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I have written about my experience with religion, and a little bit about Dianne's as i see it.  Dianne was raised to be a Mormon in a heavily Mormon part of Idaho.  The town she was raised in had, in her memory, one Catholic family, one Protestant family, and several hundred Mormon Families.  She outgrew her childhood religion at about age twelve but kept it to herself until her late teens.  Her twin sisste converted to Catholicism in order to marry a Catholic and that was okay; Dianne converted on principle and  people acted as if she had lost all her principles.*  She has been a devoted Roman Catholic  for fifty-eight years

One might ask how we get along in this.  Well, their have been issues, misunderstandings, and arguments -- all complicated by my autistic perspective.  I know that she does not  embody any of the characteristics of the religion that make me shudder.  We dislike many of the sane tendencues in the Church.  We both admired John XXIII, and now, fifty years later, we both admire Francis.  Because of John XXIII, i am permitted to partake of the Eucharist, although i have never done so.  Because of him, Dianne's marriage (and mine) is accepted a spiritual union.

Dianne is a religious person and a spirituall person and makes no distinction between the two terms.  I am one of those people who describes himself as "spiritual but not religious." and i think the distinction is meaningful though confusing.  I tend to look at religion as a sociologist might, as a social institution which performs certain functions of social control by appealing to a higher authority than the fallible priests, merchants, politicians, etc. who actually control things in so far as things get controlled.  The religions attempt to tame and control spiritual impules and insights, and they usually, in the long run, succeed in this.  I think that spiritual people make really lousy conformists, and they also make lousy rebels because their kindom "is not of this world."

I have lately come upon a formulation that i find acceptable for me.  Fung Yu-Lan, a twentieth century neo-Confucionist philospher, begins A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by saying that Westerners are religious people who are sometimes philosophicl; and Chinese are a philosophical people who are sometimes religious.  He defines philosophy as " systematic, reflective thinking" on life, knowledge, and the universe.  Religion contains a philosophy (theology), but also ritual, dogma, superstition. and organization.  In my opinion it is these later features which make religion  a social institutution.  He goes on to say that in China there has been a distinction between "Taoist learning" and "Taoist religion," and between "Buddhist learning" and "Buddhist religion."  I am reminded how Ammon Hennacy, the anarchist, somtime Catholic sometime agnostic used to refer to himself as a "sermon on the mount Christian."  I think he was making a distinction between "the Jesus religion" and "the Jesus teaching."

So far as spirituality is concerned, i think we live in a society that is inclined to think that life is the life of the body (including the brain which makes us think) or that life consists of body and mind.  Psyche, which used to mean soul, now refers primarily to behavior.  The soul has no box or category that it can be placed in.  It is "formless but substantial"  Philosophy may or may not nurtue the soul; religion may or may not nurture the soul.  The same religion can nurture some souls but not  others.  The same philosoph can nurture some souls but not others.  I have chosen the "Taoist learning" and am trying to learn to use it wisely, for the benefit of my soul.  We should each pick or create our philosophy carefully.  We should use our philisophy or/and religon or lack of them wisely.  It is all so simple, but some of us  have to travel many roads and make  many mistakes and endure many complications to find  or recognize or appreciate that simplicity.

* I think when children choose a path which is different from that of their parents, the parents often see that as a slap in the face.  Often it is not intended to hurt the parent and will only have the effect if the parent insists on seeing things from that perspective..


Sep. 21st, 2015 01:56 pm (UTC)
i hope i will be able to put it all into words one day soon. right now it just sits heavy in my chest when i try to express it.



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