Lloyd Geering Workshop 2006 SOF Conference
What does it mean to be religious? Is there a personal God;life after death, etc? In Buddhism there is no interest in an afterlife-aim to get out of the eternal problem of rebirth and attain Nirvana. Religion can be defined as one's commitment to a conscientious devotion to what matters most: to answer the question -what is the meaning of Life?
Two thousand years ago and before, religion and culture were the same. Each culture has a shared understanding of the world and its meaning,eg. a symbolic story and myth that told them how they came to be. For Maori-Papa(earth Mother) Rangi (sky father)They interpreted the forces of Nature as Gods. Before a totara tree could be cut down Tane's permission was required. Maoris show respect for their ancestors- and didn't separate religion and 'science'. It has been a huge challenge for them to come to terms with so much change (eg. the 'abandonment' of their Gods to Jesus Christianity) in the last 200 years compared with 2000 years of gradual change for European countries.
Three Great Ages of Gods
1) Primitive Ages- up to 500 BC.
2)Theological Age influenced by Budda, Confusius(500 BC) then Christ leading in to the
3)Humanistic Secular Age into which we have moved,gradually from once believing there were spiritual forces that surrounded one eg. elves, fairies, hobgoblins, angels. In the late 19th Century the idea of the devil was abandoned by many as well as the thought that God lived in the sky, this was influenced by the events of modern physics and the complex infinity of the world. We now explain Nature by concepts such as DNA, chromosomes, neurons etc. We create our own reality and meaning using language. Our old primitive, superstitious ideas of God should have gone. Life is one of change and the human race is at war with itself, eg terrorism, earth problems, population explosion, exhaustion of renewable resources like water and air pollution, destruction of the forests, and increase of deserts which cause interference with the ecological balance, depletion of the ozone layer etc. Being religious in the twenty first century is to be conscious of those issues and have a respect for the Earth and Life. In some ways we are inferior to Native people with our attitudes to Nature.
We need to discard
1)Idolising the Bible and the fundamentalist approach.
2)Idolising Jesus as Saviour of the world - see him as human
3)Priestly Hierachy- the future lies in the fellowship of people.
4)divine revelation as a source of knowledge
5)Idea of God as an objective personal being.
6)Prayer as just conversation with God
7)Exclusive claim of Christianity
8)Life after death
Funerals should be a joyful celebration of a person's life. Tolstoy believed that God is what we value-what makes us feel awe, wonder and gratitude etc.
We should marvel at his self evolving Universe,give thanks for the inheritance of culture, love and be loved and accept responsibility for the future of the planet and living things.
We need reshape our beliefs in the light of experience and make an appropriate individual response.