Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World by Barbara   O'Brien

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Barbara   O'Brien
Ten Directions
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Does religion have something positive to offer the 21st century (and beyond)? Or is it a vestige of the Iron Age that ought to be contained in museums, preferably under bell jars? More critically, is it even possible to be religious and also be a rational and entirely modern participant in 21st-century civilization? Is it possible to live a devotional, religious life today without denying science or otherwise being assimilated by some religious-authoritarian Borg? Rethinking Religion argues that today’s clown-shoes religiosity is an infantile caricature of religion that the great theologians, scholars, saints and sages of the past wouldn’t recognize as religion at all. Religion may be salvageable, and may even be beneficial, but only if we can rediscover what it is and how to make use of it. Rethinking Religion is a proposal for how we might do that. This book is not written from any one sectarian position. The author was raised Christian in the Bible Belt, but she has been a formal student of Soto Zen Buddhism for many years and is currently the expert on Buddhism for the reference website The perspectives in Rethinking Religion apply to all the world’s religious great religious traditions — Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and the rest of them. The author also is supportive of atheism and does not think everyone has to be religious. Along the way, the author explains why Christian megachurches turn Christ into McJesus; why being “spiritual but not religious” may not be a good idea; why Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Burma (Myanmar) are turning violent; and why people join cults and believe ridiculous things. This book also challenges assumptions — why “faith” is not the same as “belief”; why some atheists aren’t nearly skeptical enough; why “reality” may not be what you think it is; why morality doesn’t have to be tied to religion; and why there may be a God, but if so, God isn’t God — or at least, any God you can imagine. Today, most of the ongoing violent conflicts around the globe have a connection to religion. Recent studies reveal that religion-based violence is on the rise, in fact. In many ways religion has become a millstone around humanity’s neck, holding us back from our potential to live in peace and harmony and enjoy the blessings of science. Rethinking Religion will show you that it doesn’t have to be this way, and argues that enlightened religion is the most effective weapon against oppressive and stupid religion.


Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World

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