conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I was an atheist. (And hey, I'm still an atheist!)

But, you know, I had questions about this religion thing. Some extremely vehement atheists are all "Children shouldn't learn about religion at all!", but this strikes me as completely the wrong approach. Most of the world is religious. We have to live with them. Better to give them a fair and even-handed amount of information about all major religions (and a good number of minor ones) so they can come to their own conclusions. You don't want them to conclude you're hiding stuff from them, anyway.

But I digress. I have a point here, not just a soapbox. I asked my mother once about saints in Catholicism. This was logical, because she was raised Catholic, so she really ought to know. And the way she described it to me is that sometimes, you pray to a saint rather than directly to God because it's kind of like asking your parents to talk to the teacher for you. They have a little extra pull, and also, the right saint presumably understands your situation through deep personal experience.

This explanation made perfect sense to me.

Now that I'm grown, though, and know many more Christians and ex-Christians than I did as a child, I wonder if a better explanation here might use the language of prayer circles. Sometimes Christians ask other Christians to pray for them, and Catholics do the same as Protestants, except that sometimes the Christians they're asking to pray for them are saints, not neighbors.

(This is another reason why I actually think all kids should learn comparative religion in school. The level of inter-religious ignorance going around is astounding. "Catholics worship saints!" is actually fairly minor compared to what I heard this weekend, which was 17 flavors of "Muslims worship Mohammed!" I don't have an easy analogy to explain why that last one is absurd, but I'm going to trust that everybody reading this knows it is.)

*****************


How to Watch NASA Create Colorful Clouds Over New York and the East Coast

A Clever Technique For Scaling A Wall Using A Bamboo Pole And Two Strong Friends

Growth mechanism of fungi decoded

A slug, a dandelion, a camera

The Baby-Sitters Club Announces Its Intention to Unionize

Lianas stifle tree fruit and seed production in tropical forests

The lost genius of the Post Office

Operation Car Wash: Is this the biggest corruption scandal in history?

Officers at New York precinct told not to shower at station after fears of Legionnaires’ disease (I should take this seriously, and I do! - but I really want to make a joke about dirty cops.)

Russia protests: Kremlin critic Navalny among hundreds detained

Texas's tough pension laws may not apply in other states

D.C. and Maryland to sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath

Russia cloud settles in over Trump's White House

Donald Trump’s secret isn’t that he lies. It’s that he crowds out the truth.

Trump’s defense against Comey has fallen into a predictable pattern: Make a baseless accusation

'Crash Override': The Malware That Took Down a Power Grid

Missouri parole board played word games during hearings with inmates (How amusing for them.)

Turkey demands an end to Qatar blockade as humanitarian crisis deepens

What if several of the world’s biggest food crops failed at the same time?

Philippines fight against ISIS grinds on, victory still 'weeks' away

Life under martial law in Duterte’s home town

Corpses being dumped in Iraq show signs of torture, execution — and Iraqi forces may be responsible

How a Russian Journalist Exposed the Anti-Gay Crackdown in Chechnya

Rwanda’s children of rape are coming of age — against the odds.

The rising homegrown terror threat on the right

Date: 2017-06-12 03:31 pm (UTC)
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexseanchai
I approve of the teaching of comparative religions in schools—in principle. In practice, I think it's tricky—far too many teachers are of the "my religion or the highway" variety, and far too many more don't know shit about other religions themselves and can't be arsed to go learn. :(

Date: 2017-06-13 02:36 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Worse, I think that a lot of conservative Protestants object on first principles to their faith being taught along side others as one of many. A teacher who discusses Protestant Christianity in any sort of historical context, who does so neutrally and objectively, will offend pretty severely against those people's sense of what is good and right. It is as if their religion has a rule that it's a sin to ever let others speak of their religion as other than the only or the best.

Date: 2017-06-12 04:24 pm (UTC)
komischkatze: (Rival Silver)
From: [personal profile] komischkatze
I find kids tend to pick up a lot of complicated ideas remarkably easy if you just lower the concepts to their language level and use analogies like that.

IMHO it's best to tell kids 'these are the things different people believe, and this is what I believe' and let them pursue and study whatever sounds best to them! I see where militant athiests are coming from, but religion isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as it's not forced on anyone.
Then again, I did get basic religious education about a variety of religions in school, and was raised nonreligious but allowed to go to some religious services, so!

Date: 2017-06-12 04:47 pm (UTC)
oracleofdoom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracleofdoom
I grew up Catholic (but am not any more) and I've heard all this, too. I've also heard it said, by a person who identified as Pagan, that Catholicism was really a form of Paganism. A lot of the saints are equivalents to deities of various pantheons. Bridget, for instance. This made some sense to me, in a marketing sort of way. You're trying to convert people and you point out that you get all this stuff that's already familiar that you already like. This is a very short version of the idea, and I'm not going to really defend it or anything. I just thought it was an interesting way of looking at it.

I guess I'm agnostic leaning toward atheist these days, but really not wanting to be atheist? I agree with you that kids need to learn about religion, too. I have a book I found called "The Book of Gods" that teaches about various beliefs from an Atheist perspective, in a respectful way. I love it.

What still deeply bothers me, though, is when family members have my kids with them and think it's okey-dokey to take them to church with them. It fucking ISN'T okay with me, and they don't even ask. I want them to learn about other religions, but absolutely NOT from a perspective that is specifically promoting one.

Date: 2017-06-12 05:08 pm (UTC)
oracleofdoom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] oracleofdoom

My Uncle is a former Priest who decided to get married, and started teaching theology instead. I went through a slightly hostile phase as I came away from the religion, and I remember complaining to him about all the things that were derivative or parts of the bible that are ignored. He's the one who explained to me with the marketing analogy, rather than anything hostile. And things that the bible didn't include, or parts of the bible that are ignored, he also had a sorta neat answer. He suggested that if he took me to his book shelf and loaned me Lord of the Rings, but he also had Stephen King on his book shelf, did that mean he was trying to prevent me from reading Stephen King? Likely no. He just was showing me what meant the most to him to share. That cooled off a lot of my rebellious anger. :)

I also kinda dabbled in some pagan beliefs for a while. I really liked them, I just found that I have trouble buying into a lot of it anymore. Anyway, I was part of a coven for a while, and I just imagined how people would react if I took my nieces to a full moon ritual. They'd probably try to report me to social services, even though there's absolutely nothing inappropriate going on in there (at least not with the coven I used to participate in). The privilege does bug me.

But that book I mentioned? It's seriously wonderful.

Date: 2017-06-12 05:57 pm (UTC)
gaudior: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gaudior
They have a little extra pull, and also, the right saint presumably understands your situation through deep personal experience.

A historian friend once said that "Hail Mary, full of grace," is best translated as "Hail Mary, full of political influence."

I agree that all kids should learn about as many religions as possible. Even if you are religious; a religion that you've explored and tested and still believe is going to be much stronger and more satisfying than one that obligates you to ignore and actively guard against the perspectives of most of the people around you.

Date: 2017-06-13 03:06 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
A historian friend once said that "Hail Mary, full of grace," is best translated as "Hail Mary, full of political influence."

Ahahaha, that's perfect.

I agree that all kids should learn about as many religions as possible. Even if you are religious; a religion that you've explored and tested and still believe is going to be much stronger and more satisfying than one that obligates you to ignore and actively guard against the perspectives of most of the people around you.

I'm all in favor of learning about the great diversity of human belief at a young age. That said, what you've said here bothers me a bit, because it's predicated on a very Christian-culture idea: that learning about others' faiths is a test of one's own.

It's not. It really, really isn't. Not unless your sect has managed to get itself predicated on the members being kept in deep ignorance of other people – which, yes, is something some conservative branches of Christianity have gotten themselves into.

It's entirely possible to learn about what others believe without it having any effect on one, whatsoever. If one believes one's religion is divinely revealed, what anybody else believes about anything is irrelevant, and can be treated as anthropological trivia.

But some conservative Protestants, at least in the US, have a faith so weak, and so brittle, they have developed culture around their religion which is predicated on members being in an insulatory bubble of ignorance, such that even learning that other people believe other things is an epistemological threat.

I think it's an excellent idea for believers in all faiths and philosophies to explore them and test them and really question whether they should believe as they do, because, yes, it makes for a stronger and more satisfying faith. (It also generally makes them humbler, kinder, and less obnoxious to their neighbors.) (I would think that – I'm an Ashkenazi atheist; I appreciate that in saying this, I'm an outsider telling people of another culture how they should do their own culture, and while I do hold the opinion, I certainly don't expect to be indulged in it.)

But learning about what other peoples believe is not that. It can be helpful to the project of critically examining one's faith, in that it can bring to mind questions to ask or show you where the bodies are buried.

Equating learning some basic comparative religion with challenging one's faith is repeating as gospel a conservative Protestant Christian belief. It implicitly endorses their assumption that so great a threat to (their) religion is knowing about others' religions that they are entitled to protect themselves from that knowledge.

Date: 2017-06-13 04:49 am (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
"If one believes one's religion is divinely revealed, what anybody else believes about anything is irrelevant, and can be treated as anthropological trivia."

But how does one justify a belief that one's religion is divinely revealed, especially in the face of all those other people believing *their* religion is divinely revealed? I think the other beliefs are quite relevant indeed.

Date: 2017-06-13 01:38 pm (UTC)
gaudior: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gaudior
Huh. I mean, you're right, that's the mindset I was trying to address-- and I can see how, since I'm new here, I should actually say when I'm talking about other people's beliefs rather than stating my own. (Which are: Jewish-origin Unitarian Universalist, so learning and understanding as many different ways of looking at the universe as I can, religious and otherwise, is a major part of my practice.) Whoops.

I agree with you about how dangerous it is that some Protestant Christians claim that hearing about other people's beliefs threatens theirs, and so "religious liberty" means being protected from that. Saying that other people existing in public threatens your "religious liberty" is not a reasonable argument.

Date: 2017-06-12 07:17 pm (UTC)
steorra: A cross that looks like a star, or vice versa. (christianity)
From: [personal profile] steorra
'I wonder if a better explanation here might use the language of prayer circles. Sometimes Christians ask other Christians to pray for them, and Catholics do the same as Protestants, except that sometimes the Christians they're asking to pray for them are saints, not neighbors.'

For me as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, this is indeed a better analogy. There are some now nuances that might fit somewhere in between the analogies or off​ to one side, but this is a good first approximation. The saints are fellow Christians who happen to live elsewhere.

Date: 2017-06-14 06:31 am (UTC)
steorra: A cross that looks like a star, or vice versa. (christianity)
From: [personal profile] steorra
A few things I've read from both Catholic and Orthodox perspective[1] have suggested that the reason Protestants are so convinced that Catholic/Orthodox Christians worship saints is that they have different understandings of what worship is - roughly, that from a Catholic/Orthodox point of view, worship involves sacrifice in the form of the Eucharist, while from many Protestant points of view, the Eucharist isn't really understood as a sacrifice, and the idea of worship has become more associated with prayer and praise.

I'm not sure this is the whole story of what's going on but I think it is probably part of it.

[1] Most recently: "I suggest a working definition for contemporary worship: any number of activities, including singing, dancing, waving hands, shouting, weeping, when in a religious setting. The same actions in a non-religious setting are not worship.

In the grammar of Orthodoxy, and in the grammar of Scripture, worship has a different definition. Worship may be defined as the offering of a sacrifice to a Deity.

The trouble comes when one grammar seeks to understand the other. That which the Orthodox render to saints and holy objects (relics, the Cross, icons, etc.) is understood to be honor or veneration. No sacrifices are ever offered to saints as though they were gods. This distinction is difficult for contemporary Christians because the notion of sacrifice, in its original meaning, has been lost. It is certainly the case that honor and veneration are given to God, but they do not, of themselves, constitute worship."

Date: 2017-06-12 07:39 pm (UTC)
plicease: (dino)
From: [personal profile] plicease
Neil deGrasse Tyson had some interesting (to me) things to say about the way Atheists have "claimed" him and the way that he things about religion on Larry Willmore's new podcast. (It was the May 25 episode).

I totally agree with you about comparative religions. I consider myself either an atheist or an agnostic depending on the context, but neither quite feel correct to me. I feel it kind of fuzzy like.

Date: 2017-06-12 07:47 pm (UTC)
used_songs: (Death cancels everything)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
My parents were both raised in highly fundamentalist Protestant homes (my dad says, "one step away from snake handling" and he isn't far wrong) so even though he and my mom still believe in the Christian God, my sister and I were raised with absolutely no religious instruction. All I know about religion is what I have read as an outsider. I find that doing the reading has served me well in understanding different perspectives, but I'm not sure who I would trust to actually teach comparative religion to kids. Or who I would trust to write the curriculum and text books.

Date: 2017-06-13 04:52 am (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
You could dump lots of primary sources on them.

Date: 2017-06-13 11:28 am (UTC)
used_songs: (Nick Cave)
From: [personal profile] used_songs
True. I can only speak to my experiences as a Texas public school teacher, but you would still need a state-provided curriculum (unless you had the freedom to have local-created, non-credit courses) and that's where the difficulty would really be. If my state can't provide science or social studies standards (the list of things we have to teach within a given course) without drama, I have no confidence that a comparative religion course would be different.

I honestly don't think, even if it were available in the course catalog, that most schools would offer it. I've had parent complaints just for mentioning religion in the context of US history. Schools would see a comparative religion course as inviting controversy.

Date: 2017-06-12 08:39 pm (UTC)
zesty_pinto: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zesty_pinto
Ah that's right, you had to deal with the anti-Sharia rallies, which I was told were countered with three times as many counter protestors. Glad I don't have to deal with that crap, although I must also confess I had no idea they even had a platform when the Puerto Rican Day parade also collided with this timing.

Date: 2017-06-13 03:15 am (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Some extremely vehement atheists are all "Children shouldn't learn about religion at all!", but this strikes me as completely the wrong approach. Most of the world is religious. We have to live with them. Better to give them a fair and even-handed amount of information about all major religions (and a good number of minor ones) so they can come to their own conclusions.

Those are not the only two options, and I strongly disagree with both of them.

I think the right approach is for parents to teach their children, "This is what I believe and why. Those other people believe these other things, and this is why I think they're mistaken."

This simultaneously gives you the best crack as passing on your religious faith to your kids, and provides your kids with the best basis to opt out if it's not for them.

Reasons are like the source code of religious faith. By sharing your reasons for your faith (or lack thereof) with your kids, you're letting them check it out for themselves so they won't be easily beguiled by shiny shrink-wrapped other faiths that may be pigs-in-a-poke, and empowering them to fork it if they want.

Date: 2017-06-13 03:24 pm (UTC)
steorra: A cross that looks like a star, or vice versa. (christianity)
From: [personal profile] steorra
'I think the right approach is for parents to teach their children, "This is what I believe and why. Those other people believe these other things, and this is why I think they're mistaken."'

Yes please.

Date: 2017-06-13 04:27 am (UTC)
alwaysbeenasmiler: made by ?? (if you made this, speak up!) (Margaery☆Call all the ladies out--)
From: [personal profile] alwaysbeenasmiler
I am agnostic, so I'm not really 'sure' what is out there-- but my boyfriend is muslim and we are both of the agreement that we will let our child decide what they want to believe-- because I agree, you have to let the kid do what is right for them especially in personal matters like religion

Date: 2017-06-13 04:57 am (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
I didn't get formal education, to the point that I briefly thought I was atheist and my parents were woolly liberal "believe in something" types (I was wrong about them), but I had access to a Bible and read various parts, and knew enough somehow about Christianity to recognize it in Narnia, and don't really understand Americans who don't. It's so obvious!

I also grew up on Greek and other myth; the Bible was a less interesting myth, especially when you hit the begats. (In retrospect this is a bit unfair; the Catalogue of Ships is little better, but I got Greek myth secondhand. God needs a better editor.)

I'm fourth generation non-practicing Jew on one side, so maybe the reason for my staunch atheism is genetic, but psychologically I'd credit knowing a bit about lots of religions, including that they exist (and not being raised with the idea that one of them is privileged by default), and PBS programs on the brain. Never mind evolution; learning about brain injuries really destroys the idea of a soul for me.

Date: 2017-06-14 06:38 pm (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
He's far from the only case though. I'd watched a program on The Brain on PBS as a kid, age 8-10. And read Oliver Sacks at some relatively early age. Corpus callosum, blindsight, dementia stories, really weird brain failures...

Date: 2017-06-14 01:11 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
I think that comparative religious education would be very useful. Hell, a theology class in general is useful because they SHOULD be used to teach kids how to extrapolate and how to have proper debate and discourse over differing ideals.

I was raised Lutheran, ethnically my family is Jewish, and went to a Catholic Highschool. Sadly in everything, school was the worst bit of it because it was almost draconic following of dogma. You'd almost HAVE to have multiple teachers instructing on a comparative religion class to avoid that, I'd think.

Date: 2017-06-14 05:40 pm (UTC)
novel_machinist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] novel_machinist
I wouldn't think that they were, it's all dependent on the culture of the school. Mine was pretty dang toxic, though.

Date: 2017-06-15 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] raino
I agree about the need for education about religion even for non-religious kids.
I have a very atheist friend, who has cleaned everything and anything religious from what their kid reads, sees or hears. I find this a poor upbringing for a human being on this planet where so many people are religious and we must all co-exist. And so many speech idioms and cultural references are to the Bible/Christianity – sure it's possible to learn them afterwards, but to me it is strange to not acknowledge how big a portion of our cultural heritage (where we live) has to do with Christianity.
I'm also sort of worried the kid will fall for some weird cult when they grow up... it must seem so exotic and exciting to believe in supernatural things.

Date: 2017-06-16 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] raino
Yeah, that too. If you remove everything to do with religion from all human behaviour and history, there is not that much left and what's left does not make much sense.

Date: 2017-06-15 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
I'm Jewish myself. Not very religious, I try to keep kosher .. but I live in a group home full of Christians so it is very hard to stay true. You know? My sister's bf says that Trump will be assassinated. IDK but it will be (a bit sickly) interesting... and I was on my vita's Twitter app and someone said that this generation of kids will never know what peace is like. It's just war. *smh* Anyways it's nice to meet you. I am Sam. :-)

Date: 2017-06-16 10:56 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
It's sad really. I can remember peacetime. (but it didn't last ;_;) Trump had better pull up his socks and stop acting like a complete idiot.

Date: 2017-06-16 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
My sister's bf says that he will be assassinated. You should come live in Canada, we have Justin as PM, Alberta with no taxes (Ontario where I live in is bloated with taxes.)

Date: 2017-06-16 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
Cyanide pill! GO TRUMP GO! lol What if they got Mike too? Come live in Canada :-D

Date: 2017-06-16 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
Conuly, I will vouch for you :-) He is pretty fat too.. maybe a heart attack? *crosses fingers*

Date: 2017-06-16 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swiftheartrabbit
Good one hon! I love it!! Maybe he will be hit with a sattelite from space ala Sims2.

Profile

conuly: (Default)
conuly

September 2017

S M T W T F S
      1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 2627 282930

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 01:17 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios