Utne Response #2

greenspun.com : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

It is an inevitable life long journey to find pacification in death and what the afterlife may bring. Variations of heaven, purgatory, hell, absolute Nirvana, Maksha, and complete nothingness are among some of the theories that many individuals hold true to their hearts. Jeremiah Creedon examines some of these ideas in his article entitled "God With A Million Faces." According to Mr. Creedon, countless individuals are creating "new" religions by combining ancient beliefs found in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. Observers of this phenomena have stated that this "religion a la carte involves combining various beliefs and practices from different sources, or even being a member of two or more distinct relations at the same time" (Creedon, 44). Naturally, various ethical questions arise from this phenomena such as, how can this occur? What side effects arise? And, What/who is being created? "New" religions are a part of ancient history. At one time Catholicism was considered a quaint Roman cult that was suspect to "drink blood" and pray for a man by the name of Jesus Christ. This religion eventually consumed the Roman empire and assisted Constantine with relocating to modern day Istanbul. This point is relevant to reflect upon because one of the World's most prominent religions started as a small group that was criticized by the masses and eventually blossomed into a world practice. Therefore, these groups that are currently combining beliefs may actually be the building blocks of tomorrow's world philosophies and religious theories. Subsequently, some would argue that I have just "stretched" the truth, but I would reply what did Mohammed, Jesus, and Sidartha do? Religion seems to be under constant reconstruction and criticism. According to Creedon, this drive to create new religions today could be attributed to new technological advances and a desire for people to find a belief that fits their needs. Another possible idea Jeremiah Creedon offers is that these new religions are a result of "demographic changes that have brought many face-to-face with formerly 'exotic' religious beliefs especially those of Asia. This era may have begun with the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated a long-standing bias against Asians and other people enforced through quotas based on national origin. The new immigrants included many spiritual teachers whose influence would eventually extend beyond their immediate followers into the popular culture" (Creedon 45). Due to the fact that the United States established a 'Gentleman's Agreement' with Asian countries that limited the amount of Asian immigrants, the Act of 1965 brought in new people and additional information that assisted with creating new interest in religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. In addition to this, I agree with Creedon's point that we live in an information overload era. Countless books, journals, and responses can be downloaded in minutes from the internet providing information about different religious beliefs. Individuals have had time to come in contact with people from other countries and locate resources on the internet. Astonishingly, there are vast numbers of religious groups today. According to the Encyclopedia of American Religions there are over 2,100 "a figure that has almost doubled in 20 years" (Creedon 45). In fact, this same source states that "the United States is generally considered to be the most religious country in the Western industrial world." It is difficult to know where this phenomena to create a religious collage will take us. Possibly, the best idea is to allow people creative license to construct a religion that suites their needs. There will always be critics who will judge, pre-judge, and scrutinize individuals who create their own religion but judging is nothing new to history. Didn't the Romans judge Jesus and hang him for his actions? I find the historic actions of yesterday ringing loudly through this article. Maybe the key to understanding religion is first finding our true self. Just food for thought...

-- Anonymous, January 05, 1999

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