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 Religions - The Benefits

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 15 Jul 2015, 07:55

I would agree with that one.

One could also add versions of the bible - the contribution that the KJV has made to English for example counts as one of the two single greatest literary sources for enrichment of that tongue (and this time the term is completely apt). Shakespeare counts as the other of course.

Religious faiths, by their very definition, are bound to encourage some brilliant fictions, especially fictions containing philosophical and metaphysical content that other genres might tend to avoid or do badly (even if both are rather eclectically represented within the religious ouvre and the fiction is often egregiously presented as fact). The enduring appeal of some of these is evident from their provenance, sometimes from long before written records and previously through countless generations of oral transmission. The unbroken literary line between any children's version of Noah's Ark in book form, for example, right back to pre-Akkadian Sumerian legend is testament to how religious faith can inspire literature (and literacy) with impressively consistent thematic application from almost quite literally the "dawn of civilisation" up to now. And though the flood story is also a good illustration of how some fiction transcends all religious faiths in that it is to be found as a core belief within religious codes which do not even recognise each other as "true faith" I'm still not sure if the same claim for consistent longevity could be made for any other single motivation to write stuff.

Religion as a source for good literature seems to work best when it isn't done self-consciously or with an attempt to advertise or proselytise. However it also has to be said that in terms of words written this represents alas only a very tiny proportion of the output. Still, when it works - as in when it successfully marries style, intellect, morality and philosophy - it can indeed be sublime.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 16 Jul 2015, 19:00

Right then until Temps returns to the fold we can move on from this one for a bit. My thoughts on metaphysical poets we can all do without[ A level ruined those for me apart from helping with Times crosswords when such quotes were in vogue.

However, still claiming benefits and to get you thinking I have yet to introduce notions about Religions and the Benefits thereof in many other lines of thought such as - here goes and in no particular order - Benefits from. festivals, drama, communal binding and loyalty, cultivation, food and drink, almonry, economies, for US slaves, wisdom. Well, that's for the time being.
Apart from singing Abide with Me after a boozy warm up at foootball matches, I can't think of any sports related benefits in any religion. Those ancient S. American ball games where the losers were sacrificed seemed to benefit no one. On the other hand Greek Games were dedicated to the Gods (assorted)  - and they had a religion because there were laws  of heresy; discus.
Anyone like to choose one of the above for an opening bid?
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Thu 16 Jul 2015, 19:25

I'm back - just been typing this out. Haven't read your post properly yet.

nordmann wrote:
Still, when it works - as in when it successfully marries style, intellect, morality and philosophy - it can indeed be sublime.



 I am reminded of Laurence Perrine's  guide to evaluating poetry:

In judging a poem, as in judging any work of art, we need to ask three basic questions: (1) What is its central purpose? (2) How fully has this purpose been accomplished? (3) How important is this purpose? The first question we need to answer in order to understanding the poem. The last two questions are those by which we evaluate it. The first of these measures the poem on a scale of perfection. The second measures it on a scale of significance. And, just as the area of a rectangle is determined by multiplying its measurements on two scales, breadth and height, so the greatness of a poem is determined by multiplying its measurements on two scales, perfection and significance. If the poem measures well on the first of these scales, we call it a good poem, at least of its kind. If it measures well on both scales, we call it a great poem.

However, I am being unfair: Perrine did actually write some good stuff in his Sound and Sense .

But surely, when reading religious/mystical literature written by the likes of Blake or T.S. Eliot or Gerard Manley Hopkins or George Herbert or Emily Bronte or John Donne or Milton, we do not need a tick box for "style, intellect, morality, philosophy" etc. handy - do we? But at least you do, nordmann, acknowledge that sublimity is possible, even by such deluded ones. I will for my part concede that sublimity is also possible by those who "believe nothing".

Sometimes literature lampoons  Christianity and I think it is healthy that we are occasionally given the opportunity to have a good  laugh. It's a benefit of a sane approach to religion. I've posted the following clip before, but it's a favourite, so I'll offer it again. It's Ian McKellen as the Reverend Amos Starkadder from Cold Comfort Farm haranguing the Quivering Brethren. When sunk in cosmic gloom, as I have been for the past couple of days,  the reminder that there'll be no butter in hell always cheers me up. And I've been reading Harper Lee's new book today. (Go Set a  Watchman  - yet another benefit of religion  - you get some cracking titles from the Bible/Apocrypha, from the sublime Remembrance of Times Past to the ridiculous, but wonderful, Moab is My Washpot. Lee's new title is from Isaiah.) There is a lovely bit where the now grown-up Scout remembers the time she, Jem and Dill went to a revivalist meeting. May I quote at some length?

 

Reverend Moorehead possessed a singular talent for fascinating children. He was a whistler. There was a gap between between his two front teeth...which produced a disastrously satisfying sound when he said a word containing one s or more. Sin, Jesus, Christ, sorrow, salvation, success were key words they listened for each night, and their attention was rewarded in two ways: in those days no minister could get through a sermon without using them all, and they were assured of muffled paroxysms of delight at least seven times an evening; secondly, because they paid such strict attention to Reverend Moorehead,  Jem, Dill and she were thought to be the best-behaved children in the congregation.

The third night of the revival when the three went forward with several other children and accepted Christ as their personal Saviour, they looked hard at the floor during the ceremony because Reverend Moorehead folded his hands over their heads and said among other things: "Blessed is he who sitteth not in the seat of the scornful." Dill was immediately seized with a bad whooping spell, and Reverend Moorehead whispered to Jem, "Take the child out into the air. He is overcome."



The children then hold their own revivalist meeeting and Dill dresses up in a sheet as the Holy Ghost. He incurs the terrible wrath of his Aunt Rachel, who, when she discovers the children, yells:" I'll Holy Ghost you, Charles Baker Harris! Rip the sheets off my best bed, will you? Cut holes in them, will you? Take the Lord's name in vain, will you? You get out of there!"

Truman Capote, Harper Lee's childhood friend, was the inspiration for Dill. I wonder if Capote ever did dress up as the Holy Ghost? I like to think he did.






Last edited by Temperance on Fri 17 Jul 2015, 18:35; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 17 Jul 2015, 10:22

I was going to quote Wordsworth this morning - thought a few lines from Tintern Abbey might do us all good. Wordsworth is usually considered to have been a secular humanist, but that view of his poetry is now being challenged. I actually think he combines the best of all worlds: Christian, humanist and pagan. That's a nice balance, I think - and it's not an impossible place to be, believe it or not.

He did write some awful stuff though.

But enough! No Tintern Abbey quotes. Football is the theme of the day, so let us consider the benefits bestowed by the hand of God in that particular sphere of human endeavour. I read this BBC article with interest:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/0/27379992

You will still see players making Catholic gestures such as the sign of the cross, but recent years have seen more evangelical expressions of Christianity. After their victory in the 2002 World Cup final, the whole team knelt in a huge prayer circle, with some players stripping off their shirts to show t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "I belong to Jesus."...

..."The Brazilian players used to have a bad-boy image," says Prof Rial. "They made so much money in such a short time and so faced a lot of temptations."

"The Bad Boy liked carnival, dancing all night and had lots of girlfriends. But with the neo-Pentecostalists, this image has started to change," she says.

"The footballers are obedient to the law of God, but they also obey the law of the coach and the club. They start to respect discipline and that's very beneficial for their career because their career depends on their bodies."

Overt displays of Christianity on the pitch haven't gone down well with football's world governing body, Fifa. It disciplined the Brazilian team after Kaka and Lucio peeled off their tops to reveal Christian t-shirts at the Confederations Cup in 2009. So will the Brazilians be able to refrain from celebrating their faith on the field during this year's World Cup?

"I'm sure that every goal that is scored will be followed by thanks to God", says Prof Rial. "But we may not see such explicit demonstration of religious faith at the World Cup as we have seen in the past- at least, not until they win! Then the celebrations will be very explicit indeed."


Good Lord.






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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 17 Jul 2015, 10:34

But football did not derive from a religion - well, so I think - so is not a  benefit in the spirit of the thread. ...... unless filling universes with balls of assorted mass, colours and temperature and such means  a diety at play. Which also means we  take ourselves too seriously.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 17 Jul 2015, 11:04

Priscilla wrote:
But football did not derive from a religion - well, so I think



Hmmm ...
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sat 18 Jul 2015, 23:09

Let us now consider the notion of Festivals as emerging from Religions and possibly therefore a Benefit in the sense of life enichment. Of course  pagan origins surely count. I have no idea what atheists celebrate; agnostics probably hedge their bets and enjoy what ever is on the programme. Rites of passage in many religions are used as an excuse for party-time for the observers if not all the participants.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 00:42

Priscilla wrote:
Let us now consider the notion of Festivals as emerging from Religions and possibly therefore a Benefit in the sense of life enichment. Of course  pagan origins surely count. I have no idea what atheists celebrate; agnostics probably hedge their bets and enjoy what ever is on the programme. Rites of passage in many religions are used as an excuse for party-time for the observers if not all the participants.

Now, let me see, what do atheists like me celebrate?

Well, how about all the family and life course events? Then there's the astronomical markers, cultural and societal festivals and all those things that religions have appropriated and then grafted on some kind of supernatural association.
And Dawkins' Day of course, that's such fun when we ritually parade the statue of Darwin round town by the light of burning bibles.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 12:36

The churches here in a rural community are always full for the Harvest Festival and for Rogation Sunday - the Blessing of the Fields. The decorations for the Harvest Festival are always lovely and traditional - lots of apples and veg. and sheaves of corn, but nowadays with packets of Weetabix and All-Bran and tins of Heinz Baked Beans placed with the baskets of natural produce. It still all looks great.


Since medieval times, the three days before Ascension Day (called Holy Thursday in Great Britain) have been known as Rogation Days (from rogare, "to pray"). Both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches set them aside as days of abstinence and prayer, especially for the harvest.
In many churches in the United States Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter, has been known as Rural Life Sunday or Soil Stewardship Sunday since 1929—a day when the religious aspects of agricultural life are emphasized. It is also known as Cantate Sunday because the Latin Mass for this day begins with the first words of Psalm 98, Cantate Domino, "Sing to the Lord."
The Rogation Days also had a secular meaning at one time in England, where they were called Gang Days or Gange Days —from the Saxon word gangen, meaning "to go." There was a custom of walking the parish boundaries during the three days before Holy Thursday (Ascension Day), the procession consisting of the priests and prelates of the church and a select number of men from the parish. Later, these Rogation Days were set aside for special local celebrations. In 19th-century Dorsetshire, for example, a local festival called the Bezant was held each year on Rogation Monday.


Someone here (not me!  Shocked ) wanted to bring back the big walk round the parish boundaries, but the Vicar was not keen - too pagan by half. Smile

It's odd too how many people still show up at the Midnight Communion, not just at Christmas, but on New Year's Eve too. Drunk maybe, but they still show up.

Here's the Big D. with a graven image. He's actually got a very nice, intelligent face - he'd have made a good, old-fashioned C of E vicar, I think, were he not a godless heathen.   Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 15:27

Well now, browsing about sites on 'dorks' first then more seriously t Nardi Gras I came across reference to  UNESCO' efforts to preserve 'The Oral and Intangible Treasures of Humankind.' Nothing on he ascinating list for Uk  - but Belgium has several unrelated to this thread but a decent mind boggle for a dull  Sunday pm - they are making an effort to preserve shrimp fishing on horseback in Belgium. It probably is better not to know exactly how all organisations' funds are spent - of course if you are a horse riding shrimp fisher peson it might be more so.

Still. Mardi Gras is up for preservation in several places and that has very religious origins and for many is a huge local benefit with celebration and excesses various. Bible burning could never bring on such fun - even Hitler's book-burn was not an annual event; my mind now sinks to thinking about burning annuals. I shall stop there
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 16:17

I know you are not keen on too many links in posts, P., but may I offer this one? It is a very fair article, I think:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/20/agnostic-defends-religious-belief-power

It's likely that religion's popularity is a product of emotion, fear of mortality and the unknown, and yes, fealty to tradition. But just like scientific and social inquiry, religion can serve a meaningful and positive role in individual and collective struggles, from the banal to the seemingly unbearable. I do not have any religious belief, but I also will not disparage the benefits many draw from theirs.

More balanced than the late Christopher Hitchens' vitriolic arguments for his atheism, I think. Hitchens was a brilliant man, but so consumed by hate. And it's hate that "poisons everything", whatever the faith - or none - of the hater.


...to claim that organized Christianity "has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world" – or to go further, as Christopher Hitchens did, when he said that "religion poisons everything" – is to ignore the positive power that even an "irrational" religious act or belief can have.


PS Shrimp Fishing On Horseback in Belgium - now there's an excellent title for a book - much better than the salmon fishing one.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 21:26

Temperance,

"PS Shrimp Fishing On Horseback in Belgium - now there's an excellent title for a book - much better than the salmon fishing one."

 http://paardevissers.be/


Click on the videos
the first one is in Dutch...
The pretty lady Kim-Liam is Dutch Dutch and Stefaan is Flemish Dutch...
I wonder if the English speaking ones hear the difference in pronounciation between the two...?
For us it is so obvious that even after the first three words we hear that she is Dutch Dutch...

The second video is in English from "The Guardian"

PS: There is some odd mechanism to have a full screen, I am not used to...some very small arrow upwards to the left in the screen...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 21:51

Priscilla wrote:
Let us now consider the notion of Festivals as emerging from Religions and possibly therefore a Benefit in the sense of life enichment. Of course  pagan origins surely count. I have no idea what atheists celebrate; agnostics probably hedge their bets and enjoy what ever is on the programme. Rites of passage in many religions are used as an excuse for party-time for the observers if not all the participants.


Priscilla,

the bulk of atheists is so recent that they have still to codify their calendar Wink ...but "humanist" associations, at least here in Belgium have already nearly the same calender as the other religions with a "lentefeest" at 6 and a feast of the free-thinking youth at 12 and as such it goes perhaps back on pagan rites from before christianity...?

And yes a lot of those I know are as "sectarian as their religious counterparts...

But speaking about Belgium every odd occasion to celebrate, religious or areligious and to make a "feast" are taken with the two hands wide open...

Kind regards and with respect for  your long and varied life even too "expanded?" to catch in one thick novel...

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Sun 19 Jul 2015, 22:45

Paul, so what of this  'Shrimp Fishing on Horseback that UESCO wants to save in its 'Oral and Intangible Treasures of Humankind.' programme. I know this is not thread related but am curious about hunting shrimps on hoseback - don't shrimps have rights too? Such matters are a constant issue in the UK.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 00:52

Well, the is a now-dying tradition of fishermen using a horse of sorts - a mud-horse - fishing for shrimps in Bridgewater Bay.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 07:58

ferval wrote:
Well, how about all the family and life course events? Then there's the astronomical markers, cultural and societal festivals and all those things that religions have appropriated and then grafted on some kind of supernatural association.

A valid point well made, ferval, and which, I see, rather revealingly did not draw a response from those who would prefer to think such an obviously human trait of celebration and commemoration originated within religion.

In fact it is the point that could be made regarding all - and I mean absolutely all - facets of religions which are claimed to be to their credit by their "believers" and used by these as justification for why religious observance and belief is a desirable human activity in which to engage. While there is no denying that it is indeed all too human an activity, there is also the requirement among honest observers of the phenomenon (at least those with a smattering of historical knowledge) to acknowledge that almost all of the traits, rituals, theologies, behaviours, structures and proclaimed effects that religion advertises have at their root a very ancient, a very primal and a very human origin. The sheer global diversity within each of these categories as exemplified by religious practitioners today, each purportedly representing a superior alternative to the others (a logical impossibility after all), is testament to the sociocentric propensity to appropriate, hijack, warp and make a virtue of misunderstanding actual theory and knowledge to cater for a secondary urge to fulfill nebulous "spiritual goals". When rules are imposed on how those goals can be achieved and the whole appropriation thing is then itself appropriated as a rather insidious form of control over others within the same society then the result is organised religion. Worse, when organised religion breaks outside the borders of the society in which it was formulated and aspires to "go global" then it becomes something far more insidiously dangerous indeed, an entity existing largely for its own sake and which therefore employs every means at its disposal to self-perpetuate.

So yes, in a very personal way, restricting ourselves solely to our own particularly individual and sociocentric view of the world, we can all probably identify facets to our life and our material surroundings which ostensibly could be called "benefits of religion". But none of them, not even so-called spiritual fulfillment (the most nebulous benefit of all), can be claimed in all honesty to have originated solely from within religious belief, let alone any one particular form of that belief's expression. All - even the nasty attributes - have an all too human source.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 11:16

I wrote, 'Of course pagan origins surely count.' In that I made the assumption that the pagan origins of many religious festivals was well understood with no need for tedious detail. of course the were highjacked and adapted for purpose. Paganism is a religion - must that also be detailed in over explanation? The point - to labour it further - is that Religion has benefitted lives through its festivals - whatever their origins - as those with the faintest smattering of knowledge of history - point taken - fully appreciate that. Odd isn't it how many billions have seemed to have had need of some sort of spiritual fulfillment - yet you think of it is of nebulous benefit - you must wonder also then why they bothered. Of course you do. Not that it has been suggested in this thread as a benefit; you often use the word, sublime. To some that equates with a spiritual fulfillment - sometimes religious fervor seems to intoxicate passionate followers. They seem as smug as their detractors -but most stand back in wide eyed questioning detachment.
I do take your point about the insidious spread of doctrines by enforcement..... that is unrelated to my thread that merely wants to identify the broader spin off benefits that can come from religions. Doctrinal dictatorhip in its one size fits all garb, mercifully shrinks in the wash of time but after great suffering and very few if any benefits.

Anyway - as one of small brain and very small knowledge and too thick not to stand down from the flak of total intellectual conviction, I shall persist in this little quest to highlight my take on the benefits to societies that have eminated through religions.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 11:26

Is anybody watching Britain's Forgotten Slave Owners? An interesting programme looking at the impact of the profits of slave ownership in Britain with particular emphasis on the huge compensation payments at abolition and how these funded many of the great country houses that we enjoy wandering round as well as the rapid expansion of the industrial revolution, propelling the country into its Victorian dominance.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b063db18

It struck me that these, and other outcomes, could be classed as 'benefits', but could these in any way retrospectively justify the practice and that there might be a link with the question posed in this thread.

The Meso-American pyramids, are those 'worth' the thousands of still beating hearts ripped out up there? That may be an extreme example but - medieval cathedrals, renaissance art, baroque music - all unquestionably sublime but all required shed loads of cash, as well as often a touch of megalomania and a desire for status, from their patrons and where did that cash come from? I don't think we could argue that most of it was extracted directly or indirectly, from the sufferings and labours of the poor, so can our aesthetic appreciation of these also retrospectively justify that even if it were proved, which I obviously don't believe, that they were solely the the product of religious impulses?

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 11:31

P, does the celebration of birth or the commemoration of death or the feasting following harvest necessarily have to have any religious basis? Can't these be just expressions of human response?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 11:41

Priscilla wrote:
Paganism is a religion - must that also be detailed in over explanation?

"Pagan" is simply non-Christian in its intended meaning, and therefore it can indicate alternative religions or no religion at all. My point is that no matter whether or not the need to have a shared custom, belief or ritual is attributed to a religious root cause the unavoidable truth is that it is humans who have chosen to interpret the obviously human root cause as being religious. Calling that root "religious" or indeed "pagan" is simply pretending not to recognise that it is of course actually just "human", the same as anything else humans do, say or think.

Further to your other point, spiritual fulfillment is also indeed that apparent benefit of religion which is most nebulous in meaning. Or can you furnish a definition that covers all shades of religious belief? It is one of those terms which abound in religion-speak and which purport to convey a comprehensive and comprehensible meaning but which simply do not when they are examined as to what that meaning might actually be. Billions might indeed claim to seek to attain this thing, but we don't even know if any two of those billions actually seek the same thing at all. If there was semantic consensus one would imagine there would have been a lot less divisiveness based on religious belief in the past (and present). The evidence however seems to point the other way.

But I will still iterate my point about sociocentric evaluation of "benefit" in a religious sense. Temp's genuine affection and appreciation for the local manifestation of C of E in the form of her local church, its trappings and its traditions, is a very good example of what almost all religious people do regardless of which religion they subscribe to. The most meaningful and important aspects to their faith are exhibited in localised manifestations of what they take that faith to mean. This is a very human type of behaviour, and one with readily understandable motives sociologically. And as such, I contend, it lends the lie to whence true "benefit" arises and how it should be attributed.

So when you say "religion has benefited lives through its festivals" you are telling half the truth of it, omitting the really important human half for whatever reason you see fit. I am not aware of your own commitment to any particular religious faith but if, as I suspect, you entertain such a commitment then that half is actually something you should be commended for. More devout people tend not even to manage that much.

EDIT: ferval has posted in the meantime. I'm sending without having read her contribution yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 11:54

I have no idea, ferv. Thanks for harvests may - in ancient times - I suggest, because my provenance in any history is acknowledged fuzzy -  was prayer to a deity for a good harvest;  thanks for one followed is also probable. 'The Gods are with us' claim seems to be a widespread attitude after good fortune - and likewise in pearshaped mishap. As for birth I think prayers were offered up by ancients for  sons - in Delph there were special shrines where childless women went with sacrifices. With success greater sacrifices and celebration are recorded. Come in ID, I need you here!

Necessarily, you write, probably not but common in many places - can't think of where it is not, other than communist places and then I now learn there was much covert religious stuff still going on. I was also told of it by a communist diplomat - a secret catholic, I was astonished to learn. Half the astonishment was his trust in telling me - and this is the first time I haver spoken of it.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 12:02

Priscilla wrote:
can't think of where it is not, other than communst places

eh ... Christmas? A so-called religious festival the celebration of which has little or nothing to do with religion any longer for the majority of its celebrants. But that's not going to stop people doing it anyway - in fact the more the religious element declines the more strident it seems people's need to "celebrate" it and the more actually do it.

Which of course begs the question of how many religious festivals there would ever have been if alcohol and narcotics had never been discovered.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 12:26

What is it to be human then? What exactly is "the human response"?

I think one of the wisest things nordmann wrote was a while back on another thread:

nordmann wrote:
God made man make god make man make god make man make god ... and so what? Does it matter who gets the credit for Mercy, Love and Pity? They're the real constant. A wonderfully affirmative sentiment for faith in humanity.


Yes - I sometimes wonder what it is we are arguing about.

And I'd add "tolerance" to nordmann's list of "Mercy, Love and Pity".


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 12:29

Temperance wrote:
What is it to be human then? What exactly is "the human response"?

It is exactly what the words say. Apparently a big part of "the human response" is to fail to understand that this is what it is.

Cute picture, though what "team" are you alluding to? I'm on the human team. No need to pretend it has an invisible manager either.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 13:09

nordmann wrote:
Temperance wrote:
What is it to be human then? What exactly is "the human response"?

It is exactly what the words say. Apparently a big part of "the human response" is to fail to understand that this is what it is.

Cute picture, though what "team" are you alluding to? I'm on the human team. No need to pretend it has an invisible manager either.





http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100230985/how-atheists-became-the-most-colossally-smug-and-annoying-people-on-the-planet/

They do seem rather to have taken over from the Christians.

Sorry to interrupt the thread with nonsense. Will shut up now.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 13:30

The Australian blogger Brendan O'Neill who you see fit to link to up there makes a living out of stirring the proverbial. He has followed up the above article (which makes such unfair assumptions about atheism and atheists - the homogeneous clump of matter that we are - that it ends up redolent with the very smugness it pretends to abhor) with ones attacking (in no particular order), "the left" as being anti-semitic, the Great British Bake-Off as being proof that all Britons have surrendered to "twee", and even Brian Cox for allegedly regretting that knowledge should invoke controversy.

Mind you, there is no doubting that the man is certainly qualified to comment on hubris.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 15:58

Ah well, whatever they are, I reckon that most festivals emerged from religions - and however they change with the times they are on the whole a huge benefit that relieves the otherwise dull routines of many lives
. Religion introduced the day off per week - holy days.....Sabbaths assorted. That was in ancient times and there is not a parallel humanistic concept from year dot, is there. Communists and such copied the notion and surely no one will deny the benefit of 'le weekend,' even if the origins are long forgotten or ignored.

Do committed atheists go along with a day off a week regardless of origins or refuse to partake?

And please Mr Nordmann it's no use trying to half guess a label about me. When I am ready for committal I'll take myself to the sectioning dept. I assume that is when the rest of the world seems crazy.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 16:48

Priscilla wrote:

Religion introduced the day off per week - holy days.....Sabbaths assorted.......
Do committed atheists go along with a day off a week regardless of origins or refuse to partake?

I did promise myself that I wouldn't get involved in this thread, but I can't just let that go by unchallenged. A day off a week - a benefit of religion?!

A seven day week represents 1 phase of the moon, a lunar month (if that's not tautology) being almost exactly 28 days. And the solar year can be neatly divided into 13 months of 28 days (plus one and a bit days extra), thereby marrying solar are lunar cycles. This is all just a function of the Earth having a big moon of the size/distance it is. It has got absolutely nothing to do with religion, unless you want to claim it's that way because God made it that way (in which case He didn't do a very neat job what with the annoying need for leap days every 4 years or so). The cycles of the moon and sun govern all life on Earth, with the possible exception of organisms that live in caves or in the dark depths of the deep oceans. So you really cannot claim a seven day week as a benefit of religion. And though I accept the one day off a week is codified in old religious writings, I would bet humans have been taking one day of rest every lunar quarter for as long as they settled down to make their living from agriculture. They may even have done so when they lived as hunter gatherers, though the need to work (and rest) to a regular weekly cycle was probably of lesser importance than working to a different natural cycle (months/seasons perhaps).

As to whether atheists accept or refuse to partake in sabbath holidays (and Easter and Christmas) ... well frankly, as with so much else in a religious-dominated society, we have had little practical choice. I no longer risk being denounced for working on the sabbath, but if I want to talk to my bank manager it is still convenient for us both if we observe the same days of work and of days off, in much the same way that nearly all societies have developed the habit of driving on either the right or the left.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 17:52

I'm not claiming anything only knowing that a seventh day structure was set down in a religious faith and that we have tagged along with it. Moon cycles  are a tad difficult to discern as they are  gradual - and add tide changes for the areas with tides  onto that. Tide times are  important about here and those born to close to them usually  know the state of the tides. I usually can  tell even when far from tidal water.

The structure of the one day off - and highly structured for a long time - that I  offer up, came through a religious path and not from the crops or tides or whatever else our ancestors used for similar downing of tools. I have no proof to offer that any days  in a regular pattern came about in any other way. And I deem the day off a benefit - and how!

Dear, dear, I sense   garments during some sort of denial fever  getting knotted. I am not attacking atheism or asking for proofs of it only taking an historical view of how religions may have brought benefits accidently or even - good grief - by intent. We'll not dwell on the latter because that will cause further problems. I wonder why you stay away from the thread? It doesn't get too hot in here.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Mon 20 Jul 2015, 23:12

Priscilla wrote:
Odd isn't it how many billions have seemed to have had need of some sort of spiritual fulfillment - yet you think of it is of nebulous benefit - you must wonder also then why they bothered. Of course you do.

This is what I have been thinking generally about this thread.  There is some form of religious belief in so many societies over the course of history, whether you are talking about the worldwide ones of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindism, Buddhims, etc, or ones like the beliefs of Polynesians, Australian Aboriginees, American Indian, African religions.  It defies logic (I was going to say 'belief' but 'logic' will fit better) that there is not an underlying human benefit to all this.  It may not be needed any more and by many people, but obviously it has been needed.  And things that are needed have a benefit by definition. 

I don't really understand why the discussion here has seemed to be along the lines - I am religious so can see the benefits; I am not, so put it down to other elements.  I am not religious but it seemed weird to say it hasn't brought benefits to people, or hasn't an intrinsic benefit in itself to people. Saying religious or any other style of (social, scietntific) benefits are only because we are human is rather circular.  Might as well say a dog barks because a dog barks - well, of course it does, but that doesn't mean there isn't some logical or rather biological reason behind it.  Religious belief fits some sort of need for humans and therefore is automatically part of being human but it still exists in its own right, just as scientific knowledge comes from humanity, but still exists as an entity.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 06:17

Ah, that old existentialist dilemma. When in receipt of iffy goods does one acknowledge their provenance only back to the lorry they fell off - or maybe accept the whole truth of the matter (just like the courts do) and admit their true origin. Tough one, right enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 06:56

Caro wrote:
There is some form of religious belief in so many societies over the course of history, whether you are talking about the worldwide ones of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hindism, Buddhims, etc, or ones like the beliefs of Polynesians, Australian Aboriginees, American Indian, African religions.  It defies logic (I was going to say 'belief' but 'logic' will fit better) that there is not an underlying human benefit to all this.  It may not be needed any more and by many people, but obviously it has been needed.  And things that are needed have a benefit by definition.


That's why I asked, "What is it to be human then? What exactly is 'the human response'? " - genuine questions which elicited such a dismissive response from nordmann.

That hubristic young man is an atheist, by the way. Is he really so full of intellectual pride and arrogance, as is suggested? Isn't he saying simply that he finds intellectual certainty and smugness a bit old-fashioned (so 19th century, darling) and extremely annoying (which is exactly how most people feel about Christian fundamentalists)?

But enough of that. Back to the benefits of religion.

Everyone has heard of the 12 Step programme which has been reasonably successful in helping addicts of all kind, not just alcoholics. The thinking behind the programme actually has Lutheran roots:

“The substantive faith set forth in especially the first three Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous,” Ernest Kurtz wrote in his classic and authoritative work on the history of AA, “was in salvation attained through a conversion, the pre-condition of which was the act of surrender.” (Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 182)

The relationship between the Oxford Group and AA is described in Chapter VIII (The Context of the History of Religious Ideas), of Kurtz’s book, a must-read for those interested in the religiosity of AA.

But the meaning of "God" or "Higher Power" is left wide open. Step 3 of the programme states: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

And here is Carl Jung's letter to one of the founders of the AA movement: it contains the famous words, "Spiritus contra spiritum."*





* Spiritus Contra Spiritum

This phrase occurs in Carl Jung's written response to Bill Wilson's 1950's letter regarding Rowland H.'s alcoholism and subsequent recovery through a powerful spiritual experience.  Jung had told Rowland that the only hope for him was a profound spiritual experience  Spiritus in Latin means both alcoholic beverages, i.e., spirits, and the highest religious experience. In relating this simple phrase Jung confirmed for Bill that the A.A. programme aimed at spiritual development and a spiritual awakening, as treatment for alcoholism, was the correct direction.  This confirmation from such a respected figure was extremely important to Bill.  



I expect I'll be mocked something awful for this, but what the heck.


drunken


Beer


Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 07:32

Mocked? Why?

Though maybe disagreed with, if that's ok? I am no fan of Jung (even Jung's mother had problems there too) but I have to admit I find his "spiritus contra spiritum" advice rather appealing, if a little naive. Personal research has unfortunately proven to me that drinking copious amounts of hard liquor only blots out all the woo-woo stuff temporarily. When one sobers up it is normally to find that the superstitious are still all around one.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 07:55

I was trying to come up with something deep and meaningful about Jacob wrestling with an angel. I looked for pictures and came across this site which I found so funny I wanted to share it. Sorry off topic, Priscilla.

http://the-toast.net/2014/09/16/famous-paintings-jacob-wrestling-angel-ranked-much-actions-resemble-slow-dancing/

This is my favourite:



FINALLY. THIS IS CLEARLY A PAINTING OF A MAN WRESTLING WITH AN ANGEL. For some reason there are Dutch women looking on; I’m willing to overlook that because Gaugin knows what a fight looks like. 10 points.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 08:55

PS

nordmann wrote:
Personal research has unfortunately proven to me that drinking copious amounts of hard liquor only blots out all the woo-woo stuff temporarily. When one sobers up it is normally to find that the superstitious are still all around one.


I hate to admit it, but that did make me laugh. Brilliant riposte.


evilputer
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 10:14

That's festivals given an airing. Moving on. What of the benefit of theatre, drama, dance developing through religions? Again, primitive beginnings in gatherings with deity worship of some sort. The hypnotic pulse of drum beat, rhythmic noise seems to bring on an urge to dance to it - so a pleasure and therefore a benefit that has long left many faiths some of whom deride it.
 
The use of theatre; mm - I think I might introduce ceremony as a separate point. Drama - and dance drama as say in the Hindu form are religion based and so are several Asian  symbolic styles of theatre. No one can deny that formal services are pure theatre - but more of that later.

Dance then, The mind courses through African based dances about masked spirit men, the kuklos dances of Europe to depict the year cycles, war dance that invoke the gods and so on. Of course modern dance in all its forms is secular and a spin off but origins - ah, yes a further benefit of religions?   Hot stuff for a humanist on a warm summer's day. Perhaps  Caro in NZ can give a cooler current here.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 11:12

Hot stuff for a humanist on a warm summer's day.

Huh, 12 c and raining - if the weather gods were amenable to human persuasion I'd be out there dancing myself.

All these 'benefits' might be just as well be ascribed to a belief in magic so is there a difference between that and a belief in religion? If there is a difference, how would you characterise it?



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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 12:50

Priscilla wrote:
dance developing through religions?

Oh Merciful Sweet Lord preserve us from Christian song and dance routines ...

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 12:58

I wouldn't, ferv.  This thread is about religion and benefits not definitions of assorted religion. Go on get out there - commune in the rain. Dance was/is in some places a human expression for engaging with a spiritual side; in my opinion, anyway. Rain dancing is an expression of thanks after a drought or speeding on the crops - go, on girl, enjoy. It mgiht do the barley good! Include hops.
In one place I was in east-wise there was a bad drought. The President gave up public prayer and encouraged  the population to do likewise. And lo and behold it rained next day in the places where it was needed. But it didn't stop and there were floods and washed out fields. The Pres cam on TV again and asked everyone to pray for it to stop. It did. Many sermons were delivered on this event that broke me up - I did so enjoy life there.

The origins of jazz sprang from religious observance of several kinds. A real benefit, that.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:01

Oh well researched, nordmann! May the Lord preserve you - pickled or otherwise.

Crossed posts with ferv.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:03

Mind you, Priscilla - if it wasn't for Baby Jesus and pals we'd never have had this either ...

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:04

Is this of benefit to anyone?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:07

Heathen!

Try this one for size so ... (written by St Paul and St Art)

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:13

nordmann wrote:
Priscilla wrote:
dance developing through religions?

Oh Merciful Sweet Lord preserve us from Christian song and dance routines ...


For once nordmann and I are in complete and utter agreement.

A few Sundays ago our vicar (who thinks we are a miserable, dull lot, too fond of the BCP by half) preached from the text about "David dancing mightily before the Lord": she was clearly exhorting us all to be "more exuberant in our worship."

We sat in stony silence, knowing that at a church she favours in a nearby town there is a move for dancing in the aisles, not done by young folk, I should add, but by a group of middle-aged women. I know I am being horribly uncharitable, but I can't help it. I once sat through a performance of "Worship Through Dance" offered by these worthy matrons and found myself praying mightily to the Lord: "Please God, make it stop. Just make it stop. Now, make it stop."

There is no way in a million years they'll ever get me dancing in a church - never, ever, ever. It's enough to make you go over to the other lot - the Roman Catholics, I mean. I bet they don't go in for all this embarrassing Pentecostal stuff at the Vatican. Things are done properly there. I do not know what the C of E is coming to. Cranmer would be spinning in his grave - if he had one.




EDIT: Sorry, Priscilla.


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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Tue 21 Jul 2015, 13:16

You haven't seen RCs when they go all charismatic then? If there's one thing worse than bad dancing to bad music it has to be bad dancing to bad music that only you can hear.

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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 22 Jul 2015, 00:30

Temps, why sorry? I agree. That sort of thing is not a benefit -my thoughts had begun with origins that in time moved away from a religious base. What you relate sounds downright silly? David did quite a lot of other things, will they be doing that in the aisles too?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 22 Jul 2015, 10:43

Priscilla wrote:
Temps, why sorry?


Ah, sorry, sorry, sorry - that made me think about forgiveness, surely a Christian idea/ideal that has been of huge benefit to humankind?


Well, yes and no. As with everything, there's more to it than we think.


http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/classical-studies/ancient-history/forgiveness-origins-moral-idea


In this book*, David Konstan argues that the modern concept of interpersonal forgiveness, in the full sense of the term, did not exist in ancient Greece and Rome. Even more startlingly, it is not fully present in the Hebrew Bible, nor again in the New Testament, or in the early Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Holy Scriptures. It would still be centuries-- many centuries-- before the idea of interpersonal forgiveness, with its accompanying ideas of apology, remorse, and a change of heart on the part of the wrongdoer, would emerge. For all its vast importance today in religion, law, politics, and psychotherapy, interpersonal forgiveness is creation of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the Christian concept of divine forgiveness was finally secularized. Forgiveness was God’s province, and it took a revolution in thought to bring it to earth and make it a human trait.

* Before Forgiveness: The Origins of a Moral Idea - David Konstan

Which is all very confusing because I thought the NT says:

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.




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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 22 Jul 2015, 18:17

Before the big guns come out to tear into that, I am not sure I understand what forgiveness is - beyond not harbouring any ill will and moving on - pained acceptance without malice. Does that sound like rubbish - probably. Its how I feel about things and how I live. Forgiveness smacks of patronising  superiority. I cannot imagine myself forgiving someone who hurt anyone close to me in the sense of allowing belief that the transgression is somehow mitigated . Oh deep water, P. get out of this one and stay out. Over to the others.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 22 Jul 2015, 21:24

Priscilla wrote:
But football did not derive from a religion
Surely these days it IS a religion?
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Wed 22 Jul 2015, 22:07

Priscilla wrote:
Paul, so what of this  'Shrimp Fishing on Horseback that UESCO wants to save in its 'Oral and Intangible Treasures of Humankind.' programme. I know this is not thread related but am curious about hunting shrimps on hoseback - don't shrimps have rights too? Such matters are a constant issue in the UK.

 Priscilla and Caro,

I have prepared some in depth messages about the rights of shrimps related to this thread and also even more in depth thoughts to one of the latest messages of Caro.

But has I have to prepare it in detail to pass Nordmann's logical mind...and even no time this evening to speak about the Saxe Coburgs to Meles meles...

Kind regards to both of you, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Religions - The Benefits   Fri 24 Jul 2015, 19:18

Priscilla wrote:
Before the big guns come out to tear into that, I am not sure I understand what forgiveness is - beyond not harbouring any ill will and moving on - pained acceptance without malice. Does that sound like rubbish - probably. Its how I feel about things and how I live. Forgiveness smacks of patronising  superiority. I cannot imagine myself forgiving someone who hurt anyone close to me in the sense of allowing belief that the transgression is somehow mitigated .


Mmm. The big guns are silent. Not surprising. Forgiveness is a topic that shuts us all up. What have the majority of us ever experienced that needs real forgiveness? Little pricks to our narcissistic pride? Oh yes, but really not much else perhaps. What do most of us leading our comfortable, sheltered, English lives (I'm thinking of myself here) know of real evil - and real forgiveness? You, Priscilla, with your experience of war, will probably know far more. Others here will also, no doubt, have much more understanding than I could ever hope to have of the need for - or the impossibility of - forgiveness.



Priscilla wrote:
  Oh deep water, P. get out of this one and stay out.


Yep, good advice that I ought to take too. The idea of "forgiveness as a benefit of religion" was no doubt a rather foolish thing to introduce.



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