Religious traditions are needed. They help to maintain a moral code. Also these traditions should be questioned; especially if the reason for the tradition is no longer needed. However, there is a danger in doing this when the traditions are intimately connected within a legal system.
The biggest problem with the question of religious tradition within our own culture, is the western definition of Christianity, as this is, on the whole, in-accurate. A one good example of its innacuracy from its oriogins are seen in the issue relating the definition of where heaven is. The Judaic\ early Christian & Islamic teachings, place heaven closer to earth, and the texts themselves almost hint at an alternate dimension, which is inhabited by God and the angels and the Devil and his deamons. Heaven and hell are around us, and we have a choice as to what world or universe we want. God is intimate, and close. God is in the room with you. Whereas the late Christian/Hellenic European conception, places heaven in the sky above our heads; and is somewhere where we go when we die. This subconciosuly separates God and the Devil from the planet earth, and places him at a distance, making a huge conceptual change as to where God is and how he can interact with humanity.
This can be traced back to the Christian Philosopher St Augustine; whose ideas are connected closely to Platonic thinking. But this is not the only difference between the early church and the later versions of Christianity as it has grown and constantly questioned itself. But its more complex than that. The earliest forms of christianity embraced what many would term as socialism living inn what would be termed during roman times as anarchich communes would be regarded as today.
The communities that grew in jerusalem in Antioch and Rome, were diverse yet, they shared their income and their lives together. They shared meals together, cared for the poor and the destitute, and took on many rolls that our government through the health service, social services and benefit agencies and drug and alcohol support services do now. yet all this was lostas the church began to question itself.
But why does it question itself? why do people enter into dissent with it? and What drives this dissent? Is it simply a Christian issue or is it a faith issue as a whole? and why are other belief systems (including where Christianity came from) not being attacked as much as Christianity?
when it comes to analysing the patterns of tradition and dissent, especially in Christianity There seems to be a complex pattern. Reason flows from enlightenment towards tradition, then into discouse before entering into disscent, then through more discourse and reason, it then splinters off into another direction and towards enlightenment once more…
So discourse and reason are the links in the chain… they fuel the flames of the argument that lead to dissent or stabilise the position from enlightenment that leads to the making of a tradition. But as the dissent flows into enlightenment it does not return to its original position. therefore the pattern is not directly circular. There is, in fact, a spiral, as each step of enlightenment leads down a different path from the one before it. if this does not happen, then Christianity stagnates… here I cite the Sandamainian faith, that became obelete in the 1980’s as an example.
A reflective dissenting faith needs individuals to connect with or splinter from it, thus driving its ongoing purpose.
If there is a spiral of religious tradition and dissent within Christianity, does this exist within other belief systems? The issue rests in both the worship and in the issue of enlightenment.
In analysing Bhuddism and Hinduism, and pagan belief systems, the structure of the belief is different.
This happens partly because the traditions have had a longer period of time to develop. Both Bhuddism and Hinduism are a great deal older than Christianity and Islam. The first monotheistc faith being zorasterism, came from India. However, unlike Chrsitainity and Islam, enlightenment in Hinduism and Bhuddism occurs once the spirit has left the body; and this leads back to earth. Moreover both Bhuddism and hinduism are not directly conneceted to the legal system, to rienforce its moral code, so there is no room to form questions that will lead to dissent. In Judeaism the religion is conneceted to the nation through the blood line, making the faith systematically connected to the nation; and therefore the legal system Islam tries to do this, but fails, as Islam and Chrisitianity are a reflective form of faith and come from a position of reflective dissent away from the Judeic tradition; and though pagan belief systems are connected to the similar pattern as that of both Bhuddism and Hinduism, they rely upon enlightenment upon earth and leave themselves open to dissent both from outside belief systems as in Christianity and Islam, but also from within itself. In Chrsitianity and Islam once enlightenment happens there is path that must be followed, if this path is not followed than God will be displeased. it is this path that leads to traditions that become questioned with discourse and reason and then lead to dissent.
However there is a pyramidical structure within forms of Buddhism and Hinduism as tradition in combination with reason will eventually lead to enlightenment. Therefore Bhudihism and forms of hinduism are a far more stable base for the growth of a tradition held society; and therefore a stronger base to form a stable society from. The traditions maintain balance and take human frailties into account.; and though there are dissenting issues relating to Buddhism, the effect of the issues of dissent are less fracturing; partly due to the the position of enlightenment… within Christianity as with Islam, enlightenment can be reached here on earth; this leads to problems relating to the position of enlightenment, because ifenlightenment is reached here on earth, then the only position to go towards is to a position of dissent. It also has to be said that without the concept of Grace there would be no church at all.
there are two real types of worship structure Structure A and structure B
Structure A uses the sacred space, the awe and specatle it captivates to egange it's believers. It uses colour within the sacred space, implying that the sacred spaces are a heirophany, and enter this world from another; thus creating a sense of empowerment and identity for the believers. This creates a sense of law and order through spectacle and awe.
Structure B does not consider the sacred space as a key to worship. It is teaching based and is centered upon one individual who teaches and relies upon empowering the individual, through following a set of rules or commands. Thus creating empowerment and a sense of identity for the believers. This creates a sense of law and order through following rules.
Islam and the protestant form of christianity use structure B wheras Catholicism, Bhuddism and hinduism as well as forms of pagan worship use structure A.
Legal framework reflective dissenting faith and the traditions of the church questioned.
the legal framework that exists within the moral tradition of Christianity has existed before Christianity came to the fore. The ten commandments are the basis of Jewish religious tradition, But the biggest problem within Christianity has been its connection to this legal framework. This connection began in the United Kingdom before the reformation, in 904 BCE.where worship and rule of law were connected to the worship structure A. However, after the reformation, and the dissent that followed; the worship structure changed dramatically from structure A to structure B, splintering off the concept of awe and leaving a hole that Grace sadly could not completely fill.
As with the Birth of Christianity, the reformation set about creating a reflective dissenting faith. But this is not new to Christianity ,as it began a reflective disseniting faith that was opposed to the Jewish religious tradition.
A reflective dissenting faith is my term to discribe a faith that has been formed through a reflection of another form of worship and or tradition... it is surprising that a faith so opposed to the Jewish tradition should have at its heart the seme set of commandments that are unable for humanity to live by, except through the grace of God. A lot of this is due to the connections of Christ's teachings. Of that there is no doubt. However this is increasingly problematic when the linking of the legal framework to Christian teaching. And this was not solely an English problem. The whole of Europe developed the same legal framework connected to the Christian church, and this goes back as far as the latter days of the Roman Empire, under the rule of emperor Constantine. For once the Roman empire became Christian, then power moved from law and order through armies, to power and control through priests.
Therfore the reformation was bound to happen. But once the stability of the Roman Catholic traditions came into question it became impossible to remove these same traditions at the heart of Anglican worship it also led to further splinter’s of dissent up to -and beyond- the industrial revolution.
Religious tradition and the rule of law. Tradition and dissent within faith systems.
To fully understand the question, it is best to define precisely what tradition, what religion andtherefore what religious tradition mean; what function they serve, and where they function; before moving on to what these religious traditions are, and how they have been questioned; and finally whether it was right to do so.
Marcel Sarot in his paper “counterfactuals and the invention of religious traditions” cites Eric Hobsbawm, and his paper “the invention of tradition” to define a tradition as:- “a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behaviour by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past.” (1) So it is valid to suggest that these traditions help maintain a sense of order, and through the repetition of behaviour patterns help to maintain both a moral and ethical sense of behaviour and provide a sense of identity for individuals.
Religion can be best defined as “a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life.” (2) Therefore it would also be valid to define religious tradition as a set of rules and beliefs, practiced and ritualistic in nature, that helps a group of individuals come to a position of understanding with the ultimate problems relating to the human condition of life, death and the possibility of the hereafter.
The function it serves is also three fold; providing a moral code, a sense of purpose and finally a sense of identity to individuals who choose to take an active role within their chosen belief system.
There are a great many belief systems in the world today. they grow and blossom and die off if they fail to enter the cycle of enlighenment. I have chosen to analyse Christianity as its traditions are central to our legal system and therfore need a greater deal of analytical study than say pagan forms of worship or islam and hinduism.
There are seven religious traditions at the heart of Roman Catholicism that are practiced by Roman Catholic Churches in England today. And these traditions have not changed since the catholic church was named. They are all symbolic acts, that reflect a connection for the believer towards the spirit of the divine being who is worshipped.
“To be defined as valid, the sacraments should have the correct matter (or material sign) form (or formula of administration) and intention (to do what the church intends). This therefore guarantees that grace is conveyed whatever the personal character of the priest. “ (3). These sacraments are EUCHARIST, or the mass, a service where bread and wine is transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the BAPTISM, that involves the immersion of water, the CONFIRMATION where an individual reaffirms the promises that were made at the baptism, an act of PENANCE, that deals with sin after baptism the act MATRIMONY, or the marriage ceremony the act of EXTREME UNCATION for an individual upon the point of death and PRIESTLY ORDINATION, where individuals are invited to join the priesthood. (4)These all take place within a defined sacred space.
John Woolfe defines sacred space clearly as a “place that is set apart from the everyday world for ritual and devotional purposes” (5) He goes on to say, that “This can take any form, either a tree or a bit of woodland, in the case of English Christianity, and especially Roman Catholicism, the sacred space is defined as being the church building, or an environment designed to create a sense of awe and reverence.” (6) Also I feel it is valid to state that this is not uncommon. Other forms of faith have religious traditions, tied into their sacred spaces. Several forms of Hindu worship and Buddhist worship also contain strong divine imagery, designed to create a sense of awe. Despite that, the due use of the sacred space for Christian worship in this country, is mainly defined as a church. So this leads me to conclude that the church building itself is also a part of the Catholic tradition in England, and especially to worship, and society in this country prior to the reformation. This is seen clearly in the very vivid description given by Roger Martyn in his description of Church life. (7)
These traditional religious values came into a position of dissent from within the Catholic church itself in the year 1517 (8) with Martyn Luther’s posting of the “ninety five Theses” upon the door of the Castle church in Wittenburg. (9)
The reformation has to be analysed quite deeply. It was not about Christian and non-Christian arguing over a position of faith. For both sides believed -and still do- in the authority of Jesus Christ. It was Christian fighting with Christian over issues relating to the invented traditions that had been set up.(10) This also has to be analysed taking into consideration the changing times, the growth of the printing press. And William Tyndale’s new-testament, that gave the opportunity for education on a more general scale; as well as a means to give support to Martyn Luther’s ideas. (11)
However it also has to be stated that the traditions of the Catholic Church are visual for a reason. Though it is hard to do a poll of Tudor England, I think it is generally considered accurate that most people who lived during the early part of the reformation were illiterate. The Society at the time was mainly rural and the land was owned mainly by monasteries or nunneries. Therefore to maintain a sense of order and control, the laws of the Ten commandments were an add on to the splendour of the religious spectacle, making people want to attempt to keep to the laws within the social structure; therefore it was natural to be a part of a huge symbolic ritualistic religious meeting, and important to the social structure and cohesion of the slowly developing society at the time.
In relating these religious traditions to the present day, it could be argued that to be a part of a special service in a beautiful building and feeling awe and reverence towards a deity is also something positive. in analysing the issues relating to the position of questioning these traditions, it has to be said that there is something far deeper going on here.
In his book “the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism,” Max Weber suggests that the reformation, had more to do with the balance of power shifting away from the monasteries and the culture and lifestyle it provided towards a more material and monetarist, or capitalist society. He states: “The emancipation from economic traditionalism, appears no doubt to be a factor which would greatly strengthen the tendency to doubt the sanctity of the religious tradition as of all traditional authorities.” (12), so it would be fair to state that the reformation meant not the elimination of the churches control over everyday life, but rather the substitution of one from of control for another. A control that Weber describes had become “very lax”, possibly giving opportunity to question and reform a system that had become corrupt and lacking social direction. (13)
In some ways this was positive, as it gave rise to a group of people who could not fit in with the theocratic system at the time. It provided an opportunity to allow these individuals to both accept the idea of being wealthy and then have more stable lives. However, in removing the Religious spectacle from the sacred space, the only thing left to fill the sacred space with, are the laws of the Ten Commandments. The Mosaic law handed down from the Christian religious tradition.(14) For a reason that is hard to define the complex issues relating to the concept of grace failed to have a powerful impact. And as the reformation continued in England, splitting the church into further dissenting groups, it caused a great deal of hatred to rise for those who preferred the system as it was; leading to Roman Catholic worship being banned in England (14) and only officially coming back into England in 1836 at the dawn of the industrial revolution. (15) througout this turbulent time one thing is clear. Christianity as a traditional social model, and therefore a possible base for an ethical society is problematic and fraught with instability. This is because the religious traditions within modern christianity come from Roman Catholicism, and function at their best, when they are accepted by the individuals within the social group that prefers their role of the churches authority. When this is not accepted, they cause questions of dissent to form. but this is not new to christianity.
Throughout the four Gospel’s, Jesus Christ is quoted as questioning the tradition’s set up by the Judaic teachers of law, which was at that time also a part of the rules of state. (16) So it is valid to argue that Christianity originally came from a position of dissent from being in conflict with the Jewish religious tradition of the time.
in analysing these traditions,there is something dangerous in attempting to combine state legislature out of a faith that came from a position of reflective dissent. Its is like attempting to put a cube in the hole designed for a pyramid. It simply will not fit; and after a period of time, will splinter, and spiral off into varied forms of itself. This leads to instability within the individual who cannot live up to the rigid demands, and then reflects his or her dissent upon the social structure, which if carried by more and more individuals will finally collapse. mainly because dissent without moral cohesion will lead to anarchy.
Hobsbawm, “Introduction”, in: Hobsbawm, Ranger (eds.), Invention of Tradition. “ In fact, this quotation is part of Hobsbawm’s definition of invented tradition; it seems clear, however, that the part which I quoted is his definition of tradition-in-general, and that the lines which follow – and which we will discuss below – are intended to distinguish invented traditions from other traditions.” Quoted from Counterfactuals and the invention of tradition. Sarot M.
Holborn M. Haralambros M. sociology Chapter 7 page 395.
Hobsbawm E. the invention of Tradition “The term ‘invented traditions’ is used in a broad but not imprecise sense. It includes both traditions actually invented, constructed and formally instituted and those emerging in a less traceable manner, within a brief and datable period” Inventing Tradition (Hobsbawm.) reading 5.1 Tradition and dissent p176
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