Thursday, October 07, 2010

Awareness of world religions

All restaurants are the same. You pay money, you get food. But that doesn't mean there's no difference between Olive Garden and McDonald's and Popeye's; it just means that to qualify as a "restaurant" you have to be doing the same kind of thing.

All books are the same. They have bindings and pages. But that doesn't mean there's no difference between A Tale of Two Cities and Where the Wild Things Are and Harry Potter; it just means there are certain things that qualify an object as a "book".

All religions are the same. You find out what can be known about the big picture of life, the universe, and everything, and about being a good person within it. Most people I've known underestimate the differences among the various religions, often to an amazing degree. "All religions are the same" is a mantra generally spoken by those who do not know much about any of them, much like "All books are the same" is not something you would hear from someone who spent any amount of time reading. We have book and movie critics attuned to the fine differences in kind and quality in their field of expertise; it's a shame we (or the media folks) take books and movies so much more seriously than religion.

Recently I saw the results of a study where various people had been asked various questions about religion and scored on the results. The write-up I saw was analyzing which groups did better than others on questions about world religions or about Judaism and Christianity. But the two things that struck me most about the results were these:
  1. Most of the scores for all groups were failing scores; it was just varying degrees of dismal
  2. Many of the questions were superficial, for example "Name that holiday"
There are different reasons we may want to know about the religions. First and foremost is to see what they teach about the meaning of life (for many religions, this works out to what they teach about the character of God / the gods), or to see what they teach about how to be good people. Next it is to see if a major improvement in the condition of human life could be made by what has been learned; Christians might think of this as homework to do before evangelism. And a third is a merely human and worldly reason: to see if there is any harm or danger from any of the beliefs, whether certain harmful beliefs are really just distortions of the original beliefs and actions of a faith, or whether they are the originally intended beliefs and actions of a religion.

I'd like to conduct a brief survey of my own here. I'll post it separately so people don't have to read this introduction unless they happen to want to. But it will focus not on the names of holidays or the names of theologians, but on the original teachings of the original founder / hero of the faith. I'll focus on major world religions with a recognizable human founder and focus on one question: What do we, as people of our day and culture, actually know about the founders of the major world religions?


Craig said...

Another great idea for a series, and I am looking forward to your observations. Will you be continuing your analysis of various Christian theological differences as well?

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Craig

Yes. The delay there was that I'd misplaced some of my notes over the summer during busy season at work. I went on a scavenger hunt during the week this week and found my notes, so can start moving forward again.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

PostEdt. said...

"The antithesis to some inate definition is astute."

Founding of worship in an historical note from about the 8th generation from Adam in account according to the written verses in the KJV addition of Genisis; transitioning into what establishes the founding of a "Religion", only from the details of "The Sermon On The Mount" starts a line of/or\for "the faith"?
The emergence of truth and spirit of The Father?