Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Students of Comparative Religions?

Mother always said a lady should never discuss politics, sex or religion especially if she wanted to keep her friends. My father on the other hand informed me that I should study all about these subjects before making an arbitrary decision.

And so at a very young age I became a student of politics and religion. Sex didn't interest me until far later. And I admit to putting of the major decisions on all three for longer than my classmates. Being a student of sociology and anthropology in college certainly added fodder to my comparative religions studies.

So when recently a friend declared that the Serenity Prayer was the words of God I quickly informed her it was written in the 1940's and appears no where in any religious tome of which I was aware. Since, I was by her definition a pagan, I was of course wrong. I have been declared wrong before like at lunch with some very religious friends that were talking of the miracles of the gospels. Actually only one miracle is common to all four of those that appear in the Bible. I have always maintained that the most "religious" of my friends are the least informed about their own religion let alone those the declare wrong. Now a study proves that: A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.

I probably learned more about religion in my study of religious art and icons than most members of a religious sect learn in church. They get the watered down chapter and verse view without the overall picture of the context of that verse. And in most cases they take the opinion of their religious leaders. They do not think for themselves.

Ever play gossip as a child? As the "Word" gets whispered around the circle the mean changes until everyone breaks out in giggles when it is revealed what the original message was. Well, gossip has been going on in religions for thousands of years. And to that has been added translations from one language to another, and the edicts of religious leaders to include what they want in the various tomes. For instance in the King James version of the Bible only four out of 104 gnostic gospels are included. And most Christians think that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were four of the disciples.

Now these "students of their religion" and are telling us what the Constitution of the United States says or what is written in the Koran. I doubt they have read all of either of those documents or all of the Bible. Heaven help us if a man from some pulpit makes it to the oval office of the White House.

So do you know which of the miracles of Jesus appears in all four included gospels?