Religion Is A Multifaceted Social Thesis

Religion may have been part of my identity when I was younger, but has since played a more minor role in how I present myself to the world. On the other hand, religion plays a more salient role in my metaphysical and cosmological beliefs. I appreciate the role of religion in helping human beings ask probing questions about the nature of the universe, the soul, and human consciousness. While I do not feel that religion has all the answers to such serious questions, I do like how religion attempts to address them. Religious traditions occasionally become the symbolic vehicles with which to contemplate mystical issues. For example, the holiday of Easter asks all Christians to ponder the meaning of life and death and the possibility of resurrection. A person does not have to be a Christian to appreciate the underlying meaning of such a religious tradition. Traditions help sustain religions. Without traditions, religions would easily fall apart. Practioners keep their religion alive by passing on traditions throughout multiple generations. In some ways, traditions are the most concrete aspects of any religion. Traditions create opportunities for social gatherings such as religious holidays or Sabbath days. Traditions also create opportunities for personal rituals, prayer, and meditation. For example, some Catholic people keep rosary beads and others decorate their homes with religious relics. Most persons, even most believers, do not necessarily appreciate the more esoteric functions of a religion. The traditions are far more accessible ways to connect with the core values and beliefs of a religious tradition. People can usually relate more easily to a family feast than to a passage in the Bible. The feast reminds us of our cultural identity, without needing to analyze our beliefs in God.

Being knowledgeable about other people's beliefs and attitudes towards religion makes us skillfully open-minded. We can hold fast to our personal convictions and still be interested in and accepting of other people's...

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Differences in belief prevent the world from becoming homogenous; we are permitted to exercise our minds and to entertain nuances of thought and feeling. Being knowledgeable about other people's beliefs and attitudes towards religions helps us understand why others communicate differently, have different worldviews, behave differently, or hold different political beliefs. Instead of judging we can learn from each other.
My religious belief system has been shaped by my past. However, my personal religious beliefs are likely to evolve as I change as a human being. Encounters with new friends from various cultures help me formulate a religious identity that is meaningful to me personally. At the same time, I am finding it increasingly helpful to honor the role of tradition in my life. Religious traditions tie me to my family and keep me connected with them emotionally. I would not let go of my religious traditions in fear of offending my family, and I feel like I will continually learn and grow by learning more about my Catholic heritage.

Religious beliefs are fundamentally personal, even as they are socially meaningful. Because religion is driven by emotion as well as a need to create social boundaries, I do not believe that religious beliefs should inform politics. Ethics and morals can exist well without being informed by a religious authority, especially in a society as diverse as America's. Religion is about more than God; religion is a powerful social, cultural, political, and psychological force.

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