-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=1.0" : "width=1100"' name='viewport'/> Plum Street Chili: Toxic Religion #1 - I stop trashtalking and get serious and longwinded. So you might want to skip this.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Toxic Religion #1 - I stop trashtalking and get serious and longwinded. So you might want to skip this.

The impetus for my rant this time is a thread on Christian News Network.

I have seriously brainy friends and I thank Fiona for the suggestion that books mentioned here be provided to readers. The book titles are links to complete free copies of the work cited. 

The experience of awe/reverence is a function of the human psyche and often finds its expression as Religion and other forms of spirituality like Art and Music.

William James gave a long and famous lecture about religion entitled The Varieties of Religious Experience  that explores and elucidates that concept. 

James thereby provided us with a scientific and sociological definition of religion.
"Religion...shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.Since the relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow."
Lecture II, "Circumscription of the Topic"
Like any other function of the human psyche, there can be psychic disorder. In religion, that disorder takes the form of zealotry. And like any other disorder, it causes pain and sometimes violence both spiritual and physical. I want to explore toxic religion a bit on my pages.

If you like the filth and dirt the most here at Plum Hovel, just ignore these pages. I myself can only be good for so long before I start to itch. So like all the other series here, when you see the signature Art, you can dive in or run away as you see fit.

I am going to begin by talking about The Practice of the Presence of God. This tiny book is a classic Christian work on Meditation and Prayer. And it is going to be a big help to us in illustrating the nature and scope of toxic religion. There are links to the book on this page and in the comments.

I chose Pope Benedict as the poster child for this series because he said something about conscience that spoke to my condition. For me that is proof positive that spiritual comfort can come from the most unlikely sources.
"Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. Conscience confronts [the individual] with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official church."
(Pope Benedict XVI [then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger], "Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II", ed. Vorgrimler, 1968, on Gaudium et spes, part 1, chapter 1.)