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What is religion? A lot of people use the term religion to refer to organized religion, and the term spirituality to refer to personal spiritual experiences that may fall outside the bound of organized religion. Often, implicit in the use of these terms is a judgment that spirituality is "good" (based on individual experience and a search for truth), and religion is "bad" (it is usually labelled as dogmatic and closed-minded). I think this black-and-white categorization is unwarranted and glosses over some of the deeper issues in religion and spirituality.
I personally believe that the community, cultural, and institutional aspects of religion can be positive and, in some respects, are an essential and integral part of religion. To some degree, I see the religious vs. spiritual dichotomy as an outgrowth of the over-emphasis on individualism in American society, and also as a negative reaction to dogmatic or closed-minded forms of institutional religion, which, unfortunately, have a long history as being powerful and influential in Western civilization.
I think that the characterization of all religion as bad, or of the idea of religion as inherently bad, is an overreaction, or non-constructive reaction, to the problems in organized religion. I think that a more pointed critique of religion, which identifies and roots out the specific elements that are problematic, will ultimately be more fruitful at advancing society.
Both to be true to my beliefs, and because I refuse to let the more dogmatic forms of religion dominate the religious world, I consider myself religious even though I tend to be skeptical and critical of many aspects of organized religion, including religious communities that I participate in.
- Language in Religion - How can we get past language and look at meaning?
- Hardcore Religion - How can we integrate our religious beliefs into all aspects of our lives rather than just having religion be more superficial?
- My Experience With Christianity - Why I identify as a disciple of Jesus Christ, but don't identify as a Christian or member of Christianity.
- Student vs. Member - Should we be members of a religion, or students of a religion?
- Secularism - An unorthodox take on the topic of secularism, this article argues that the religious right is paradoxically allied to the secular, materialistic aspects of American society. On this page I propose a novel way of looking at the question of secular vs. religious.
- Sermons of Steve & Mary Hammond, Peace Community Church, Oberlin, Ohio - I find these sermons very meaningful and relevant.
- Kelly Moltzen's Religion Blog - Discussion of Gnostic Christianity, among other interesting topics.
- Ascension Mission - A website run by the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, with a wealth of resources on Independent Catholicism.
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