Monday, February 9, 2009

God & Religions & Religious Organizations & Us



I've seen quite a few stories in media and blogs about the recently hot debate on the standpoint of 'right-winged' religious groups' view on including/excluding homosexuals in domestic violence protection legislation. I don't have a strong view on this particular issue. However, I would like to express my view of the relationships among God, religions, religious organizations, and us. Certainly, I'm no expert in this topic. So, bear with me if you don't agree with what I'm gonna say.

Human beings in most cultures tend to believe in the existence of the supreme being, i.e. God, or whatever name you want to use it. Like Judaism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, etc. They all have the concept of God. They all talk about heaven and hell. Buddhism doesn't really talk about God, it talks about achieving the stage of 'Nirvana'. Nonetheless, I would assume Nirvana would be a nice stage of existence somewhat comparable to living in heaven. Anyway, the bottom line is that wherever we go, it won't happen till we are dead.

Religion to me is a set of beliefs for human to understand where we are from, why we are here, what we can/can't do now that will lead to where we will be in afterlife. Usually, the religious beliefs aim to make us better person. So, as a set of references to provide certain guidelines when we have problem figure out what to do in our daily living, particular those moral related issue. They could be quite useful. Most 'authentic' religions, I'm not talking about the cults, or newly created alternative religions, do have over thousands of year of history, so their existence, survival or belief do stand with time.

For these 2 items - God and religions, I do have quite high respect to them.

Throughout the thousands year of history in various religions, as people were supposed to be less informed and relatively naive. So, the spread of religions must gone through many people, and they do group together to form certain organizations. They form hierarchy to manage their existences, they set rules 'based largely' on their religious beliefs within the organizations. They also have frequent gatherings in designated places. There is no doubt that religious organizations, such as church groups, synagogues, temples, etc, are all 'man-made', though some of them do emphasize their existence is designated from God or whatever. If people pay more attention about religious history, you can see that those organizations do 'evolved', some of them were linked to political regime, led by political leaders, anyway, has close relationships with people in power in general. Also, those people in those religious organizations do have the indisputable role to 'screen' or interpret religious beliefs on behalf of God, as they said. They hold their power in 'judging' what's right or wrong. Cos, many religious beliefs, the reason why they can stand against time, are because there have certain degree of ambiguity, so interpretation does seem necessary and the power of which was up for grab. In addition, some beliefs are coming from 'life stories' of some spiritual leaders. So, interpretation can be done by 'editing' the story contents. With thousand years of history, change of personnel in those organizations, and further through 'language' translations, you are welcome to take a wild guess what religious texts messages have left and how accurate the current interpretation of religious beliefs by religious organization.

Do I against people who want to seek religions to go to church, temple or joining those organizations? No, I absolutely respect individual's rights to do whatever suit them as long as they don't affect the others who don't want to be affected. However, I just think that in these day and age, with the convenience of technology, typical folks like us, can easily access to 'all' sorts of religious information, including the 'official' ones and the 'alternative' interpretations. We have the freedom and up to our ability to seek out what is right for us. Also, I think with such technology, I believe that human being's relationship with God should be closer rather than the farther. Internet as a tool can help sellers directly contact with ultimate buyers, bypassing all the middle mans like it have ever been before. So, it should be the similar case in religions or spiritual life. I'm not saying religious organizations have no role or value. But, the way we access religious beliefs, via which we contact God should be more direct than before. At least we have more choices. So, I believe that in order to reach God, going through religious organizations should no longer be a 'must', and should be more an 'option' these days. On the other hand, for those religious organizations who claim that we must go through them or to hell, I think their messages are facing diminishing returns.....

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