What Religion Means to Me

Religion, to me, is a set of beliefs that allow a person to gradually ascertain core values that make them productive members of society. Religion, to me, is meant to make a person a much better human being and should not be considered a boundary between cultures. Religions, nearly all, are merely sets of beliefs and values interpreted in various forms. Many Religions in our society share common characteristics, such as the universal concept of a deity or deities that guide individuals down pre-ordained paths. These cultures, from Christianity to Islam, all believe in a moral compass: what they believe their distinct deity would have them do.

Religion can be different things to different people; religion to some, can be hope, love, peace, honesty, compassion, courage, and so much more. However, Religion has become diluted to where these abstract concepts of inner revelation are morphed into mere political factions hoping to ascertain funds from their own gain. Religions, to me, are groups of individuals with faith in something higher, and benevolent, hoping to come together …

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On Being Raised in a Dual Religion Household

Growing up in a dual religion family is not always easy, but it is very rewarding. I truly believe that I am the person that I am today because of it.

My Father was married before he met my Mother. He had four children who were all brought up in the Lutheran Church. After his wife passed away from cancer, he married my Mother, who is Catholic, and together they had me.

Growing up, I was raised in both the Catholic Church, and in the Lutheran Church. I received all of my sacraments from the Catholic Church, but I was also seen frequently with my Father and siblings at their Lutheran Church.

While Catholics and Lutherans are very similar in many of their beliefs, there are still several differences. These differences were all explained to me when I was young, and I was able to draw my own conclusions and beliefs from these teachings. As a result, I consider my beliefs a hybrid of the two religions.

Many people will not consider marrying outside of …

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Sermons On Faith

Sermons on faith tackle one of the most difficult and abstract issues in all of religion. While people can toss the term faith around and claim to have it, it’s really not that simple to achieve it. It is probably a human trait to want proof of anything which demands our action, commitment, or sacrifice; yet religion (often called faith) requires faith without proof. How does anyone achieve that?

There’s a line from Paul Simon’s song “Proof” that goes “Faith is an island in the setting sun; but proof, proof is the bottom line for everyone.” These lyrics seem to sum up the human condition perfectly when it comes to relationships, fiscal transactions, and religion. Faith is an ideal which can give us great contentment; but we spend most of our lives pursuing proof, whether or not it makes us happy.

So what is a minister to do? Sermons on faith must be among the most powerful, eloquent, and persuasive thoughts that a man of faith may impart. The Old Testament God was angered by …

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Religion in Saudi Arabia: Does Saudi Religion Differ from Mainstream Islam?

Like Christians in the West, there are many different denominations or sects in Islam. The two major Islamic branches, Sunnis and Shi’ites are located throughout the Middle East, and both branches have followers in Saudi Arabia. Officially in Saudi Arabia today, 92% of the population are considered Sunni Moslems and 8% are considered Shi’ite Muslims who live mostly along the coast of the Persian Gulf. Sunnis are considered the “Orthodox” branch of Islam, and the “Shi’ites,” like the Protestants, broke away from Orthodox Islam when Ali’s descendants were slain in Karbala, Iraq, over leadership issues.

In the beginning, leadership of Islam came from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Then, direction shifted to Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Turkey and other areas. A post was eventually set up in the holy cities in the Arabian Peninsula known as the Sharifate to oversee the holy cities.

Sharifs of Mecca and Medina

Members of the Prophet Muhammad’s clan, the Banu Hashim (a part of the Quraysh tribe from Mecca) were selected to be Sharifs of Mecca and Medina …

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Why Religion Works

I’ve done a post on my views of religion before. One thing I neglected to include, though, is why religion is so effective at what it does.

Religion, as the saying goes, is the opiate of the masses. It’s exactly what someone in a position of power wants. Something easily manipulable, that’s trusted and adored by all the plebeians, that not only distracts, but governs their lives. It’s system is brilliant.

It’s sprung on the person in moments of weakness. It’s always, “Depressed? Confused? Lost? Turn to Jesus!”, not “Content? Happy? Enjoying life? Turn to Jesus!”.

So, someone going through some rough times is presented with this apparent solution. It’s their fault for not trusting God, and worshiping him! Their told that God has all their answers, all they need to do is establish a relationship with him. It fills in possible gaps in their understanding of the world, and makes them feel good.

So, alright, they go to church, where the rules they are to live by are laid down. Don’t agree? Uh-oh!

Satan …

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How Religion, Free Will and Biology Interrelate and Conflict

Perhaps we don’t have the type of free will or free choice we believe, according to what has recently been discovered. There are physiological factors that can control it. So what does that do to the free will debate?

Scientists in France have found that if a certain part of the brain is stimulated it will provoke the desire to do something such as wiggle a finger or move a leg and even make the person believe he or she actually did move even when lying completely still. They found this out by stimulating the brains of patients undergoing surgery. Patients responded they moved even when they didn’t, which reflects what is called in social psychology and religion free will.

If free will is a physiological response, what does religion say? Faith groups believe that the ability to make decisions is given by God but that there is a plan that God knows about our lives. With some faith groups the plan can be overridden by free choice or free will. With others the plan …

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Spirituality vs. Religion

Imagine yourself in this following situation; or better yet, ponder on which side you seem to find yourself.

For his first sermon in a new parish, the young priest went up to the podium and said, “Instead of giving you a very long speech, I would like to try something new: everyone please each take one item home from the church.”

This caused a bit of a confused murmuring from the congregation. Did the priest just tell everyone to simply get up and take something? Anything?

Some of the local businessmen were the first to get up, and carried away the full collection baskets. But everyone else just stood there, bewildered at this strange experiment.

The following week, the priest said the same thing: “Please take one thing home from the church.” Some local jewelers took the chalice and cruets, some collectors took the paintings and statues. A few polite–but still reluctant–churchgoers quietly picked up the flowers by the altar.

And so on it continued, week after week, with the priest asking each of them …

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Muni Mini-Meditation – San Francisco Alternative Religions

We all know the benefits of meditation — stress reduction, lower blood pressure, peace of mind — it’s an exercise that totally relaxes and refreshes our body, mind and spirit.

And those of us who meditate also know how hard it can be carrying that divine relaxation over into the rest of our lives. We get used to meditating in our quiet place, at a specific time, in a specific way. But that habit can create a weird little vicious cycle — we end up only being able to meditate and relax in that special place, and can feel even more stressed out away from our practice than we did before we ever began to meditate. As a result, our family issues, work issues and transportation issues just seem to get harder and harder to deal with peacefully.

One great way to break the meditation cycle and learn to stay calm and centered regardless of the situation is to meditate “on the fly”; that is, meditate wherever and whenever you have a few minutes. One …

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Traditional Islam

Traditional Islam, like its more modern incarnation, upholds the belief in a single deity, Allah. The root of Islam are the words “salam” and “silm,” which mean peace. And, in fact, Islam is about finding peace with the Creator, which can be achieved through complete submission to His will.

In traditional Islam there is one definitive text, the Koran, which is the precise word of God (or Allah). Any serious practice of Islam demands a full commitment to this text, which was delivered by God to His prophet Mohammed in the year 610. Additionally, traditional Muslims study hadith, which reports on the deeds and sayings of Mohammed, God’s final prophet on Earth.

Misconceptions About Traditional Islam

Since September 11, more misinformation has been spread about Islamic culture than in any other period throughout modern times. As its name indicates, Islam is a peaceful religion that urges tolerance and acceptance. But like any creed, Islam has its radical factions. When these extremists are allowed to set the tenor of the entire religion, a handful of zealots …

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Religion and Respect: What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

This morning once again I have had my blood pressure raised at the site of an article I found on the news sites online. It appears that Christianity is once again under attack and this time the target is Easter. The battleground is Ohio in Munson Township to be exact. The annual tradition of the Easter egg hunt has now been changed to “The Spring Egg Hunt” as per the township trustees. Those in favor of the change have called those against it “too touchy”, but in today’s society where Christianity is attacked on every level why should we be touchy!

Now since the article has been released many Christians, including myself are pretty upset by this, however I have heard the arguments that egg hunt traditions are rooted in ancient pagan fertility rituals surrounding spring and that the name Easter itself is based off of the pagan religious name Ishtar. I will not deny that the early Catholic church did adapt some pagan names and celebrations into the church in order to make the …

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