Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Show Loving-Kindness. All The Rest Is Just Commentary.

8:10pm
Kitchener, Ontario
Music: Whitehorse - The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss (2012)

Lately I've been wondering about something. For such a long time I have done a whole lot of reading about God. Who or what is God? What is his or her nature? How does God act? Who does God love? What pleases God? What makes God angry? Some people say that we unequivocally can find all of these answers in The Bible, but if you have respect for the billions of people in the world who are not Christians, it isn't that easy. They have their own texts as well. The Qu'ran, the Bhagavad Gita, and then we have the teachings of the Buddha. We also have humanists and atheists, who do not believe in a God at all.

I still find the study of God interesting, and recently announced that I was going to explore once again who I thought the person of Jesus was, by reading both conservative and liberal Christian authors; I have slowly begun this exploration.

But I wonder if it really matters. And there's no rush.

For one, there's no stopwatch as some may say. There's no threat that I must hold the right beliefs by the time I die or else I am doomed to some kind of eternal damnation. To me, this is a scare tactic - albeit a powerful one - that has been conjured up by church authorities to keep people in line, and is also a projection of parental control.

It all is quite exhausting, talk of denominations and why a United Church is now non-denominational, or how we can get young people more interested in God and church. Is a person saved upon baptism, or when she believes in her head or heart that Jesus is Saviour? Is God One or Triune? Are people born evil or good?

Blah blah blah.

And when leaders such as Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Stephen Harper name-drop the big "G" these days, it's almost as yawn-inducing as when rappers used to do it at the Grammys.

I'm not saying that religion is completely irrelevant, but most of it is.

What if we filtered all the religions down to what they have in common and leave it at that?

  • Islam - No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. ~ Sunnah
  • Hinduism - This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you. ~ Mahabharata 5, 1517
  • Judaism -  What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary. ~ Talmud, Shabbat 3id
  • Christianity - All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 7:1
  • Buddhism - Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. ~ Udana-Varga 5,1
  • Confucianism - Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state. ~ Analects 12:2
  • Unitarianism - We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person ~Principle 1

I am tempted to look into humanism and actually will do some exploration in that direction as well. However, I do still believe in something divine when I see the beauty of nature or a drop-dead gorgeous woman.

But other than that, how about we just treat each other with loving-kindness? As the Jews say, all the rest is just commentary.

4 comments:

Jim McDowell said...

This is certainly well written, Mark. You're beginning to rival Gretta Vosper's ability in persuasive discourse.

Some of the statements you quoted refer to those who are brothers or otherwise somehow affiliated. I am proud (right word?) that Jesus included all men (and desperately hope he meant women too) in his exhortation.

You'll be the first to see my response to Gretta when it's ready. Half way through the book.

David Grim said...

Have you heard of Karen Armstrong's 'Charter for Compassion'? Karen Armstrong makes an eloquent summation of the Golden Rule in general as the prime directive of all major world religions.

I would also agree a lot of religion these days is just fluffm this due to a loss if its vitality. But what if that vitality could be renewed in religion for a modern world?

What if religions symbols and ideals could get together with human rights and secular values, I mean, in as far as they can? What if? What if we mined our old religions and found a way to bring them back to life for a global world? What if?

Mandie McGlynn said...

"I am tempted to look into humanism and actually will do some exploration in that direction as well. However, I do still believe in something divine when I see the beauty of nature or a drop-dead gorgeous woman."

Might I suggest looking into Humanistic Religious Naturalism? It encompasses the humanist ideals, but also does exactly what you suggest above - finds reverence and awe to rival divine experience in the natural world. My current read is "Reason and Reverence."

Mark Andrew said...

Thanks for your thoughts, all.

David - What you're putting forward sounds a lot like Unitarianism, which is what I belong to now. :)

Mandie, who is the author of Reason and Reverence?