Episode:Religion in Depth—Social Problems (Part 1)

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October 4, 2016 (Paper 99:0-1)

Religion in the twenty-first century is of necessity called upon to face adjustment to extensive and continuing social reconstruction, but it must act as the cosmic salt which preserves the cultural savor of civilization. True religion achieves its highest social ministry when it has least connection with the secular institutions of society.


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Summary by Kermit

Commentary on Review

In reflecting on the difference between quantity and quality of thinking we noted the challenge presented by the revelators to go beyond the thought framework of legacy, tradition, and convention to pursue wisdom, insight and foresight and their application in creatively fostering and maintaining the level of civilization we’ve already attained. We also briefly examined the construction of the revelation, noting the purposeful arrangement of the papers e.g., the placement of the weighty philosophical papers immediately following the five religion papers of our current arc, thus reinforcing the superadditive consequential nature of philosophy in relation to religion (and of course science).

99:0 The Social Problems of Religion

We spent almost half of our broadcast unpacking the preface of this paper that we might be able to profitably pursue this arc on Religion in Depth from a true foundation to a real understanding of genuine religion. Understanding the first sentence of the preface: “Religion achieves its highest social ministry when it has least connection with the secular institutions of society”, is of cardinal importance in moving us away from our preconceived and erroneous opinions about religion. Religion is most effective when it serves to connect the religionist to eternity in distinction to matters temporal (secular). Further, religion is concerned with that invisible, yet nonetheless real substance: spirit. Secular institutions and, sad to record, religious institutions are concerned with issues material and temporal. In order for religion to offer anything of value in the social realm it must concern itself with the eternal and the spiritual.

What then is the problem with religion’s connection with secular institutions of society? This stems from the contemporary heightened spiritual consciousness that is falsely applied to social and material issues. These temporal concerns are embraced as ideologies and prosecuted with a religious zeal. Zeal is most properly applied to ideals. Religion is a system of ideals. Ideologies are systems of ideas.

Ideals, born of spirit in the inner life are ancestral (downstepped) to ideas which engage the outer life. The first social ministry of genuine religion is to the inner life of the individual. Subsequent to inner religious transformation, the individual is enabled to reach down and out into the social arena as a religionist socializing genuine religion, not an ideological construct.

We scrutinized the second paragraph of the preface to the paper giving special attention to the revelators’ use of the terms economics and politics. As we’ve mentioned before, economics is literally the rules of the house, while politics pertains to issues around the association of citizens of a country. The serious student of the revelation is well advised to visit the archive of this show for the particulars.

The final paragraph of the preface addresses the role of religion in facing the adjustments demanded by the accelerating pace of change in a new and ever-changing social order. Tradition and convention have posited a religion of unchanging dogma and doctrine, a religion of stasis as a substitute for the stability needed in meeting the demands of unprecedented social reconstruction. Can we find genuine religion which stands unmoved in the face of change while not being the embodiment of a false stasis?

99:1. Religion and Social Reconstruction

The expansion of mechanical inventions and dissemination of knowledge require economic adjustments and social changes in order to avoid cultural disaster. We are given a forecast timeframe of one thousand years of changes, adjustments, and readjustments on our way to a new and unrevealed planetary destiny. And we are reminded that even our celestial helpers are not sure what lies ahead what with the manifold special circumstances surrounding our world.

The second paragraph of this section is a single sentence. “Religion must become a forceful influence for moral stability and spiritual progression functioning dynamically in the midst of these ever-changing conditions and never-ending economic adjustments.” We discussed this in detail utilizing our old friends, the levels of meaning, and the hourglass analogy of the human mind.

We likewise, using the levels of meaning, unpacked the often referred to analogy of the “social ship” having steamed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition onto the high seas of evolutionary destiny. Religion’s paramount mission is to stabilize our ideals during these dangerous times of transition.

Only genuine religion can serve as the cosmic salt preventing the ferments of progression from destroying the cultural savor of civilization. Bottom up godless humanitarianism is not sufficient to result in lasting brotherhood.

Inasmuch as we covered the this section somewhat quickly, I end with the final paragraph:

“Religion must not become organically involved in the secular work of social reconstruction and economic reorganization. But it must actively keep pace with all these advances in civilization by making clear-cut and vigorous restatements of its moral mandates and spiritual precepts, its progressive philosophy of human living and transcendent survival. The spirit of religion is eternal, but the form of its expression must be restated every time the dictionary of human language is revised.”

Notes by Brad

  • This new arc will be [Paper 99], but truly the religion papers begin on [Paper 85]. We recommend the listener read from Paper 85 through Paper 92 as helpful background.
    • The order or presentation of papers in the book is in no means haphazard or accidental.
  • Religions should be oriented toward eternity. Secular is oriented toward time (that doesn't mean it's evil)
    • Likewise genuine religion is about spirit, not matter. Secular is about matter, not spirit. And matter is not evil, despite what some of us have been taught or thought.
  • Religion is about spirit. And spirit is not feelings. Spirit is a substance. It has properties, just as matter does (also a substance)
  • Religion is about getting into relation with that other substance: spirit. God is spirit (you won't find him in material affairs)
  • Get this as your frame of mind at the outset. Otherwise, if you start out assuming the secular the material is evil, you'll misunderstand this entire arc.
  • To the extent that secular (time-bound) issues and institutions has received your 6th adjutant (zeal) energy, secular and religious will be hard to disentangle.
  • Every ideology is false, because it's an idea that's had religious energy (zeal) applied to it. Zeal should be applied to ideals.
  • The first social ministry offers is to the inner life of individuals. And this is correct to come first--get the religionist's inner life transformed first, and then they can reach out successfully.
  • Does the world need even more socialization of ancient ideologies? No, it needs the socialization of real religion--personal spiritual experience direct from the upper domain of the hourglass analogy of the mind.
  • See [130:4], last paragraph to understand "political and economic culture." science (individuality) <--> politics <--> society <--> religion (unity)
  • And economics is a science. Eco + nomics==the house + laws, laws of the house. The home is the foundation of all human institutions.
    • A science with many branches (not just finance).
  • What would politics look like if it wasn't ideological (zeal misapplied)? It isn't just about the associations of people, but the associations of citizens of a country.
  • "I hate politics." What you are really sick and tired of is yet another false ideology screaming in a quasi-religious way at you.
    • Note in [Paper 72], p. 814. On a neighboring planet, what the richest man does. He is still rich (there is still capital), but there isn't the false ideology of capitalism.
  • "Religion should not be directly concerned..." Directly? No, it shouldn't. Indirectly? That's okay (as just noted above)
  • There can be no true science without true religion first creating a human with a sound inner life. Without true religion, science becomes a buffet of ideologies.
  • Religion is not escapism, an absolutized ideology. With doctrines that cannot be changed one iota.
  • Religion should not offer stasis.
  • Religion is not old-time religion, anchoring us to the past as it does. Religion is supposed to give us inner life stability even in the face of change.
  • Religion is not the second level of meaning (feelings) -- it is the 6th level of meaning. It synchronizes with the cosmos.
  • The universal harmony is the stability we seek (it is dynamic stability, not statis). But it comes down to us through the inner life, via the upper domain.
    • And we have to have this going forward, because the outer life is changing so fast.
    • You need genuine (inner life) stability, not apparent (outer life) stability of a more system or some crystallized dogmas.
  • Does "ever-changing social order" make your blood pressure rise because of how stressful the outer life's changes are?
    • The antidote is religion, as it comes down to us in the inner life, from the upper domain of the hourglass of mind.
    • That antidote is a peace that passes all understanding.
  • Even a discussion between two sincere humans about ideals... really it is a communication of ideas that are downstepped expressions of those ideals (filtered through the psychology of each individual).
    • But synchronization is possible in these conversations.
  • "Urgent" and its variants occur in The Urantia Book only a few times, and always associated with inner life spiritual things
    • Given that "urge" is a very material word, this might mean the revelators are suggesting a new source of an urge -- a top-down spiritual urge
  • The emergency we're experiencing? "We're running out of cosmic salt!"
  • More on Section 1, Paragraph 4 ("religion has no new duties"):
    • Ferments imply agitation, boiling
    • See also [114:6.5]. Angels of progress, and so-called "angels of the churches".
    • Progress dawns in our minds because spirit engages it.
    • Merely having an awareness of progress is spiritual. But we should want to be religious
    • Progressive and conservatives, on an angelic level!
    • Misunderstanding: many today believe that progressive consciousness IS religious consciousness. It's the other way around: religious consciousness is the checkmate of progressive (spiritual) consciousness.
    • True, everything has to progress. Many supermatieral entities are involved in fostering this.
    • But not so fast! In the process that of progress, don't let go of that which should be held onto. Hence, the religious guardians, and the special role of religion in society.