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AtlantisRises

Religion as a Fashion Accessory

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Over a drink with a bunch of friends a little while ago we got into a deep and meaningful discussion aided by quite a few ales and ended up discussing religion and a lady who we were all trying to impress with our worldly wisdom came out and told us that she wasn't that interested as she was actually a Buddhist... Now aided by a large amount of liquid curiosity I asked her a couple of questions and quickly realised that she actually had no idea about Buddhism whatsoever. It seemed that she had said it more as a talking point or to appear newage and interesting.

After a considerable amount of sleep, black coffee and a good healthy plate full of greasy things for breakfast I started reflecting and it seemed that it wasn't such and uncommon thing she had done. I recall from a few years ago when being Wiccan was fashionable. I know plenty of people who will call themselves Christian because they grew up in a Christian family but haven't been to Church since their parents stopped making them go and have no intention of going, yet will call themselves Christian because of how their parents or friends would react if they called themselves anything else.

How many people describe themselves as belonging to a religion for no reason other then to save an argument. How many people buy into the more 'new age' religions just to show everyone else how progressive and interesting they are. How many people wouldd change or abandon or just ignore their proclaimed beliefs if they weren't worried about other peoples reactions to the change. How many people on this very site are more interested in how other posters view their beliefs then they are interested in their beliefs themselves.

Dale.

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That's a good set of questions, AR.

Do you really think, though, that it's all the same whether somebody is posting on a board where people discuss their beliefs in some depth, or in a bar where she is as interested in how you size her up as you were how she sized you up? Maybe brevity is the soul of hit?

Besides, last I heard, I am overqualified to call myself Buddhist: I've read the Sermon in the Deer Park more than once, and think that Gautama made some good points. Catholic, too (as is anybody who has ever received an intended water baptism with a spoken Trinitarian formula - the required intent being on the part of the sprinkler, not the sprinkled).

Catholic-Buddhist is a way cool combo. What's your sign, sailor?

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I think a lot of that is true, particularly with the "cool" Eastern religions. And also a lot of people certainly would put "Christian" if they were asked in like a census or something, just because everyone else does or that's what they've always put, And in some places, it may be true that saying that one is Christian might make it easier to be accepted and might give one an advantage. However, that's by no means the case everywhere, or in every profession; for instance, in the Scientific field it could often be a positive liability.

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I'm in the Agnostic/Aethiest camp, I guess I've never considered it important enough to really bother with an opinion.

And I realise that there is a big difference between a bar and more or less any other setting. Though to be honest the setting was irrelevant it just happened to be the setting that made got me thinking about it. Wether you call it peer pressure or social expectations or plain showing off it seems that what should be such an internal and personal decision seems to be based partly or at least expressed for reasons that are related more to the ego then to any real belief.

And a forum is the perfect place for someone to go to present a face that really has little relation to themselves. Anonymity allows for a much more egocentric expression of yourself. For instance I am of Rroma Gypsy blood, in real life it has no major bearing on my life apart from a couple of interesting relatives and an awesome variety of culinary styles. Yet online, particularly this site I have accentuated my Rroma heritage far more then I would bother with in real life. It is very important to me, and I have some great memories from when I was quite young and my grandparents who were more traditional were still alive, but I'm well aware that in real life most people couldn't really care less. Online however it adds a bit of color and particularly on a site relating to magic and the supernatural it makes for a hell of a talking point.

That is me personally. How many other people do similar things wether because it's easier to talk to a stranger or simply for an ego boost.

Dale

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But another way of saying that is that when you are in a safe setting where personal background is often salient, you found that your Roma heritage was more important to you than you are usually aware. And setting does matter, I have some friends IRL around whom you wouldn't mention Roma heritage twice. I'll bet you've met some people like that, too.

Anyway, "role playing" does happen here now and then, but it really isn't a role playing site. There was a "voodoo" troll here one time, who fielded questions by rapid googlebingery. It didn't last long, though. It's hard to be an active poster and a total fake - different personality or speech style, sure.

On another aspect of the topic. though, we have had discussions here about people being entitled to deference when they say what religion they follow. One time, it came up in connection with census questions (the US doesn't ask, but Australia and some other Englsih-speaking countries do). A credibly Christian poster was aghast that a woman of his acquaintance ticked the "Catholic" box when she didn't go to church and didn't believe much of the doctrine.

The funny thing is, though, the Church would count her as a member. For her part, she considers herself a member. Who else has any say in it? If she says she's Catholic, and the Catholics say she's Catholic, then who resigned and made me Pope?

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Posted (edited)

It's a nice argument, but it could also be argued that those who exhibit such "superficial religiousity" are, in fact, attempting to promote tolerance. Religion is, after all, a deeply cultural behaviour, and Buddhism developed in the context of a specific culture. There is valid argument that, outside of this culture no-one can be truly Buddhist. And the same could be argued for any religion/culture combination.

So what, then, is the purpose or point of a person from one culture adopting the religion of another? Could it be an attempt to understand that other culture, to bridge the gap between them? Or is it merely the ego and curiousity which drives people to undertake this cross-over?

Edited by Leonardo

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I, too, am in the atheist/agnostic camp. If pressed, I say I'm a member of the New Reformed Druidic Church--we've branched out from oak trees and are into shrubbery and crabgrass. No, really. I think some people wear their religion like the latest fashion accessory. I remember when it was fashionable to be "New Age." Seemed like everyone was into crystals and whatnot. As for me, I'm one of those what you see is what you get types. Nothing interesting about me to hype. Unless you count my past life as an alien directing the building of the pyramids... :lol:

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Eastern philosophies are currently "cool", at least in my culture. I've had conversations with people who believe that "meditation and stuff" (paraphrase of their beliefs) is great, but I daresay that Siddhartha would turn in his grave if he heard this as a synopsis of buddhist philosophy.

I think there are a lot of people who say things just because it's popular to say. I am not qualified to give statistics, but it's certainly a process I have observed.

Btw, a big hello to you, AR. It's been a long time, glad to see you again. Maybe see you elsewhere around the forums :tu:

~ Regards, PA

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Here in the South U.S. if the subject comes up I usually say I'm Catholic (My father's people were Catholic), which always annoys and even scares people around here. I do this just for fun.

Sometimes I say I'm Buddhist (I've been interested in Zen since I was 14), which mystifies the locals. They don't know what to make of it, and usually withdraw a few paces, I suppose considering me a follower of Satan. This is also fun.

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Here in the South U.S. if the subject comes up I usually say I'm Catholic (My father's people were Catholic), which always annoys and even scares people around here. I do this just for fun..

It's funny when people equate the town they live in to the entire South. My best friends of 35 years are Arabs, who happen to be Catholic, and I worked for them in their very successful restaurant for 20 years. I rarely saw anyone bat an eye as to their ethnicity or religion. People would often ask me about them, out of curiosity, after they had a discussion with someone about where my friends came from in the Middle East. They simply wanted to know who won the argument. lol

On topic, as for me, I lost my faith at a very early age, if I ever had it at all. Looking back on it I doubt I ever did believe. I was an Atheist/Agnostic long before it was "cool". Until I moved out of my parent's house I would tick the Christian box, but after that it was always "other". To this day, I could never be accused of wearing it as a fashion accessory, because I don't discuss religion with strangers or acquaintances. Come to think of it, some of our friends probably don't know I'm not a Christian since religion rarely comes up in conversation. I know most of our friends don't go to church, but that doesn't mean they don't consider themselves to be Christian either.

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I, too have been guilty of claiming Buddhism as my religion, not so much as a fashion statement, but it seems to have fewer negative connotations in certain circumstances than claiming atheism. Mostly to avoid the seemingly unavoidable comment, "well you must believe in something", and my claim of believing in "lawyers guns and money" doesn't seem to satisfy other people. I did however learn a little about Buddhism and memorised a few Buddha quotes to get by

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I, too, am in the atheist/agnostic camp. If pressed, I say I'm a member of the New Reformed Druidic Church--we've branched out from oak trees and are into shrubbery and crabgrass. No, really. I think some people wear their religion like the latest fashion accessory. I remember when it was fashionable to be "New Age." Seemed like everyone was into crystals and whatnot. As for me, I'm one of those what you see is what you get types. Nothing interesting about me to hype. Unless you count my past life as an alien directing the building of the pyramids... :lol:

So how did you do it? Fess up. It was the internal ramp wasn't it?

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From my experience, lots of people I've known consider religion as a fashion accessory. I say this because of their superficial knowledge of their religion and their behavior. I think these people's claim to be religious (or at least claim to some religion's affiliation) is just a social convenience. These don't take their religion seriously. I think this is a good idea, because...

...on the other hand, some of those who I've known who do take their religion seriously have been difficult for me to get along with, or impossible. However, I've known some seriously religious people who were some of the best people to know and to be friends with.

All in all, taking into consideration and thusly ignoring the hypocrisy of using religion as a fashion statement, it's easier to have a superficial relationship with these kinds of people. And as we all know, superficial relationships are what make the world go 'round.

If everyone were sincere and honest all the time, civilization would soon descend into chaos. Truth is not something to bandy about recklessly. Telling the truth will get you in trouble quicker than anything.

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I just put panentheist on forms. By the time people research it or figure it out I am long gone.

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Thanks for posting this, I think its a good thing for people to think about. I know that I do have reasons for claiming to be who I am and for me it is not about what I look like to others but actually attempting to express what I believe and practice. I am indeed more interested in what I believe and practice than what others believe or think of me, but still, I do like discussing these matters for some reason. I think because I feel that I have tapped into some sort of truth, or that I understand why certain groups do what they do and what the benefit is for them I like to portray that in conversation especially when talking to one with opposing views, thinking that a certain way is nonsense for example. I like to show that there are reasons that these beliefs are in existance as well as understand them better from people who practice differently from myself. I also want to know the ultimate benefit for any of it at all, I think its something we are just prone to do, to have faith of one kind or another, because who we are are advancing people of the spirit and mind. These pursuits aid in the quest for that advancement but hardly do any of them lead to ultimate fulfillment because not only do they deal with the afterlife but they deal with the human spirit of discipline, which hardly is there a master... and so, because of the lack of discipline for any of the disciplines, I agree with you, it is fun to shout out what path we think sounds good, maybe. But I don't fault anyone for this. I say if you say you are Buddhist but you don't know much about it, you better get to it! :)

But I will say this:

Before I became a Christian I still considered myself a Christian and the sole reason for this was because I believed in God. I would pray sometimes etc, I never went to church, I didn't know anything about scripture or the teachings of the church but I felt very strongly about the fact that there was a God looking out for me etc... Once someone told me that I wasn't Christian because I didn't go to church and I will tell you that it was one of the most offensive things I have heard. Now, I understand what they meant, but at that time I was very upset about it. I knew I was Christian simply by believing in God and didn't feel I needed to do anything else about it. At that time, that was fine for me. So I don't think we should tell people what they are or what they're not, even if they may not know much about the "religion" etc... there is a lot of info about all the religions out there, and really we don't need to know all that stuff.... really we don't. We can title ourselves something and have our own reasons for doing so. Personally I think its good to understand what these things mean, study can help us, see what perhaps we don't agree with that is traditionally taught or practiced, but ultimately faith can be a very simple thing.

Edited by SpiritWriter

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my claim of believing in "lawyers guns and money" doesn't seem to satisfy other people.

The Church of Warren Zevon?

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Eastern philosophies are currently "cool", at least in my culture.

A Google search for "zen of" returns 286,000,000 results.

A Google search for "tao of" returns only 86,100,000 results.

Clearly zen is cooler than that tao thingy. But if you want to be really cool, you would adhere to both zen and taoism and be a Shaolin Chan Buddhist monk. Now that would be "cool", except for all the rigorous exercises and mediation, that would be a bummer.

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i believe far too many things to sum it up with a label.

i was born christian so i will say i'm christian as though it is my nationality.

like my nationality however i am not very patriotic when there are so many other cultures to learn from.

in the end god is only relevant to me when he moves into my house and starts drinking my beer.

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Btw, a big hello to you, AR. It's been a long time, glad to see you again. Maybe see you elsewhere around the forums :tu:

~ Regards, PA

Hey Robbie, I drop in now and then. I'll try to get enthusiastic enough to post on a more regular basis again. I've been gone a couple of years there must be at least one new idea thats made it to UM.

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Hey Robbie, I drop in now and then. I'll try to get enthusiastic enough to post on a more regular basis again. I've been gone a couple of years there must be at least one new idea thats made it to UM.

No new ideas, just some new nutters... err, I mean members :ph34r: But as always, I'm learning new things from new people and until that changes I'll probably still stick around and annoy people.

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As good a reason to stay as any. On the subject of the thread I think that it would be interesting to see how many people profess a belief in real life that they really either don't have or have in a most superficial way, and yet online such as this site where they are free of familiar eyes and the judgement of their true peers profess something that is closer to their true feelings. Some what as Eightbits said about this being a Safe setting, how many people feel it as a place to truly express themselves in a way that they would never dare or even consider when around people with a more direct influence on their lives. I've been slowly mulling this over today while I was at work and I know that when I was more active on here I certainly proffessed a stronger aethiest opinion at times then I would ever bother with in real life.

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And I realise that there is no real reason to see such a thing. Short of people admitting it themselves theres no way to know what difference there is between a persons on screen persona to the face they show the real world.

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As good a reason to stay as any. On the subject of the thread I think that it would be interesting to see how many people profess a belief in real life that they really either don't have or have in a most superficial way, and yet online such as this site where they are free of familiar eyes and the judgement of their true peers profess something that is closer to their true feelings. Some what as Eightbits said about this being a Safe setting, how many people feel it as a place to truly express themselves in a way that they would never dare or even consider when around people with a more direct influence on their lives. I've been slowly mulling this over today while I was at work and I know that when I was more active on here I certainly proffessed a stronger aethiest opinion at times then I would ever bother with in real life.

personally I'd say it can work both ways; people can be a lot ruder, or 'blunt speaking', as they like to call it, than they'd probably be if they met one in real life. So often for instance, in a thread talking about Jesus, for example, someone will drop in with a witty remark like "you mean the fictional character Jesus?", or "the Christians and their dead god" or something equally clumsy. So if someone does profess an interest in a particular religious apth, I'd say they're much more likely to face 'bluntness' or rudeness than they would be in real life.

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And I realise that there is no real reason to see such a thing. Short of people admitting it themselves theres no way to know what difference there is between a persons on screen persona to the face they show the real world.

On here I'm more likely to express my opinion in direct ways. On any given moral issue I might say here "as a Christian my views are x, y, z". In real life I'm more likely to say something like "it's your life and so live it your way". That's not to say I don't still hold that belief, but real life isn't the place to play Mr Morality. UM and places like it are there for the express purpose of sharing different views. No such forum exists in real life.
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And I realise that there is no real reason to see such a thing. Short of people admitting it themselves theres no way to know what difference there is between a persons on screen persona to the face they show the real world.

Amen to this, for me, the way I get to know another is spend time with them in real life. IMO online has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.this environment is not even close to the real world.

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