Acknowledging One Ultimate Path

My column in the Rhode Island Catholic, this month, takes up the question of whether every religion can be equally valid:

This brand of ecumenism reduces religion to a ritualized variation on self-help psychology. Rather than standing as an attempt to understand the world as we find it, one’s religious affiliation becomes a font of profundity for the metastasized relativism of our culture. It imprints the illusion of cosmic depth on something as superficial as “I, me, mine.”
Starting, instead, with the assertion that God has a particular nature, with implications for our behavior, we find that our moral compass sometimes directs our steps along difficult paths. In contrast, when individuals begin their contemplation of the universe with themselves, the powerful magnet of their own desires tends to pull that compass toward the paths that they wish to travel anyway.

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Monique
Editor
11 years ago

Hey, Patrick, you were right! He’s going for one of the new make-work jobs that the Obama admin is handing out.
[Andrew, thanks for the update.]

msteven
msteven
11 years ago

“Ultimately, there is no real faith without confidence in one’s beliefs, and respect for others inherently includes an interest in correcting them when something as profound as their eternal souls is at risk. Often, the best of outcomes is that they respond by attempting to correct us.”
—– I couldn’t agree more. Would it be proper, to you, to be able to replace ‘correct’ with ‘understanding’ and still keep the meaning of your article?
“Such urgency doesn’t mean that life is a high-stakes race for Truth, with the consequence for failure being eternal damnation. It means that we must make Truth a higher priority than the trappings of our lives, even when those trappings are soul-deep.”
—– I guess I really don’t see what you mean here. You seem to be walking a very fine line between the religious and secular consequences of having confidence in a faith or theological interpretation that is ‘less correct’. But then you write this —
And it is wise repeatedly to remind one’s self that developing understanding, not proving correctness, is the basic call that we should heed. After all, we must be prepared for the possibility that we’ve got some particulars wrong, ourselves.
which I find excellent and persuasive.

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

We all have our own belief of what our religion or God is like. We all believe ours is the one and true God. We all have to work it out for ourselves.
Some of us believe in a threatening, avenging deity. Some of us believe in a kinder, gentler God. We just have to deal with the differences.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

[Ahem. Sorry; wrong thread.]

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Ultimately, there is no real faith without confidence in one’s beliefs
-Katz
Is there faith without doubt? Are you so confident in your beliefs that they have for you become facts?

Don Roach
11 years ago

If you do not believe in the veracity of your faith, then it’s really just a pin you wear on your sport’s coat.
Relativism is the ultimate evil to faith and to a slightly lesser extent morality. Secularism isn’t even so much a killer as is relativism. Relativism says, “I’m ok, you’re ok” seeking to reduce the number of instances where that does not hold true at all costs.
And one of those costs is principles and faith. Faith is seen as “extremism” – not unexpected – and any ardent belief is tokenized (if that’s a word).
Justin I think you hit the nail on the head with:
“when individuals begin their contemplation of the universe with themselves, the powerful magnet of their own desires tends to pull that compass toward the paths that they wish to travel anyway.”

John
John
11 years ago

What would the world look (and act) like if any one of the “true religions” were actually able to convince the entire population to come over to their side on matters of both faith and religion?
Just wondering…

msteven
msteven
11 years ago

Don Roach:
“when individuals begin their contemplation of the universe with themselves, the powerful magnet of their own desires tends to pull that compass toward the paths that they wish to travel anyway.”
—- OK, but I thought the point of Justin’s post & article was not the contemplation of self vs. spirituality, but the importance of the pursuit of the ‘correct path’ – THE TRUE religion vs. accepting they are on one of the ‘many paths’.

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