Cleaning Your Religious House

Here I drew a Buddhist monk but I could just as easily drawn a Christian in their Sunday best, a Muslim, a Jew,  a Zen lay practitioner or any religious person.  Though a believer may not identify with the conservative, fundamentalist or exclusivist elements of those claiming their same religion, unless the believer is not seen fervently disagreeing with those elements in their faith, then they may be seen as empowering those faults.

Question for readers:  What other words would you have added to the cleaning effort?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

15 responses to “Cleaning Your Religious House

  1. Dan Gurney


  2. Interesting, Dan. Why did you choose “sectarianism”. I don’t see splits in the orthodoxy as bad — it might be corrective and helpful. I hear religious folks using ‘sectarianism’ as a bad term because they want the word they use for their religion (“Christianity”, “Buddhism”, “Islam”…) to be non-ambiguous and too have no strife. But disagreement is healthy and should not be suppressed. Or did you mean something else?

  3. I was thinking “dogma,” but more specifically the dogma which is dated, not matching up with knowledge, such as a young earth.

    Regarding sectarianism, it may be both good and bad, I think. In a sense, sectarianism is “fervently disagreeing with those elements in their faith,” but it also causes people to essentially forget about the wrong viewpoints of the other sects and worry more about their own “house.” Does that make sense? What do you think?

  4. I’d quite flatly say sanctimony. The pious who feel they’re above everyone else quickly turn hypocritical and even flaunt their phony power. The Catholic Church right now could have their pictures next to it in Wikipedia.

  5. CRL

    I would say hate, denial, and ignorance could use cleaning as well. (Sanctimony and dogma are great examples as well!)

  6. @ The Wise Fool :
    I guess “dogma” means “doubt phobic”, or “no questioning”. To that degree, I agree. But if dogma means established beliefs, I don’t have trouble with that — as long as the beliefs can be challenged.

    I don’t follow what you mean about sectarianism.

    @ amelie :
    “Sanctimony” — Yes, indeed !!
    I wrote a post all about how that is a major fault of religion. “The Sanctification Cloak“. Darn, I wish I had put it in the dirt. 🙂

    @ CRL :
    Yep, of course. Those are great. “Denial” is a bit awkward, though I could imagine nuances of it.

  7. As I understand it, splintering off into a sect occurs because you have a different interpretation of the Scripture than your home church. So, in that way, you are fighting against the elements of the faith you disagree with.

    However, when you are in your own sect, or denomination, you may not worry about Christianity as a whole, anymore, and just promote your sect and work to establish its purity.

    Does that help, or have I messed up my terminology?

  8. @ The Wise Fool,
    Yeah, that is how I understand the phenomena of sect formation. So this is one of those abstract words having lots of uses:
    (1) The phenomena of sect formation
    (2) A pejorative word criticizing the “excessive” criticism of sects other than your own. Thus, encouraging unity of an overall group. <– problem with this is that the majority prefer this attitude in order to keep allegiance to something as opposed to something else. So, "Keep your denomination, but realize you are Christian and NOT Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist."
    See the problem.
    So the pejorative use of this word has its own control issues.

  9. Thanks for the discussion about sects. You get it.

    Here’s another thing to sweep out: Hubris.

  10. I don’t know if this is a word or not, but:
    Completism – the idea that my worldview wholly and accurately encompasses reality. It’s related, I guess, to hubris, sanctimony and dogma.

    We’re always working with incomplete information, right?

    Also tempted to suggest:

    Love the idea of a wrecking ball swinging wildly through cherished assumptions. 🙂

  11. @ Dan,
    So if you are right, and I “get” the sectarian thing, then you could see why I wouldn’t want it in the list. The word is used by the orthodox majority to control splinter groups. I like freedom of groups to splinter. Likewise I consider myself a Federalist in terms of State Rights.

    Concerning “Hubris” — I have no problem with any group: Buddhists, Christians, Atheists being proud of their system or their insights or their life style. I guess “hubris” means “too proud” and I have seen that word used inappropriately against others. “Anger” too would be such a word. For example, to be angry against injustice does not seem inappropriate to me. So I’d be a little cautious in those realms.

    I do Sanctimony (squashing questioning with holy talk) is Should be added. I am even thinking of “Eternalism” but that is a bit too focused, perhaps.

    @ Andrew,
    Indeed, “completism” is a horrible pitfall. “conservativism” is “not wanting to change” and sort of touches on that, Dan’s “hubris” probably touches on that as does “dogma”. “Frozen” may be a good word. But freezing what has proven good and effective so as not to change at any whim is a good strategy too. It is all so complicated. I guess single words will always be loaded with trouble, eh?

  12. I would have added “homophobia,” “misogyny,” “violence,” and “ethnocentrism,” to name a few. I like this cartoon.

  13. @ Ahab,

    Under “Suppression”, I meant ‘homophobia, misogyny, violence … to name a few’.

    “ethnocentrism”, likewise, would fall under “exclusivism”.

    But your comments and others above have given me an idea how to alter the drawing a little and supplement the post which I hope to do in a few days.

    “Why bother?”, you may ask. Well, because I use this blog as a notebook and hope to build on it as I correct, polish and refine pages and ideas. Then later, put them in perhaps more useful packages. So thanks to everyone.

  14. ‘Realization’ – as in ‘highly realized master’ in Buddhist, Vedanta and probably Esoterc circles. Also used for labelling someone as ‘having no realization’. Source of one-upmanship in communities, appeal to authority in debates and scandals concerning money, power and sex (‘But he is/was a highly realized master!’).

  15. @ roni,
    I agree, in Buddhism, the “realized master” myth fits under superstition and magic.

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