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View Poll Results: Your level of observance?
Non-practicing/secular form of religion 19 44.19%
A little observant 3 6.98%
Middle-of-the-road observance 10 23.26%
Strict adherence to religious rules 4 9.30%
Don't know 7 16.28%
Voters: 43. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-29-2011, 01:58 AM   #171 (permalink)
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there are only kosher/halal laws in the Old Testament

in the New Testament, God revealed to Peter all kinds of beasts, fish and fowls and allowed him/us to eat all that (I forgot the specific passage)

so as a Gnostic Christian, I eat everything - in fact, I'm constantly on the trek for strange food
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Old 03-29-2011, 10:12 AM   #172 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by VEGANGELICA View Post
Thanks, Geddy, for responding. I agree with you that the intent of a religious law and its practice should be bound up together. When people seem to follow a law for its own sake without considering the intent, then I feel worried.
It's a Jewish belief that you should not, in any aspect of faith, whether it be following a specific mitvot or reciting the daily prayers or anything like this. For this reason Torah readings in the earliest synagogues were often followed by study and the Levites explaining passages to the people publicly. Even now study of Torah law and the reasons for it are encouraged.

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I read the essay you recommended about Judaism and vegetarianism...thank you! It was interesting to read the Rabbi's views on this debate about whether vegetarianism best matches what people within Judaism interpret as the deepest desires of God:

While I realize that the Old Testament does clearly state that God allowed humans to eat other animals after the Fall, I've often felt an argument could be made that the apparent vegetarianism *before* the Fall was what the Judeo-Christian god originally intended and envisioned...so that *would* be the ideal.

I assume a god would not *want* people to sin such that the rules had to be changed for them, allowing meat-eating. Therefore, I would think that trying to fulfill the original vision for humanity would seem the way to most thoroughly follow whatever intent was behind the original dietary law that gave all animals (including humans) "the herbs of the field for their food" and prohibited them from preying on one another.
Yeah, I understand what you're trying to say.

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Trying to figure out what religious rules to observe, and how deeply, can get very tricky since not only are religious laws open to interpretation, but also the intent behind the laws are open to interpretation, too, and some laws come from human traditions separate from any godly mandate. This is one reason your thread question that opened the thread interested me. I'm curious how people who think of themselves as religious think through these issues.
It's always good to make people think!

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I've been impressed with the tradition of questioning and debate that I think is an important part of the Jewish tradition for many of the Jewish people I've known and loved, most of whom are secular and follow Jewish traditions as part of their heritage and not out of a belief in a deity. It sounds like you appreciate the openness to questioning that you've experienced within Judaism, too. One of the scariest situations to be in among humans, I feel, is when they do not welcome questioning and debate!
One of the things which put me off my old church, and indeed Christianity, was that those people who wished to ask questions or debate matters were often looked down upon or openly criticized. Most of the churches I've attended seemed to want people to learn answers by rote, withiout even really learning or understanding the reasoning behind them.
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Old 03-29-2011, 05:22 PM   #173 (permalink)
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Yeah, I understand what you're trying to say.
I'm glad you get what I was trying to say. If a god changes rules only because people sinned against that god, which rules would the god *really* prefer the people to follow: the original ones, or the new ones created in response to people having sinned?

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Originally Posted by GeddyBass2112 View Post
Even now study of Torah law and the reasons for it are encouraged.

It's always good to make people think!
Agreed.

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Originally Posted by GeddyBass2112 View Post
One of the things which put me off my old church, and indeed Christianity, was that those people who wished to ask questions or debate matters were often looked down upon or openly criticized. Most of the churches I've attended seemed to want people to learn answers by rote, withiout even really learning or understanding the reasoning behind them.
I can understand you feeling put off by anyone expecting you to learn answers by rote without trying to understand the reasoning behind them.

Geddy, I'm thinking this isn't a problem with Christianity or any religion as a whole, but rather with the philosophy of some of the practitioners. People in secular organizations can also be resistant to the questioning of rules or organization philosophy.

Speaking of following rules without questioning them, I remember being befriended by truly very nice members of the Boston Church of Christ, considered by some to be a cult, that was led by a (male) pastor who definitely had a strong aura of authority that didn't seem to invite questioning. During one of his sermons, he talked about how he had once sinned by kissing his wife with lust. He admonished the congregation to rid themselves of lust.

I was surprised, since I thought this was a good way to empty a church, and I hadn't realized that he felt the congregation as a whole should avoid lustful feelings. There didn't appear to be any debate over this issue in the Bible studies I attended as a guest. I thought the lack of debate was interesting and a bit disturbing, since I didn't think the Bible ever said lust shouldn't exist as part of love or should be avoided.

Often following religious laws seems to translate into following people's interpretations of religious texts, and so the exact law that a particular church may expect the congregation to follow comes down to which group of people has the most power within a religious organization.

I do think there must be religious organizations that simply offer a philosophy and leave it up to practitioners to decide for themselves how they interpret it and whether or how they want to follow it. I grew up going to a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which originated from Christian beliefs but is no longer dependent on any creed or faith. The people there always seemed very open-minded. I never actually thought of it as a religion, though. UU is more of a group of people who support some basic principles, most of which I do follow because I think they are kind:

Unitarian Universalist Principles: http://www.uua.org/visitors/6798.shtml

*The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
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If a chicken was smart enough to be able to speak English and run in a geometric pattern, then I think it should be smart enough to dial 911 (999) before getting the axe, and scream to the operator, "Something must be done! Something must be done!"

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Old 03-29-2011, 06:03 PM   #174 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by VEGANGELICA View Post
Speaking of following rules without questioning them, I remember being befriended by truly very nice members of the Boston Church of Christ, considered by some to be a cult, that was led by a (male) pastor who definitely had a strong aura of authority that didn't seem to invite questioning. During one of his sermons, he talked about how he had once sinned by kissing his wife with lust. He admonished the congregation to rid themselves of lust.

I was surprised, since I thought this was a good way to empty a church, and I hadn't realized that he felt the congregation as a whole should avoid lustful feelings. There didn't appear to be any debate over this issue in the Bible studies I attended as a guest. I thought the lack of debate was interesting and a bit disturbing, since I didn't think the Bible ever said lust shouldn't exist as part of love or should be avoided.

Often following religious laws seems to translate into following people's interpretations of religious texts, and so the exact law that a particular church may expect the congregation to follow comes down to which group of people has the most power within a religious organization.

That's the thing though, a majority of people go to Church or their respective place of worship and listen to the Sermons for the guidance aspect. They want someone who apparently knows what to do, to tell them what to do. That's a very dangerous thing though, all it takes is one selfish agenda and you've got a room full of wide-eyed believers following a Terrorist.

Definitly guidance is important imo. But people still have to think for themselves, take in the words and lessons and analyse it. You can't be an automaton, a sermon is a place for "input", ideas. It should be bubbling with debate and arguments imo, people trying to separate out what works from what doesnt.

I don't think there's anything wrong with kissing your Wife lustfully. It's a celebration of marriage and love. What two married people do is their own business.


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I do think there must be religious organizations that simply offer a philosophy and leave it up to practitioners to decide for themselves how they interpret it and whether or how they want to follow it. I grew up going to a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which originated from Christian beliefs but is no longer dependent on any creed or faith. The people there always seemed very open-minded. I never actually thought of it as a religion, though. UU is more of a group of people who support some basic principles, most of which I do follow because I think they are kind:

Unitarian Universalist Principles: UUA: Our Unitarian Universalist Principles

*The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
This sounds quite a bit like Sufism, the Islamic counterpart. I was raised Sunni but the Sufi aspect of Islam is something that's always been very interesting to me, something I'm going to study further

Sufism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There's some info there. From what I understand of it it's more about the "functionality" of the Universe; of God.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:14 PM   #175 (permalink)
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This sounds quite a bit like Sufism, the Islamic counterpart. I was raised Sunni but the Sufi aspect of Islam is something that's always been very interesting to me, something I'm going to study further

Sufism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There's some info there. From what I understand of it it's more about the "functionality" of the Universe; of God.
There are actually a fair amount of atheist Unitarian Universalists by the way. Maybe in your studies of Unitarian Universalism you'll discover that atheism isn't a cult or juvenile or whatever other odd negative notions you have of it.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:21 PM   #176 (permalink)
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I didn't actually say I was gonna study Unitarian Universalism, I meant Sufism. But yeah I might do, that sounds interesting as well.

Still doesn't change the fact that it's a contradiction of terms. If you're tackling Theological ideas, you can't be an atheist.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:24 PM   #177 (permalink)
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Still doesn't change the fact that it's a contradiction of terms. If you're tackling Theological ideas, you can't be an atheist.
Sounds like you need to study more about UU. And atheism for that matter.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:32 PM   #178 (permalink)
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a-theism.

the absence of Theology.

Theology hardly refers specificaly to Jesus Christ.


I assumed Unitarian Universalism would tackle the idea of God and Existence also, admitedly I don't know anything about "UU" other than what VEGANGELICA wrote there. If it doesn't, then it's nothing like Sufism, I'll retract my claim.


Also, I thought atheists were only called atheists because they "fell into no other category"? Surely if you follow UU, you'd be a called a Unitarian Universalist.

If you're an atheist Unitarian Universalist then that just proves me earlier point where I was sayign atheism is a group with it's own agendas. Thus it contradicts itself and the name is innacurate and misleading.
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Old 03-29-2011, 06:43 PM   #179 (permalink)
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a-theism.

the absence of Theology.

Theology hardly refers specificaly to Jesus Christ.


I assumed Unitarian Universalism would tackle the idea of God and Existence also, admitedly I don't know anything about "UU" other than what VEGANGELICA wrote there. If it doesn't, then it's nothing like Sufism, I'll retract my claim.


Also, I thought atheists were only called atheists because they "fell into no other category"? Surely if you follow UU, you'd be a called a Unitarian Universalist.

If you're an atheist Unitarian Universalist then that just proves me earlier point where I was sayign atheism is a group with it's own agendas. Thus it contradicts itself and the name is innacurate and misleading.
Atheism is simply a lack of belief in a god or gods. Unitarian Universalism doesn't require its followers to believe in the supernatural to be part of the group--their emphasis is much more on the here and now and on community--so there isn't any conflict in being an atheist UU. As I said there are quite a few of them.
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A Night in the Life of the Invisible Man

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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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Old 03-29-2011, 06:50 PM   #180 (permalink)
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Why does it need a name then? This is what I still don't get. To be clear here, I've got nothing against people who don't have any religious belief; I just can't bring myself to respect the word, idea, and group that is atheism.

If someone chooses to not believe in God, or any rendition of God, fine that's up to them. If someone chooses not to even tackle the idea of God in all it's entirety and complexity and just write it off, I lose a bit of respect and I don't advocate it but I don't hold anything against them; it's up to them what they do with their life.

But when people start giving a name to an idea based on nothing, essentially worhsipping the idea of a lack of worship, well I cant stomach that. Still though I can say, it's up to them, they can do what they want.

When those groups start intefering with the rest of the World, that's not something I'm happy about though, thats a step too far and tbh I've not really decided if and what I should do about that, I'm not exactly in a position of power.
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