I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. As I have ruminated over it, I have discarded a multitude of threads, some of them possibly valuable, but nevertheless, here I am today.
I don’t really feel like specific belief systems, other than the core “universal” belief that I will get to later, are that important. They all feature to varying degrees dogmatic beliefs and doctrinal beliefs.
Dogmatic beliefs are beliefs that are based upon the practices of the religious organization and often reflective of cultural and societal norms. Sometimes they are at odds with the greater societal folkways, such as in the case of Plural Marriage, the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints practice of taking multiple wives and having multiple family units combined into one sanctioned by early Morman church leaders but long since proscribed (since the late 19th century) by the official branch of the church and driven into fringe sects of Mormanism.
Doctrinal beliefs stem from religious texts or teachings central to the religon in question. Where the different sects come from is differences in interpretation of what these teachings mean or should mean in a Modern context.
All religions (excepting a very few such as The Church of Satan) include altruism as a central tenant. Even in more introspective religions such as Zen Buddhism the final, ultimate focus, is the benefit of all sentient beings.
So what does all this mean?
The belief spectrum isn’t about specifics, it’s about form that belief takes.
The far right wing is static or rote religious belief and practice. These are the folks who believe in a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible or think that Buddhism practice by Caucasians is somehow inauthentic.
On the the other end or left side of the spectrum is fully adaptive belief and practice. Purely adaptive practioners would be Univeralist in the truest sense. They could get spiritual benefit from any religious group but would most likely reject more micromanaged religious groups because of their intrinsic mercurial nature.
I don’t think either end is a good idea, nor do I think very many people live on either mountaintop, so to speak. Most people fall somewhere in the Middle. I personally feel that you should be pretty far left of center. Religion unexamined has little value, to me. However, not everyone feels this way or needs to question the nature of existence as thoroughly as I am driven to do so.
It seems that more and more people, regardless of their religious practice or lack thereof, are coming to agree that the Middle of the road is probably the best place to talk. I don’t care wheather you follow one of the Abrhamic, Earth-Centered, Dharmic Religions, or are more Humanist in your ethos, chances are that you think you are a good person. If we all reach out out our hands to everyone on the other side of the road then, perhaps, we can live in peace with one another.
I may do more posts on the specifics of what the different ends mean, in my view, if there is interest.
This is my first piece for Tiferet. If you want to find out more about me, you can follow any of the links below.
*J. Andy Lambert*
Dad and Husband.
Unitarian Universalist Zen Buddhist.
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