Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Do" Instead of "Do Not"

Gandhi represents a real sea change that occured during the late 1800s into the 1900s. Instead of the common conception of religion being a series of rules designed to govern people's behavior, people like Gandi (and later, the Liberation Theologists) began to emphasize the power of good behavior and quests for social justice. This is a fundamental change from the manner in which religion had heretofore been thought of. Gandhi's mix of Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam created a wholly unique vision of the manner in which the present world (and after-life) existed. Of course, since his reality demanded that action, not beliefs, guided religion, it should come as no surprise that he would lead the nonviolent protest movement against the British imperialists who had control of India at the time. His version of reality demanded that he act.

This is a large part of the point I have been beating into your heads lately. The concept behind religions-be it Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or whatever-has changed dramatically over the last 3,000 years, and the very "truths" of these religions, open to interpretation, change as humanity changes. What it was like to be a Jew in 100 B.C. is exponentially different than what it means to be a Jew today. Sure, the holy book is the same, but the interpretation of that book, over time, has meant very different things to different people living in incredibly different historical periods.

So where does that leave us today? As I mentioned in class, the world is still adjusting to the concept of religion as "do" versus religion as "do not." Those who still believe religion is a set of rules tend to see the world in wholly different (and contradictory) ways from those who see religion as demonstrated through good actions. As such, we see many conflicts that arise out of these contradictory realities. From 9/11 to the situation in Darfur, the competing visions of reality that shape those people involved set these conflicts in motion, and help keep them going. Hopefully, as people begin to become more comfortable with these competing ideas of what religion truly means, these conflicts will subside and the world will begin to gain some understanding of itself.


ahasna21 said...

This is going on your statement in class when we were talking about whether or not we should do something because it is stated in our religon or is because it is ethically right. I remember we were talking about the Jamie Lynn Spears story in class the other day and how she is not going to get an abortion because she is an orthodox christian and it is against her religion. Now ethically and for her own benefit, it would be the sensible thing because she is a teenager who can not take care of a baby and also because the baby will most likely not have a happy life. Like what Ghandi said about religion and that if it is better for society and is right, then we should do it, even if it is a slight bending of the rules of our religion.
Then, this is also going on the concept of abortion. If someone is not ready for a child, whether it is because they are in school. or just not mentally ready, they need to think about 1. will their lives ever be the same. 2. will the baby have a good life and live to be a good human to society and 3. What will society be of when the baby is born. I am just giving an example of a situation in which we need to think in terms of the Do and the Do Not

Aon Hasnain

katie p said...

Today when this discussion was going in class I know that 9/11 was brought up and used as an example of Ghandis belief of "do not" but I do not necessarily think that this is just something that applies to "do not" and that it can be applied to both a "do" and a do not" even though when Ghandi was doing hunger strikes he did it because he thought this was the right way to do something, but it could of been part of his religion to do things like that. But many religious doings are done because one they are the rules and a person will get a message from a higher power like god , and two because they think it is the right think to do. Im not quite sure if this makes complete sense but I just think that people like reformists and fundamentalists could be a mix between the "do" and the "do not" since it might be the rules of a religion and what someone wants to do that drives someone in religious act that a person participates in.

Zhang A- said...

I think that religion should factor into any "Do" or Do Not" choices that we make in every day life; but I do not believe that religion should make every single choice for us. Religion is a powerful thing, and we need to balance it out with our own common sense when making life decisions. I am not against orthodox sects of different religions in any way, but let us remember that these different religious books, such as the bible, were written thousands of years ago. Surly todays society is different from the society in the years of 100 B.C., 100 A.D., and even years such as 1700 A.D. Because these religious texts are not updated to modern day times, we need to weight out our options in life, while taking the religions teachings we are taught into consideration. With this being said, I agree with Aon. I believe that Jamie Lynn Spears should try to consider all of her options, without making the decision not to get an abortion simply because of her Christian religion. Spears should take the Christian teachings into consideration, but she should weigh in her own thoughts which Aon talked about, such what the future with a newborn baby will be like, and will the baby live a god life, and does Spears truly want a baby. If Spears weighs these options out, and still decided to have the baby, she has truly and correctly chosen a "Do Not" for abortion, and a "Do" to have the baby.

ndemirjian said...

I dont know why, but when i read this blog and the comments, the idea of, "If God really does care about us, where is he now?" and, "If God were here right now, what would he say about today's issues like wars and abortion?" Because all religions texts were written ages before advanced technology was invented, God never comes down and preaches his views on these subjects. Some people say, "Well the bible says, 'thou shall not murder,'" but if a baby could ruin your life or if the baby would live a terrible and neglected life, is it okay to have an abortion? Now considering where God is today; back then God was speaking to people all the time, however now there hasn't been a prophet since Jesus (who was coincidentaly then son of God). If one were to take a good hard look at the moral values of today, they would discover that we have gone completely in the opposite direction that the bible tries to lead us in. On the idea of "Do" instead of "Do not," because people began seeing religions as "Do" it allowed to them to take action to create the world we have today. If some people hadn't fought for their religion, or what they think is morally correct, some events, like the American Revelution might not have happened and the United States of America might not have existed. However the down side to "Do" is the creation of Zealots, who take the "Do" to a whole new level of, "If you don't 'Do' as our beliefs tells you, then you die!" What I am trying to get at, is the idea that when religions became "Do" instead of "Do Not" it gave birth to religions acts and wars that were either benifical, or completely disasterious, i.e. 9-11.
-Just some random assumptions that puzzle me.

urbanyouth704 said...

I think that what Mr. Moran said in the second paragraph of Do instead of Do not is very true. The way religion is interpreted today is completely different than it was thousands of years ago. The writing of the Holy Books are the same but people are interpreting them differently and that is why there are so many different versions of the bible. The way a person interprets their religion is how they live their life and not everyone interprets their religion the same and that is why religion is somewhat confusing because "The words of God" in the Holy Books could mean some many different things and they can be interpreted some many different ways.

Alex Rachlin said...

It is true that as humanity grows older, our society begin to change as well; but it is also true that when humanity grows older, our thoughts towards our surroundings and influences changes as well. There is no way that the original interpretation of Judaism, for instance, is the same now. If a religion were to say, kill yourself when you are 20 years old and you will be a good person, I am sure that it would be changed almost instantly from that to, if you are a bad person then kill yourself at 20. This may sound like a bad example, but it's the truth. If the majority of a society didn't like a belief or idea, odds are they would have voted to change it. This can be exactly like the translation of the holy bible. If I told Mr. Moran to change his ways to goth and for him to do the same for his friends, unless his friends were all goth, no one would be able to commit to it. So it could be that the translation was plainly hard, so they did it another way, but it could also be that many people did not want to go about life in that way, so they interpreted it differently.