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What is Religion?

Marlene Geiser

Posted on February 19, 2020 18:07

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I have a specific view as to what formalized religion has contributed toward improving human existence and would like to share what I think with those who read my words.

From my perspective, formalized religion has created more problems than good. Naturally, there are many people reading my words who may well disagree with my vision of what constitutes the truth. However, what I am sharing here is only one person's perspective as it relates to what I will write, and I respect their right to choose to strongly disagree with me.

For many years I taught a class at the university level that dealt with religion. When asked to teach the class, I asked my chairman why he had chosen me to teach the subject, as I did not practice one specific faith. His response was that it was for that reason he had selected me to teach the course.

When I got home that evening, I asked my husband a question. What I said was, "Were he to be asked to teach such a class, how would he approach the challenge?" His response was that he would ask representatives of specific religions to come to my classes and share their vision of the religion they practiced.

My first effort to teach the subject required that I contact representatives of each of the faiths, which was a real challenge to accomplish. Thanks to my telephone and hours trying to find the speakers for whom I searched, I was able to make it happen, and several remained in contact with me for years.

In all honesty, I was born into a specific religion but had never chosen to practice it. The primary reason that I had avoided practicing one religion was that I had always seen it as more divisive than a manner in which human beings might grow closer together.

When asked my religion, I had always responded, "Humanism." For me, as one looks at history, a good argument can be made that one of the primary causes of war has been religious differences.  

A prime example of my point of view could be seen in the Middle East, where the ongoing feud between Judaism and Islam has ruptured more blood then it should have. Beyond this, although Christianity's teachings were admirable, put in the hands of human beings fighting over the same piece of land, was responsible for more harm than good. This problem continues to this day, and one has to wonder whether Jesus, Buddha, and Moses would have been pleased seeing how their teachings had been distorted by those who turned their visions of love into reasons for war.

What would make me extremely happy would be a world where religion served as the way human beings can reach out to one another with love. And that hatred and war were hardly the product of what their originators had dreamed.

Speaking for myself, the class I taught gave me a far clearer view of the religions I was teaching, and I continue to hope that the semester they spent with me opened their eyes to the positive visions of my speakers and the religions they represented.

Marlene Geiser

Posted on February 19, 2020 18:07

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Source: Reuters

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