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Source: (consider it) Thread: Religion stunts your personal growth
lilBuddha
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In general, I think this is true of all religions. In specific, I'd like to address Christianity.
Mainly because Christianity focuses on the divine more than its adherents.

PLEASE READ:
  • I am not saying this was Jesus' goal. As I read his words, personal growth is part of his message.
  • I am not saying all Christians. There definitely individual Christians to whom this does not apply.
  • I am not seeking to denigrate Christianity, nor truly single it out. But we are here.*

So, what am I saying? If you do not experience tangible personal growth, i.e. become a better person, you are doing it wrong.
Not saying a perfect person, perhaps not even a good person. But better.


*WARNING: Generally worksafe content, but that does vary. And, really, what are you doing surfing at work anyway.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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fletcher christian

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I'm struggling to understand how something that asks you to live well and with regard to others could stunt your personal growth? Unless you mean me to take it from an entirely individualistic point of view?

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Staretz Silouan

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W Hyatt
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But are you saying that there would be more personal growth if there wasn't any religion? I'm doubtful.

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A new church and a new earth, with Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
I'm struggling to understand how something that asks you to live well and with regard to others could stunt your personal growth? Unless you mean me to take it from an entirely individualistic point of view?

Once again, I am not targeting the message, but the implementation.
quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
But are you saying that there would be more personal growth if there wasn't any religion? I'm doubtful.

As am I.
No religion is the default. Religion should improve, but I don't think it does.
I think it can and I think it should. But I also think it difficult.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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BabyWombat
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I think the vicissitudes of living offer us many opportunities to avoid dealing with our true selves. We are offered roles to play -- good child/student/boy/girl, faithful spouse, hard working employee, and so on. We can spend many, many years playing the role without truly coming into ourselves -- seeing our self honestly, flaws , failures, goodness and holiness.

Luke’s gospel tells us that the prodigal son “came to himself.” I hear that as the moment of truth for him, the moment he could look at himself, flaws and gifts, and accept himself. (Just as I am without one plea…..). I think this moment comes to Mary Magdalene only when Jesus says her name in the garden by the empty tomb. Only then, seeing herself, could she see him.

Can one come to this moment without faith? Certainly! -- I suspect we all know such people. Can faith help some people avoid this moment, by defining a role (sinner/saint/priest/pastor/monk/nun, etc.)? Certainly! But I think that faith lived out honestly, accepting the challenge to love others as we love ourselves (and many times to love ourselves as we love others!), supports us to bravely face that moment of saying “Here I am Lord, warts and all.”

We can use any number of disguises to hide from our self. Faith can be one of them, but, I think, no more sinister or inhibiting than any other hiding place we create.

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Let us, with a gladsome mind…..

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

Once again, I am not targeting the message, but the implementation.

Well yes; there's no reasoning with the stupid, but that fact stands for almost anything, not just Christianity.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Lilbuddha:
quote:

Once again, I am not targeting the message, but the implementation.

Well yes; there's no reasoning with the stupid, but that fact stands for almost anything, not just Christianity.
Most things. I did say that. But why are a random sample of Christians no better than a random sample of atheists?

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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fletcher christian

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Because they all have stupidity in common?

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Doc Tor
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Some people use religion as an excuse to be dicks.

Some people use religion as a driver towards not being dicks.

Personally, I think my faith means I'm much less of a dick than I would be otherwise, but apparently some of my co-religionists think that being dickish is actually part of their personal growth (I think they call it 'holiness', rather than being a dick, but the result is the same).

So, all in all, it depends on a lot of factors, the chief of which is probably the culture of the religious community you're most influenced by. If that community emphasises dickishness, then to fit in, then you're more likely than not to grow into a dick. If it emphasises not being a dick, you'll be less dickish as time goes on.

It's all personal growth, really, but I know which I value more.

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Forward the New Republic

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Because they all have stupidity in common?

We are all human and regardless of religious affiliation/participation, are subject to the same traits.
We are not bound to them completely, however. The structures we build should be stronger than the constituent materials. It is a challenge to do so, but not an impossible task.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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SvitlanaV2
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´Personal growth´ also strikes me as a somewhat culture-bound concept. Depending on our environment we´re all likely to mean different things by it, if we even understand it as a concept at all.

My mother was a Christian all her life. She had a growing sense of what she was meant to do, which was to care for people. But she never talked about anything that reminded me of ´personal growth´. It´s possible she was stunted by her brand of faith, but it´s hard to know what atheism would have given her instead. As an atheist she wouldn´t have been the mother I knew, but a different person.

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leo
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It can certainly hinder the personal growth of LGBT people because it often tells them to hate themselves.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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rolyn
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
We are all human and regardless of religious affiliation/participation, are subject to the same traits.
We are not bound to them completely, however. The structures we build should be stronger than the constituent materials. It is a challenge to do so, but not an impossible task.

So what we are saying is we all want a better world with better people in it and if religion can play a part in that, on an individual basis, then all well and good.
Problem is Christianity has a poor record. So forgetting the whole Institution thing for a minute seeking ways to improve it's impact on personal development, rather than abandoning it entirely would appear to make sense.

As a footnote I can relate to DT's post. There was a definite point of realisation, before seriously pursuing the Christian Faith, that I was turning into a person I didn't much like nor wish to become.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
So forgetting the whole Institution thing for a minute seeking ways to improve it's impact on personal development, rather than abandoning it entirely would appear to make sense.

I think the institutionalisation is part of the problem. We could argue that the importance of religious institutions as sources of employment, status, funding, state or monarchical patronage, etc., can often crowd out the importance of nurturing spiritual and moral growth in individuals.

(This is to assume that ´personal growth´ is indeed a reference to spiritual and moral growth.)

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Lamb Chopped
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I'm tempted to be an academic pain and ask you to define your terms, but meh.

First of all, I'm making a difference between Christ and religion. Christ tends to kick my ass as far as personal growth goes, though he doesn't call it that--more like "justice" and "obedience" and "faith" and "stop being a jackass now." There are of course plenty of Christians who appear never to have met him.

Leaving that aside, then--

I don't see how religion can stunt your personal growth anymore than any other pursuit might. Golf, for instance. Properly used, it's a good thing and will not harm personal growth and might possibly help it (I suppose by teaching sociability, discipline and the like). Improperly used, you get golf clubs up trees and pains-in-the-ass disporting themselves below, to the frustration of their fellows.

I would expect that to be the case with almost any religion, viewed from a human point of view. Some will use the thing for good. Some will do the opposite. A great many will do neither, and just let time flow away.

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Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, I'm not sure about 'stunt'. I haven't noticed that religion improves people, but does it impede them?

I suppose I gave up religion as I opened up more, but that's just me.

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everything must go.

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ThunderBunk

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I have come across three variants of religion doing precisely this. The first is "well, these ideas/practices/etc. (which were necessarily learned during childhood) were good enough for mum, so they're good enough for me". It has a variant, which is "this is what I learned from Fr Soandso: things were so alive then". The third version, which is more institutional is the idea of passing on, intact and unexamined, an immemorial faith.

In all of these cases, the invitation to be accepted or rejected is to put aside personal growth (which is then held to be a fundamentally egotistical obsession) in favour of preserving a supposed treasure.

"'Taint holy, just old" - a phrase, sometimes, to live by.

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Aravis
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I kind of see where you're coming from.
If you think your brand of religion defines you, it may stunt your personal growth because It is easiest to settle at the level of the lowest common denominator of belief and practice within your group.
Christianity influences what I believe and do, but it doesn't determine either of those.
I'm not sure exactly how to go about ensuring you continue with personal growth, but I think it involves being aware of what influences you, positively and negatively, and perhaps thinking what would happen if you step outside those particular boxes.

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rolyn
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Yes, I'm not sure about 'stunt'. I haven't noticed that religion improves people, but does it impede them? .

There are many testimonies from people who have found religion, and by doing so have found freedom from things that were impeding them, alcohol or drug addiction for example.
I do though also wonder if religion itself can't itself become an impediment. Maybe if Church is to be regarded as a hospital to the broken hearted then a person, when cured, should be offered a discharge as it were. Needless to say this idea would not find favour with those whose livelihoods depend on a life long, (financial), commitment to their particular church.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Gramps49
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I think it was Ghandi who said he could accept Christ if it were not for all those "Christians."

I do have problems with the title of this thread.

"Religion stunts your personal growth...especially Christianity"

Then the Original poster admits not all are stunted by Christianity.

I would dare say many individuals who are stunted in their growth will use religion as an excuse be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, even (gasp) Buddhist. Should I also include atheists?

However, I do not blame that on any religion. It has to do with the way the mind is ordered. There are some minds who look at things positively. They seem to use their religion to help expand their approach to life. There are other minds that are closed down. They use their faith to protect their world view.

Christianity, for me, has helped me come to terms with some very critical life questions. I have moved quite a ways from growing up in a very conservative denomination believing everything is white and black, to a very liberal person who can see that there are many colors to the rainbow of life. Christianity has helped inform me of this new approach.

But I also have a more positive mindset. I have used Christianity to enrich my life.

Can't speak for others, though.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:

I do have problems with the title of this thread.

"Religion stunts your personal growth...especially Christianity"

Didn't say especially Christianity.


quote:

I would dare say many individuals who are stunted in their growth will use religion as an excuse be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, even (gasp) Buddhist. Should I also include atheists?

However, I do not blame that on any religion.

I do not blame it on religion. I am saying that some religions,* Christianity included, should help us rise to our best.
I think they generally do not.


*There are those that do not claim this in their remit.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Gramps49
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There is your problem. You are making generalizations.

If you accept the fiction that religions stunt growth, you will find facts that prove that assumption.

If I accept the fiction that religions can foster growth, I can find examples that prove my assumption.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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"Religion stunts your personal growth"
- only if you do it wrong.

Having just come from a long day of sorting out a dead person, I have some recent evidence,

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Zappa
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I suspect Facebook and Infotainment stunts human intellectual and spiritual (whatever that is) growth far more. Sadly religion participates in those opiates too.

So does irreligion.

Nah. Just don't buy that religious practitioners are more stunted that atheists, agnostics, couldn't give a shitters and lapsed calathumpians.

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simontoad
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Look, I didn't come here for an argument.

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MaryLouise
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The word 'religion' or 'religions' is one of the trickiest words to define or limit, a great ambiguous generalisation in itself.

My own corrective when thinking of how religion operates and what we expect from participating in a religion, is to remind myself what the writer Flannery O'Connor said, similar to how the Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued against what he called 'cheap grace':

'What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can't believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God.'

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-- Ivy Compton-Burnett

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rolyn
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At the time several observers were prepared to say the emotional outpouring in the week following the death of Princess Diana came close to a religion.
Last evening I was YouTube-ing a popular and well-loved 60s folk singer. It was intriguing to read some of the comments which were no less than expressions of love, adoration and, in some cases outpourings of personal remorse. Much of this also encapsulates the essence religion, hard to say if it stunts personal growth.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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quetzalcoatl
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Thinking about guilt recently, as I do a lot, both personally and professionally, and I do wonder if religion did impede discoveries about this.

Of course, religion has provided ways of dealing with guilt and shame, e.g. confession, absolution, PSA, and so on. But I think that depth psychology, beginning in the 19th century, actually began to penetrate into the depths of the psyche, and showed how guilt operates there.

Thus, one can become more conscious of one's guilt, and how it operates, as self-punishment and so on, and hence, reduce it.

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everything must go.

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rolyn
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Guilt does need to find an outlet. How it gets to enter a person's psyche to begin with still seems as much a mystery as ever it was, leading some to conclude it must serve us some kind of purpose.

I have heard some life long proponents of Christianity admit that Christian practice could produce guilt rather than alleviate it. The whole thing is problematic and often not as simple as just discarding the bath water.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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SvitlanaV2
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The notion of Catholic guilt is apparently more of a myth than reality these days, although guilt in general is important in many religious groups.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9897912/Catholic-guilt-is-a-myth-but-puritanism-is-alive-and-well-says-study.html

I´m not sure that this is a bad thing. If doing something wrong doesn´t make us feel guilty, aren´t we more likely to continue doing it?

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
The notion of Catholic guilt is apparently more of a myth than reality these days, although guilt in general is important in many religious groups.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9897912/Catholic-guilt-is-a-myth-but-puritanism-is-alive-and-well-says-study.html

I´m not sure that this is a bad thing. If doing something wrong doesn´t make us feel guilty, aren´t we more likely to continue doing it?

Yes, I think a certain amount of guilt and shame are useful as correctives. But some people have an over the top guilt, which can paralyze them, or make them depressed, or leads to self-destructive behaviour.

I think religious practices can relieve some of the symptoms, but then it can get stuck in a cycle. Whereas, it is possible to begin to reduce guilt, via psychological methods.

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everything must go.

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
There is your problem. You are making generalizations.

And not supporting the claim. Evidence, specific examples of people whose personal growth was demonstrably stunted by religion - you know, the usual things expected when making a claim of fact.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
There is your problem. You are making generalizations.

Kinda part of the point, actually. Individuals may find value in nearly anything, so that is pointless in evaluating a system. The evaluation is how said system affects people generally.

Religion, as a concept, needn't impede people becoming better versions of themselves. It can, theoretically, be a great boon.
However, like any other human institution, tends towards membership more than purpose.
quote:

If you accept the fiction that religions stunt growth, you will find facts that prove that assumption.

If I accept the fiction that religions can foster growth, I can find examples that prove my assumption.

You appear to be operating from the fiction that I argue without evidence.
quote:
Originally posted by Zappa:

Nah. Just don't buy that religious practitioners are more stunted that atheists, agnostics, couldn't give a shitters and lapsed calathumpians.

I don't see anyone selling this. I am certainly not.
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Whereas, it is possible to begin to reduce guilt, via psychological methods.

Possible, but not as profitable. [Biased]
quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
Look, I didn't come here for an argument.

Yes, you did.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I think a certain amount of guilt and shame are useful as correctives. But some people have an over the top guilt, which can paralyze them, or make them depressed, or leads to self-destructive behaviour.

I think religious practices can relieve some of the symptoms, but then it can get stuck in a cycle. Whereas, it is possible to begin to reduce guilt, via psychological methods.

Presumably psychological methods´ also exist to increase guilt! I imagine that there are few dictatorships (religious or otherwise) that make use of those....

Christianity´s major selling point, ISTM, is that you have a central character who takes the sins of the world upon himself; all you have to do is turn and follow him. So excessive guilt that stunts one´s existence and prevents effective Christian discipleship should theoretically be undesirable. This unfortunate outcome must be a result of Christians focusing on their own guilt rather than on Jesus, who is supposed to have paid the price for it all.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
I think a certain amount of guilt and shame are useful as correctives. But some people have an over the top guilt, which can paralyze them, or make them depressed, or leads to self-destructive behaviour.

I think religious practices can relieve some of the symptoms, but then it can get stuck in a cycle. Whereas, it is possible to begin to reduce guilt, via psychological methods.

Presumably psychological methods´ also exist to increase guilt! I imagine that there are few dictatorships (religious or otherwise) that make use of those....

Christianity´s major selling point, ISTM, is that you have a central character who takes the sins of the world upon himself; all you have to do is turn and follow him. So excessive guilt that stunts one´s existence and prevents effective Christian discipleship should theoretically be undesirable. This unfortunate outcome must be a result of Christians focusing on their own guilt rather than on Jesus, who is supposed to have paid the price for it all.

That's a very interesting point. There is an old joke in therapy that my guilt and depression are all about me. There is some truth in this, as guilty people make themselves too important in a sense.

However, these are deep waters, as this in itself may conceal a desperate need, desperate loneliness, intense anger, and so on. Working with someone who is like this is very challenging, as their darkness tends to be contagious.

Well, excessive guilt is both a fascinating and an alarming phenomenon, as it wrecks lives.

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Enoch
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Is too much of an emphasis on one's own personal growth all that wholesome? There have been people I've met who give the impression they see their own personalities as works of art. It can be terribly 'me, me, me, it's all about me'.

For all that, I would say that if there has been any personal growth at all in my life, that has been entirely attributable to my attempt to live a faithful Christian life. I don't think I would have even thought of such a thing, yet alone bothered or tried otherwise.

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W Hyatt
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Is too much of an emphasis on one's own personal growth all that wholesome? There have been people I've met who give the impression they see their own personalities as works of art. It can be terribly 'me, me, me, it's all about me'.

Doesn't that just mean that there is both positive and negative personal growth? 'It's all about me' isn't an inevitable result - it could very well go the other way.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Is too much of an emphasis on one's own personal growth all that wholesome? There have been people I've met who give the impression they see their own personalities as works of art. It can be terribly 'me, me, me, it's all about me'.

Doesn't that just mean that there is both positive and negative personal growth?
Well, yes, just as there is positive and negative just about anything. Including religion.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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Without a religious sense, how do you make sense of unconscious motivations, the patterns across generations? Personal growth without something to pin it to, to explain more than information processing, authentic brandname experiences, individualism etc is pretty empty. And excessive focus on personal growth is also more or less a form of consumerism. God's chosen people flipped to the people being lonely individuals who, being lonely, need to he sold something, which is their individual choice. God not a saleable product.

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Gramps49
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Oh, I am sure you can find evidence that will prove your narrative--to you.
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no prophet's flag is set so...

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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Oh, I am sure you can find evidence that will prove your narrative--to you.

If that us directed to me, your words prove the point. What is the "evidence" that music or an art object is beautiful? And that it enhances personal growth?

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Martin60
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Religion gave me racism, homophobia, sexism and worse. Heaven knows how bad I'd have been without it ...

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Is too much of an emphasis on one's own personal growth all that wholesome? There have been people I've met who give the impression they see their own personalities as works of art. It can be terribly 'me, me, me, it's all about me'.

Doesn't that just mean that there is both positive and negative personal growth? 'It's all about me' isn't an inevitable result - it could very well go the other way.
I think it often does. People arrive in therapy self-obsessed often, and why not? They are obsessed, because something is wrong. But if the process is working, and sometimes it does, there is a movement from this narcissism to an other-related state of openness and connection. Of course, it doesn't always work.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by W Hyatt:
Doesn't that just mean that there is both positive and negative personal growth?

If a tree begins to wither, it isn't negative growth.

quote:

'It's all about me' isn't an inevitable result - it could very well go the other way.

Selfish is the opposite of personal growth by most metrics.
Personal growth is not antithetical to Jesus' message, rather it compliments it.

quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
Without a religious sense, how do you make sense of unconscious motivations, the patterns across generations? Personal growth without something to pin it to, to explain more than information processing, authentic brandname experiences, individualism etc is pretty empty.

Pretty big insult to all the good agnostics and atheists.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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quetzalcoatl
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Yes, I hadn't seen that. Without religion, how does one make sense of stuff? Well, I am writing this post without religion - how is that possible?

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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You will note I said "religious sense". Atheists have religious sense. They hold that it is something else is all. "Flow" is an awkward term to describe what the religious may call mystical. I have heard terms from aesthetics also used in ways that don't convey the meaning. I think there is pretty good data that we are either given structure to contain our innate tendency (probably evolutionarily positive given its ubiquity) for religion or we invent a new structure. though I don't think self-actualization is a very good one.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
You will note I said "religious sense". Atheists have religious sense. They hold that it is something else is all.

This is the same dismissal.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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We could easily argue that the topic as originally posted is dismissive of the religious. But let's set that aside.

There are a few points worth making. First, religion is part of all human societies. Second, there is a literature which discusses the evolutionary significance of religion, both as probably adaptive and as a epiphenomenon (meaningless outgrowth of other processes). Third, it is evident that we disagree whether atheists (or agnostics) have a religious sense. I think they'd prefer to call it something else or extinguish it. But this hardly denies the human capacity and inevitability of a religious sense. Like the need for others and the capacity for language and problem solving, there are some inevitable characteristics of human beings.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
We could easily argue that the topic as originally posted is dismissive of the religious. But let's set that aside.

Let's do, because it isn't. If anything, it is a challenge to religion to become what it can be.
quote:

There are a few points worth making. First, religion is part of all human societies. Second, there is a literature which discusses the evolutionary significance of religion, both as probably adaptive and as a epiphenomenon (meaningless outgrowth of other processes).

Evolutionary significance? I think you have this backwards. Evolution is significant to religion, not the reverse.
Few would argue against religion having been significant in our history. However, unless you accept the premise that at lest one of them is true and real; inevitability is less, well, inevitable.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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We may not be understanding each other. There is a literature which discusses primate and human evolution with religion being part of the evolutionary processes. I accept evolution, and also accept that human religious behaviour is inevitable because of our evolution.
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