We believe that both secularism and religious institutions are failing us. They fail to bring peace, to help us relate to each other, to inspire hope, and to create meaning in our lives. Despite its failures, religion does have some important virtues.
This blog will focus on religion. The next one will focus on secular society.
Religious Failures include extremism, routine-ism and unhealthy desires.
Extremism: Religious beliefs are often used to degrade or oppress others. They can be used to justify acts of cruelty and violence. They can inspire anger and hatred. The true purpose of religion should be to offer hope and solace, to teach love and forgiveness, and take us down the path of wisdom. Religion should make us kinder, better people. Somehow religious figures around the world have forgotten this, and religious institutions are failing to make this their focus by getting distracted on issues like sexual orientation and the female body.
Routine-ism amongst religious people has often trapped them in a pattern of behaviour because things have been done the same way for a long time. Some are taught these patterns from childhood, others look beyond their lifetimes to cultural traditions that are hundreds, even thousands, of years old. Tradition is beautiful, it can tie us to our distant past in a meaningful way. However, tradition and ritual are not intended to trap us in a standard pattern of repetition, they should not be superficial actions carried out without thought. As the Rabbi Shanon Brous said, such practice is… “Devoid of life, devoid of vision, and devoid of soul.” The mindless repetition of words and actions done out of a sense of obligation or habit is more harmful than rewarding. Tradition should inspire a sense of emotion and meaning in the practitioner, encourage us to contemplation and reinforce the good within ourselves, and towards others. It is also meaningless to hold onto scriptures and doctrines that have no connection to the world we live in today, which is very different than the world was even two hundred years ago.
Unhealthy desire is built into religion through its reward and punishment structure. At times good deeds are not pursued because the religious practitioner believes in a better world, but because they wish to gain access to heaven in their afterlife. This makes the action insincere, and good ends cannot be reached when the starting point is hollow and self-serving. Hatred is also inspired due to fear of punishment, feeling that cultural movements or individual actions that go against scripture will cause a calamity or suffering in an afterlife. We believe that our actions should be inspired by a love ethic, not a desire for reward or a fear of punishment. If an all-knowing being capable of creating reality as we know it exists, it is not an angry, cruel, jealous entity, as these are human flaws that result from our frailty. We must cultivate in ourselves the desire to be good people and do good things without the expectation of direct reward. The desire to do good, simply because it is good. Critical thinking and living an examined life will help us to understand right from wrong.
The Virtues Of Religion
Religion has uncovered some powerful knowledge in its thousands of years of exploration and experimentation that can be valuable to everyone, including atheists. It has extensively explored the important concepts of Wisdom, Love, Hope, Peace, Forgiveness and Solace. Often it has done so in a way that is accessible to people of all levels of education and economic backgrounds. Practacises such as creating traditions and rituals also have value, even to atheists. They require us not only to learn a great truth, but to revisit and repeat it in meaningful ways that will allow us to absorb those truths into our very being. They take those truths from being “things we know” to being “who we are”. Creating your own traditions and rituals can help make great truths rich experiences, profoundly transformative and ever present in our daily actions and in our physical existence. We believe discarding religion altogether is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Thuquendo believes we have created an environment that will allow people to wisely make their own decisions about important ideas, and help them create profoundly meaningful experiences around them, so they can weave those ideas into the fabric of their intellectual, emotional and physical being and apply it to their daily lives. Thuquendo is about using critical thinking skills to lead an examined life and creating a rich and profound experience around the great truths we discover. To help us stay on a virtuous path we turn to Practical Wisdom and The Love Ethic.