Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Religion of One?

Is a "religion of one" really a religion, or is it a spirituality? Does it only become a religion when other people convert to it?

A few people have mentioned their private spirituality in terms of religion of one, but the way I understand the word religion, it comes from the Latin meaning to tie or bind. I took that to mean that it's something that binds people together. So you could have a Jewish person who doesn't believe in God but is part of the Jewish culture, or a cultural Christian who celebrates Christmas and Easter with their family but doesn't believe in Jesus.

I read something a few years ago online where some people from Hawaii were making fun of neo-Pagans who've read that Scott Cunningham book about kahunas and think they're practicing Hawaiian Paganism. To them, there is no "religion", only culture and the practices of their ancestors. You could no more be practicing their "religion" than you could hang a picture of someone else's mother on your wall and claim to be her child.

At what point does a cultural practice become religious? (In China, Buddhists honor their ancestors, but ancestor worship is not actually a tenet of Buddhism, for example).

At what point does private spirituality become a religion? Is it the codifying of creeds or specific rituals?

If we each come up with our own theology, is it even theology? If we each have our own unique one, then is it still the "study of god" or has it become the "study of our individual Selves and how we relate to the Universe"?

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