Economic Multipliers (98)
Do you know what these are?
They help CREATE wealth in systems.
Religion is an economic multiplier for societies when individuals and institutions don’t get confused and think that they are God.
I have an amazing capacity to get into trouble with words and nothing can probably get me into more trouble than writing about (or talking about) religion.
I grew up in the Christian faith and still consider myself to be a Christian even though I am not (today) a member of any church. But, because of my rather broad beliefs, I might fit into many faiths. And that is where my troubles usually start: If people who are ‘very religious’ believe they know the mind of God and their religion does not accommodate fairly broad beliefs, I cannot be a Christian (or for that matter, any other faith) and must be ‘doomed to something.’ (I always hope those people are praying for me in good ways.)
Since I don’t even know what my neighbors are usually thinking, much less God, I find great comfort in believing that God knows who I am, what I care about and even what I believe.
In the Christian faith, you are taught that God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere) and omnipotent (all powerful). I believe all those things.
I also believe that I have NEVER met anyone who does not disagree with me on at least one thing.
If I believe that God knows that people of different faiths have different ways to find ‘him’ because the world is full of people who spend their time finding ways to disagree and create conflict, I can say that that is what I believe. It does not bother me that others think otherwise.
If I believe that God knows what is in people’s hearts and he (alone) judges people and determines their ‘fate’ at the end of their life, I can say that that is what I believe. Once again, it does not bother me that others think otherwise.
Religious institutions many times provide amazing community benefits and I (hopefully) recognize them all:
You can’t get too ‘full of yourself’ when you are constantly reminded that life is short, eternity is long and you are just one person among billions who has the opportunity to impact the world and the people within it in either positive or negative ways.
Members of religious organizations can and many times do function like extended families.
Many coupled hands in communities make light work for all.
Support (particularly in times of crises) is always welcome and usually needed and religious organizations are many times the first to ‘step up’ when things go wrong or social problems need to be addressed.
Religious organizations have ‘codes of conduct’ which usually help societies and the individuals within them stay stable and strong: In the Christian faith, it’s the Ten Commandments and all religions (to my knowledge) recognize and, within the context of citizenship, help codify into law in the public sector many of those commandments in recognition that they reflect the development of stable and safe societies.
In a mostly Christian community, not being a member of a church can put a person at a disadvantage if people have decided that for some reason (even one that makes no sense or is not true), they do not particularly like you. Likewise, if that is one of the main avenues for social and business connections, you may be ‘much more isolated.’
Unfortunately, knowing things about a religion is somewhat like knowing things about close family members and friends: You have the opportunity to see the best and the worst.
I have told more than one individual that I believe Christianity is a ‘free pass’ religion … but not because I dislike the faith or the greater percentage of people who are members of churches: On average, I would expect that the greater percentage are incredible human beings.
But (and without knowing the mind of God … keep that in mind), I do not believe that you can get forgiveness / absolution from a pastor or priest (what communion is all about) if you do not believe that you need to account for your actions on this earth. In fact, if pastors and priests (as they acted as ‘proxies’ for God) explained that they weren’t in a position to offer God’s forgiveness for those that they served if those individuals did not want to take responsibility for their actions on this earth, I believe the world would have a LOT less problems.
I have this ‘story:’
If a person confesses a sin and asks for forgiveness, I think that God listens patiently and thinks : ‘It’s nice that they showed up: I’m glad that they are sorry.’
If they show up the next time, confess the same sin and ask for forgiveness, I think that God thinks: ‘Hmmm … Why did they do it again? They must not be quite as sorry as I thought they were.’
If they show up three times to ask for forgiveness, I think that God thinks: ‘They did it again? Do they take me for a fool?’
Of course, this is a ‘story.’ The only thing that I am ABSOLUTELY sure of is that I don’t believe that I know the mind of God. But I do believe that God has provided many, many paths for people to find him … because he wants people to find him.
Going back to ‘being close enough’ to see the good and the bad, I have taken the time to read the whole Bible (don’t quiz me though without an eBook version with search capabilities). I have not explored the religious texts of other religions as closely.
As a woman (who believes the Bible was written and compiled strictly by men), I identified a few (just a few, mind you) instances where I thought that the text supported the abuse and unequal treatment of women (in the judicial systems in particular).
Since women many times provide the bulk of the care for children in any society, I would also say, as an extension, that any text that would support the abuse of women also supports the abuse of children.
If I had not been raised as a Christian, I (probably) would have never read the whole Bible. If I had never read the Bible, I would have had no comments (or at least very uneducated ones) to make on this particular topic.
Can you see just how easy it can be to get into trouble with words?
P.S. I’ve noted before that I never believe people when they say they don’t believe in God because I believe that EVERYONE at some point in their life silently asks for some kind of help … and that single act means that they hope someone is ‘out there’ listening.
P.S. The good and the bad, extended: If you live in a rather homogeneous community religion-wise and ever become a ‘target’ or ‘victim’ for some reason and it involves ‘religious’ people, it can be hard to separate out all the good people who would never do anything wrong or harmful to anyone. Unfortunately, people in ANY kind of organization can adopt ‘gang’ behavior just because they are so closely connected: When any religious organization does not support a ‘victim,’ they condone the abuse and effectively say they want to be ‘complicit’ in the abuse or harm, diminishing (from my perspective) their credibility not just in their community but also in the ‘eyes’ of God.