Sunday, April 06, 2008
To say that I enjoyed the Religious Philosophy course is a great understatement.
Granted that many of the materials presented were familiar but that’s not unusual for anyone that has been studying religion and religious topics for any length of time. Nevertheless, it was presented in such a manner that made it refreshing and thought provoking. This aspect alone is a monumental credit to its author, Robert Chamberlain.
Recently, I read an article on the value of studying religion and philosophy. The author of that article stated that the study of religion is not only for the religious but for all who see that religion is a key element in all cultures. For those who are so inclined to study religion in search of that truth, this course offers an excellent launching pad for that study. It has provided valuable information as well as establishing a solid base for questions that will be asked of ministers and clergy throughout their careers.
In today’s world, conservatism seems to be the norm. People are scrambling to establish or re-establish their roots while all around them, societal standards that seemed so solid and viable are crumbling. While people regroup and reassess, understanding, compassion and acceptance are placed on the backburner and all too often, other groups suffer under the weight of scrutiny. This is especially true in view of recent acts of violence in the name of religion and religious beliefs. Eastern religions known for their passivity and quiet mysticism usually do not fare any better than their western counterparts.
Most religions espouse peace and compassion as fundamental values and issue volumes of works justifying that philosophy. Ironically, it is religion that inflames passions and directs action, often expressed in horrid acts of violence that helps man progress as he attempts to understand peace and compassion as a way of life. Most of our great way- showers and examples of living have been embroiled in violence and controversy before their messages were accepted or even considered. The study of religion will always engage controversial concepts and questions. How we respond to these questions will determine whether or not personal and communal growth happens.
Throughout the course, I was impressed with the unbiased and objective presentation of various religious viewpoints worldwide. This provided insights into my own opinions and feelings on many topics and I must admit to my surprise, I came up short a few times when compared to the material presented in the course. It certainly has been a growth experience.
I was also impressed that a comprehensive study of various religious philosophies could provide the possibility of a unifying faith that borrows readily from other belief systems. Think about it! a belief system or religion that takes into account everyone’s feelings and opinions and is able to coexist. In the words of John Lennon….”Imagine all the people…living for today….A brotherhood of man….Imagine all the people ..Sharing all the world”
I was further impressed by a final essay written by a recent graduate wherein she related her story of a spiritual journey that spanned her entire adulthood. It was so similar to my own experiences that it was uncanny. Having started out studying in a traditional setting and steeped in denominationalism (Roman Catholicism), I spent some years in a religious community studying for the priesthood. If nothing else, it set the course for a very interesting live, certainly not traditional by any means and as I often state…”I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” I look forward to future courses from the seminary…thanks
By Rev. Ernest Kayorie