat up or anything, just one time when several guys caught me off guard and accused me of worshiping Satan. I tried to explain that not believing in God meant I also didn't believe in Satan, but they weren't interested in theological debate.
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Re: Religion...

Postby taxi » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:38 am

I frequent this forum to keep up on downtown development and senseless rumors, but I love this forum because of the occasional thread like this one. I feel like I kind of know many of the people who post, but their religious views and beliefs rarely if ever make their way into their comments.

The first thing I noticed when I started reading this thread was that there is an unusual amount of correct grammar, punctuation and fewer misspellings than usual. Obviously, people are giving a lot of thought to their posts and maybe even proof-reading them. Blasphemy!

I'm also surprised to see the number of atheists on here. I suppose that has something to do with anonymity, but I would not accuse those atheists of being pussies. They seem genuine in their convictions (or lack thereof). I am one, by the way.

Personally, I could care less what people think and what they believe in, as long as they don't evangelize. If it helps you to believe in whatever you chose, more power to you.
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Re: Religion...

Postby nota » Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:50 am

Like Jess, I'm a lifelong ELCA Lutheran. (Jess, I'm finding more and more parallels to our lives-farm background, solid upbringing, many others, and now religion)

My parents, especially Dad didn't go to church, but my grandma took us to Sunday School every Sunday and we participated in all the programs and other activities like all the other kids. Our Mom off and on sang in the choir and we sang in junior choir.

I slipped sometime in confirmation classes. It took me several tries and I finally was confirmed in 9th grade. I had too many activities that usurped the classes before then. But in 9th grade in school, I was taught evolution by my biology teacher at the same time I was being taught creation by my pastor. Those two used me to carry messages to one another that whole time. "Ask your biology teacher where that first spark of life came from if not from God." "Ask your pastor what forms of life preceded Adam and Eve if any and if he doesn't believe in man being evolved from apes, etc" Anyway-I finally got confirmed that year, mostly because my mom bought me this beautiful white eyelet dress that I wanted really really really badly. I've questioned religion all my life.

There was no Lutheran church in the town I began to raise my kids in so we took/sent them to the Presbyterian church nearby. The pastor was a real down to earth guy and even hubby went to church on occasion. I was a Bible School teacher, a sub Sunday school teacher, etc. We participated in all the programs, etc.

By the time our third child was born, we had moved to a different town. He got the beginnings of a religious base, but we didn't continue so the 2 older boys of course lapsed as well. I really really regret not continuing their religious upbringing until all were old enough to really understand what they were being taught and therefore to develop personal beliefs based on their own learning. My oldest-now 43 has very little if any religious leanings. The middle son, now 40 went to church with his family. When he divorced, he changed churches but still goes often. He also does a lot of service type things for them when they need him. These two don't often share any beliefs they have, but they don't have much.

The youngest has had a harder time. He started church type stuff as a toddler, continued till about 6, and then it was very slight after that. He was a mild Goth in HS and was fairly atheist. Now he is agnostic or that is how he defines himself. He married - guess who??-a German ELCA Lutheran girl who had a very strong religious background, so he has had some adjusting to do and he has done it very well and willingly, but I'm not sure how much he truly believes or even IF he believes. It's interesting, his oldest child is now 3 which is about the age to start Sunday School, etc. I haven't heard what they plan except that they plan to send her to private Lutheran schools.

As far as atheism, I don't necessarily believe there are many TRUE atheists. I certainly believe that many who have said they were atheists don't die as atheists. I believe that there are many agnostics as well as those who are just plain apathetic about church and religion in general.

I don't preach my beliefs, nor do I try to hide them. They are what they are and they are a part of who I am just as everyone else's are part of who they are. I despise the WWJD crowd immensely as well as those who try to foist their own (or their church's) interpretations onto me. I don't necessarily believe in any denominations-I have friends in many different ones, Protestand, Catholic, Mormon, etc. I respect those with a strong religious foundation as well as I respect those who seem more like me.

Religion is a quite interesting topic to say the least. Thanks Grid for starting this thread. I hope it doesn't turn into sniping of individual beliefs as many religious discussions do.
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Re: Religion...

Postby scooterj » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:05 am

I was born and raised RLDS  at a congretation that bordered on being a cult sect due to the fanatical "visions" of my grandfather, who happened to be an Elder in the congregation.    Until my late teens I was strongly religious because it was all I knew.    I started questioning things in my later teens to early 20s.

I haven't been to church regularly in 22 years now, and except for weddings and funerals I haven't been at all for about 10-12 years. 

Today I don't believe in anything that requires a supernatural explanation (magic, ghosts, incantations, etc).  The universe is what it is, and everything we can't explain is just stuff we haven't figured out yet.

I disagree with those who claim religion is necessary for a good moral upbringing.  Among the people I know, the ones that are the most polite, helpful, charitable, ethical, and considerate of others are the atheists.  And I believe it is because in our view, this is all there is so it's entirely up to us (people) to take care of things.

To me organized religion is like booze.    It's fine in moderation, harmless if you avoid it, some people need to avoid it, and reckless and dangerous when (ab)used in excess.
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Re: Religion...

Postby Jess » Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:08 am

Being a basically good person def. doesn't mean that one must be religious, just as being religious doesn't define a person as foolish or sheeplike.

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Re: Religion...

Postby ignatius » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:40 am

nota wrote:As far as atheism, I don't necessarily believe there are many TRUE atheists. I certainly believe that many who have said they were atheists don't die as atheists.


Apparently you don't know many or have not looked into other cultures that don't involve gods.  There are many past tribes who believed their ancestors guided them, not gods in the way you perceive them.  They don't suddenly develop a sense of gods (or your god) at death.  Quite wishful thinking of you.  I can see though that when/if a person is at their death bed with enough time to ponder, they will ponder all post-life possibilities they've been exposed to, including possibly the one you believe in if they've had any slightest exposure to it.  The more exposure they've had to it, the more it may be considered, especially if there is a fear of death.

I never liked the term atheist.  It's a theistic term and very self-centered of theists to label people not like them.  I'm not Buddhist but do not call myself aBuddhist.  I'm not into Zimbabwe culture but do not call myself aZimbabwean.

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Re: Religion...

Postby aknowledgeableperson » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:41 am

ignatius wrote:Do believers really think that prayers will conjure up supernatural forces that will impact their lives as they wish?  It seems so childish.  If they are out there, they are not very effectively communicating with us.  


It is a funny thing about prayer.  For example, during WW II you had people on both sides praying to God for victory.  Of course only one side can win so did God fail the other side?  This was explained to me that praying for something like this (victory) is the wrong thing to pray for.  You can pray for strength to get you through an ordeal (much like AA) or for insight to a problem so basically prayer should be for something within oneself.

There have been some studies that prayer does have some affect on one's brain.  Guess it can have an effect much like meditation.  

What about praying for others, such as for healing.  There have been cases where people have been cured and the science of medicine has no answer, at least for now.  The big question then is did God direct the healing?  As I said before our answers will come when we die.
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Re: Religion...

Postby ignatius » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:49 am

aknowledgeableperson wrote:What about praying for others, such as for healing.  There have been cases where people have been cured and the science of medicine has no answer, at least for now.  The big question then is did God direct the healing?  As I said before our answers will come when we die.


Positive thoughts alone can heal.  Placebos can heal.  Prayer can be a mechanism for positive thinking, but thinking it's interaction with a supernatural force to serve your needs smells very similar to superstitions rooted in mythology.

Mind over body is something we have yet to explore much of.  But that's a function within ourselves, not involving supernatural forces.


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