Author Topic: Ability of religions to morph?  (Read 992 times)

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Online Desert Fox

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Ability of religions to morph?
« on: May 09, 2018, 07:31:40 PM »
I listen to a podcast called "Naked Mormonism"

The host is talking about how Joseph Smith was able to change beliefs.

Most of the people who joined Mormonism were Christian of one stripe or another. It also appears as if the early Church was only a little different than normal Christianity.

Somehow though, he was able to make changes in the belief structure that would have been alien, maybe even repellent to what these  original beliefs. This includes going away from Trinitarianism, belief in being able to become gods yourself,  and polygamy.

I think we are seeing something similar with fundamentalists  trimming their sails to many things with Trump.

I am wondering if this can be used in some manner?
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2018, 07:48:44 AM »
The shift of American evangelicals to cultural extremists comes to mind. Many cults also start by attracting or recruiting from an existing religion, like the Branch Davidians. Others that morphed like Mormonism include Japanese Jodi Shinshu Buddism. The key component seems to be that a related uniting idea or charismatic figure rises and is able to bring people to them and create a schism until the new group feels different enough to separate. Falwell did this with evangelicals by playing on racism, turning that into the war on Christianity and encouraging the schism between Catholics and evangelicals.

It could be used, but I don't think it's a primary methodology. There are seats of Islam that essentially say the same thing Christians do; the wars and violence then was a direct command, but it's not Allah's plan now. I don't know that outside encouragement to embrace a particular sect can be successful aside from allying with groups and countries politically. Frankly I'm not sure we're as good at that sort of manipulation as we think.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 07:51:17 AM by SkeptiQueer »
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Offline seamas

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2018, 11:38:22 AM »
I think it is also fascinating how different characters in different religions morph.

The character of Satan comes to mind. Probably a god or demigod in one of the many religions of ancient Mesopotamia, but took on all sorts of other attributes in religions that evolved from there. Satan is regarded quite differently in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and even more so in non-Abrahamic Religions (like Yadzidi). The Islamic version probably derives as much from various pre-mohamed Arabic faiths, whilc the Christian version seems to have merged all manners of devils (Lucifer, etc) into one character, with a bit of Greek/Roman attributes as well.

Same goes for some of the stories, Gigamesh gets told over and over again, and like a game of telephone it becomes Noah and Jonah and other stories.

Online Desert Fox

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 07:24:02 PM »
What I am wondering if there is a way of targeting religious leaders with some moderate views and cultivate them into a different direction? Of course the "how" is the real issue.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2018, 01:57:43 AM »
Yes, religion morphs - generally to become more progressive, although the trend recently especially in America is in the other direction. Problem is that the progression is sloooow. Rarely has it been more true that the regressive leaders need to grow old and die before change can occur.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2018, 08:00:31 AM »
What I am wondering if there is a way of targeting religious leaders with some moderate views and cultivate them into a different direction? Of course the "how" is the real issue.

My go-to example here is to compare a female Massachusetts Episcopalian with a male Alabama Baptist. I can't think of any substantive social or theological issue on which they would agree. Which is the Christian?

When you trace the history of modern Evangelicalism, it is Southern Pentecostalism cleaned up for mass market appeal. Sociologically I see here Southern cultural grievance repackaged for northerners and westerners. More recently, New Testament "God language" is too uncomfortable, so they increasingly cite Old Testament language about sex and autocratic Kings.

In short, the "God language" is the malleable cover for social grouping.

This also applies to things like the civil rights movement, which I am sympathetic to. Most of the Bible has awful stuff on social justice, but MLK extracted from Amos and others to add "God language" to a social movement.
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Online Desert Fox

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 01:02:06 PM »
There are a lot of values with most Southern White Evangelicals that go against the Bible.
One of these is that while Jesus spoke of charity, these Christians are strongly against it.

While I am sure that there is some of both, is the values of these Christians more strongly a case of their own values and ministers taking that position to align with them or where ministers molds the beliefs of the parishioners?

"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2018, 01:17:20 PM »
I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find a church that opposes charity.  They may oppose certain kinds of charity but that is a bit different from being "strongly against" charity.

Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2018, 05:01:29 PM »
There are a lot of values with most Southern White Evangelicals that go against the Bible.
One of these is that while Jesus spoke of charity, these Christians are strongly against it.

While I am sure that there is some of both, is the values of these Christians more strongly a case of their own values and ministers taking that position to align with them or where ministers molds the beliefs of the parishioners?

Since my long-standing view is that culture drives religion, I would say yes. It is pretty easy to document the scriptural and doctrinal twists and turns conservative ministers are doing these days to support Trump.
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Online Desert Fox

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2018, 06:27:45 PM »
Since my long-standing view is that culture drives religion, I would say yes. It is pretty easy to document the scriptural and doctrinal twists and turns conservative ministers are doing these days to support Trump.

So once the conservative ministers got their hooks into the conservative base, they can effectively lead them by the nose.
Look to put those ministers under Wonder Woman's lasso and see what they really believe.

"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll

Offline John Albert

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2018, 06:37:29 PM »
Yes, religion morphs - generally to become more progressive, although the trend recently especially in America is in the other direction. Problem is that the progression is sloooow. Rarely has it been more true that the regressive leaders need to grow old and die before change can occur.

Religions generally don't progress on their own. Any new ideas that religions embrace is nearly always a byproduct of progress already made in other areas of society.

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2018, 04:59:47 PM »
Yes, religion morphs - generally to become more progressive, although the trend recently especially in America is in the other direction. Problem is that the progression is sloooow. Rarely has it been more true that the regressive leaders need to grow old and die before change can occur.

Religions generally don't progress on their own. Any new ideas that religions embrace is nearly always a byproduct of progress already made in other areas of society.
True, but that doesn't contradict what I said - it's just another aspect that I didn't mention.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2018, 02:43:29 PM »
Yes, religion morphs - generally to become more progressive, although the trend recently especially in America is in the other direction. Problem is that the progression is sloooow. Rarely has it been more true that the regressive leaders need to grow old and die before change can occur.

Religions generally don't progress on their own. Any new ideas that religions embrace is nearly always a byproduct of progress already made in other areas of society.

True, but that doesn't contradict what I said - it's just another aspect that I didn't mention.

It's not just another aspect, it's a cause-effect relationship. Religion doesn't progress on its own. When it does change its views and teachings to become more progressive, that happens in response to external social forces outside of its control.

Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2018, 04:35:44 PM »
The modern Evangelical movement has its roots in a "cleaned up" Assemblies of God tradition, which has strong southern roots. The AOG had  a "holy roller" reputation into the 1960s, but also had more freedom in their music (southern Gospel and bluegrass back then). They also had a loose tie to both individual congregations and licensing of ministers. So in the late 60s and early 70s some Southern California AOG Ministers started adapting to "the kid's music" and the Calvary Chapel was born in LA, which attracted musicians like Richie Furay from Buffalo Springfield and Poco.

Furay is a Calvary Chapel minister to this day, based in Colorado.

In the early 70s I met one of these bands, called the Archers, who were AOG preacher's kids who got some of the best SoCal musicians to record with them, creating some innovative rock-gospel music with Black Gospel tinges.

So culturally, this is still southern when it comes to a focus on "salvation" rather than social Gospel. And still very white, even after appropriating Black Gospel music.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: Ability of religions to morph?
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2018, 04:45:04 PM »
Here is an example of The Archers early Christian Rock, with a song about rapture. Musicians like Lee Rittenaur, Billy Preston, and Jim Keltner played on their recordings. One of the first combinations of top-flight production and backup artists with fundamentalist theology.


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