Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » AMAZING GRACE

AMAZING GRACE

Filed at 10:35 am under by dcobranchi

This fortnight’s assignment is to choose a (new) religion that you could abide. Da Rules include:

You can not pick any religion that you have been part of in your past, and you can not pick none of the above. You can be as serious or as fanciful about this as you want.

Well, I’d love to say that I’d choose Pastafarianism, but I look really bad in puffy shirts.

So, Christianity is out (Been there. Done that.) I don’t think I could handle Judaism or Islam (No more Italian sausage?! Never!). In fact, I don’t think I could accept any religion that meets this definition:

1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

Magical thinking is just beyond my abilities at this point in my life.

Of the major world religions, only a few would seem to fall outside the definition above. Buddhism looks intriguing. Zen, especially, with its emphasis on personal enlightenment through meditation and its lack of regard lack for “scriptures.” From the Ultimate Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything:

Zen asserts, as do other schools in Mahayana Buddhism, that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature, the universal nature of inherent wisdom (Sanskrit prajna) and virtue, and emphasizes that Buddha-nature is nothing other than the nature of the mind itself. The aim of Zen practice is to discover this Buddha-nature within each person, through meditation and mindfulness of daily experiences. Zen practitioners believe that this provides new perspectives and insights on existence, which ultimately lead to enlightenment.

In distinction to many other Buddhist sects, Zen de-emphasizes reliance on religious texts and verbal discourse on metaphysical questions. Zen holds that these things lead the practitioner to seek external answers, rather than searching within their own minds for the direct intuitive apperception of Buddha-nature. This search within goes under various terms such as “introspection,” “a backward step,” “turning-about,” or “turning the eye inward.”

So, there you have it. If I have to choose a new religion, I’ll take the one that seems to be least like one: No God. No scriptures. No getting dressed up early on Sunday mornings.

18 Responses to “AMAZING GRACE”


Comment by
Rob
June 24th, 2008
at 11:18 am

The Brothers Karamozov has a scene between one of the brothers and Satan, where Satan reveals that if he could change, he would pick the simple, stupid faith of an uneducated butcher’s wife. No worries, no complications, he’d just sit there with his simple faith and light little candles and be happy.


Comment by
JJ Ross
June 24th, 2008
at 11:32 am

So — way interesting question you provoke — what IS Satan’s actual religion then? Wouldn’t he by definition have to be a very well-versed, deeply theological, God-fearing Christian, in context?


Comment by
Lisa Giebitz
June 24th, 2008
at 10:07 pm

I still think you’d make a great Unitarian-Universalist. 😉


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
June 24th, 2008
at 10:22 pm

That’s Nance’s’s gig. 🙂


Comment by
Lillian
June 25th, 2008
at 7:32 am

Hey, the cool thing about Judaism is that it can be anything you want. You can be a secular Jew or a reform Jew (or even a conservative Jew who doesn’t keep kosher) and still enjoy all the pork and shellfish products you like. It’s a flexible religion!


Comment by
Nance Confer
June 25th, 2008
at 8:11 am

Flexible is good. But you’ve still got the god thing.

Zen Buddhism avoids that. Of course, it has its share of make-believe stuff too. Reincarnation anyone? zengui...on.cfm

But a set of peace-seeking principles, it seems to me. And in favor of science, on some level anyway — zengui...ng.cfm.

Nance


Comment by
JJ Ross
June 25th, 2008
at 10:52 am

John Kennedy in a famous 1963 speech (not bringing his Pope into it!) called peace “the necessary rational end of rational men.”


Comment by
Rob
June 25th, 2008
at 11:36 am

Be very careful how you define peace. You can have a lot of horrible things going on in a country at peace with their neighbors and low crime rates.


Comment by
JJ Ross
June 25th, 2008
at 1:25 pm

How is it defined in Prince of Peace?


Comment by
speedwell
June 25th, 2008
at 7:24 pm

If I HAD to pick a religion, I’d worship the Shiva Nataraja of the physicists: fritjo...a.html

But I really wouldn’t take it any farther than that. I wouldn’t accept most of the rest of Hinduism. What little I adopted would be symbolic, purely allegorical… or fun, like Diwali. 🙂


Comment by
speedwell
June 25th, 2008
at 7:26 pm

That was hard… I couldn’t be a Christian, a Jew, a Quaker, or a Unitarian.


Comment by
JJ Ross
June 25th, 2008
at 9:03 pm

Yeah, it kinda sucks for those of us who spent our lives shopping all the possibilities already! 😉


Comment by
Lillian
June 26th, 2008
at 7:47 am

Nope, not even the God thing. Secular Jews are culturally Jewish — holidays, traditions, etc. — with none of the actual religion. It’s pretty cool.


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
June 26th, 2008
at 8:11 am

Well, maybe I should have chosen that option. I wouldn’t even need to convert, as my mother was a Jew and her mother before her, going back untold generations.

Would I have to eat gefilte fish? Oy!


Comment by
Bonnie
June 26th, 2008
at 4:05 pm

So, there you have it. If I have to choose a new religion, I’ll take the one that seems to be least like one: No God.

You are a bigger hypocrite than you thought you were years ago. You don’t believe there is no God any more than I do. You know it and I know it. Your archives are full of the Spirit of The One True God…you know I have read them. You weren’t being a fake then…you are a fake NOW.

But I won’t be reading here anymore. Not that you or anyone else cares. And I don’t care what you say or what any of your other readers say about me. I don’t care how you take potshots at me. You’re a fake…simple and plain.

Search your heart, Daryl. You know He’s real. And you also know I am not talking about some generic, far-away god. I’m talking about the God of your heart.


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
June 26th, 2008
at 6:23 pm

You don’t believe there is no God any more than I do. You know it and I know it. Your archives are full of the Spirit of The One True God…you know I have read them. You weren’t being a fake then…you are a fake NOW.

Wrong. Really, really wrong. But the fact that you can convince yourself that what I “pretended” to believe (faked, tried, what-have-you) was real and that my current disavowal of all things religious is a lie, ought to give you some concern. How do you know that your preacher isn’t in the same boat I was in a few years ago? Fake it ’til you make it.


Comment by
speedwell
June 28th, 2008
at 3:28 am

Daryl, your mom was a Jew? Then so are you… at least according to Jewish law. Dual citizenship, so to speak. So am I… Mom for sure, and Dad for pretty sure. 🙂

@ Bonnie: Don’t let the cathedral door hit you in the…. I mean, consider the case of my father, born and brought up under Communism in Hungary. As a college student in 1956, he was confronted with a large body of evidence that made him question the overarching authoritarian State. He took some American Presbyterians up on an offer to airlift him to the USA as a refugee, and he became a naturalized citizen, voting Republican and bringing his children up to hate Communism and its abuses. Now, he was ashamed he had ever been a member of the Communist Party, but the fact remained that he once did subscribe to that particular denomination of the religion of State-worship. Could you say he had never been a real Communist?

Well… anyone can say anything, I suppose. I’d like to remind you of the old chestnut about how many legs a sheep has if you call its tail a leg.


Comment by
speedwell
June 28th, 2008
at 3:45 am

Or actually, to bring it home a little…

Let’s say that at some point in the future, a female friend of yours decides that she would like to live the rest of her life as a man. (Assuming you are now a woman, that is… the Internet is a funny place.) Regardless of whether or not surgical options, or changes in the mode of sexual expression, or just changes to the given name and style of dress are pursued, would you consider your friend a real woman or a real man?

Wouldn’t religious conservatives argue that your friend was still a woman, albeit one who was endangering her spiritual welfare by spurning the God-given gift of femininity and female roles? If your friend dated women, wouldn’t they think of her as a butch lesbian rather than a functional male?

Now what if you were the one deciding to “switch sides?” (Never say never, my dear.) Would you decide that you had never been a real woman? Don’t answer too quickly, now.