Thursday, September 27, 2007

This Worldly

(Btw, this picture is of a real cell phone charm you can buy on if you can't think of a birthday present for me... ;-))

In my Religion in Modern Japan class we've been studying what are called "new religions". (The new religions are basically religions that aren't the two historical religions of Japan- Buddhism and Shinto. ) There is one in particular that we focused on- Kurozumikyo, that I think is really interesting...but I'll comment on that at a later date.

One of the major critiques of religion in Japan is that it is too focused on "worldly benefits". There are multiple shrines and rituals that focus on specific needs and wants of the religious actors- for example a shrine where you can get amulets for protection of a new car. You pray to the various kami (deities) for prosperity and good fortune.

But I got to thinking- how often is Christianity subject to the same thing?

"Oh God if you just help me pass this test I promise I'll go to church every Sunday!"
"Please God, I want my team to win tonight..."
You get the picture...

What is the point of religion in the Western world? Does it help us feel more fulfilled as humans? Or do we go to church and pray simply to reap the benefits and blessing that we hope will be bestowed upon us?

I'd like to say that religion should be about fulfillment and living a better life, but then again I'm the girl who does experiments in instantaneous karma by donating to the Salvation Army and then buying a lottery ticket.

Just a thought...


RP said...

Sounds a little like the convo we had the other day. So, this new Japanese religion has specific shrines for specific things like new cars and what not??

kourtney said...

I think my biggest complaint with any religion is how easy it is to become obsessed with the rewards associated with being faithful to that religion.
I can't believe it's almost your birthday!
SO old!

lindsey said...

RP- The new religion doesn't have shrines to that effect. It's mostly Shinto shrines that sell the amulets, but I believe there are some Buddhist temples that do blessings as well. (Don't quote me on that.)

Kurozumikyo and the other new religions usually focus more on healing and cultivating harmony within your life.

Kourtney- I don't think I want to have a birthday this year. Instead it's just going to be national "Lindsey Spent A Lot Of Money on Wine Day"!