Religion provides an experience that is larger than oneself. After our discussion on Monday and the presentations on Wednesday, this thought has rang true. Religion, throughout history, has caused tremendous conflict. Whether it be through wars, colonialism, or a passive judgement between individuals, official and unofficial religion persists. One who is devout in their religion holds it dear to his or her heart, and will often defend it relentlessly. We’ve seen conflict between Ted and his Born Again brother, we have seen conflict in the daily lives of the characters of God Needs No Passport, and with Sheela in the Rajneesh cult who poisoned 750 people. Despite the fact that many of the foundational values of dominant religions are similar, historically, people have had a tendency to find their personal beliefs superior. This trend has declined with time.
But why have people been so persistent with their religious beliefs? Religion provides an experience that is bigger than oneself. Those who were apart of Rajneesh in Oregon felt that their religion provided an opportunity to be the truest form of themselves. Their religion provided a platform for self discovery, and an opportunity to live more freely, openly and peacefully than a typical society would allow. The feeling evoked from dynamic meditation made the sannyasins feel beyond an individual living a mortal life– they felt as if they were apart of a movement and connected to a greater spiritual being. Members of the Fundamentalist Baptist Church in the film Born Again, felt a purpose in life greater than just living day to day. They felt that their life’s purpose was to live and spread the word of God, and by doing so, they were apart of a grander experience.
Religion has pulled people apart. But religion also coheres people together, with others who desire to feel something bigger than oneself, making it worth some strife.