I am currently living in Austria, where it is typical for people entering a semi-public space (e.g. doctor's office, barber shop) to greet the entire room and receive a greeting back. What is the appropriate response when greeted with "salaam alaikum" (selamün aleyküm)? [more inside]
How does one engage respectfully with a combative atheist who tries to convince you that most major religions are inherently anti-humanist / anti- enlightenment? I am an atheist myself, but I respect people who are religious. [more inside]
I've been interested in Theosophy and similar philosophies for a long time and have on several occasions considered joining up here in Auckland, New Zealand. However, I'm not entirely sure whether their activities will be of overall interest to me. [more inside]
We are planning a future together... If only my family would accept him in spite of his race and religion. Snowflakes entail. [more inside]
Maori chiefs were taboo'd from eating inside their houses, the Jewish Kohen (priests) couldn't handle dead bodies, and clerical classes across religious traditions have required celibacy -- does anyone know of any other examples of taboos on holy or religiously influential people? The cultures can range from contemporary big religions (e.g. Abrahamic) to the animism of small-scale societies - all examples are welcome!! THANKS!
Turns out – there is a word for what I’ve been fascinated by for some time! It even seems that it has been studied in some detail. Please suggest some readings for me so I explore this phenomenon in more depth. [more inside]
When I was growing up, in the seventies and eighties, Eastern Orthodoxy was pretty much an ethno-faith. That is, to be Orthodox was to be Greek, or Ukrainian or Russian or any of the historically orthodox nationalities who had immigrated to this country, along with a few outsiders who had married into the faith. Nowadays, however, things have changed . . . [more inside]
Having studied Christian theology in college, I am aware that much of what we have reflecting ancient Greek and Roman religious belief survives because Christian apologists were refuting source materials drawn from that culture. But what else do we actually know? [more inside]
I attended an adjunct faculty meeting at a public two-year college in Texas. Before the meeting, the campus vice president asked an instructor to lead us all in prayer. So we prayed. I was under the impression that public colleges weren't permitted anything more than a "moment of silence." Or does that apply only to elementary and secondary schools?
Can you give me quotes from historical or mythical religious figures on the thought that life is process, that one is never "finished"?
Years ago, I had a male coworker who wore a plastic rosary as a necklace. Just recently, I met another man who does the same thing. Is this part of some kind of movement or subculture? Fashion trend? Fringe religious group? [more inside]
Family dynamics are slowly driving me up the wall, but I can't bear to let things wind destructively. How can I cope without being caught in the storm? [more inside]
There are widespread reports that the Pope now claims that animals go to heaven, based on this article from the illustrious Daily Express newspaper, and in particular this line: “One day we will see our animals again in eternity of Christ’, Francis quoted Paul as saying. Is this a real quote attributed to Paul, or is the Express making shit up, or is Francis making shit up, or what is happening
What are some good books of mythology/stories from world religion for kids? [more inside]
Two points in the early chapters of Karen Armstrong's "The Case for God" are really bothering me, almost to the point of putting the book down in frustration; can the hivemind put my doubts to rest by answering two questions about religious history: First about the validity of Armstrong's "logos/mythos" distinction, and second, about the current thinking on the documentary hypothesis? [more inside]
Hi! I'm interested in finding some information about the way that Hephaistos is guessed to have come to be worshipped in ancient Greece. Please note that I am not looking for psychological theories (for example: "he represents the creative drive, and functions as a symbol of social exclusion and early technology"), but historical ones (for example: "he is found on an Athenian vase in 500 BCE, but no earlier, so that may have been when they began worshipping him" or, for example: "the philosopher Anaxamagazine tells us that the Thracians worshipped Hephaistos above all other gods, so it is possible Thrace was the initial origin of his cult"). Book recommendations or well-sourced websites would both be welcome! If you're dropping by the thread to merely mention a fact you know regarding Mister Hammer's origin point, that's great, but please link to a primary source. Thank you!
I've been basically a lifelong atheist, but a small part of me is extremely tempted by some of the more comforting aspects of various religions (such as the idea of an afterlife). But the logical part of me just can't bring myself to seriously believe in things for which there is no evidence. I am interested in hearing stories of people who have gone from being firmly atheist to accepting religion later in life, and how they were able to do so without cognitive dissonance. [more inside]
Did English peasants in the Late Middle Ages--say, 14th c.--take Communion? If so, how often? How about the other sacraments?
In the bible we have the example of the Prophet Samuel, whose mother is so grateful for him that she gives him to God to be raised by the priest Eli. Has this ever been a common practice – children being given over to an organized religious organization? Can anyone give me examples? More specifically, has the Vatican ever done this? [I'm not interested in the Philomena type of stories, with young girls getting pregnant, just because I'm already aware of them.]
My kindergartener's class has started learning the Pledge of Allegiance. I told him he could stay silent during the "under God" part. Am I being too strident? Would there have been a better way to handle this? [more inside]
I want to observe the Jewish holidays without going to synagogue this year. Ideas for non-traditional ways I can commemorate the holy days? [more inside]
Hi, I'm an almost lifelong athiest. I have a job interview in 3 days (was given very little notice) for a job in a church. The job is pretty community-development-ish, but they are looking for someone with some understanding of different faiths. This is the one thing they want that I'm pretty thin on. I think it would also me good to know the main commonalities of them too. Any straightforward resources would be welcome. Thanks
I have a new doctor. He has many copies of this book in his office (waiting room, examination rooms): The Urantia Book. I really did not think much of it, the doctor has a pretty good reputation (where I live that means jack). Should I be concerned? [more inside]
So I'm trying to find examples of cultures/peoples/ethnicities/religions that are significantly dissimilar to the main city/culture/groups that surround them. Like finding a group of Amish people in Detroit. Or the one someone gave me of the significant Hasidic population in the scantily clad nightlife world of South Beach. What other current examples are there in the USA and Canada of unexpected groups in unexpected places?
I'm the only copywriter at a mid-sized advertising agency. We just landed a huge job that's going to require a lot of work on my end. Here's the problem: I'm agnostic, and religion (namely Christianity) makes me really cranky and frothy. The client is a faith-based company that makes things (I don't want to say what) for churches. How can I make it through unscathed? [more inside]
I've been an atheist for most of my life. I've never been to a formal church service outside of a wedding or a funeral. Recently I've realized that I politically agree with the leftist interpretation of the teachings of Christ. I still don't believe in the supernatural aspects of the Christian faith. Would it be wrong for me to seek out a left leaning sect like Unitarians? I'm worried that this is, at the very least, intellectually dishonest to my own beliefs, and more likely, selfish for the church I'd pursue. I'm looking for guidance on how to proceed. I apologize if I've offended the faithful with a misunderstanding of their beliefs. Part of my desire for this is that of community and connection with fellow left leaning folks.
Someone I know who is about to graduate from college would like to participate in a religious community in some way and is interested in exploring hyper-progressive religious institutions in New York City (if any exist). [more inside]
Short version: my fiancé's family is involved in a cult. He left the cult while in college, but they don't know. Most people don't know, except me and a few other friends. He hasn't told his family that he left, and he says he never will. My question is, what do we do when/if they want us to be more involved in their lives, without either getting involved in the cult or letting it slip that we're not part of it? [more inside]
How to deal with a member of my daughter's girl scout troop whose religious beliefs make it difficult to engage in regular group activities? [more inside]
Suppose you had new philosophical and/or religious ideas meant to be taken seriously. Suppose they were relatively unaffiliated with any particular religious community or conventional academic conversation. Suppose you were not a celebrity. Where, particularly in New York City, would be places open to new speakers with these kinds of ideas? Where might sophisticated, sympathetic, open-minded audiences be found?
I'm drawing a short comic in which two characters visit a site that has significance to many different kinds of people, for both religious and secular reasons. I want for there to be a cluster of items that previous visitors have left behind, but I'm having trouble thinking of anything outside of my own (northeastern urban American) experience. [more inside]
Coincidence or something real? Two "relatives" have contacted me with a similar story: born to teenage mothers in Indianapolis in the 1960s or 1970s. Was there a home for unwed mothers there? [more inside]
A religious wingnut--who is also a former coworker--sent me a mildly scary email. I don't know how to respond or if I should ignore it. Details inside. [more inside]
I just finished reading Zealot, by Reza Aslan, and I found it to be a fascinating book. I'm looking for similar books! [more inside]
I saw about ten people in NYC on the A train this weekend who claimed to be the "true Jews." One of them told me that their beliefs include: (1) no conversion is accepted and (2) the people I'm used to thinking of as Jews are actually a Turkic tribe that tried to convert in the 8th century A.D. (but see (1) of course). Notably, all of them were extremely large black men (one of them had to duck to get off the train) wearing dark robes, headbands and head cloths, and carrying shoulder-height wooden sticks wrapped in black tape. Their shirts and headbands had hexagonal stars on them, and one of them had a few letters of Hebrew written on his head cloth. They were having this free-wheeling discussion from which I recognized several references to events in the Old Testament. Weirdly enough, the guy sitting next to me told me they were actually some kind of Muslim, although I don't know how much I trust that guy's opinion. Does anyone know what religion these people were from?
Kid BlahLaLa's getting to be around bar mitzvah age and I want to know what alternative, newfangled options there are out there. Is there any kind of modern bar mitzvah movement happening? Alternative bar mitzvahs? Hipster bar mitzvahs? [more inside]
My partner's 18 year old sister wants to marry her boyfriend of one year. They both live at home with their respective parents, are not planning to pursue post-secondary school, and are financially insecure (she does not work, he works part time). They have recently converted to a fundamentalist version of a new faith, and their plan is to rely on her disabled mother who would lose her benefits by caring for them - the mother is against this but of course loves her daughter. Their religious community is encouraging them (but not offering financial aid). What can we do to support her but not her decision? [more inside]
How does Arizona's SB 1062 work to protect those seeking to discriminate against others based on religious grounds? [more inside]
So, I've been trying to hash out my philosophic and intangible beliefs and I realized that the only thing I really, truly connect with in a belief sense is Nothing, the dark. To be clear, I don't mean this melodramatically, I simply mean this in the sense that I find the fact that when I close my eyes at night that the idea that, as Roger Ebert put it, "I was perfectly content before I was born" comes to mind. That there is more that does not exist in this world than does. From John Locke (blank slate ideas) to Nietzche and religion, can you good people point me very broadly in the direction of thoughts on the nothing that surrounds us? Thanks!
My eight-year old was talking about god the other day, and she said something that my first impulse was to correct, but instead I ignored it. She said, "like you, I believe in god." Problem is, I kinda don't. But I'm pretty much the only one in the family with doubts, and I'm not sure when it makes sense to reveal it, specifically to this child. The reason I have doubts about talking to her specifically about it is because she's on the spectrum, and I think that makes it harder for her, especially so young, to sustain her own beliefs. I envy people of faith, but I do not share their faith. Have you dealt with this issue? How do you handle it when you're kid's a believer, but you're not. Special snowflake details inside [more inside]
I graduated from college about 8 months ago and have since moved back to my home town to work. In those 8 months, I haven't really spent any time with folks my own age (outside of a little online dating), and to be frank, I've been lonely. By a crazy coincidence, I ran into a girl I knew in high school at a coffee shop recently, we caught up over lunch, and she invited me to her "20 somethings" bible group. Not being a religious guy, I was expecting to leave with a bad taste in my mouth and a funny story but... [more inside]
I’m trying to find a short story I read a long time ago, but google is coming up short. The story is about two strangers who meet on the road and begin talking. Through a series of questions and answers, they discover that they are both Christians, both Protestants, both from the same denomination, both from the same branch of that particular denomination, etc etc. It keeps going on this way, with the strangers discovering that they belong to the same increasingly obscure religious sect. With each new discovery, they become more friendly and excited. At the end of the story, they realize there is one small difference between them (something like one belongs to the parish across the street from the other), at which point the strangers hate each other and nearly come to blows. What is this story, and where does it come from?
How does a corporation show that it "sincerely holds a belief"? [more inside]
So we are hosting Thanksgiving. Neither one of us believe in God, and our families are very religious. Please help me with a toast. [more inside]
There's a lot of advice out there for getting over someone but I can't wrap my head around being left unexpectedly when I still feel loved. First time being broken up with at 30 doesn't help either... [more inside]
I know that Islam requires followers to perform the Hajj at least once in their lives if able... but what determines that ability? I presume it's a matter of health and financial concerns, but even so, I imagine many Muslims make great sacrifices and take significant risks for this. Are there generally-accepted measures of when it's understandable for someone not to make the Hajj, or is it all a matter of personal faith & judgment? I also know there was a time when one could send someone to more or less take their place... is that still an accepted practice? [more inside]
Is there evidence of either Orphism or the Eleusinian Mysteries in archaic Lydia? Do we have knowledge of the religion practiced by, say, Croesus, and whether or not the Lydian kings of that time were especially pious? I read somewhere that Dionysus had Anatolian roots, and I am wondering where I can learn more.
I am applying for disability and just received mail that informed be that I would have to have a mental and physical exam. I understand that this is the usual procedure. What I am not happy about is that my "mental exam" is taking place in a mega church. [more inside]
Can anyone tell me what this bumper sticker is about. I mean, clearly it's a riff on the Jesus fish, but I would like to know what the joke is (if there is one). Thanks in advance!
How have you gone about investigating your moments of childhood religious doubt as an adult? Interested in why I "gave up" Christianity but cannot remember my actual process of thoughts and feelings. Snowflake details inside. [more inside]