Sunday, October 18, 2009

Religion the opium of the masses

I apologize for the lack of postings here the last two weeks. I have been very busy at work and in my personal life.

We had our second worship service at the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship last Sunday, 10/11/09, which went very well. Starting a new church with all volunteer labor takes a lot of time. It is going well because we have such a great team of folks, but I am very aware of not wanting to burn people out, myself included.

My class on the Sociology of Religion is going well and on Wednesday I had to turn in my first paper on Peter Berger's notion of social construction and how, using this model, society has given rise to religion. I love Peter Berger, but his writings are probably not for the common person. His ideas while very powerful are sophisticated and counter intuitive which made them difficult for people who are rigid thinkers and not willing to adopt and attitude of curiosity and flexibility in his/her search for truth and meaning.

Berger's basic idea is that what we know as society, including religion, is a social construction, that is, we as humans just make the stuff up. Being socialized into the values, beliefs, and practices of society, we experience them as "real" but they are simply social constructions. When we believe in social objects as "real" like natural phenomenon like gravity and rain, we give up our freedom.

Human beings are conditioned by their society and this conditioning while, at times, can be constraining and frustrating, for the most part provides us with a sense of order and security to protect us from the chaos which terrifies us. In this sense religion is the opium of the masses. The smartest among us know all this and manipulates the fears of others to their advantage and these manipulators have become part of the clergy or ministerial classes who often are in alliance with politicians to control society.

It is interesting how the multitudes will subjugate themselves, often against their own interest, when they are told that the clergy speak for God and that they and they alone know what God wants.

Humans in their insecurity are very willing to abdicate responsibility for their own welfare and put them in the hands of others.

And so religion was born and flourishes.

Our last class was on religion and social stratification which takes these ideas a step further.

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