Que es Religion?

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.

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What’s True For You

“What’s true for you is not necessarily true for me.”

I can’t even fathom how people can convince themselves that this makes sense. We all interpret things differently, but the truth requires absolution. The other day, I asked my best friend what her thoughts on the existence of a God are and she told me that she doesn’t know and she doesn’t care. I am a Christian and I can certainly understand doubt, and even disbelief, but shrugging off something as important as the potential origin of the universe, a potential eternal reward, or otherwise an eternal punishment, with a response as simple as “I don’t care, everyone is entitled to their own truth” is baffling. I would argue that there is nothing more important to life than finding out what the purpose for our existence is. To me, “religion” doesn’t matter, except to help us understand each other better and to help us discover the truth about the universe together. I believe that what separates a religion from Naziism or, arguably even Confucianism, is that a religion involves a group of people who subscribe to  an idea that is beyond the earthly, or profane, realm. Religious beliefs should not be confined to a culture or a way of being or thinking in a world as susceptible to change as the one we live in. Religion should focus on the truth beyond everything that we can possibly know, the truth about our beginning, and the truth about our end. I do believe that there can only be one truth, and that everything outside of that truth must be false, Stephen Prothero also said that the idea of coexistence is impossible, but I am also open to admitting that I might not know the truth, and that it could be possible that no one knows the truth and that no one ever will. Still, I would contend that there is no greater purpose for the human race than to do everything in our power to discover the potentially undiscoverable. The truth is out there, and it is worth seeking, even if we have to die to finally find it.

 ~Jayden Olsen

Unveiling the Mysteries Behind the World's Religions