Straight in at the social/cultural deep-end…

15Jun09

For almost no reason at all yesterday, me and one of my closest friends broke out into a science vs religion debate.

She is, with all my respect, whole-heartedly devout to her interpretation of her christian faith.

I now realise that to some that may be a contradiction in terms; I don’t think anyone is the perfect definition of religion, as no-one is the perfect definition of science. It’s all interpretation and application babyyyy.

Various issues arose, but I’m not here to argue one way or the other with regards to religion. My concern is with why I have these beliefs. I am, by title, a member of the Church of England.

I use the term member lightly, as I am both scarcely religious and understanding of the fact that the term member brings upon horrible connotations of some kind of higher society club; this is not my intention.

My parents did not impart on me any religious wisdom or belief, nor did they dissuade me from any teachings or understandings of any religion. This therefore leaves me with what I understand t0 be my two main sources of my faith; schooling and the mass media.

My Primary school had a vicar who was essentially adorable. A great preacher of his faith and a wizard with a guitar.

I also didn’t intend any connotations of religion meaning magic there either. I’m not great at tip-toeing, as you may be able to tell.

But in my opinion, he taught us moral lessons that all religions share as the right from the wrong, and outlined that you could find these messages in God. A tough task when you are talking to primary school children who are happy to be out of the classroom but are aching from the cold wooden floor beneath them, but a seemingly potent message that never intruded upon our ability to make informed choices.

This leaves me with the mass media; as a child, I remember walking through the door of my house during my first week of secondary school to see my mum nearly in tears in the front room. The image on the television screen? 9/11, the Twin Towers still standing but aflame. I won’t try and dive too deeply into this single example, but even at that age, one message stayed with me; that of the religious intent.

Has this influence from the mass media dissuaded me from involvement or devotion to religion? Or was it religion itself that caused me doubt, and the mass media simply provided me with what was factual information that I personally interpreted?

Some people, including me on occasion, accuse religion of being a hopeful answer to every and any question; simply the unknowns explained by higher powers.

However, is this relfected by the media? Do the mass media commonly explain the unexplained by blaming religion?

Todays society is, as we all know, plagued by violence and war. Religion is mentioned in unfathomable numbers of news articles that feature death tolls, stories of cities blow apart and children orphaned, even when they are not the main source of blame.

Religion as a definition is flawed. Extremism summarises well; it is one thing to impart belief, but to force it is to create conflict. The mass media sensationalises by blaming a religion and not the small section who inflict harm through forceful methods.

Religion, by dictionary definition, is the belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with the worship of them”. This is personal choice, and the devotion of ones-self to ones beliefs. This requires complete understanding, appreciation and welcoming of a set of rules and moral codes.

Clearly something that cannot be enforced.

The mass media has played a part in the centuries of  decline of religion, and people should have the right to choose without the influence of the sensationalised accusations of the media  that fulfil the human desire for everything to have an answer.

Not a bad first effort, I suppose. I welcome comment and debate.

*thrive upon it.

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