Tag Archives: salvation

Religious Tolerance: find the beauty in every religion

In more recent years, religions across the world have been on the decline. According to the Washington Post, in the 1950s those who identified with no religion was at about 2 percent of the entire population. In 1970, this percentage grew to 7 percent. Now, the percentage has swelled to almost 20 percent of the population.

According to Pew, 74 percent of those who don’t identify with a religion grew up without a religious belief.

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It’s hard to locate the source of the problem. With the younger generations it seems religion and faith have taken a back seat. More children are being raised faithless in the United States than every before. The decline in religion dates to the 1990s when trust in religious institution became questionable. Scandal is no stranger to religion, including sexual scandals of church leaders and the church’s opposition of same-sex marriage.

1worldI’ve noticed the decline of religion in my life. My great-grandparents were straight off the boat Irish, strict Roman Catholics. Both my grandparents and my parents were raised Roman Catholic, but me? Well, I was raised Roman Catholic too, but not in the same sense they were. My upbringing was not strict. We did everything the normal Catholics did. My siblings and I have all been baptized, confessed, communed and confirmed. We used to always go to church on Sundays until there was some controversy with my mom’s favorite priest, and we stopped going after he left the parish.

Over the years I’ve grown apart from the religion I was raised in. Learning about other religions and understanding what others believe in has made me more accepting of other ideas. Maybe Catholicism isn’t the only important religion out there? Maybe I think there’s more than one God? Maybe I don’t even believe in God?

I have always been one to question religion and I think I always will. There will never be a way to really known and that’s why we have faith. As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost the faith I had in the Catholic church. I like to think that I’ve developed a syncretic religion that is all my own.

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Here is what I know…

  1. I love the Amish life of simplicity.
  2. I love the Taoist idea of the Tao. The feeling inside of you that cannot be described in words. The source and the driving force behind everything. When you have to make a decision and something instinctively tells you to make a certain decision, that’s the Tao working inside you. The Tao will always keep you on the path meant for you.
  3. I love that marriage is a central notion for Mormon life. They believe God ordered them to get marriage and have children. Mormons believe that the family continues on together to salvation after death and I hope that’s true.
  4. I love all of the ideas behind Sikhism. They believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in your mind, to live honestly, to work hard, to treat everyone as an equal and to be generous to the less fortunate. I think if we could all learn to live like the Sikhs the world would be a much happier place.
  5. I love the Wiccan quote “If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible is the wind and the rain.” Like me, the Wiccans believe in the very world they see right before their eyes.
  6. The unity and push for equality that surrounds the Unitarian Universalists is beautiful. I hope one day all religions can be this accepting.
  7. I like that Scientology seeks to base their beliefs in something concrete.
  8. I love the Buddhist idea of reincarnation. For me, reincarnation is the explanation for déjà vu. Why do I feel like I have been here before? Because you have been. Why do I know exactly what he is about to say? Because you’ve heard it before.
  9. I simply love the Rastafarian dreadlocks.
  10. I love the Jain idea of bad karma accumulating on the human soul and that the human has to spend their life “chipping away” that karma. It gives us a reason to live for the good.
  11. I love the Bahá’í belief that greater good will prevail when humanity works together in unity for the benefit of not themselves, but others.
  12. I love that Zoroastrians pray facing the sun because it symbolizes God’s divine light.
  13. I love that Spiritualists believe that every soul lives past physical death and that all souls are reunited.
  14. I love that Santeria was born because the African slaves felt so strongly about their religion they refused to completely convert, but instead blended religions.
  15. I love that Atheists believe in humanity rather than a higher being and that they believe the real reward is living a good life now while you’re here to live it.
  16. I love Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and that they are required to help the less fortunate.
  17. I love that Hasidic Jews live together in tight-knit communities where they really care about each other.
  18. I love the Shinto notion that there are kamis there to guide us. Everyone can use a helping hand now and then.
  19. I love that Candomblé doesn’t believe in good or bad. Just that one person should live their life in order to fulfill their own destiny as best they can.
  20. I love the creativity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  21. I love that Confucianism teaches that human nature is “teachable, improvable, and perfectible.”
  22. Interfaith marriage is beautiful.

And let’s face it… I have nothing nice to say about the Westboro Baptist Church.

When you take a chance to open yourself to others beliefs you might be surprised. You might end up believing in something you weren’t raised to believe in. You might learn to tolerate others in a new way. There is something beautiful in every religion if you take the time to find it.

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Rastafari: liberation of misplaced black community

Many link the spread of Rastafarianism back to Bob Marley. The religion was spread globally after he incorporated it into some of his music in the 1970s. Since this time, Rastafarians have become trademarked by their use of marijuana, their dreadlocks and the Rastafarian colors.

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Rastafarians go by a variety of names, including Rastafarians, Rastas, Sufferers, Locksmen, Dreads or Dreadlocks. Rastafari is an African centered developed in Jamaica by Marcus Garvey, a political activist. This religions follows Haile Selassie I and believe that he is their God. 3763862438_efa33b6082Rastafaris believe that Haile Selassie will bring back black people back to Africa who have been displaced from their home due to colonization and slave trade. Haile Selassie was never a Rastafarian and did not think of himself as God, but to Rastafarians he is considered the God of the black race. Rastafarians believe blacks are the chosen people of God and that it is their concern to bring them all back to Africa. There are about one million followers worldwide.

Rastafarians don’t have a religious building, but they usually meet weekly in a community center or someone’s house. These meetings are called Reasoning sessions or Nyabingi meetings._1076641_rastas300 Usually, the people gathered chant, say prayers, sing and discuss community issues. Marijuana is usually used during these meetings and there is a large feast. Marijuana has religious significance to Rastafarians who usually call it “wisdom weed” or the “holy herb.” They believe that it increases the feeling of community and that it produces visions of religious and calming nature. Rastafarians are identified by the rasta colors: red, green, gold and black.

Red: signifies the blood lost of those killed for the cause of the black communityimages

Green: signifies Jamaica’s vegetation and the hope for the end of suppression

Gold: symbolizes the wealth of Ethiopia

Black: symbolizes the Africans who initiated Rastafari

There is no uniform Rastafari creed, but there is a list from “The Rastafarians, The Dreadlocks of Jamaica” by Leonard Barrett who lists the six basic principles of Rastafarianism. However, the following list is about 30 years old and many of these beliefs are either no longer practiced or viewed differently by modern Rastafarians.

  1. Haile Selassie is the Living God
  2. The Black person is the reincarnation of ancient Israel, who, at the hand of the White person, has been in exile in Jamaica
  3. The White person is inferior to the Black person
  4. Jamaica is hell; Ethiopia is heaven: believe Ethiopia is their homeland and they want to returnmarley_brothers
  5. The Invincible Emperor of Ethiopia is now arranging for expatriated persons of African origin to return to Ethiopia
  6. In the near future Blacks shall rule the world

A more modern version was published by Joseph Owens in 1973 and was revised in 1991. The follow are the key ideas of contemporary Rastafarians:

  • The humanity of God and the divinity of man: Haile Selassie is a living God and God reveals himself through humanity
  • God is found in every man
  • God in history: history alligns with God and his workings
  • Salvation on earth: salvation is something that happens on earth, not in Heaven
  • The supremacy of life: human life should be protected and preserved
  • Respect of nature: nature is important and shold be resepected
  • The power of speech: enables the power of God
  • Evil is coporate: they believe places like the International Monetary Fund are to blame for Jamaica’s financial situation
  • Judgement is near
  • The priesthood of Rastafarians: chosen people of God305749_10151415173997887_351286127_n

 

Women have a special role in Rastafarianism. Early Rastafarians would have abided strictly by the following rules, but modern Rastafarians give women more freedom:

  • Women are regarded as Queens
  • The main duty of the woman is to look after her KingI-Threes-e1328732236112
  • Women are subordinate to men
  • Women should keep the house and have children
  • Women must not commit infidelity
  • Women cannot be leaders
  • Men are the head of the household
  • Women cannot cook for their husbands while menstruating
  • Women cannot wear make up, use chemicals in her hair or dress promiscuously
  • Women cannot use birth control
  • Women must never get an abortion because it is considered murder
  • Women have to cover their hair when they pray

 

Rasta_Man_by_epinephrine_eyesMany Rastafarians are trademarked by their dreadlocks because are forbiddento cut there hair. They grow their hair out long and then create the dreadlocks look. Rastfarians also oppose abortion and contraception. The Rastafarian diet is very strict. All food must be clean and naturally produced. They must avoid all meats especially pork and abstain from all alcohol. Prepared food cannot be made with salt and is usually cooked with coconut oil. They eat fish very often, but will not eat fish that are more than 12 inches long. Rastafarians also will not drink milk or coffee but will drink that is herbal and naturally made from roots.

Children born into the Rastafari tradition are blessed at a Nyabingi session with chanting an prayer. There is also no structured form of marriage. If a man and woman live together they are considered husband and wife. When a Rastafari dies there is no such thing as a funeral because they believe in reincarnation after death and that life eternal.

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