Sunday, March 09, 2008
What I learned form this course.
Religions have aspects of similarity, and aspects of divergence. Three of what are commonly termed “the major religions” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- have commonality in that they spring from the stories of the Talmud, or the five books of Moses. Abraham is seen as, religiously though not divinely, the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jesus, after all, was a Jew. The Qur’an, provided by Muhammed, includes Jewish religious stories, as well as stories of Jesus.
It’s astounding that three religions so closely tied in scripture breed such murderous intention and action in some of their adherents. Of course, even within Islam and within Christianity (and Judaism too, though perhaps less so) there are sub-sets or “denominations” that declare themselves to be the “only true way” or the only true religion, sometimes persecuting their fellow religious brothers from other denominations to death.
Buddhism, by contrast, is widely seen as a peaceful religion. Part of Buddhist values include the idea that all life is sacred, and that no beings should suffer. The pacifism of Buddhists has perhaps led them to be easily overthrown by the Chinese authorities. On the other hand, it perhaps that very pacifism that prevented an even more violent purge from the Chinese government than has actually occurred.
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all monotheistic religions, and the Indian concept of Brahma is monotheistic. The Hindu religion reportedly has over 2 million Gods. Interestingly, many in Islam and Judaism reject Christianity’s claim that it is monotheistic; they state that the Trinity – God as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – are actually three Gods.
Buddhism does not have a God or Gods at the center of the religion, which would seem to make it more of a philosophy than a religion. But Buddhism does have supernatural components to it, in it’s assertion that when a person dies, they reincarnate again and again, into circumstances that are predicated on the life they lived in their previous incarnation.
Most traditional Christianity views reincarnation as heretical. The traditional belief is that a person is born into the world and, based on his sins and or salvation, spends eternity after life in either a paradise called Heaven, or a “lake of fire” called Hell.
What I gained from this course.
My religious history encompasses many years of Catholicism until about age 35, including extra-curricular Catholic activities such as the Knights of Columbus. After age 35, I became involved in a more modern, non-mainstream Christianity (namely, the Emissaries of Divine Light,) and more recently a connection to the Unity Church and Universal Life Church.
This course has opened my mind to other religious views. This has happened along with a natural maturing process of age, in which hard-line views that “my beliefs are the only right beliefs”, transform to a recognition that God, spirit, the All, is bigger than any one religion, and that all people are searching for oneness, peace, and connection with each other and with what is Higher.
What I liked best in this course.
The information on the various religions was broad and thorough – exceptionally good.
What I liked least about this course.
There wasn’t really anything that I didn’t like.
How I think this course could be improved.
It was a good course, and I wouldn’t want to change anything.
Rev. James D. Connor
The Universal Life Church Seminary is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, and Paganism. We have two courses in Metaphysics, as well as courses in Mystical Christianity, Buddhism and Comparative Religion. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.