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“Religion without God: “Cults,” Pious Atheists, and Our Own Human Bodies

“What this means more broadly is that the tired old Protestant-inflected definitions of “religion” are losing hold in diverse Western nations. And it’s about time. Religion can no longer be seen as a “set of beliefs in God,” as conventional wisdom might put it. A global, plural view of religion must rid itself of emphasis on both “belief” and “God.” Instead, we need to look toward those definitions, culled from decades of in depth observations of cultures and societies around the world that point toward the networked systems of myths, symbols, rituals, and concepts that orient communities of people toward meaningful and valued living. Religion refers to behaviors and practices as much as, and often more than, belief.”

To be clear, I don’t agree with this article, but I think it’s interesting. I think the problem begins with the definition of “religion.” I know that religious studies is a relatively new field, and one that is often dominated by a Western “Judeo-Christian,” and as it says here a notable Protestant, bias. The definition of religion as opposed to philosophy is a complicated one as well. Greek, Confucian and Indian “philosophy” are divorced as separate disciplines from their polytheistic traditions in Greece, China and India. “Philosophy” as I have encountered it is usually related to an outlook on the world that is closer to atheism, reflecting on metaphysics without a “God” figure per se. “Religion” is therefore defined as a belief in God somehow… So where do we draw the line? Why do we consider Buddhism a religion, when so much of it is related to a non-theistic view? What of the heavy influences of Neo-Platonism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam? I don’t have an answer for this, but it peeves me that so many VERY DIFFERENT systems of belief, thought, practice, etc are all reduced to the label “religion.” It is hardly scientific, and I think that stripping away the complexity of various religious “systems” for the sake of simplicity is a slap in the face to serious study. /rant

“10 Things Pope Francis Has Done that Make Me Consider Being Catholic”

“It’s not Catholicism that is so attractive to people. It’s looking like Jesus.”

I thought that was the point… Too bad the papacy, among other religious leaderships, have been off-track for so long…!

Abd el-Kader Education Project: A town in Iowa named after an Algerian freedom fighter of the 1800s.
Not an article, but an interesting fact 🙂

SNOW in the Middle East

“Muslims can draw many lessons from the life of Mandela”

“Another great principle was that Mandela was not merely concerned with his own people. He experienced the pain of oppressed people throughout the world, regardless of race, colour, nationality or religion. He supported the Palestinian cause, for example.”

THIS is one of my biggest issues with the Muslim community, which unfortunately is reinforced by this article: Nothing is relevant to Muslims until we can see a parallel with the Muslim community, or someone who engaged with the Muslim community. Where is the blind compassion for others who are not Muslim that Muslims adore so much from others? “They cared about us!” This is a serious double standard in my opinion. There is no doubt that there are a great many Muslims of different backgrounds who are suffering who deserve our attention and help, but it is dangerous in my opinion for one’s compassion to stop there. I know I don’t know much, but how many of the Sahabah were not part of Muhammad’s (pbuh) family, tribe, etc? Sure, they became part of his family, and part of the Muslim movement, but I am still convinced that there is greater harm in looking out only for one’s own rather than holding fast to principles of truth. I would always rather associate with Islam than Muslims if I had to make a choice. So many people mention Bilal and Salman alFarsi but the continuing racism within the Muslim community undermines such arguments. When Islamophobes use words like “Islamo-fascist” I don’t think they are entirely wrong to point out near-fascist trends within the Muslim community which start with a supreme dedication to one’s own group to the exclusion of others entirely. This small-minded, tribal mentality, in my opinion, has no place in a religion that deems itself to be the “universal religion” with a “universal message” for humankind, it is in fact extremely antithetical. /rant

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