thread: 2007-02-13 : Exorcism

On 2007-02-25, MikeRM wrote:


Mike, are you implying that Maori weren't converted to Christianity? Because the history I know is different.

No such implication intended. (Though some Maori now are returning to the pagan beliefs of their ancestors, or at least a version thereof.) The prayers in a Maori context are usually Christian. My point was that this is considered part of Maori culture and thus acceptable, indeed important, even in a government context. The original pre-European Maori culture opened all important events with prayer; the conversion to Christianity changed the content of the prayer, but not the practice (is my understanding).

Writing down "no religion" on your census form doesn't mean too much in my book; people write down "Jedi Knight" too. Just because everyone practices the same religion doesn't mean they don't have one.

I think what "no religion" means to most of those who write it is that they don't have any conscious connection to any organized form of religious practice or belief. Just as, for many people, writing down "Anglican" means that if you were going to go to a church, for example to be married or have a funeral, that's the one you'd probably go to. Unless another one was more convenient. (Though over 60% of marriages and a very high percentage of funerals, I forget how many but a lot, are now taken by civil celebrants in NZ. That doesn't necessarily mean there's no religious or spiritual aspect to them, although that may be the case for some, but it does mean that no organized religion is even peripherally involved. And also, that the cultural aspects of religion, at least the Christian religion, are falling out of people's lives too.)

It's interesting looking at the way in which someone's religious background influences their assumptions about what "religion" means. I read an article by a Jewish scholar of religion in NZ a while back, and he explicitly assumed that an irreducable aspect of the practice of religion is in forming and reinforcing a community - which is not most people's experience in NZ, but is very understandable from his Jewish background. Judaism, from what I've read, puts a lot more weight on practice and community and a lot less on doctrine and individual faith than most Christian groups (something we could stand to learn from, IMO).

My own background: My parents were C&E C of E (Christmas and Easter Church of England); they took me along when they went twice a year, I got nothing from it, became consciously an atheist by age 10. At 18, through the influence of friends, I converted to evangelical Christianity and became the same kind of narrow pious zealot that Vincent depicts himself as having been. After university I trained to become a campus worker for a large American evangelical and evangelistic organization; it was a complete train wreck for various reasons, and I was much disillusioned, but kept a vestige of faith. I then spent 7 years in a very conservative non-denominational church, I think to shore my faith up with the certainties they were so good at, before realizing that there was a lot more to faith than they were presenting and following some friends to my present home, a quirky post-evangelical/alt.worship/Emerging Church congregation that does doubt, art, liturgy and mysticism a lot more than it does doctrine. After 10 years there I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting a bit of a handle on things again.

Sorry, I'm taking up far too much airspace here, I'll shut up now.


This makes...
short response
optional explanation (be brief!):

if you're human, not a spambot, type "human":