by Liam Hawkes
Religion gets a pretty bad rep in the media, and some of the time it is justified. The following reflections are not intended to directly deal with the oppressive histories (and some present-days) of particular religious doctrines. Instead I want to reflect on the structure and nature of faith and spirituality, to investigate the effect it can have on our everyday lives. These reflections are in part inspired by my experiences of the faith of others, looking from the outside. This semi-voyeuristic experience of faith and spirituality led me to question the structure and direction of my own beliefs and how they could be grounded in a kind of blind faith.
I do not want to claim that religion is just a passive component of a believers’ personality, because a lot of the time it very much defines and shapes their understanding of themselves, and their world. No matter what history faith has had, or the extremes fundamentalists go to, or the religious violence which has permeated human history, there is something fundamentally fascinating, and ultimately useful, about faith and spirituality. I think that a knowledge of the comparative structures of religions and experiences of spirituality can enrich our lives, and we should not ridicule or dismiss those with strong faith in their religion.