Doublets: The Role of Religion

“Religion” can no more be equated with what goes on in churches than “education” can be reduced to what happens in schools or “health care” restricted to what doctors do to patients in clinics. The vast majority of healing and learning goes on among parents and children and families and friends, far from the portals of any school or hospital. The same is true for religion. It is going on around us all the time. Religion is larger and more pervasive than churches.

Harvey Cox, Jr., former Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School

The historical religions have the tendency to become ends in themselves, and, as it were, to put themselves in God’s place, and, in fact, there is nothing that is so apt to obscure God’s face as a religion.

Martin Buber, philosopher, author of the influential book I and Thou, originally published in German in 1923

Read related posts: Religion vs Spirituality
What Do All Religions Have in Common?
The Truth of Religion
Doublets: Youth and Maturity

Doublets: You Cannot Run Away From Yourself
Doublets: The Lessons of History
Doublets: Reading a Great Book
Doublets: Tolerance

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3 responses to “Doublets: The Role of Religion

  • Beer Movie

    Great quotes. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jon Spangler

    The eternal tension between tradition, stability, and order on one side and revolution, change, and renewal on the other is always foremost in religious institutions. Human beings are rarely capable of responding fully to radical love……

    For example, Jesus preached unconditional love, forgiveness, and mercy–and nothing is more radical that these when when expressed with authenticity and made real through lived acts of compassion. Yet most of His followers (and I include myself here) have “feet of clay” and are unable to commit fully to a life based on radical and unconditional love.

    Since “you can proof-text (prove) anything using the Bible”–versus letting the Bible guide your beliefs and choices–there are many errant interpretations of Jesus’ original message and of His Father’s….Surrendering to Love is antithetical to possessing power, money, or other earthly fruits–so people who want these rewards seek out scriptures to reinforce their greed, biases, or other personal goals–even while professing to believe in a creed that prohibits those goals.

    Eventually, the Loving and Merciful Judge is beyond reach or reproach and She/He will call for an accounting from all of us. Are we ready for love?

    • Alexander Atkins

      Thanks for your thoughtful reflection, Jon. You raise the excellent issue of subscribing to a particular religious doctrine and actually putting those teachings into practice. You also raise the important issue of the cafeteria religious follower (being selective about what teachings you follow). In everyone’s life journey, one must answer: Do you need a traditional religion to have a spiritual life? Do you need religion to be a good person?

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