Monday, February 20, 2006

What is Religion To You?

What is Religion?

Lately, I have been thinking about religion generally from an academic perspective.

Defining religion is not easy. Religion can be looked at materialistically, functionally and theologically, and probably many other ways too.

Religion, from a materialistic perspective, is a human attempt to deal with fear of the unknown and the unexplainable (i.e. death). Such human-made religion is an attempt to influence the powers that apparently determine destiny toward a positive outcome or response.

Religion, from a functional perspective, is the action, practice, and organization that encourages and brings a faith community together with a common culture and worldview through mythology and ritual, mystical experience, or morality. It is the focused attempt to join a community together to reconnect with the divine or sacred.

Religion, from a theological perspective, is the human expression, whether corporate or individual, acknowledging a divine or sacred reality. It is a response to revelation of and from the Eternal, often recognized in nature, gnosis, or spiritual practices. It is also the gathering together in community, for encouragement and common purpose in accord with the expressly revealed intension, often to transform or unite the profane to the sacred.

Different folk approach religion from different perspectives. How do you approach it?

Is it an attempt to deal with the unknown? Is it a practical approach to creating community? Or is it the acknowledgement of a fundamental spiritual reality discovered by peoples around the world?

Personally, I approach most of life as a discovery of the divine. This might be called a theological approach. But also seeing the oneness of all reality with the divine, I can see how such academic distinctions break down, and are not sufficient. As one with the divine, and co-workers together in creation, I can see validity in all three views, materialistic, functional, and theological. I figure that we both discover and create our own world. What do you think?

Curious about humankind’s search for the center,
URfriend, Dean Johnson