The Value of Religion
Recently I have been having some very interesting discussions about the value of religion. So as not to further hi-jack the very worthy blog of Reverse_Vampyr (and as a not-so-subtle means of "borrowing" some of his readership), I'm starting a thread devoted to the topic.
(Note: To see the discussion in the first link I provided, you actually have to click the comments. Laborious, I know, but I couldn't figure out how to link the comments directly, sorry.)
The meat of the post will be in the comments as y'all bring in your opinions and p.o.v.s and we sling 'em around and hash it all out, preferably in an amicable and friendly manner. However, to get things started I'd like to share a bit about myself and where I'm coming from. For those of you who simply do not give a damn, feel free to jump straight into the comments section and let the wrestlin' of ideas begin! For the rest of you, here's a bit about why I value religion:
First off, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that while I am a member of an organized religion, I'm more spiritual than religious. Basically, when it comes to actually actively participating in organized religion, I suck. However, I've been spiritually inclined since before I can actually remember (literally), with my own personal form of Christianity being the meat of my spirituality the entire time. Now, there are those who'd claim this is a matter of nurture, not nature. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that's just not so. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, and while my Mom did become more of a Christian (born-again variety) as I grew into my teen-age years, I basically rejected her religion in favor of my own brand of faith. I can literally count the times I've attended church with both my parents on one hand. Actually, with one finger. Both my parents attended my first baptism, which was by my own choice and was with the Lutheran faith. Now, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
That being said, organized religion has been of great value to myself and my family in many different ways. When I first started investigating religion, I was rather lost. My parents' marriage wasn't exactly a happy one; a fact that I was hardly aware of and didn't understand at all until BAM! my parents got divorced nearly two years after I got married. But, when I was growing up, basically I didn't feel I had a whole lot of people I could trust. It wasn't true, but that's how I felt. (This also happened a few months after a rather traumatic experience, which I will only go into detail upon request.) As such, I found the welcoming atmosphere of the local Lutheran church to be very beneficial. It was an exhilarating experience to actually be able to sit down with adults and talk about anything and have them actually listen. I will readily grant that this could have been accomplished WITHOUT religion being involved, but for me that wasn't the way it happened.
Now, in my adult life, the main value of religion has been the community it has provided me and my family with, something the LDS church is actually very good about most of the time. For instance, the day I had to go in to deliver my third child through emergency inducement, it was a very loving friend from my church that drove Mark and I to the hospital at 5am. She, along with several other members of the church and my Mom, watched our two older children for us so Mark could be with me through this ordeal. Not to mention the fact that we were right in the middle of a move to our new, three-bedroom apartment. They were helping Mark pack (because I had neither the strength, nor the doctor's permission to do so) and clean in preparation for this move when I came home in tears to tell Mark that our baby's life was in danger while in utero and that I'd be going in the next morning for emergency "evacuation" procedures. All things being equal, this was a very rough time for us as a family and the ONLY way we got through it was through the grace of God manifest in the helping hands and loving hearts of our dear church family.
I could go on, but I think I've established where I'm coming from, at least well enough for the sake of discussion. I'd just like to say, in closing, that to me, the value of spirituality and the value of religion are two separate matters and I've only touched on the value of religion, not going into the value of spirituality at all. However, in this thread feel free to discuss both with equal measure. For now, I think this is depth enough for me... I wouldn't want to be accused of proselytizing, now would I?