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Beyond tribalism; How well does your religious label serve you?

 
 
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 03:07 pm
I invite you to discuss the social costs and benefits of religious labels.

Do you find value in labeling yourself with your religious beliefs/non-beliefs? Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Hindu ....[I can't of course list them all... nor the various "sub"-divisions]?

Do you feel like your beliefs place you in a group?
Is your group label helping or hurting you?
Does the label help or hurt your group?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 17 • Views: 20,154 • Replies: 254

 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 03:58 pm
@MattDavis,
I took a good deal of pride in labeling myself an "Agnostic", but have come to see that the label is the source of confusion. I know take the tedious path of describing my position on Ultimate Questions.

The words "agnostic" and "atheistic" just seem to generate heat...and while I appreciate and acknowledge those who prefer to use them, I respectfully suggest that misunderstandings can best be avoided by describing a position rather than using a label.
dalehileman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:00 pm
@MattDavis,
Do you find value in labeling yourself with your religious beliefs/non-beliefs? Christian…….Hindu ....[I can't of course list them all…….?

None at all

Quote:
Do you feel like your beliefs place you in a group?
Small one to be sure

Quote:
Is your group label helping or hurting you?
No apparent effect whatever

Quote:
Does the label help or hurt your group?
No easy way to know

Matt forgive me to hell but you didn't ask the respondent's religion. For what it's worth however, probably very little hereabout, my No. 2 Son and I are apodictical existential pantheists
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:07 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Do you feel as though the "atheist" or "agnostic" labels, leave the impression of agenda to the audience?
That has been my experience. I tend to use the term "athiest" to self-describe. If it invites questions, then I respond down whatever path I feel appropriate to the asker.
I do see the "athiest" label as problematic for the "New Atheists" (Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens).
I think it makes non-religion easier to vilify.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:16 pm
@dalehileman,
Dale wrote:
Matt forgive me to hell but you didn't ask the respondent's religion.
That was intentional.
I still forgive you. Wink
Dale wrote:
For what it's worth however, probably very little hereabout, my No. 2 Son and I are apodictical existential pantheists.

I can see how the "Great Megillah" label might not play well. Wink
jespah
 
  8  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:24 pm
@MattDavis,
There is no question that people make assumptions about Jews. Or, really, about any group we identify ourselves as belonging to, whether they are Episcopalians, dog lovers, Pirates fans, dieters or karaoke enthusiasts.

I think it's a pretty universal human nature (someone will find a counterexample, I am sure) to put people in buckets. It's just easier. After all, otherwise we are conceivably dealing with big groups and we don't know how to relate. But the minute someone hums "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" or whatever, if we can hum along, too, we feel a kinship. Or we don't hum along, and label that person as lame or out of touch or maybe just someone with a tin ear.

As a Jew, I have found that people make certain auto assumptions about me, much of the time (not always), and in no particular order, here are a few -
  1. That I've been to Israel. Nope, never have.
  2. That I keep kosher. I don't eat pork; that much is true. But I definitely eat shrimp. I can, however, recite the kosher laws for ya if you're ever having trouble sleeping.
  3. That I support Israel without question. Nope, I think dumb things have been done by that government, but then again I feel that most governments commit boneheaded moves. Of course consequences vary, and some moves are considerably more egregious than others. I won't get into that debate, though.
  4. That I can speak Hebrew. I can read it, barely, sounding out the letters as if I were semi-literate. Do I understand what I'm reading? Maybe 1 - 5% of it.
  5. That I was Bat Mitzvah'd. Nope, at age 12 I was offered the choice of a Bat Mitzvah or a boy-girl party for my 13th birthday. Given how poorly I read Hebrew, I chose the latter. I think there were 2 boys at said boy-girl party and so I want a refund, dammit.
  6. That I celebrate all the holidays. Nope. We light candles for Chanukah and I do enjoy it. My mother sends us mandlebrot for Passover every year. It's yummy. Plus I'll probably buy a box o' matzoh. But I haven't been to a seder in years. As for the remainder of it, I mainly know there's a holiday as I follow Mayim Bialeck's Facebook page, and she mentions them usually (she's Orthodox, or close thereto). Otherwise, helfino what's happening on the calendar.
  7. That I automatically despise Muslims and/or Arabs. Nope, not even close. I try not to automatically love or hate anything. Except chestnuts. I love them automatically and unconditionally.
MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:26 pm
@MattDavis,
Suggested tags for this thread:
[x]Religion,
[X] Sociology,
[X] Beliefs,
[X] Label,
[X] Tribalism
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:27 pm
@MattDavis,
Quote:
Re: Frank Apisa (Post 5278643)
Do you feel as though the "atheist" or "agnostic" labels, leave the impression of agenda to the audience?


Atheist can. Agnostic normally leaves people yawning.


Quote:
That has been my experience. I tend to use the term "athiest" to self-describe. If it invites questions, then I respond down whatever path I feel appropriate to the asker.


Most Internet "atheists" are probably closer to what the general non-debating public considers "agnostic." Most atheists seem to think an agnostic must consider him/herself to be an athesit. Some atheists argue that babies are born atheists...and leave that label by choice later in life.

You may be able to explain your atheism clearly, Matt...but that is not explaining atheism.


Quote:
I do see the "athiest" label as problematic for the "New Atheists" (Daniel Dennet, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens).
I think it makes non-religion easier to vilify.


I'll stick with what I said earlier. Anyone who wants to vilify non-religion to me is going to get an argument.
dalehileman
 
  0  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:30 pm
@MattDavis,
Dale wrote:
……. didn't ask the respondent's religion.
Quote:
That was intentional. I still forgive you.
I'm blessed by the tolerance of my respondents

……..my No. 2 Son and I are apodictical existential pantheists.

Quote:
I can see how the "Great Megillah" label might not play well.
Indeed not very
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:32 pm
@jespah,
Thank you Jespah!
I appreciate you taking the time to debunk the various assumptions many take when they hear the "Jewish" label.
Jespah wrote:
Except chestnuts. I love them automatically and unconditionally.
I agree to that! Wink
0 Replies
 
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:38 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
You may be able to explain your atheism clearly, Matt...but that is not explaining atheism.
I agree that my explanations won't explain "atheism", precisely because I don't think that there should be an atheist tribe.
Whether I explain my own beliefs clearly is debatable (not a debate I am inviting at the moment). Wink
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:38 pm
I consider myself a secular Christian. I don't believe in God, but Christianity is a core part of my upbringing and culture, and Christian mythology does a reasonable job providing expressions for my values.

As you know, I have no respect the New Atheists. It is religion posing as non-religion. If you are going to push your religion on people, you should at least have the guts to admit it.

Religion is tightly bound up with culture. I suppose it is a good thing that we are becoming more skeptical and more tolerant, but in one sense I feel that we are losing something of value as we discard religion.
MattDavis
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:42 pm
@maxdancona,
Thanks Max,
How do we define what qualifies as a religion?
Should it be a core set of beliefs, or some cultural segment?
maxdancona
 
  3  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:44 pm
@MattDavis,
Religion is the set of things you accept on faith. From my religious heritage we use the words of the Apostle Paul.

Quote:
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the confidence of things we do not see.


MattDavis
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:48 pm
@maxdancona,
I think most religions would agree regarding that explanation of faith. Very Happy
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 04:49 pm
@MattDavis,
Most religions.

I certainly wouldn't, though.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 05:09 pm
@Frank Apisa,
You don't agree with the definition?

I would be interested in hearing your definitions of religion and faith.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 05:10 pm
The label 'atheist' works fine for me. It does not describe a set of beliefs or any group of people, except in the sense that American or person describes a group of people. Being atheist does not determine my values, morality, vocation or choice of a mate. It is similar to describing the sky as blue or 'I think I will go to the park today.' It does not make me feel anchorless, despairing or fearful. It just 'is.'
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 05:16 pm
@edgarblythe,
I don't know about being an atheist, but being American certainly informs your values and morality. If you put a group of 10 Americans from 2013 and 10 Huns from 450, I would be able to sort them out pretty quickly. Knowing only that you are 21st century American I can confidently state that you value liberty and equality, that you consider slavery a grave evil have a fear and disdain for dictatorships and think that hitting your wife is a bad thing (correct me if I am wrong on any of that).

We as modern Americans, for all the differences we see, have a pretty narrow set of beliefs and values compared with the spectrum of humanity.

edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2013 05:18 pm
@maxdancona,
That must be because you never venture into neighborhoods populated by Vietnamese Americans, black Americans or Mexicans, to name a few.
 

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