Tuesday, August 08, 2006

On The Fringes?

So, recently on a religious mailing list I read, a discussion got started along the lines of "Is [this non-mainstream non-religious practice] compatible with this religion?" And discussion ensued, some of it heated. (Specific thing elided because it's not relevant to a more general question. And I don't want to fight about it again just yet.)

But it left me with a sort of question to contemplate. I've seen people doing a lot of religious work, even to the point of changing religions, over things that were important to religious practice, but I haven't seen as much about things that are less central/essential to religious practice, where it's a matter of philosophical perspective about what works.

There's a lot of stuff that many religions won't have specific teachings on: circumstances under which one can use magic, say; what jobs are good ones for people to have; how to take care of one's front yard; what sort of sex is acceptable to have; how to prioritise work, family, self, play, and so on. And in bunches of those cases, people will do some weird stuff, and other people will say, "Nobody who does this particular weird stuff is doing the religion right. They just don't go together."

So how many other weirdos are there on the fringes? Do you feel you have to keep your strange stuff separate from religious discussions? Have you gotten support from your religious community for your strange habits, or hostility? Is the stuff that isn't intrinsically a religious practice actually part of your faith in the way you actually do it?

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