Of course one can always adopt a personal creed and receive some of the benefits, but the full benefits are impossible for most people (maybe even all people?) to have without believing the truth claims as part of a community.Itâ€™s possible for a rejectionist community to crop up that exists on the margins that rejects the truth claims of a religion, of course (as we see here all the time.) They can exist forever harvesting people that fall out of the main religion and they can build a community around their common rejection. But they, in reality, can only exist so long as the original religion exists for them to reject since that is the main thing they have in common and the only thing they can really build a community around. They are not an independent religion and they owe much â€” nearly all â€” to the religion they reject.
I didn’t want to focus so much on that (but I’ll get to it) — I just found it was an interesting comment…really, earlier in the discussion was another comment by Arthur that I wanted to capitalize on:
Religion is powerful (and yes, ORGANIZED religion is powerful) because not only does it attempt to explain the purpose of life and â€œhow to get to Heaven.â€ It also creates practical systems and situations for living. It cements people together. It helps people understand other people. It creates unity and community. It gives us incentive to love one another. And I think the â€œtruthfulnessâ€ of the Church and Christâ€™s Gospel hinges not on whether there were horses in America before Columbusâ€¦ but on how the Church affects people. How it brings people together. How it causes me to love my neighbor. What are the fruits?
This comment was questioned by other commenters about whether it allowed a “kind of atheism and/or agnosticism and/or postmodernism under the veil of faithful Mormonism.”
Now, since I’m a fuddy duddy, I’m all in favor of atheism and/or agnosticism and/or postmodernism under the veil of faithful Mormonism. Heck, when I was a member, the “truthfulness” of the Gospel most certainly didn’t hinge on whether there were horses in America before Columbus or if those Egyptian papyri were common burial texts. So that didn’t affect me at all; I never had a shocking moment finding out the evidence was poor at best because I already didn’t believe it to be physically true. I’m still trying to find an article I had read online that had captured it so well, (heavy paraphrasing:) “Although people expected a mass apostasy or falling out of the church when Egyptologists revealed the true nature of the Pearl of Great Price papyrus, there was no such thing. The faithful members found other explanations, and as for the cultural or fringe members? They didn’t leave because they never believed in the literal truth of these scriptures.”
It’s just that for me, the fruits don’t seem all that great. It’s like diet coke — wow, this analogy will be so apt for church members — the church starts out tasting good, but it has a nasty aftertaste that you either have to rationalize and suck up (don’t focus on those parts; don’t let what members say offend you!)…or reject and spit out (I don’t have to take this; I don’t have to jump through hoops.) When people say that we must focus first on Christ/God/whoever and that is the greatest good, I get a little skeptical. Much of it is the package deal.
But going back to Bruce’s comments above, will going it alone really work satisfactorily for everyone? I mean, it does for me, because I’m not too big on community anyway, but will it suffice for everyone? How many people stay in because they want some social fulfillment in a familiar setting?
Not to mention he hits a harder theme — our community (if we can call it that — I guess we can) isn’t so unified by anything except our origin in the church (and our current place outside). All of us are going in different directions, and even when we talk about our current beliefs, it becomes readily apparent that a lot of us have vastly different ones.
I’m not too concerned, necessarily, because once again, I like the idea of going it alone, and specifically refering to something Bruce had said, I don’t think we need to create an “independent religion.”