A Wall of Text For Those Who Choose to Read It
Religion is culture.
Is it any wonder that most statues and depictions of gods look eerily similar to the men that built them? It is also no strange fact that religions,
although each claiming to be absolute, were entirely limited to the cultures and communities that practiced them. No Christian god could be found in
the new world until Christians themselves brought him there with their boats and priesthoods. Religions do not travel by word of God but by word of
mouth, and where the language and customs differ, so too do the religions.
To think that a god may only reveal himself to a particular culture or community is quite strange to fathom. Surely that culture must be favoured, at
least by the god that they themselves favour, as all cultures are favoured by theirs. These gods, of course, are limited by the culture they exist
within, not because these supreme beings are too lazy to find other devotees, but because they are limited by the language, custom and culture they
are bound within. Their only means of growth is to be passed along, as if by epidemic or infection, to those that will hear the voice of the sick.
Religion is spread by the culture it travels with.
Of course, religion is no disease, but historically, a fundamental occurrence of human nature. It cannot be shown to be the work of gods and angels,
but of men and their words, and the branding of custom upon the particular communities who indoctrinate themselves within it. It is passed down from
our forefathers down to us, and from us to our children. Wherever we go, our culture and religion follow.
Culture is personal.
I once knew a man who tried almost every religion. He once even became a monk, shaved his head, enjoyed mantras. He once collapsed beneath a cross
under the weight of his own guilt, and sang hymns to divine angels. However, when he prayed, or meditated, or performed whatever ritual he was into at
the time, nothing about him changed fundamentally but the way he dressed, the way he acted, what source of teachings he focused on, and with what
words he chose to speak with. Every time he changed the name of his religion, so too did he change the name he gave to the universe, and other things.
His words, on what he focused his thoughts, his expression reflected whatever he was into at the time, and for better or worse, his culture expanded
with each shift. However, he was still the same man. Nothing changed about him but his culture, his indoctrination, his language, his “God”.
“Religion” was the word he gave to this ever growing refinement of tastes and customs.
Luckily, he reclaimed his own culture as his own, no longer needing to label it a certain way or other. He created his own customs and habits as he
saw fit, becoming strong enough and sovereign enough to create peace and happiness by his own hand and on his own accord, and to govern it towards
what he thought was good. In the end his religion wasn’t destroyed, but saved.
But then how am I any different? that is, how are we any different? My culture changes with my tastes. Whatever art and cultures I enjoy reflects in
my outward expression. I speak a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, as my perpetually changing culture dictates. Every morning,
religiously, before I do anything else, I have a cup of coffee, enjoy the moment in silence, and focus my thoughts and senses upon certain things. I
walk, religiously, in order to think and see and do. In other circles, they call this meditation, prayer and ritual. I often seek my temple, usually a
mountain or forest, which often makes one feel divine. I too have habits and customs as everyone else. I also gravitate towards a certain literature
or art which reflects itself in my own; some choose television or sports. I name certain things according to my tastes and employ my own particular
locutions, phrases and idioms which I have gathered along the way. My dialect, built on a foundation of emersion into a certain culture, is
nonetheless completely my own, as I choose how to say things and in what manner I dress them in. I have my own beliefs, my own devotions, my own
faiths and acts of prayer, which are sometimes similar, but entirely different than anyone else’s. And, as with anyone else, my religion is always
Religion, spirituality, culture—however we choose to label it—follows every individual as a personal achievement in a sense, sure to lose or gain
favour in the memories and afterlives we leave behind. Some personal cultures are guided by the cultures of another, while some, perhaps, are entirely
guided by whomever’s culture it is. Learning that this choice can be made seems to escape many individuals, but what a choice it is.
Taking a particular label, whether Christian or Atheist or Buddhist or Communist, doesn’t create a culture or religion, it is merely an attempt to
define one, or better yet, define oneself. It is branding or a waving of flags for whatever herd purpose that entails. Finally, whether the rituals
and customs which are pre-packaged in these banners are of any benefit, matters only to the ones who are devoted to them. This choice of labels or no
labels, in the end, is entirely personal.
Buddhists kill muslims, muslims kill jews, islamists kill christians, atheists kill catholics—christians are charitable, muslims are charitable,
atheists are charitable— human nature rears her ugly head, and also her beauty, despite superficial labels, with only those of distorted or refined
cultures to blame for these acts. We act upon our culture, sometimes manifesting itself in the lowest forms of human activity, but also in the
It’s easy to blame something called “religion”, when there is no particular entity to which we can give that label, but it would be quite
difficult and atrocious to attempt to see that non-existent ideal attained. To spit on religion is to spit on billions of cultures, and to destroy
them, an act of hideous genocide.
It seems to me stupid to want to erase these histories from knowledge, just at it seems stupid to force them on another. What seems best is to
understand them all, at least until we fear them no longer, and to seek what is beneficial enough to apply to our own personal culture and religion.
In a sense, we become prophets, not to anyone else, but to ourselves, being creative enough to build morals, axioms, and customs of our own, rather
than have another build them for us. It seems reasonable to say that personal culture, religion, should be refined, created, the result of one’s own
power and will, and thereby find faith in ourselves.
edit on 1-11-2013 by Aphorism because: (no reason given)