Category Archives: Faith & Religion
A source of both inspiration and/or intollerance, depending on which way you look at it…“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Buddha
There’s a parable type of story doing the rounds of social networks at present, it’s all about a couple of old guys in hospital, but more about them later…
It’s strange I know, but I’ve always actually liked these kinds of story, but I’ve never been pious or the God Bothering type, I wasn’t even an average theology student during RE lessons at school.
All parables (religious or otherwise), are designed to make you think, not just about life in general but more importantly, they promote consideration about how your life impacts upon others.
A parable is a succinct story which illustrates one or more instructive principles or lessons… It differs from fables which often use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human characters. It’s a type of analogy…(wikipedia.org)
I mostly like the ancient ones, ones told before the emergence of many of the predominant modern-day human faults and traits. Ones like The Parable of The Cracked Pot from China but also, the fables and sagas from ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history. I like the Native American ones like The Two Wolves parable of The Cherokee Nation.
In short and throughout the history of mankind there have always been story-tellers, people who have passed on their tales, in verbal written and musical form to every generation of every nation. Some factual and some mythical but all interesting; be they folklore or factoid they’re all important, it’s part of the historical information that helped forge our intelligent society.
Ok so now for the ‘old men’ story:
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man in the ward had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end each day. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in military service and places where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital porters to remove the man’s body.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed… It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”
We all need to try to make the most of every day - Yesterday is history and despite tomorrow often being a mystery, today and every day is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy!
How can any human be happy in life without religion? It’s possible but even when you’re not a ‘follower’ of any kind, you’ll still be lumped into a group by others who are/are mot.. You’ll be ‘branded’ as an agnostic, atheist, a humanist, or any form of free-thinking follower of secularism…
As anyone who knows me well enough will no doubt tell you; “Dave doesn’t ‘do’ religion!” That doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong for anyone else to hold religious beliefs, of whatever strain they might be, neither does it mean that I’m unable to see the good in many people, irrespective of their religious following.
Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths…(Muhammad Ali)
But I can also take inspiration from various ‘religious’ leaders and/or theological teachings because, irrespective of the religious context, many of those words are actually little more than sensible guidelines for living a good life.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ…(Mahatma Gandhi)
Previous visitors will know I’ve written on the broad subject of religion several times in the past (see example). Religion has also been the subject of heated debate over a pint down the pub from time to time. Despite being one of the well-known taboo subjects for pub conversation, we have been known to touch upon it during our regular Sunday afternoon office hours sessions at the Fisherman’s Arms.
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness…(Dalai Lama)
I’m not averse to talking about religion with anyone however; what I vehemently object to is the radical and/or fundamentalist types. The evangelical individuals who almost forcibly ram their beliefs down the throats of others. If you need to pedal your religion don’t try ‘selling’ it to me, I’m likely to get a little fractious. A factor that any Mormon or Jehovah Witness ‘missionaries’ will probably testify to, after they’ve been unfortunate and/or stupid enough to come knocking on my front door!
Often it’s not the religious dogma that I actually find fault with, more the application of those religious ‘beliefs’ by humans. It matters not whether it is Christian theology, the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish principles for life or even the Six Articles of Faith aka the Iman (concept) within Islam. It’s how these are interpreted and applied in life by humans, to their own life and to the life of others, often to their own ends.
No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means…(George Bernard Shaw)
Over the centuries and still now unfortunately, intense religious belief has often been a danger to humanity. It has been the reason (or excuse) for so many conflicts between different groups and nations. Thousands upon thousands of lives have been snuffed out in wars waged in the name of religion. You see the bad part of most religions is actually down to its followers i.e. the human-factor.
No religion has mandated killing others as a requirement for its sustenance or promotion…(Abdul Kalam)
That said, there is a lot of good to be found in many of the religions and spiritual beliefs in our world. Most mainstream religious beliefs start off with a set of rules, tenets or instructions and guidelines for life. Take for example the Ten Commandments of Christianity (which actually dovetail with Islam to an extent), or the concepts of Hinduism or Buddhism, even those (arguably) less ‘main-stream beliefs such as the Rastafari Movement or some Pagan beliefs and elements of the Wiccan Rede have their merits.
We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection…(Dalai Lama)
Having been born with the extremely rare Tetra-ameli Syndrome, Nick struggled mentally, emotionally and physically in his early life but eventually, he came to terms with his disability. I think you must agree, Nick comes across as a person whose words and deeds also show; he’s a valuable motivational member of the human race. That kind of gives him a right to tell others about his experiences, or call it preaching if you will.
Don’t be angry about what you haven’t got, be grateful for what you have…(Nick Vujicic)
Forget about any of the religious connotations in the things Nick talks about for a moment; if he can live a life without limbs and also be happy, what have you (or any of us) really got to complain about? Which brings me around to one of my great maxims for life;
No matter how bad you think things are, there is always someone worse off than you are!
- Education and religion (skyedu.wordpress.com)
- Religion and Its Role in the Promotion of Moral Decadence (poshkidcharming.wordpress.com)
- Religious People that Actually Practice their Religion (expertscolumn.com)
- Why Religion Got It Wrong (druidsanctuary.blogspot.com)
- Dangers of Institutional Religion (jesusonians.wordpress.com)
- Religious Thoughts … (strategiclearner.wordpress.com)
Listening to Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of The 70′s on BBC Radio 2 yesterday, I got to thinking about the power of music but how often and unfortunately, that ‘power’ is usually a short-lived trend or fashion, despite original ’cult status’ at the time…
Jonnie Walker was joined in conversation by the Oscar-winning film producer Simon Chinn, to talk about his 2012 film Searching for Sugarman). The film covered the popular revival of the previously little-known American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez and his unlikely rise to fame in South Africa, the one place where he enjoys an almost ‘cult’ status by his fans.
Another little-known fact from Jonnie Walker’s show was that today, 22nd April, is the anniversary of the One Love Peace Concert held back in 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica. The concert, dubbed by the media of the day as the “Third World Woodstock” brought together 16 of Reggae’s biggest acts, and was designed to break the conflict of, and hopefully reduce the deaths arising from, Jamaica’s political civil war at the time.
“One Love/People Get Ready” is a reggae song by Bob Marley & The Wailers and has become synonymous with championing the cause of world poverty, along with many other associated social struggles. It sends out a message of universal love and respect expressed by all people for all people, regardless of race, creed, or social status.
Jamaica’s ‘political civil war’ may now be all but over however; the mostly drug related turf-wars and rivalry between Jamaican Posses and Yardie gangs still continues. Jamaica, in particular cities such as Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town, experience high levels of crime and violence. Jamaica has endured one of the highest murder rates in the world for many years, according to UN estimates. So were the efforts of Bob Marley wasted? Probably not.
Together we can unite a global community to educate and nurture our youth, protect our planet and join together the hands of warring nations in the name of peace…(1Loveproject.com)
Although a worthwhile sentiment, the cynic in me has to wonder; as the project launch more-or-less coincided with the release of Cedella’s “One Love” book – was there also an element of self-promotion involved here?
The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively – Bob Marley
Any self-interest aside, the 1Love project actually joined the ranks of several other musically inspired charitable supergroups and organisations. Following on from George Harrison’s seminal Concert for Bangladesh back in 1971, the likes of Band-Aid, USA for Africa, Band-Aid II and Band-Aid20 have all joined a long line of those artistes seeking to raise awareness about (and much-needed funding for) some of the worrying issues in our world.
Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? – Bob Marley
More than a decade ago now, a small group of documentary filmmakers set out with a dream to create a film rooted in the music of the streets. Their dream was realized and has since blossomed into a global sensation called Playing For Change. The project which includes famous (and not so famous) musicians, “has touched the lives of millions of people around the world.” One of their first efforts was the One Love piece (see below) and their legacy from the original idea is the Playing For Change Foundation.
Even when you look back to 1969 and Woodstock, a monumental music festival which (supposedly) changed our world views for ever, many of the issues raised then are still prominent now. More than half a million people came together – united in a message of peace, openness and cultural expression – to demonstrated and make the views of their generation heard.
Woodstock is more than a moment in time. It is about a way of being in the world…(woodstock.com)
The major political and humanitarian issue of the day was the opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War but sadly, wars are still taking place. Despite much political rhetoric to suggest they are freedom fights and actions to control drugs and/or curb terrorism, many suggest they’re little more than methods in furtherance of American commercial interests and world supremacy.
In short, contemporary artists have used their music in a worthy attempt to change the ills of society, the politics of the day, as with the Punk Rock era of the 1970-80′s, or just simply to raise funds for natural disasters in the world. These efforts have been taking place for more than half a century now, some with a modicum of success but unfortunately, a good deal of them have merely scratched the surface of many of the issues at play, and mostly only whilst fashionable. The efforts of all those musicians in the past, although highly laudable, tends to descend into little more than a sad indictment of our mostly self-interested society; especially when the issue(s) still remain.
What have you done today to make you feel proud? – Heather Small
I don’t know that anything will change substantially and certainly not any time soon; whilst the predominant lifestyle ethics in our society is governed by the cry – “me, me, me” - who actually gives a stuff about anyone else anyway?