Tuesday, November 15, 2005

religious language

ok, I'm looking for some help here (or am I just being curious?) - I'm doing the Britian Yearly Meeting Quaker Youth work course and have come to the exercise on religious language. It gives a list of words and asks you to put them in order starting with the one you have most difficulty with, then ask others to do the same exercise and see what discussion come up.

You aren't allowed to put them in equal placing! I've put my list as a comment so you can't see it straight away... I'd appreciate it if you'd have a go, I will ask some people here as well but I'm intrigued as to what others in the blogosphere think too!

The words (as they appear on the worksheet) are:

God, spiritual, faith, religion, worship, testimony, inner light, Jesus, Christ, Allah, Buddha, divine.

I'm happy enough to get anonymous contributions =)

10 comments:

Anna Dunford said...

ok my list - rembering it starts with the words that are most difficult...

Christ
Allah
Buddha
Jesus
God
religion
divine
worship
testimony
spiritual
inner light
faith

Christ is up there at the top because I still don't quite know what to make of the concept of anything other than the historical Jesus, then the various historical figures in that I don't feel sure enough of my ground talking about any of them or their teachings. Then religion as it seems to cause more problems/conflicts than it solves! God, well god would be an improvement - less personified (don't limit god by thinking of him/her/etc in human terms!), then the rest I'd be happy in pretty much any order really but I just plumped for the order I thought I probably used them most.

Anna Dunford said...

ps - maybe simon gray is onto something with his testimony against capital letters seeing as the capitalised words are all at the top of my list!

Peter Mayes said...

worship, religion, inner light, Allah, Buddha, Jesus, Christ, spiritual, faith, testimony, God, divine.

Sebastian said...

God
Holy Spirit
Jesus
Godwrath
Eternity
Hell
Heaven
Resurrection
worship (adoraciĆ³n)
Priest
Godson
Saint
Dogma

God: difficult as I feel in conflict with the typical description or assumption of the concept and feel dubious of anything that goes further than my concept of that of good in everything, creative force, etc, in other words abstract interpretation.

Holy spirit: Evident in experience but unacceptable to the mind...too separate from the original force not to be IT on its own, call me arianist but I say it's like if God had to put a suit to actually work on tinkering the world where it needs so and the name for it is "H.S."

Jesus: Pretty much the same problem, unable to see the relevance of him if it depends on his having superpowers/being super natural.

Godwrath: not compatible with my concept of divinity, or doesn't fit the equation God=Love

Eternity: pompous presumption of what we can't tell in an attempt to make a point "tomorrow will rain, so you take a point you'll get soaked, TOMORROW!" just because we're trapped in space time doesn't mean that space time is a constant that won't change/end/restart just because we won't be there.

Hell: Dante Alighieri, not jesus christ. Brainwashing/terrorism.

Heaven: Socialist utopy as a method of mass manipulation.

Resurrection: Can't cope with the complexity of something void of apparent relevance, if you learned what Christ had to say about love what does it matter that he resurrected? did he even had to? sure the jews said he had to and those were the rules of the game but that's not why we're called to follow his teachings, they're just really good lessons, not ways to escape damnation.

Worship: Everytime I talk in spanish i have to make the dumb quotations gesture and say "the quaker mass" because worship sounds(adoraciĆ³n) sounds as though we were doing what arabs do, kneeling and bowing. Besides, if it's worship what am i worshiping? isn't it suposed to be self(and community) serving in that I am trying to hear that which is present in every aspect of our lives anyway?

Priest: Can't cope with the concept of it, isn't it what all christians should be like anyway? take away celibacy, isn't that how a righteous person who lives a life in the light of blah blah should live anyway, ok so then we have this class which are suposed to be the middlemen between us and god...the real conflict for me is one of simplicity, do I really have to study eisegesis, exegesis, biblic hermeneutics, etc to understand that of god in everything? do i have to be at their same level so that i can refuse to see them as higher or whatever...i disagree with the concept of priests, i oppose the concept of preaching, etc.


Son of god: aren't we all? if we're children of the light and the light is that divinity present in everyone then how is it that JESUS is the son of god and we're not all sons of God? and daughters of god? ok say he was god, he'd still be human, are you saying that any human is above any? i would follow him and treat him like an enlightened and walk with him towards the cliff(i guess, hey i float, i can't tread on water but i won't sink like peter) and yet this is my choice, this is suposed to be my god given choice but, even then, isn't he like a brother figure?

Saint: goes against my firml belief in grace and faith, how can anyone be more saintly or meritory just by things they've done

Dogma: In conflict with continous revelation and the fact that we all live our truth but only see it through our own eyes/worldview and therefore you can't expect a common denominator to define what IS and what isn't.

Sebastian said...

The flaw's on blogger for not allowing edition:

Eternity:
so you better carry an umbrella*

Worship:
talk about it in spanish*(to non quakers)

flurble said...

ugh. what's "difficulty?" there are words there that bother/annoy/challenge (fluffy-speak for bother/annoy :-) me in different ways...

also, I want to put gaps between them of different sizes...

religion
worship
spirituality

testimony

Buddha

divine
Christ
Allah
faith
Jesus
inner light
God

Martin Kelley said...

Hi Anna,
Gosh, this sounds like a sad exercise. I tried to do it but it's too mired in that liberal Quaker "I'm too dainty for strong language" attitude (I say this as a liberal Quaker, mind you).

I read old Quaker writings and they were just loud and bold with all sorts of wonderfully rich religious language. John Woolman could pack half-a-dozen metaphors for the divine onto one page of the Journal. Language can get in the way of communing with each other & with God but we can escape that trap by either 1) using so much language that the essence comes through or 2) going mute.

So why oh why have we chosen muteness? Why do we stretch for ever more meaningless, ambiguous terms? "The inward Christ" becomes "the Spirit" becomes "the Light" becomes--what next?--"the warm fuzzies." Seriously, we need to be capitalizing more things. Let's talk about our experience. And let's not cut ourselves off by compiling lists of language that triggers unhappy associations. As Friends we need to look through the murky clouds of words to see that spirit from which all comes. All religious language is suspect unless it's wellspring is immediate spiritual guidance; with such guidance all and any language is a precious gift.

Anna Dunford said...

Thanks for having a go - the point of the exercise was in the context of a module on Spirituality and how we have to look at our own hang ups with language etc before we can hope to do any meaningful work with young people on it. It was to get us thinking about what words we find easy to use, and what difficult, and realise that everyone has a different perspective on that as I think your answers have shown! It did also give us the option of putting some extra words of our own (as Sebastian did).

What I found difficult was differentiating between those which I found difficult talking about becasue I wasn't sure what I thought about them/knew about them rather than which I just found uncomfortable using because I had thought about it and had decided it wasn't for me (where I am right now in life)

And yes, can't you just tell this came from a liberal YM where it feels at times that everyone falls over backwards not to offend anybody so ends up not using half the words you'd find elsewhere! There seems to be a strong tendency to vear away from covering anything overtly 'religious' in a mainstream sense, and we're much more likely to find work being done on understanding our Muslim neighbours than our Christian ones within Children's Meeting. I'm as guilty as the rest for perpetuating that but mainly because of my own lack of knowledge and understanding of the christian faith and my aversion (until relatively recently) to any 'churchy language'. I'm looking forward to the rest of this module (once I've got my computer to actually open the files and print them off without crashing!)

Lovin' Life Liz said...

Buddah
Allah
Christ
testimony
Jesus
divine
religion
God
faith
inner light
worship
spiritual

I think Buddah and Allah are at the top because I am uncomfortable becuase I am not educated enough in that arena.

The bottom three are most comfortable, being brought up unprogrammed Quaker.

I think simplicity and peace would be intersting on the list!

Anonymous said...

God
inner light
Allah
Christ
Jesus
testimony
worship
religion
divine
Buddha
faith
spiritual