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Attitudes Toward Religion 
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Post Attitudes Toward Religion
Michael Shermer has this to say on page xiii of the preface (1st Edition):

Quote:

I am an agnostic who has no ax to grind with believers, and I hold no grudge against religion. My only beef with believers is when they claim they can use science and reason to prove God's existence, or that theirs is the One True Belief; my only gripe with religion is when it becomes intolerant of other peoples' beliefs, or when it becomes a tool of political oppression, ideological extremism, or the cultural suppression of diversity.



What are your thoughts about this attitude toward belief and religion?

--------

Are there really examples of religions and believers of those religions who fulfill the following 6 items?

1. Refuse to claim that science or reason can be used to prove God's existence.

2. Refuse to consider their beliefs as the "One True Belief".

3. Refuse to ever be intolerant of other peoples' beliefs.

4. Refuse to use religion as a means of political oppression.

5. Refuse to use religion in an ideologically extreme way.

6. Refuse to use religion in any way that may suppress cultural diversity.

--------

If a believer/religion does not fulfill any or all of the above listed items, then how should we think and act in regards to them/it?

Eric




Fri Mar 05, 2004 6:30 pm
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Post One Christian Approach
The love of Jesus is inclusive, regardless of race, gender, social class, nationality, and sexual preference. For privileged groups, enacting that love means actively divesting of privileges that come with race, background, wealth, education, or being in a sexual majority.

We believe one can address injustice with integrity only when one is willing to partake of the vulnerabilities and limited options experienced by the poor. We try to live this personally and organizationally. Staff salaries are limited to 55 percent of the median household U.S. income (currently $20,353 per year). Staff members choose their own salaries based on self-assessed need up to that maximum, and have additional allowances for dependent children.

God calls us to live nonviolently. We believe war is immoral, we strive to foster peace in every relational dimension, and we eschew violence.

All people are equally valuable before God. All staff are eligible for the same salary -- regardless of position or seniority.

The witness of the Spirit comes through art, music, the word, and all kinds of people. We believe in active prayer life, commitment to a Christian community, and creative expression.

Scripture confronts us with the need for both social and personal redemption. We take Scripture, the existence of evil, and the possibility of transformation seriously.

We protest national borders as a means of exclusion of other people. We embrace those who are refugees from their homelands. We advocate opening borders, especially to the economically oppressed.

We oppose nationalism and patriotism that lead to blind obedience to violence and war, corrupt institutionalism, and significant moral compromise.

We support the rebuilding of communities. We oppose economic stratification and segregation. We are deeply critical of technologies, capitalist structures, and materialism that erode and disempower local communities.

We believe in caring for the land. Gardening, composting, and handling waste streams locally and on site are radical acts of resistance. We support intensive regulation of industries that pollute and create waste, and would rather change or eliminate packaging than support recycling.

We respect divergent faiths and spiritualities and seek to dialogue with them.

We believe in the existence of sin. We also believe in radical forgiveness.

We stand with the poor and the marginalized against forms of oppression and power. We challenge all oppressive forms of discrimination based on race, gender, age, class, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or personal ability.

We reject materialism. We struggle against greed. We seek to live sustainably and encourage others in their choice of a simple life style.

We are as concerned about structural evil as we are about personal evil. We address unjust and unloving human structures wherever they are -- but in particular where we are most responsible.

The Other Side: Strength For the Journey
www.theotherside.org/about/index.html




Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:36 pm
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Post A Second Christian Approach
Statement of Purpose:

Pax Christi USA strives to create a world that reflects the Peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence. This work begins in personal life and extends to communities of reflection and action to transform structures of society. Pax Christi USA rejects war, preparations for war, and every form of violence and domination. It advocates primacy of conscience, economic and social justice, and respect for creation.

Pax Christi USA commits itself to peace education and, with the help of its bishop members, promotes the gospel imperative of peacemaking as a priority in the Catholic Church in the United States. Through the efforts of all its members and in cooperation with other groups, Pax Christi USA works toward a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.

Pax Christi is a section of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement.


Pax Christi USA Priority Areas:

Spirituality of Nonviolence and Peacemaking:
Pax Christi USA promotes Christian nonviolence on the personal, communal, national and international levels. Believing in the gospel call to conversion as found in the Beatitudes, Pax Christi USA denounces and resists the evils of violence while striving to reflect the Peace of Christ.

Disarmament, Demilitarization and Reconciliation with Justice:
Pax Christi USA members promote nuclear, conventional and domestic disarmament, an end to the international arms trade, economic conversion to a non-military economy, conscientious objection, and nonviolent alternatives to war. Pax Christi USA promotes the just reconciliation of enemies through the United Nations and other channels.

Economic and Interracial Justice in the United States:
Pax Christi USA joins the struggle against economic injustice, militarism, and environmental destruction which are particularly harmful to those who are poor, minorities, children, and women. Pax Christi USA works toward eliminating racist structures in the Catholic Church and the country, working toward equality of all people.

Human Rights and Global Restoration:
Pax Christi USA promotes universal human rights, both at home and abroad, through solidarity with oppressed and marginalized people struggling for dignity. Pax Christi USA rejects every form of political and economic domination over others and fosters a reverence for all creation.

www.paxchristiusa.org/index.asp




Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:40 pm
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Post A Third Christian Approach
Mission Statement:

Sojourners, www.sojo.net, is a Christian ministry whose mission is to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice.

In response to this call, we offer a vision for faith in public life by:

publishing Sojourners magazine, SojoMail and other resources that address issues of faith, politics, and culture from a biblical perspective;

preaching, teaching, organizing, and public witness;

nurturing community by bringing together people from the various traditions and streams of the church;

hosting an annual program of voluntary service for education, ministry, and discipleship.

In our lives and in our work, we seek to be guided by the biblical principles of justice, mercy, and humility.




Sat Mar 06, 2004 9:47 pm
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Post Re: A Third Christian Approach
Dissident Heart

Thanks for your posts about the various religious organizations. It appears upon a cursory view that they are truly attempting to be involved in progressive social causes.

I would be interested to know what your thoughts are regarding the other two questions asked in this post. What do you think about Shermer's approach toward believers/religions, and how do you think we should respond to those believers/religions that are not interested in the more admirable aspects mentioned in your posts?

Eric




Sun Mar 07, 2004 12:08 am
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Post Re: A Third Christian Approach
Eric,

I hope these posts from The Other Side: Strength for the Journey, Sojourners, and Pax Christi can help to broaden the understanding of what it means, to some, to belong to a religious community, have faith in God, and practice a spiritual discipline.

I look forward to seeing how well Shermer applies his noble and just principles, as presented in your quote, thruout his book. He certainly affirms the virtues of fairness and humility, and if he can follow them completely, we will all have something to gain from the process.

I would not couch the posts in the same way as you have, as though their redemption lies in embracing progressive social causes.

As I see it, they are redemptive, valuable and precious in their truth-telling, willingness to confront abuse, and commitment to healing those in need- starting first with themselves, and then outward into the world where their actions can have actual, visceral impact.

This is not simply embracing progressive social causes, although the very best of life's progressive movements will and have surely follow many of these same paths.

As I see it, the spirituality espoused by the communities above, and many others, is far more radical and revolutionary. This is not merely a matter of making the world a better place- it is a fundamental shift in orientation, appreciation, evaluation, and hope.

It's also a matter of learning to enjoy life- to revere and protect and honor creation. This is not simply an assortment of causes, but an entire way of life.

As for those who chose otherwise, in this case, choosing to degrade, spoil and shame creation- I can think of a few things worth considering, but only one thing really worth doing.

That one thing is to make sure the beam is free from my own eye, and that I am not practicing the opposite of what I preach- that I keep my side of the street clean before making inventory of the mess across the road in my neighbor's yard.

Obviously, there's a great deal more to be said here. I look forward to hearing what you have in mind.




Sun Mar 07, 2004 2:08 am
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Post Re: A Third Christian Approach
Quote:
As for those who chose otherwise, in this case, choosing to degrade, spoil and shame creation- I can think of a few things worth considering, but only one thing really worth doing.

That one thing is to make sure the beam is free from my own eye, and that I am not practicing the opposite of what I preach- that I keep my side of the street clean before making inventory of the mess across the road in my neighbor's yard.


Shannon,

I appreciate your view. Removing the "beam from our own eyes" is a difficult first step to be taken when addressing the multifaceted issues of life.

You mentioned that there is a great deal more to be said. I would be interested in hearing your views regarding how to deal with the messy neighbor, once your own side if the street has been properly maintained.

Eric




Sun Mar 07, 2004 5:16 pm
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Post Re: A Third Christian Approach
Eric,

Removing the beam from my eye is not merely a first step- it is a life-long process. Thus, in most spiritual practices and religious traditions you will find a discipline of self-analysis and self-disclosure that is integral to daily living.

Prayer and Meditation are essential in this context, and provide numerous tools for identifying root resentments and dangerous motivations that can spur all sorts of self-destructive and offensive behaviors.

Along with this includes a community of accountability to which a person is commited...offering service and providing assistance, receiving sustenance and sharing joy, etc....creating a network of relationships where honesty is practiced, confession is carefully received, and plans of action are charted out to help change behaviors. It is a lifelong lifestyle of integrity and truthtelling, always imperfectly done, that assists those who are willing in the hard task of cleaning their side of the street.

Now, as for the 'messy neighbor', I am hesitant to offer instruction or recipes to change other people's behavior. I really do think that a massive amount of the offensiveness we discover in the world could be radically altered if we simply took seriously those areas in which we are adding to the mess...our own lifestyle choices of consumption, seeking of prestige and status, fantasies of wealth and honor, hunger for revenge and punishment- there is more than enough work to be done right here in my own mess of tangled arrested developments.

But, since we live in a world where resources must be shared and people get hurt, there is a need for Justice and Peacemaking.

As a Christian, essential to removing the beam from my own eye is highlighting the injustices I see around me- starting first with myself, where I am responsible, and them outward into the world where my observations can make a difference. In most cases, this involves speaking truth in the face of lies, most often lies delivered by people in positions of prestige and power, and usually at great risk and harm.

Again, there's more to say, and I hope to continue as time permits.

Cheers,

Shannon




Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:11 pm
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