the usefulness of religion and belief

"Compass" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Compass” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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I love compasses. I own one. I treasure and value it. But I only use it when I’m lost or trying to get somewhere.

What I sought my whole life was peace of mind. My theological angst nearly killed me. My devotion to Christianity, its theology, and its church was undying. I used it faithfully.

Then, one day, peace of mind came. And it has remained. I’m grateful for the compass.

I do not dismiss my compass. I do not ridicule or reject it. That would not only be disrespectful to myself and my journey, but disrespectful to others and theirs.

I do try to humbly, fairly but accurately critique what I think are broken compasses, false compasses, deceptive and misleading compasses that misdirect people in unhealthy or harmful directions.

This reminds me of the Buddha’s teaching:

“A man is trapped on one side of a fast-flowing river. Where he stands, there is great danger and uncertainty – but on the far side of the river, there is safety. But there is no bridge or ferry for crossing. So the man gathers logs, leaves, twigs, and vines and is able to fashion a raft, sturdy enough to carry him to the other shore. By lying on the raft and using his arms to paddle, he crosses the river to safety.

The Buddha then asks the listeners a question: “What would you think if the man, having crossed over the river, then said to himself, ‘Oh, this raft has served me so well, I should strap it on to my back and carry it over land now?’” The monks replied that it would not be very sensible to cling to the raft in such a way.

The Buddha continues: “What if he lay the raft down gratefully, thinking that this raft has served him well, but is no longer of use and can thus be laid down upon the shore?”

The monks replied that this would be the proper attitude.

The Buddha concluded by saying, “So it is with my teachings, which are like a raft, and are for crossing over with — not for seizing hold of.””

I love my compass. I’m grateful for it. Its inherent value is priceless. But I don’t need it when I’m there.


3 Replies to “the usefulness of religion and belief”

  1. From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi————–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace of mind to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using “The 77 Branches of Islamic “faith” a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true “faith” (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings.” i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    “1. Belief in Allah”

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    “2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence.”

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the “Gib Gnab” (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the “akas” for Allah should be included if you continue to be a “creationist”.

    “3. To believe in the existence of angels.”

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/devils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hittites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No “pretty/ugly wingy thingies” ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and “tin–ker be-lls”. Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    “4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore.”

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the uneducated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    “5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone.”

    Mohammed spent thirty days “fasting” (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a “pretty wingy thingy”. Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic violence i.e. turning Mohammed’s “fast, hunger-driven” hallucinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

  2. My guess is that you might be thinking of the waterfall dream you had resulting in peace for you at that time.

    A vision came to me once of Jesus on the cross praying “father forgive them” and practicing forgiveness brought me peace.

    So I guess in this context, forgiveness would be my “compass “. I’m grateful for that and love the peace I have experienced as a result of it. I know it is not enough on it’s own.

  3. The ability to recognize religion as a tool for a journey is a wonderful concept!

    I agree that too often, we continue to ‘carry the raft’ on our back – the church attendance, the endless sense of sin consuming us, and the need to control other rafts and condemn their selection of logs.

    However, as Sabio mentioned recently, their are underlying needs that urge us to think such foolish ‘carrying’ is noble and necessary even when we are on dry land. In fact, that sounds like the Book of Galatians… lol.

    To recognize the raft’s temporary usefulness, to honor it, and to walk away from it…. great points, David!

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