Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Actions - Religious or not Religious?

This is a spin off of a spun off thread about religious actions. I wrote in response to Randall

1) repeatability - ones does the same thing, in roughly the same way on a regular basis.

2) purpose - one does an action or says something for a purpose that is specifically related to the religious experience.+++

I had trouble getting #2 to sound right, and I'm still not happy with it. I think a few examples might help to explain why an action could be either religious or could be non-religious.

Candles. Lighting candles is very common in a number of religions around the world. It is also common means of light, especially mood lighting.

I contend, that for lighting candles to be a religious action, that there has to be more than just lighting a candle. Options include, but are not limited to:

- lighting a candle in front of a religious object. such as statue, picture, symbol, idol.

- saying a prayer (even silently) when lighting the candle, whether before, during or afterward.

- using the candle in a religious ritual, even if only for light. such as a candle lit procession into a religious ritual, or to light the ritual area specifically in lieu of electric light.

Just lighting candles in various rooms without this something else is not a religious action. It's something else, maybe psychological or mood.

Other such examples might include drumming.

A counter example would be offerings. It's an offering to leave food out, or pour it on the ground when done like the above candle. It's laziness or littering to just leave it outside or pour it down the drain.

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