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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Texas Faith: Is belief overrated?

The Hindus invariably invoke and bow to Ganesh aspect of God, the remover of obstacles, and the Muslims say, ”Bismillah” - to start in the name of God who is merciful.... .Some of us feel sanctimonious when we are in our place of worship. Ironically, arrogance creeps in instead of humility. We become the righteous ones, and everyone else becomes a loser, as if God has signed a deal with us behind others back. In the process we make a villain out of God. No matter what faith we profess, arrogance is the same. That leads to conflicts between us and the other soul - Mike Ghouse
 
Texas Faith : Is belief overrated?
Dallas Morning News | Published on June 25, 2013
By Bill McKenzie 

A couple of weeks ago, Keven Willey, the Morning News‘ editorial page editor, passed along this essay from Stanford anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann, author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.” As you will see from this link as well, Luhrmann gets into several lines of thought about belief and how we arrive at it religious convictions.
 
What I would like you to comment upon is this part of her New York Times essay:
 
“The role of belief in religion is greatly overstated, as anthropologists have long known. In 1912, Emile Durkheim, one of the founders of modern social science, argued that religion arose as a way for social groups to experience themselves as groups. He thought that when people experienced themselves in social groups, they felt bigger than themselves, better, more alive — and that they identified that aliveness as something supernatural. Religious ideas arose to make some sense of this experience of being part of something greater. Durkheim thought that belief was more like a flag than a philosophical position: You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather you believe in God because you go to church.”
 
Applying that thinking to religion in general, not just churches, here is the question for the week:
 
Is belief overrated?
 
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism
 
Indeed, belief is overrated. It is not necessarily our belief in God that drives us to be good being. Rather, it is the necessity of co-existence.
 
We are taught to thank God, and give credit to God for all the good that happens in our lives. Dale Carnegie explains the wisdom in his best seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It was the idea to inculcate humility in us. Humility builds bridges and sustains relationships, whereas arrogance destroys it.

Among most people of faith, God remains an integral part of our language and culture. The traditional Baha’is, Jewish and Muslims have devised short phrases to utter for just about everything that happens in their lives between birth and death.
 
If you ask a Muslim how he or she is doing, out comes the response, “Alhamdu Lillah I am fine.” That means praise the Lord. If they commit to do something, they will always add, “Insha Allah” – God willing.” And no matter what they do, they say, ”Bismillah” – start in the name of God who is merciful. The Hindus invariably invoke and bow to Ganesh aspect of God, the remover of obstacles.
 
The eternal question remains, “You don’t go to church because you believe in God; rather you believe in God because you go to church.” I have battled with this thought for ages. Is it the essence or the ritual that makes one religious? Ritual becomes cultural part of our psyche, and we do things without meaning it. Many of us are cultural Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or others.
 
Some of us feel sanctimonious when we are in our place of worship. Ironically, arrogance creeps in instead of humility. We become the righteous ones, and everyone else becomes a loser, as if God has signed a deal with us behind others back. In the process we make a villain out of God. No matter what faith we profess, arrogance is the same. That leads to conflicts between us and the other soul.
 
The essence of religion is to create societies where no one fears the other and people mind their own business. That is achievable through humility, not arrogance.
 
The shallower your faith, the greater your claim to the superiority of your faith, as if you are trying to offset the deficiency. At that point, belief is indeed overrated.
 
 
. . . . .
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism
, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show and Bill O'Reilly show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links. 

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