No matter how you say it, there is no simple way to define religion. With a minimal background of religious teachings, including and limited to church visits on Christmas and Easter and less than three weeks in a world religions class, I struggled to define religion in my own words. After some readings, class discussions and revisions I wrote a working definition that represents religion as I understand it thus far: beliefs about existence, purpose, morals and goals for greater humanity with a phenomenal element unable to be proven or explained in its entirety. But religion is not a word that can be universally defined, and my current knowledge on the topic is limited. I bring an ignorant American bias to the topic of religion; I identify as Christian and grew up surrounded by the commercialized Christian traditions of the United States. In the coming weeks I hope to continue to grow my understanding of religion and different religious practices. My definition of religion will adapt to encompass changes in perspective.
Religious traditions around the world vary immensely in the facets that combine to form a specific understanding of the world. Without the foundation of one set of practices and spiritual guidance, I do not feel connected to any of the greater understandings of the world. In the search to define religion as a whole, I hope to find spiritual direction. Using my own definition of religion, I am looking for reasons of how humans came into existences, what purpose we are to serve, what values should guide us through life and what waits on the other side, if there is even an ‘other side’. The search for the definition success leads down a similar path, only more materialistic for most. In order to reach success in life you need some beginning point and an endpoint that you can roughly identify even if it is in the distant future. Then you need purpose and a metaphorical compass to guide you to your goal. The endpoint for success and religion differ drastically from person to person, but similarities eventually create patterns which turn into groups of people who identify together as believing the same thing. During this exploration into religion, while simultaneously establishing a path toward a successful life, I may find that my beliefs fall into a pattern that is not what I currently associate with or I may find reassurance and answers in my hereditary beliefs. Let the journey begin. ~B.G.