What is Religion? Mike Sosteric (Dr. S.) Just another loud mouth sociology professor, teaching sociology courses at Athabasca University. Check me out here at the Socjourn, over there at The Conversation and at academia.edu. 3 Comments lucy on August 7, 2015 at 4:15 pm Religion as a need for control of society: I have observed groups of varying beliefs, some have obvious norms set in place to keep the group under control and behaving in accordance to the group’s standard. While at the same time, the norms or expected behaviors when not habituated from members the outcome is exclusion. It is the mantle of threat, either abide and mimic our example or be out-casted. Is it then considered a club with card carrying members? Yes, it is. Oftentimes, a member or prospect, has a moment of clarity and understanding of given norms that once appeared as Golden Rule but with new eyes and some light are glaringly abusive and binding to the human spirit. Upon this recognition of a shame based community, of course, the member flees the group and goes in search for Truth. In pursuit of utter control the religious group will go after their lost sheep in hopes to save them. A keen eye on the matter knows that it has very little to do with saving and more to do with controlling what the group(s) believes to be their right, their flock, while said lost sheep wishes they would just leave them be. Their message: Submit or die. Religion as a healthy environment for community Another group serves as a gathering, to tighten bonds within the community while discussing texts written thousands of years ago and how it might apply today. As I understand it, the Bhagavad Gita, a mythological text that tells a story of a battle as an analogy to our lives being a battle or a daily struggle. Philosophical discussions are engaged on appropriate behavior, that is, one that makes common sense and leaves the troubled individual content with the outcome. What is interesting and attractive about this group is the level of acceptance and tolerance of others even when they are trying to dismantle the group’s unity. This is nonattachment which is one of the concepts that is discussed. In my observations the power lies within the group’s togetherness or how one of its members calls it close-knit. There is no shame attached to particular parts of life that are experienced they are viewed as part of life. It is a connection among its’ people, a sense of belonging and comfort. The explanation of death is rebirth a cycle of samsara until the soul is pure to go on to Moksha or pure bliss. Both cases are example of structural functionalism; however, the observations conclude one based on control and the other founded on enlightenment. Reply Nicole on October 1, 2019 at 4:09 pm I’ve been thinking about Maslow’s Need to Know and Need to Understand in connection to one of your other articles, The Ubiquity of Mystical Experiences. I’ve had a fair share of Mystical Experiences. I regularly experience flow and peak experiences, and I’ve had a few Unity Experiences. I don’t know if I would call any of them Transcendent Experiences–maybe that’s just an unwillingness to identify them for what they were! But during these connection events, I experience deep feelings of things (the world, myself, my family, whatever) simply being OK. In other words, things are as they are, and because of this or even in spite of this, I feel connected, not worried, incredibly happy and at peace. And what’s interesting to me about these experiences, is that I am also incredibly comfortable with not needing to understand anything (everything) in that moment. I can be connected–I am a tiny speck of the universe–and I’m good with that. I don’t need to know any more than the state of my existence. In other words, I don’t need answers to the big questions like, Who am I, Where do I come from, What is the purpose of life. I wonder if there would still be organized religion if more of us could experience a state of being OK–of being content, happy, loving, and loved–regularly? Isn’t that what people are really looking for? Reply Michael S. on October 3, 2019 at 2:07 pm Hi Nicole. What awesome questions. I think religion serves a number of functions. It provides a social experience, for one. It and its ideologies are weapons in elite efforts to control and suppress. And it provides a certain set of answers to the big questions of life. In some cases, specifically those not colonized by elite actors, it may also provide guidance on how to achieve connection–Zen Buddhism for example. Given the breadth of its function, I don’t think religion would go away either if our love, acceptance, and safety needs were met. Certain types of religion might, especially those that offer Church God. But religion in general would probably stick around. I do think though that religions could be considerably “reconfigured” in order to do a much better job of assisting with the satisfaction of the “higher” needs for power, alignment, and connection. Does this make sense? Answer your questions? Reply Submit a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.