Iron Ant wrote:I have a different opinion on what constitutes a religion. Most people view it as going to church, worshiping a deity of some sort, and following the dogma and tenets of the religion.
This is the typical pattern followed by most established religons. Members are expected to tithe, pray, and help each other.
But my view is somewhat different and unique. - i am not expressing it as an irrefutable fact or anything like that 5. This is jsut my own personal belief.
To me, a religion is any very strongly held belief. It is held so strongly that it can never change and they can never consider under any circumstances nor can it ever change. It is completely unyielding to everything else. And secondly , it is so zealously held that they expect everyone else to obey and conform to their beliefs.
This pattern often exists as an "inner circle" in most religions. Outer circles serve the purpose of maintaining and supporting the religion so that inner circles can project the will of God to manipulate the secular world outside the church itself. The Catholic "Opus Dei" is one such inner circle that the public spotlight has recently fallen on.
Without the support of uninitiated outer circles, this "inner" pattern is severely limited and vulnerable, so it tends to remain small and hidden. These groups are often recognized as Cults and a negative value judgment is usually attached.
These groups are organized as a vertical, "Pharonic" structure, with "Higher Authority" at the top and authority distributed in downward steps. ie: Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Monsignor, Priest ... There are alternatives.
Noelada wrote:For me religion is simply a natural connection to the invisible or a personal view of the invisible connections between different parts of something greater. Religion is also an intimated connection to the sacred nature of the universe and everything which is connected to it, to its prime creator included.
The alternatives employ a Horizontal (Mosaic) distribution of Authority, that suggests rather than orders. Quakers, Buddhists, and Both Jews and Muslims are classic examples of this system.
Both systems justify their existence on communication with the divine.
Personally, I find a distinction between Spirituality, and Religion. I communicate with God on a 1 to 1 Basis, without magical trappings and ceremony, without social structure or intermediary. The only Religion I know of that respects MY approach, is Rasta. They have a unique understanding of the "I and I" relationship. This sort of spirituality may not work for everyone, some people require religious discipline to direct them.
Iron Ant wrote:So in short, any strong unwavering belief can be treated like it is a religion.
That's statement needs qualification ... My "strong and unwavering"
conviction that beans give me gas
is not worthy of a Papal Parade and would likely disperse one fairly quickly.