America and faith

I don’t know if it’s the same in other countries, but American conversations will, at some point, circle around to faith. Not all American conversations, of course, but it seems to be a recurring theme in the conversations I’ve been having lately (and I’m not always the one to bring it up).

Aamba wrote about religion and atheism a few days ago, and then an atheist friend of mine posted this link:

Why do Americans still dislike atheists?

Personally, I’m cool with whatever you believe, as long as you’re an ethical, moral person. I need a belief system, partially because I do find myself in conversation about religion on a fairly regular basis. However, it doesn’t seem to be a necessary route to a solid set of morals and good personal ethics. How many of those responsible for the mortgage crisis attend religious services regularly?

Wherever your beliefs come from, the most important thing is to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing, and consider the moral and ethical implications to all persons involved before acting.

The article makes another comment, which I find particularly relevant:

And studies of apostates — people who were religious but later rejected their religion — report feeling happier, better and liberated in their post-religious lives.

They don’t mention that apostates can also be people who’ve rejected their religion in favor of another I know this is true for me. I think that this is basically a person making their own decisions and knowing why they make those decisions, regardless of whether they choose a new religion or give up religious practice altogether. That can be the case for somebody who is devout in a faith they’ve had since birth, as long as that faith encourages questioning and intellectual thought.

And if you are religious? Chances are, your religion teaches tolerance and love, and you should probably accept folks who don’t believe in the same things you believe in (this is one of the major reasons Sanatana Dharma appeals to me – I am a firm believer in letting moral, ethical people believe or not believe in whatever works for them).

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About HappyGoth

By day, I'm a graphic designer. By night, I'm a knitter. I'm doing my part to keep Hotlanta stylish. I imagine that if you don't already understand the title of the blog, you're probably confused and perhaps slightly annoyed, but never fear - I do have a reason (and it's a good one). Having gone to hear Stephanie Pearl McPhee, and then having been inspired to blog about knitting, I found myself wondering what to call the blog. I recalled a conversation I had with Mouse and the Chicken Goddess about why it is a Bad Idea to anger knitters - this conversation was following SPM, aka the Yarn Harlot telling the assembled throng about Those Who Do Not Understand Knitting and Therefore Belittle It Much to the Chagrin of Others, or TWDNUKTBMCO, which is not the acronym she used but is the one I'm using because I forgot hers - that is, we are numerous and we all have very pointy sticks, easily transforming into an angry mob. Therefore, knitters = angry mob.
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8 Responses to America and faith

  1. aham says:

    Hi, talking about atheism I am dont know if you are aware that Hinduism(more appropriately Sanatana Dharma) accepts Atheism as one of the valid ways of leading ones life, thats the greatness of ‘this way of life’ which later turned into a religion, you are free to worship anything or not worship anything, the onus is on you,and they why I call Hinduism as an Open Source religion, nobody owns it,anybody can edit it to suit their needs unless and until it doesn’t harm anybody. read this wiki article below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_Hinduism

    • HappyGoth says:

      I did know that, but as a former Christian it’s taking a while to get used to it!

      I’m actually really happy that Hinduism accepts Atheism. I’m also really happy to find an overarching philosophy, rather than a philosophy tied to a strict religion. It’s really freeing.

  2. mouse says:

    I think the whole “If you don’t believe the way I believe, you’re going to hell” bit is totally crazy & I really try to stay away from religions/belief systems that work that way. I believe that if you’re a good (read: moral) person – that’s all that matters to “God”… it’s not what religion you are, what sex person you love, or what color socks you wear. I try really hard to avoid religious & political discussions IRL because it usually ends up in an argument or in a “debate” type situation… that’s not something I’m into. I looooove to talk about religion & philosophy (as you know.. lol) and can yack your ear off about said topics.. but I have no intention of playing *yet another* round of “my god’s better than your god” with someone.

    • HappyGoth says:

      Totally. And that whole “my God’s better than your god” thing? It’s not really about that. It’s more of an “I’m better than you are” argument, which is totally ridiculous.
      And unproductive.

  3. surya says:

    The core doctrines of Hinduism are dharma, karma, yoga, rebirth (of atma) and finally moksha (ie the atma joining the Brahman). Advaita cements to concept of oneness with the creator.
    Buddhists have adopted the same above doctrines more or less as is with modification of moksha and called it instead nirvana. Abrahamic faiths (Christianity and Islam) believe in one messenger and one book and believe in them leading them to Paradise in afterlife. These later faiths do firmly believe in all non-converts going to hell. E.g., both Buddha and Gandhi are permanently condemned to hell. They also believe in rising from dead on judgement day and , that is the reason they bury their dead, they need the body to be ‘preserved’ for later day resurrection.

    On the other end of the spectrum, the oldest and a nonproselytizing faith Hinduism has a friendly take on non converts. Being good and moral, which are precepts all faiths preach, one is a hindu already at that. It must therefore be emphasized here that by following a dharmic life one is a hindu and one gets to accrue good karma even without explicit conversion to Hinduism. Hence from that standpoint yes every soul can reach Brahman. Atheists, eventhough they don’t believe in any of the hindu doctrines, by the same token maybe called hindus.

    Lot of hindus, especially the born ones fail to undersand their own faith because sadly they spend time in just mandirs and pujas and don’t ever read the scriptures, even the abridged ones. Gita is available on line for free.

    • HappyGoth says:

      You know, I think you get unthinking followers in every faith.

      I very much like that Hinduism is forgiving with respect to non-believers. I haven’t ever been able to accept the idea that you’re damned if you don’t believe in the same philosophy/religion/whatever as everybody else. That seems a little disrespectful of differences and each person’s unique personality, and seriously limits God, which I feel isn’t what I want my religion to do.

      The more I learn and read and understand, the more that I realize that I’ve been following Sanatana Dharma my whole life, even if I didn’t call it that. The big decisions I make, morally, are fairly well aligned with dharma and good karma (or at least I think they are!), whether I was calling it the Golden Rule or the Threefold Law or dharma. I’ve always had it in my long-term plans to be cremated after I died, even as a child, seeing all my grandparents buried in the traditional Christian manner. I’ve always believed in the eventual oneness with God, following a long series of rebirths as I learn and experience all the wonders of the world.

      This is the point where I want to go outside and tell everybody how familiar and “right” Sanatana Dharma feels to me. To say, “Hey, guys! This is great! It makes so much sense!” Which would be creepy. I’m not so big on trying to convert people, no matter how excited I am.

      And I know a lot of folks who are not Hindu or Christian, who believe the exact same things. I’m pretty sure that it’s all the same thing.

      (I’m convinced that Buddha and Gandhi are not in hell, both because that isn’t the sort of person who goes to hell, and I don’t really believe in hell as a place you go. Damning people kind of loses its interest without a place to damn them to.)

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