Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feel Good Religion

Last week I saw Rainn Wilson speak at UCI about his perspective coming from the Bahá'í Faith. The event was great in that he was hilarious, and that I really liked what he was saying to young people about going on their own spiritual journeys and coming to their own truth about God and religion and such. I liked his perspective on the value of humans and how through valuing people and loving them we are essentially participating in a spiritual solution to some of the worlds major problems.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to talk about the presentation. After I went I was talking to a few people about the presentation and trying to recap it and give my impression of what he said the faith was all about. In saying that I compared it to Quakerism (although I am told it is a little bit more strict and by the book than Quakerism). I was saying that they believed in the unity of all Gods in religion and the unity of people and the value of people. I said that I thought the main difference between it and Quakerism was that it seemed like you needed to believe in God proper to be Baha'i, but in Quakerism not so much- although Quakers do tend to say that they search for God within each person, which to me makes it kind of humanist rather than true theism. But I don't want to completely get into the Quaker faith either, because it is something I have a hard time putting into words.

So when I was talking about this two different people said something along the lines of 'oh, so this is one of those hippie-feel-good-everything-goes religions?' Both people come from a Christian background, so I get where they were coming from, but at the same time I found it offensive in that it completely over simplified a faith (Quakerism) that I take rather seriously. To me the so to speak gospel of Quakerism includes: tolerance, understanding, open-mindedness, acceptance, social responsibility, social justice, equality, and valuing other people. It's something I take seriously, and maybe it is more so of a 'feel good' religion because I don't feel an overwhelming guilt that God is going to strike me down for sinning or that I have to be ashamed of sin, but it's also pretty serious and could be kind of heavy to really consider where your social responsibility in the world resides. It doesn't always feel good to be open to people with different beliefs or try to understand people from different backgrounds, but it certainly is important, and it truly does form bonds between people groups that can have a big impact on the world.

I hope I am saying this clearly and emphasizing the fact that I think that for me Quakerism is much more than something that makes me feel good. It makes me feel responsible and connected to my fellow man. I makes me feel as though I have a context in which to engage really difficult issues. I guess no one in religion wants to be put in a box (and neither to I), so I felt like I needed to explain a bit better my connection to this faith.

I will leave you with a link to my friends blog and her posting of this month's advices and queries from our Friends meeting in hopes that it gives a look into the things that Friends find important and chose to think about/discuss during their time of worship and meditation.

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