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Source: (consider it) Thread: Locus, focus and hocus pocus
Gamaliel
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This has been triggered by the relics thread.

I don't want to get into a big debate about 'The Real Presence' or 'The Perpetual Virginity of Mary' as such - nor the validity or otherwise of charismatic practices such as 'tongues' and 'prophecy' ...

Rather, I'd like to explore the criteria for deciding when:

- A particular belief or practice is 'superstitious'.

- A particular belief or practice is not 'superstitious.'

It seems to me that the criteria is very often:

- When I say so.

Or:

- If my church or group practice it then it's ok but it's not ok if someone else holds something that looks very similar but isn't part of my particular scene.

We could parse this:

- What you believe is superstitious.
- What I believe, however outrageous or silly it looks to you isn't, because I believe it.

Or similar ...

So, to take one example.

Back in the day it dawned on me that there was something inconsistent in the way that some evangelicals and charismatics would dismiss the idea of the 'Real Presence' in the Eucharist out of hand, whilst not turning a hair when it came to a somewhat over-realised belief that 'God inhabits the praises of his people' when it came to their own 'praise and worship times.'

Somehow God was believed to be 'more present' as it were during the lively sing-song times (because it felt like it) than he was believed to be at other times - or certainly at that 'dead' church down the road where they went in for bells and smells and prancing about with wafers ...

Now, I'm not citing that to criticise lively forms of worship or to recommend sacramentalism - I'm simply pointing out an apparent inconsistency.

What criteria was in play to determine that:

- God was somehow more active or tangibly 'present' in the one but not the other?

It seems to me that however we cut it we all ascribe significance to particular places, people and things and make associations and connections which we feel somehow convey or transmit grace.

Fair enough.

But what criteria do we apply to determine that our particular practices and beliefs are somehow kosher and legitimate and other people's aren't?

Why isn't God present in the Eucharist, say, but somehow obviously present in a worship time in a charismatic church?

Or vice-versa?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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We quite recently had a discussion about some of this stuff.

My answer is still the same: supertition is just what other people do when they do things that I do in a different context to the one I accept.

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arse

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Gamaliel
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Sure, which is similar to where I'm coming from on this one ...

But I'm interesting to hear what other Shippies think, particularly those who do accuse other traditions of superstition on the sort of grounds you've identified ie. it's different to what I do, it must be superstitious ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
We quite recently had a discussion about some of this stuff.

My answer is still the same: supertition is just what other people do when they do things that I do in a different context to the one I accept.

This is how most people use it.
I try not to. For me, something is superstitious when it falls outside of a belief system. So, believing breaking a mirror is "bad luck" is superstitious; but animal sacrifice, within the context of religion, isn't.
For Christians, believing an relic has power is; but for Wiccans, it isn't.

--------------------
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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Martin60
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Any belief that changes practice for the better is good.

--------------------
Love wins

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Gamaliel
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But some Christians do believe that relics have power, as you put it - not intrinsic power in and of themselves ... but power nevertheless.

By the same principle, they believe that physical things - Holy Water, icons, consecrated bread and wine - can convey and transmit grace.

It isn't the same as Wiccan ideas of magic, although InGoB of partially blessed memory once argued on these boards that Roman Catholicism really was 'magic' in the full sense and that all other magical things were some kind of approximation ...

[Confused] [Ultra confused]

There is a continuum, it seems to me, between those more Catholic/sacramental Christians who do believe that physical objects can be conduits of divine grace and power in a very real - but not 'magical' sense - and those who treat them as talismans ...

So I suggest your dividing line between what is 'in' and what is 'out' as far as Christianity is concerned needs some qualification or modification. The boundaries may be blurred or more elastic ... I don't know.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Raptor Eye
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I was once told to watch out for people who will take a consecrated wafer away rather than eat it, as they wanted to steal God's power and use it for their own purposes. This would be superstitious use of the wafer, it seems to me, as with 'holy water' which people try to use for their own purposes.

The priest who blesses the wafers and the water is asking for God's blessing upon those who use it for its proper purpose, which is fine unless he or she thinks that they are the ones who are bestowing the blessing upon it.

--------------------
Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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SvitlanaV2
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In the MOTR (especially Methodist) context I've never heard any particular disapproval of 'superstitions', certainly not in connection with any historical religious tradition. I suspect this is partly due to the respect in which the RCC, and the Orthodox churches, etc., are held.

My sense is that 'superstition' in the modern Western world is now a more interesting concept with regard to popular spirituality, not Christian denominations. What's left of magic, if you like, is surely more prevalent among Westerners who largely live outside the influence of organised religion than those who are within.

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by Raptor Eye:
I was once told to watch out for people who will take a consecrated wafer away rather than eat it...

EAT IT NOW!!!

Ah...fond memories. Hope young Max is doing well.

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:

For Christians, believing an relic has power is; but for Wiccans, it isn't.

I'm not sure. But I would say that , being a relic-adorer. Perhaps I'd say a Protestant Christian may see it as superstition; a Catholic or Orthodox, among others, would not.

I hardly think they are magic items that will grant me untold fame and fortune, but they are an object possessing holiness. At least that is my view. May be wrong.

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GreyFace
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A belief that something has power is, I'd say, superstitious if the belief in that power is mistaken but we'd have to define terms as to what we admit as legitimate power.

If for example Real Presence wasn't true, but belief in the doctrine led people to live holier lives, would it be a superstition? Clearly the belief has spiritual power and therefore at the psychological level at least the Eucharist is holy and Real Presence is not a superstition.

If on the other hand we're going to claim that to avoid being superstitious, a belief has to step beyond the psychological and into the provably miraculous, I think we're on shaky ground. I'm happy equating the term divine magic with holiness though so perhaps my skeptic credentials are a bit thin. Wish I'd been around when Ingo was writing on this one.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:

If for example Real Presence wasn't true, but belief in the doctrine led people to live holier lives, would it be a superstition?

If you believe any belief system makes people better, than we cannot talk.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has ample evidence that its followers do not achieve better than average goodness.

--------------------
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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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
We quite recently had a discussion about some of this stuff.

My answer is still the same: supertition is just what other people do when they do things that I do in a different context to the one I accept.

This is how most people use it.
I try not to. For me, something is superstitious when it falls outside of a belief system. So, believing breaking a mirror is "bad luck" is superstitious; but animal sacrifice, within the context of religion, isn't.
For Christians, believing an relic has power is; but for Wiccans, it isn't.

LilBuddha, I'm thrown by this. I'm a Christian. I've got a reasonable understanding about what is and is not 'within the context' of Christianity. I couldn't, though, and wouldn't presume to, speak for Wiccanism or Buddhism. For them, as an outsider I just don't know enough about either faith to assert what, even by your definition, is superstitious or fits within its context as a religion.

I could, for example, ask you how one can pray by turning a wheel in a non-theist system? What I can't legitimately do is say that that is superstitious 'within the context of' Buddhism as a religion.

Likewise,
quote:
A body is a limit on the unlimited. An unnecessary thing.
may challenge the presuppositions of Buddhism. The same applies to
quote:
The concept that Jesus rose bodily into heaven is a limitation of how our minds operate. None of heaven being a place or bodies residing in it makes any real sense, even in the context of religion. Not Christianity, anyway.
However, as a faith founded in the belief that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, even of you may say that is inconsistent, or a paradox, that is really fundamental to how Christians see 'the life, the universe and everything'. It may mean that Christianity does not make sense to a Buddhist, but within our parameters, it is at the core of how we see things.

--------------------
Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Gamaliel
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Sure, but what I'm interested in exploring is why a belief in the 'Real Presence, for instance, is seen as superstition by some whose own practices and beliefs might be open to a similar charge when viewed from the outside.

Why is the charismatic focus on placing the locus for divine/human interaction in 'the worship time' any less 'superstitious' say, than the sacramentalist focus on putting the locus on the apparent hocus pocus of the 'Real Presence'?

What makes the one 'superstitious' and not the other? Why aren't both seem as equally 'superstitious' if that's how we want to categorise or evaluate them?

And a belief in the 'Real Presence' need not necessarily involve the RC view of Transubstantiation, of course ...

Why wouldn't we consider the use of anointing with oil in prayer for healing as mentioned in the Epistle of James as 'superstitious' for instance?

What criteria should we use other than our own personal criteria derived from whatever religious tradition we come from?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
LilBuddha, I'm thrown by this. I'm a Christian. I've got a reasonable understanding about what is and is not 'within the context' of Christianity. I couldn't, though, and wouldn't presume to, speak for Wiccanism or Buddhism. For them, as an outsider I just don't know enough about either faith to assert what, even by your definition, is superstitious or fits within its context as a religion.

Not sure your point. If you are saying outsiders cannot have knowledge insiders do, than that is not strictly true. Not in open religions. If you mean that outsiders are rude to comment, then I disagree. Especially as I am not arguing anything that Christians do not also argue in this.
quote:

I could, for example, ask you how one can pray by turning a wheel in a non-theist system? What I can't legitimately do is say that that is superstitious 'within the context of' Buddhism as a religion.

Why? If it is because you have no knowledge of Buddhism, then yes. However, if you were on a Buddhist discussion board, the comment would be legitimate. Especially because there is discussion and debate on this very topic within Buddhism.
An outsider cannot tell an insider how they feel. But then, one insider cannot tell another insider that either. But we are discussing publicly revealed beliefs. I can read an interpret them as well as you. Potentially, anyway.
The variety of interpretation within Christianity would suggest being an insider doesn't impart any special gifts of understanding. Same is true in Buddhism, BTW, and every other religion/philosophy with which I am acquainted.

As far as incarnation, that is being discussed on a different thread and I will keep my answers to that, there.

--------------------
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 Gamaliel:

Why is the charismatic focus on placing the locus for divine/human interaction in 'the worship time' any less 'superstitious' say, than the sacramentalist focus on putting the locus on the apparent hocus pocus of the 'Real Presence'?

What makes the one 'superstitious' and not the other? Why aren't both seem as equally 'superstitious' if that's how we want to categorise or evaluate them?

You say 'we', but apart from these charismatics and others from a similar stable, who accuses other traditions of being 'superstitious' these days? AFAIK the RCs don't do it. The MOTR churches don't do it. I don't know about the Orthodox churches.

At this point, many mainstream Protestant traditions have become relatively sacramental themselves and have nothing to gain from calling others 'superstitious', a term that still has negative overtones. (I also suspect that in urban environments, where churches like to pay lip service to mutual respect, even the charismatics would be loathe to use the word publicly. But this may be uncommon.)

Commentators already agree that the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have undergone their own versions of (re-)sacramentalisation, or (re-)Catholicisation. The members of these Pente/charo churches might not see it like that themselves, but engaging them in the debate might be easier if the use of the word 'superstition' were discouraged rather than expanded....

[ 11. January 2018, 00:08: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Gamaliel
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Sure. I suppose the fact that I started this thread partly in response to Sipech's use of the term 'superstition' in relation to the 'Real Presence' and 'The Perpetual Virginity of Mary' on another thread serves to illustrate your point.

Sipech comes from within the charismatic evangelical constituency of course - although I find some of his comments almost sub-Trinitarian at times but that's another matter ...

[Biased] [Razz]

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
If you believe any belief system makes people better, than we cannot talk.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has ample evidence that its followers do not achieve better than average goodness.

I don't think the absence of a belief system is possible. Do you? You seem to be arguing that a person who believed nothing at all would be as good as anybody else. I rather suspect somebody in that situation would be regarded as completely insane.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
If you believe any belief system makes people better, than we cannot talk.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has ample evidence that its followers do not achieve better than average goodness.

I don't think the absence of a belief system is possible. Do you?
Certainly. Atheism doesn't require a system. And most people do not truly have much of a system/thought out set of beliefs. They simply believe.
But the point really was that some people think their religion/philosophy makes its adherents better. The preponderance of evidence suggests this is untrue. The recipe might be included, but it doesn't follow that people will inherently bake the proper cake.
quote:

You seem to be arguing that a person who believed nothing at all would be as good as anybody else.

I don't think it is possible to believe in literally nothing and be functional at all. I was speaking more of organised religion/philosophy. But people develop methods of interacting with one another and that typically involves some sort of moral code. I do not think religion has as much a lock on this as many religious people do.

--------------------
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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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:

If for example Real Presence wasn't true, but belief in the doctrine led people to live holier lives, would it be a superstition? Clearly the belief has spiritual power and therefore at the psychological level at least the Eucharist is holy and Real Presence is not a superstition.

I thought several people had pegged this one pretty accurately on the other thread.

The characteristic of magical = superstitious thinking is causation by occult/hidden/unknown means.

If you say an effect is psychological you're sketching out the means by which it works, so it's not magic.

If you say that by performing this rite we ask God to do something, then that leaves open the possibility that He will in His wisdom decline to do so, so no causation, so it's not magic.

If you believe that under certain circumstances God is present (in an inexplicably different way to the way that he is normally present) and that this different mode of presence doesn't actually cause anything else to happen, then again no chain of causation so not superstition.

Where's the problem ?

--------------------
Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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lilBuddha
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In your reasoning.

--------------------
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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Oscar the Grouch

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I think this is one of those irregular verbs that crop up from time to time.

I have faith.
You are superstitious.
They are barking mad.

--------------------
Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Oscar the Grouch:
I think this is one of those irregular verbs that crop up from time to time.

I have faith.
You are superstitious.
They are barking mad.

This certainly happens. But I think my definition doesn’t fall within that.
ETA: Not that it will eliminate disagreements, but I think it is a basis to discuss this.

[ 12. January 2018, 01:47: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
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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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
We quite recently had a discussion about some of this stuff.

My answer is still the same: supertition is just what other people do when they do things that I do in a different context to the one I accept.

This is how most people use it.
I try not to. For me, something is superstitious when it falls outside of a belief system. So, believing breaking a mirror is "bad luck" is superstitious; but animal sacrifice, within the context of religion, isn't.
For Christians, believing an relic has power is; but for Wiccans, it isn't.

Only as you fail to understand Christianity.

--------------------
“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Only as you fail to understand Christianity.

That is an assertion, not a rebuttal.

--------------------
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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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Only as you fail to understand Christianity.

That is an assertion, not a rebuttal.
LilBuddha, even if you think it is, I think Mousethief is being fair. Several shipmates have already tried on this thread to explain to you why your criticism of Christianity is founded on what you think Christianity ought to be, rather than what it is.

--------------------
Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:

If for example Real Presence wasn't true, but belief in the doctrine led people to live holier lives, would it be a superstition? Clearly the belief has spiritual power and therefore at the psychological level at least the Eucharist is holy and Real Presence is not a superstition.

I thought several people had pegged this one pretty accurately on the other thread.

The characteristic of magical = superstitious thinking is causation by occult/hidden/unknown means.

If you say an effect is psychological you're sketching out the means by which it works, so it's not magic.

If you say that by performing this rite we ask God to do something, then that leaves open the possibility that He will in His wisdom decline to do so, so no causation, so it's not magic.

If you believe that under certain circumstances God is present (in an inexplicably different way to the way that he is normally present) and that this different mode of presence doesn't actually cause anything else to happen, then again no chain of causation so not superstition.

Where's the problem ?

Sounds like magic to me.

--------------------
Love wins

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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Very interesting OP. My personal definition of superstition is anything that requires 100% faith in order to believe it is true.
I think I've missed something ... ... hmmm, I'll have to think about that a bit more.

--------------------
I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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SusanDoris

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A further thought or two: Superstitions range from the completely daft to almost believable, I suppose. The word itself carries a pejorative tone, doesn't it? No-one believes in fairies, except some children while they are still at the age of not being clear about what is fact and what is fiction, so that is clearly and always a superstitious belief, if it extends beyond that childhood phase.

At some point along the scale of superstitions, they become confused with religious beliefs and it seems to me that religious beliefs are allowed to say that they are not superstitions.They assume, and are given, a privileged position.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Only as you fail to understand Christianity.

That is an assertion, not a rebuttal.
LilBuddha, even if you think it is, I think Mousethief is being fair. Several shipmates have already tried on this thread to explain to you why your criticism of Christianity is founded on what you think Christianity ought to be, rather than what it is.
Several? Three on this thread.

Gamaliel: 'Some people do believe in relics'

And some people don't.

Enoch: 'You are not Christian, therefore you cannot understand and are not allowed to comment anyway.'*

The former is not remotely accurate and ignores that there are Christians who believe as I do on this; and the latter is not part of the rules or general practice of this forum.

*That is a paraphrase of how I understood your post. Please correct me if I misunderstood.

Mousethief: 'You don't understand.'

This is a simple statement with nothing to illustrate why it should be considered true.

On a different thread, he did say tradition. We've always done thus is not a reasoned explanation or logical defence.
And mt has opposed traditional views of Orthodoxy (his chosen variation of Christianity). So tradition has only so much weight as an argument.

Holy places misses the universal nature of God. It also is directly prejudicial against those who do not have the opportunity to encounter them and tends towards the fetishisation of things other than God. Not that it has to, but that is a tendency.
The same with relics.

--------------------
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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churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
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Another example: The Pentecostal tradition I grew up in would have scoffed at sacramentality, at the idea objects could be conduits of God's grace. And yet, somehow, objects could have demons attached to them.

I really think some of these discrepancies just point to historic rifts in the Church. Loaded words like "vain superstition" get bandied about to try to stop people in the new/reformed church from continuing former practices that the church authorities want to purge for whatever reason.

I wonder, too, if it's necessary in this context to nail down a definition of "superstition." It's not being used as a technical term, but a pejorative one.

--------------------
I reserve the right to change my mind.

My article on the Virgin of Vladimir

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Gamaliel
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Yes, but some Pentecostals do go in for 'sacred objects' and so on without realising that's what they are doing.

My brother-in-law's parents pioneered a Pentecostal church in the docklands of Cardiff. When he was growing up Southern US preachers were forever coming along and ripping his parents big time - getting them to subscribe to magazines and 'blessing pacts' and ordering 'anointed' handkerchiefs and soil and sand that had apparently been 'blessed' through their association with particular locations favoured by these US evangelists for their rallies and conventions.

The irony seemed to escape them that they would mock and criticise Catholics for doing ostensibly the same sort of things.

@lilBuddha - I can certainly understand your objections - you seem like a very 'Protestant' Buddhist [Big Grin] [Biased] [Razz] ...

If I understand you rightly, you are saying that if we invest this, that or the other location, object, practice or whatever else with particular spiritual significance we are thereby denying it to other locations, objects, practices or whatever else that aren't associated with the same ...

Which is a bit like saying that because I might celebrate my birthday on a particular day, I'm saying that all the other days in the year lack significance ...

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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Or, to put it another way, as T S Eliot did in 'Little Gidding' - and I hope this doesn't breach any copyright regulations:

'There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely ...
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference'

Eliot goes on to to observe that 'indifference' resembles the others as 'death resembles life.'

What is he saying here?

That both 'attachment' and 'detachment' (is that non-attachment in the Buddhist sense, or something like it?) can be life affirming, whereas indifference is the opposite?

Of course, there are some Buddhist notes in 'The Four Quartets' critics say ...

Anyhow, in my customary both/and rather than either/or way, I would argue that both 'attachment' and 'detachment' can 'flourish in the same hedgerow' as Eliot put it - and that we can found both within Christianity (and other religions I'm sure).

Is it the Hindus or the Sikhs who put their holy book to bed at night?

Are they literally saying that it goes to sleep?

At what point does any of this overstep the mark and who sets the mark in the first place?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
... Enoch: 'You are not Christian, therefore you cannot understand and are not allowed to comment anyway.'*

The former is not remotely accurate and ignores that there are Christians who believe as I do on this; and the latter is not part of the rules or general practice of this forum.

*That is a paraphrase of how I understood your post. Please correct me if I misunderstood. ...

Yes, you have misunderstood. I'm not saying you're not allowed to comment. I'm saying it ill behoves you as a Buddhist to tell Christians what is and isn't true to our faith, just as it would be if I as a Christian were to tell you as a Buddhist what is and isn't true to yours.

It's the difference between saying 'I don't understand; how do you explain?' and 'I don't understand; therefore you are wrong'.

--------------------
Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

@lilBuddha - I can certainly understand your objections - you seem like a very 'Protestant' Buddhist [Big Grin] [Biased] [Razz] ...[QB][QUOTE]
Actually, I adore tradition, grandeur and ceremony. I love and treasure places of significance and loathe bare, utilitarian spaces. But, as I said on one of the other, identical threads: The spiritual is everywhere or nowhere.
[QB][QUOTE]
If I understand you rightly, you are saying that if we invest this, that or the other location, object, practice or whatever else with particular spiritual significance we are thereby denying it to other locations, objects, practices or whatever else that aren't associated with the same ...

Not completely. I am saying, in the case of Christianity, that God would be doing so if this were true.

--------------------
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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RdrEmCofE
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quote:
From Susan Doris: Superstitions range from the completely daft to almost believable, I suppose.


At the completely daft end of the scale I would place holding one's collar when having seen an ambulance and not being allowed to let go until you see a four legged animal, otherwise something terrible will happen to you. = Pretty Daft. (the stuff of children at play).

At the almost believable end I would place examples like, not walking under a ladder and refusing the third light for your cigarette from a single match.

The daft end of the scale is just irrationally stupid and ignorant i.e. superstitious.
The almost believable end is a leftover tribal memory based on lifesavingly sensible advice.

Yes and so, of course, do religions range from the completely daft to the 'almost' or even experientially believable.

quote:
At some point along the scale of superstitions, they become confused with religious beliefs and it seems to me that religious beliefs are allowed to say that they are not superstitions.


That might be because, so far, you have perhaps yet to experience anything which fits into your definition of a 'religious experience'.

If you had had such an experience and were convinced that it was 'real' then you would presumably no longer hold the opinion that all religion is mere superstition. On the contrary you would have personal recollection of a religious experience which may perhaps have convinced you that your own experience was no mere superstition but an actual 'experience'.

You also might thereafter be offended, were someone who had no idea what kind of religious experience you had had, referred to it as mere superstition and dismissed your subjective experience as mere delusion.

So there are definitely subjective and objective aspects to what we each may label 'superstition'.

quote:
They assume, and are given, a privileged position.


I don't think it is a privilege to be only accorded the ability of rational thought if one is an atheist; and who is it that confers this supposedly privileged position you speak of and seem to envy, anyway?

My dictionary defines superstition as: n false worship or religion; an ignorant or irrational belief in supernatural agency, omens, divination, sorcery etc; a deep-rooted but unfounded general belief; a rite or practice proceeding from superstitious belief or fear.

I think the thread OP is primarily about the double standards surrounding what various worship communities label 'superstitious belief and practice' in other or rival worship communities. A kind of Pot calling the kettle black mentality among religious people.

I fear, human nature being what it is, this tendency will continue among the spiritually immature and of course especially among the non-religious and philosophical atheists, many of whom believe themselves to have shaken off the shackles of superstition, thus becoming supremely rational, to the extent that they are then qualified to declare ALL religion, without exception, mere superstition.

--------------------
Love covers many sins. 1 Pet.4:8. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not holding their sins against them; 2 Cor.5:19

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
... Enoch: 'You are not Christian, therefore you cannot understand and are not allowed to comment anyway.'*

The former is not remotely accurate and ignores that there are Christians who believe as I do on this; and the latter is not part of the rules or general practice of this forum.

*That is a paraphrase of how I understood your post. Please correct me if I misunderstood. ...

Yes, you have misunderstood. I'm not saying you're not allowed to comment. I'm saying it ill behoves you as a Buddhist to tell Christians what is and isn't true to our faith, just as it would be if I as a Christian were to tell you as a Buddhist what is and isn't true to yours.
The positions I have taken are Christian positions. As in bona fide Christians have those very same positions. I am arguing this within the context of Christianity, I make a seriously conscious effort to do so.
You say you do not like my form. It was not my intent to be rude, so I apologise that I made you feel uncomfortable.
Now, will somebody please give me a reason why they think what I am saying is wrong?

--------------------
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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Gamaliel
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So, if I were to cite something that some Buddhists believe and say that this represented Buddhism as a whole, you wouldn't pick me up on that?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
So, if I were to cite something that some Buddhists believe and say that this represented Buddhism as a whole, you wouldn't pick me up on that?

Where have I said anything represents Christianity as a whole?

--------------------
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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Gamaliel
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Fair enough.

But you do seem to be taking it upon yourself to decide what is or isn't a tenable position within Christianity.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Fair enough.

But you do seem to be taking it upon yourself to decide what is or isn't a tenable position within Christianity.

WTSF?? People start a thread discussing aspects of Christianity and I participate. You would be hard pressed to find a thread on which everyone agrees, so why is my opinion "taking it upon" myself?

ETA:I do need to take it upon myself to check my spelling.

[ 12. January 2018, 22:09: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

--------------------
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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Tortuf
Ship's fisherman
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
WTSF?? People start a thread discussing aspects of Christianity and I participate. You would be hard pressed to find a thread on which everyone agrees, so why is my opinion "taking it upon" myself

quote:
If you believe any belief system makes people better, than we cannot talk.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has ample evidence that its followers do not achieve better than average goodness.

I think the two have something to do with each other. You have done made the natives restless.

As you know, every Christian is better for being a Christian. Sort of like the Masons claim they can take a good man and make him better. Or the Druids can take a good person and make that person a tree, or blue, or something.

Everyone knows that Christians don't do bad things unless their theology disagrees with your own* Christian theology.

_________
* Present company excepted lilBuddha.

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Nick Tamen

Ship's Wayfaring Fool
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With respect Tortuf, I don't think that's what's going on. I think it has more to do with posts like these from the relics thread:

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The problem I have with holy places or saint’s bits and bobs is that it runs counter to the general premise of the Christian God.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
In what way? The Christian God is Incarnational last time I looked ...

Well, no. He incarnated at one point. There is a difference. One not without its own problems.
quote:

As with Judaism, there is something very 'physical' about Christianity.

It's not a 'disembodied' religion.

Not relevant. To say God is more in one place than another automatically gives a preference to some and a deficit to those who cannot be there or touch that.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
AFAIK it's all Christians (well, barring the we-don't-do-miracles-types) who believe that Christ retains his body. It's sort of the point of the Ascension. WhatImeantersay is, it's the mainstream Christian belief, not just for conservatives.

ETA, curiously: Why doesn't it make sense?

A body is a limit on the unlimited. An unnecessary thing.
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Right. So you're agreeing with me?

lol, no. Exactly the opposite. The concept that Jesus rose bodily into heaven is a limitation of how our minds operate. None of heaven being a place or bodies residing in it makes any real sense, even in the context of religion. Not Christianity, anyway.
I wouldn’t deny for a minute that there are Christians who share the perspectives lilBuddha puts forward. And I appreciate having a mirror held up to challenge assumptions and to question what many take as a given. But I’d also have to say that they way those perspectives and challenges are expressed often comes across to me as saying “You Christians don't really understand your religion or the Bible as well as I do." And that, I think, is what has rubbed some the wrong way.

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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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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
But I’d also have to say that they way those perspectives and challenges are expressed often comes across to me as saying “You Christians don't really understand your religion or the Bible as well as I do." And that, I think, is what has rubbed some the wrong way.

My posting style is very direct and that can appear rude when rude is not intended. I try to keep this in mind, but forget. For this I apologise.
That particular exchange with Gamaliel was worded rudely even though that was not the intention. So apologies to Gamaliel,
I don't think the reply to Lamb Chopped was at all rude.

I will not apologise for discussing the thread topic and placing challenges.
I am not saying I understand better than anyone. I am saying this is how I understand it and am challenging the defences that do not appear to be adequate. Standard for debate and discussion.

--------------------
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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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
WTSF?? People start a thread discussing aspects of Christianity and I participate. You would be hard pressed to find a thread on which everyone agrees, so why is my opinion "taking it upon" myself

quote:
If you believe any belief system makes people better, than we cannot talk.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. has ample evidence that its followers do not achieve better than average goodness.

I think the two have something to do with each other. You have done made the natives restless.

As you know, every Christian is better for being a Christian. Sort of like the Masons claim they can take a good man and make him better. Or the Druids can take a good person and make that person a tree, or blue, or something.

Everyone knows that Christians don't do bad things unless their theology disagrees with your own* Christian theology.

_________
* Present company excepted lilBuddha.

People do not like their views being challenged. It activates the same regions in one's brain responsible for fight or flight.
It is one reason changing minds is difficult.
This includes me, of course. Awareness of the phenomenon doesn't inoculate against it.
To be honest, though, I think if my board name were lilChristian, the response would not have happened.
Which I find irrational.

--------------------
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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Gottschalk
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Interesting thread and conversation this. It seems to me that the concept of superstition is deeply connected with the ways in which religions in the Judeo-Christian/Biblical Tradition articulate their self-identity over and against the "gentiles" and the "pagans".

By virtue of a covenantal revelation from the Deity, the adherents of this tradition are convinced that their beliefs about the Deity are true and justified - that these have the status of knowledge, with all the the rationality and the certitude that are implied. This divine revelation and the bonds established between the Deity and the people constitute "religion": which is properly the worship of the one true God in accordance with revelation. Superstition would be everything that falls short of this worship based upon revelation.

Why do we worship God? The primary answer to that is because God has revealed Himself to us as supremely loveable and supremely worthy of our adoration as our creator and redeemer. Adoration and thanksgiving correspond to this aspect of worship - we worship God for who He is and for what He has done for us. Thus, Psalm 136 seems to express this adoration and adoration in a very comprehensive way.

There are two other aspects of worship wherein the distinction between religion and superstition is not always clear, not least in the minds both of simple believers and sceptics: propitiation and petition. Here, we do not seem to worship God so much for who He is or what He does for us, as rather to entreat Him to do something for us. For me, the line of demarcation between religion and superstition consists in the intention and the manner of the entreaty. A superstitious attitude would be is perhaps founded upon the belief in the mechanical nature of the transaction between the Deity and the people - if the people do X, the Deity will respond with Y. More emphatically, perhaps, the superstitious attitude is the expectation that once X done, the Deity has strictly no choice but to resoond with Y. If Y does not occur, it will mean, for the superstitious, that something went wrong in the performance of X, but not that the Deity has willed not to respond, e.g. the attitude of the priests of Baal at the lack of response of Baal at their sacrifices.

(tbc)

--------------------
Gottschalk
Ad bellum exit Ajax

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
To be honest, though, I think if my board name were lilChristian, the response would not have happened.
Which I find irrational.

You invent an imagined happening which never happened based on a condition which does not hold, and then pronounce your imaginings "irrational."

It's kinda like if I said, "I think if I poked a stick in this anthole, my mom would yell at me, which is annoying."

It would be irrational of me to conclude ANYTHING about my mother from this. Just as it is irrational to conclude anything about anybody on the SOF from your weird hypothesis-contrary-to-fact.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Gamaliel
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I think Nick Tamen nailed it.

I'm not in the least offended by your directness, lilBuddha. I appreciate it in in fact, as with the content of much of your posts.

I think what rankled a bit and I didn't articulate it very well, was the way - IMHO - that you didn't apparently hear us out. It could be that this is because the conversation is ranging over several related threads now - relics, special places, hocus pocus ..

So I was trying to say that by putting an emphasis on God being particularly 'present' - as it were - at particular times and places (or rather our sense of that being more acute at times) doesn't necessarily imply that he is 'less present' anywhere else.

It's not as if we are saying, '80% of God is gathered in that cathedral over there on this particular Sunday whilst the rest of him is spread thinly over the rest of the universe ...'

I know it can come across like that and lead to exclusive behaviours too. More's the pity.

But if we take an almost panentheist approach - 'God is present everywhere and filleth all things' - then we can guard against that to some extent.

But yes, what you describe is an ever present danger and something we have to 'work with' - at best it can be grit in the oyster and create pearls. And worst it can be just grit.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
... But I’d also have to say that they way those perspectives and challenges are expressed often comes across to me as saying “You Christians don't really understand your religion or the Bible as well as I do." And that, I think, is what has rubbed some the wrong way.

Thank you Nick. I couldn't have put it better. It's that, and not a question of,
quote:
People do not like their views being challenged. It activates the same regions in one's brain responsible for fight or flight.


--------------------
Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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Listening to the preview, I hear that my computer has put in odd characters. I will try to correct ...
quote:
Originally posted by RdrEmCofE:
quote:
From Susan Doris: Superstitions range from the completely daft to almost believable, I suppose.


At the completely daft end of the scale I would place holding one's collar when having seen an ambulance and not being allowed to let go until you see a four legged animal, otherwise something terrible will happen to you. = Pretty Daft. (the stuff of children at play).

At the almost believable end I would place examples like, not walking under a ladder and refusing the third light for your cigarette from a single match.

The daft end of the scale is just irrationally stupid and ignorant i.e. superstitious.
The almost believable end is a leftover tribal memory based on lifesavingly sensible advice.
[./QUOTE]
Agreed! I think I was fortunate to be a child in a home where superstitions were explained and never taken seriously. CofE church-going and God were an integral part of life, but biblical stories were just that, stories, and were taught and read as how to and how not to behave. The only thing believed and accepted without question was God himself.
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Yes and so, of course, do religions range from the completely daft to the 'almost' or even experientially believable.

[QUOTE]At some point along the scale of superstitions, they become confused with religious beliefs and it seems to me that religious beliefs are allowed to say that they are not superstitions.



That might be because, so far, you have perhaps yet to experience anything which fits into your definition of a 'religious experience'.

When I was about 8 I was walking home from Sunday School, busy thinking, and I clearly heard a voice speaking to me from just behind my right shoulder. I can’t remember what the (male) voice said, but I think it was an answer to whatever it was I was thinking about, and I knew it was God. I told the rest of the family when I reached the house – my sister supposed to be looking after me  had already got fed up with me dawdling and arrived home. Nobody really listened! My mother probably said, 'That is nice,dear,' without having heard, since they were all used to me relating the longthe , involved stories of my dreams.
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If you had had such an experience and were convinced that it was 'real'
Whatever conviction I might have had at the time soon succumbed to common sense – I presume as a result of education , environment, etc but I cannot say for certain why. I was not inclined to interpret any other experience as religious, even while I still believed in God.
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You also might thereafter be offended, were someone who had no idea what kind of religious experience you had had, referred to it as mere superstition and dismissed your subjective experience as mere delusion.
Offended? Never. I do not call others' experiences *mere* superstition, or *mere* delusion. I hope that here on a discussion forum members are prepared to have their opinions and experiences challenged and to defend them. This of course happens all the time and as such they add a quality to life – my life anyway.
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They assume, and are given, a privileged position.


I don't think it is a privilege to be only accorded the ability of rational thought if one is an atheist; and who is it that confers this supposedly privileged position you speak of and seem to envy, anyway?

I never envy. I am as sure as I can be that I have never envied anyone anything. I have thought of course how nice it would be to have such-and-such, but never with feelings of envy.
In the UK, the CofE does assume, and indeed has, a privileged position. I’m not one who would take that away at a stroke since I prefer the status quo to the possibility of other, more risky systems taking its place.
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My dictionary defines superstition as: n false worship or religion; an ignorant or irrational belief in supernatural agency, omens, divination, sorcery etc; a deep-rooted but unfounded general belief; a rite or practice proceeding from superstitious belief or fear.

I think the thread OP is primarily about the double standards surrounding what various worship communities label 'superstitious belief and practice' in other or rival worship communities. A kind of Pot calling the kettle black mentality among religious people.

I'd go along with that.
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I fear, human nature being what it is, this tendency will continue among the spiritually immature and of course especially among the non-religious and philosophical atheists, many of whom believe themselves to have shaken off the shackles of superstition, thus becoming supremely rational, to the extent that they are then qualified to declare ALL religion, without exception, mere superstition.
That is far too sweeping a statement. Using a phrase like ‘supremely rational’ is very unfair. Yes, I think the atheists I know like to think of themselves as rational, but none of them would use the word ‘supremely’ in this connection.

You have also used the phrase ‘spiritually immature’. I have to challenge you there!! What do you mean by that?

Thank you for an interesting post to which to respond.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Posts: 2977 | From: UK | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged



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