Those Heathen Americans and God Fearing Filipinos

Every once in a while, I need to write about America to provide perspective on Filipino culture. It seems to me Filipinos are about 50 years behind America in development of social awareness and values.

Two interesting trends are developing in the U.S., and they seem incompatible, one to the other. They deal with religion.
  • On one hand, we see the Republican Party pretty well captured by a conservative Christian advocacy espoused by the Tea Party and various Christian churches. So in politics, religion is on the way up.
  • On the other hand, we see a flight from church attendance among the American population. So, broadly, religion is on the way down.
A Mormon with a Baby
One  of the more interesting dialogues that occurred early in this year’s presidential campaign was within the Republican mainstream. Is Mitt Romney, a Mormon, really a Christian?  Or is Mormonism a wayward sect? The argument has not been revisited since Mr. Romney won the Republican Party nomination. Mr. Obama respects the privacy of one’s faith. But the chance is 50/50 that the U.S. will have a Mormon president next year.

In the 1960’s, it was a big deal when Catholic John F. Kennedy was elected. Now it is not a big deal when a candidate from a minority faith, one that until recently permitted polygamy,  is up for election.
What’s going on here?
Here are a few basics about religion in America.
The Gallup survey organization says that 41% of American citizens say they regularly attend religious services. This compares for 15% among the French, 10% in Great Britain and 7.5% in Australia. (Source: Wikipedia)
But there is a fly in the statistical ointment. A separate study conducted in the 1990’s found that only 20% of Americans actually do attend church regularly. The reason they state otherwise in surveys is out for debate. Either they are liars or they are afraid of revealing to the interviewer that they are a “bad Christian”.
Another study in 2004 pegged regular attendance among Christians at 17.7%. Church pastors are very much aware of the declining attendance, as reflected in a candid article for
  • A breakdown of overall attendance percentages by church type shows decreases across the board in evangelical, mainline and Catholic churches. The most significant drop in attendance came at the expense of the Catholic Church, which experienced an 11% decrease in its attendance percentage from 2000 to 2004. Next, and not far behind were mainline churches, which saw a 10% percentage decline. Evangelicals experienced the smallest drop at 1%. 
But the gap between 17.7 % and 41% shows that most Americans HOLD THEMSELVES UP TO OTHERS as good Christians. And most likely hold themselves up to themselves that way, too.
They subscribe to the values of the Church . . . cherish them perhaps . . . but are too lazy or too busy to attend services. Perhaps they are confident God can read what is in their hearts rather than where they are sitting on any given Sunday.
And these strongly held values are what is behind the Tea Party movement in America, a large, conservative, God-based Republican advocacy. I suspect there is a bit of bunker mentality among Christians, too, as they witness a flood of immigrants who are neither white nor necessarily Christian coming to dominate large cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Miami.
The key point I’d like to make is that, although Americans don’t visit the church much, they cherish and live religious values.
That is very different than in the Philippines. It is a very religious nation. But social values are eclectic.
A Catholic with a Catholic
I couldn’t think of a better word.
Faith runs high, but cheating and corruption are acceptable. Birth control is not acceptable. Unless you are educated and rich. It’s rather like the article I wrote on sex in the Philippines. The front is conservative, but behind the scenes it is wild and woolly.
Conflicted perhaps is the best word.
What do we know of Philippine church activity?
The heathen Americans broke Spanish/Catholic rule of the Philippines after the Philippine American War. The ideas of separation of church and state and freedom of worship were introduced as fundamental elements of constitutional law during the American colonization. They remain there today. And Protestant churches sprang up.
Protestant churches have done well in the Philippines. But without a doubt, the Philippine Catholic Church remains the most influential religious force shaping cultural values and even governance. The church effectively brought the Marcos rule to an end by throwing its weight behind the rebel cause. It is very much engaged in political discussions today.
About 80 per cent of the 95 million Filipinos are Roman Catholic, 4.2% are Muslim, and 15% are Christian, of which Inglesia ne Cristo is the largest and most politically influential church. There are 250 Jews. Perhaps they looked about and said “this sho nuf ain’t the promised land; we’ll take rocks.”  Mormon and 7th Day Adventist churches are growing rapidly but still only make up about 2% of the total population. The way Catholics actively give birth, these other churches have plenty of proselytizing to do before they make any inroads into the Philippines being a “Catholic” nation. About 11 % of the population falls into the category of “irreligious” and 1% of the population is atheist. The numbers don’t add up because they were drawn from a variety of gues . . . er, sources. Some of the “irreligious” may be those who claim a religion on forms, but are like many Americans, not really that engaged in church worship. But we can see the general weightings.
Here in the Philippines, religion is everywhere. In the parades, in government offices, in the home where religious statues or shrines are almost always found. It is a part of the culture, the soul of the Philippines. Predominantly Catholic.
It may surprise you considering how much I rip on the Catholic Church for its role in underwriting the nation’s poverty, but I like the rich faith of the Filipino family. There is a kindness and openness to it that softens an otherwise hard lifestyle. It is the place where I find the openness of heart that seems missing in government offices and banks or on the highway.
So I reflect on my earlier comment that the Philippines is about 50 years behind America. It was in the 1960’s in America that church influence started dropping away from mainstream political and social words and deeds. The big argument about “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance rose up. A Catholic was a star in the presidential office, and died there, taking the edge off hard protestant values. Television introduced risqué themes and America enjoyed the heathenism of bigot Archie Bunker, who had a God, but only when He was useful.
Throughout the transition to a less religiously steeped lifestyle, however, the core values of kindness toward others and obeying the law remained in force.
In the Philippines, we see a rising tide of “good governance” which is nothing less than a nation throwing off the old values of cheating and playing favorites and adopting the sincere and honest values of the Church . . . outside the Church. We see educated Filipinos using birth control to keep their families small. They have adopted secular values while remaining faithful in their worship and belief in God.
So we have a meshing of faith and non-faith into a fabric of practicality that has at its root a desire for a better Philippines and a better family life.
Maybe there will be some edging away from church attendance as we are seeing in America. But I’m guessing that, in the future, the values preached from the pulpit will be lived better than in the past. And I suspect that faith will remain strong in the Philippines even as daily activities reflect a more secular and healthier, kinder lifestyle.
I’m guessing that in 25 years, many won’t even remember how corrupt it was.
The Philippines in 2037. A bunch of happier, healthier, law-obedient, wealthier, faith-rich people who don’t live for the brick and mortar of the Church, but for its values.
More heathens about perhaps.  More common sense, too. And a better community of souls forming the Nation.
45 Responses to “Those Heathen Americans and God Fearing Filipinos”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Hi Joe.1. First, the teaser on the upper right hand corner for " Next Up" has gone past the margins- ruins the layout. 2. It's ironic that the "rising tide of good governance" is led by an administration that is not exactly a strict follower of Catholic teaching. They are even willing to go against it sometimes, like in RH. 3. JFK was the first Catholic president of the US, but I dont think it mattered much- his legendary womanizing is proof of that. He was probably the first cafeteria Catholic- and what a buffet it was! LOL 4. Im coining the term "fine dining Catholic" or "haute cuisine Catholic" to mark the distinction from cafeteria Catholicism. The latter is defined as choosing only what doctrines appeal to them. "Fine dining Catholics" is for those who want it served as a set menu – you dont get to choose, and you must swallow it all. The menu never changes, so you have palate fatigue. LOL

  2. Interesting, my format looks fine but I will re-publish it to see if that fixes things for readers who are getting an unwanted look. Thanks for the heads up.Your description of JFK is highly amusing. His womanizing came out after his death, so it was tempered by the tragedy of his assassination and just made him even larger in the eyes of most Americans. Bill Clinton did not have such good framing for his pecadillos. Gloria Arroyo is a fine-dining Catholic, eh?

  3. My younger brother confessed to me if it were not for his religion he wouldn't have survived. He is a devoted born-again that gives money to bankrupt Orange County's Crystal Cathedral because it multiplied their families wealth. He wished that his toddlers would become church ministers. This brother do not know how to hold a grudge. Very caring. Extremely thoughtful. My religiously-conflicted youngest brother tells her daughter not to dip her finger in the "holy" water because it is a cesspool of bacteria. He sends her to catholic school yet has no problem if she became an atheist.My two sisters are devoted christian believers one of them almost became a nun. They tithe big time. My other younger brother is a recovering drug addict in need of several sessions in Alcoholic Anonymous and heavy dose of anger management. He is a violent christian. Anyone who disagrees with his religion better run for their lives.My mother bribed me to go to church. Money for tithing that I never give. But I do not go to church anyways because it is hot and humid inside. I do not even understand the priests sermon like most others. I love my father the most. I love to tag along with him. He did not spend 15 minutes in church. Absolutely awesome. Gave me treat so I will not tell Nanay that he smoked again.Whereas, me, I am on the extreme side. I just totally hate God. I hate God for all the filth the Philippines and the Filipinos have become under his watch. I hate God for taking credit if Filipinos succeed. Blame Filipnos if Filiponos do not succeed. As long as I can remember I find God rediculous and stories fantastic, despite, I abstain from masturbating during Holy Week in my teens. Afraid that if God were true, I might get pregnant.I prefer my parents over God. My parents love me despite of. No condition. No strings. They sheltered me. They fed me. They send me to school regardless it took me 10 years to graduate. My father had a plan for me. To become an engineer and sent to Japan. It never materialized. My mother looked at me a success because I went to the U.S. In the Philippines, going to the U.S. is a SUCCESS !!!! HAWR! HAWR! HAWR! GOSH !!!!! Am I corrupt? Yes, I am corrupt. I am a Filipino, therefore, I am corrupt. But in America, it is difficult for me to corrupt. I cannot bribe a policeman. I cannot cheat on my taxes. I do not drive solo in car pool lane. Because I know I will be caughted. Once I get caughted I pay big time. I will be kicked out from work. We even got a memo that what we are outside affects our employment like the Obama's Secret SErvice short-changing Colombia's prostitutes.But ….. BUT … when I visit the PHilippines, I will speakengese goot englischtzes to intimidate poor Filipinos. I will wave my American passport to scare the PMAyers. I will show them a glimmer of greenbacks to get ahead of the line. Most of all, my americanized complexion gives me entitlement and previlege over poor sun-drenched brown-skin punk'd nose Filipinos.Darn. What am I talkin here. I got too much sake to drink. Once I am sober and I go over my comments. I'll delete it. WHAT I AM SAYING, FILIPINOS ARE JUST NATURALLY CORRUPT. We are afraid of the Americans. We become instant goot citizens in America. But when we are back in the Philippines we switch back to being Filipno. It's comforting that I hold power and dominion over them. But in reality in America, I AM JUST A NOBODY !!!!! Waaaaaaa !!!!!!

  4. andrew lim says:

    I am just as fascinated with the Kennedys as other people. I read Vanity Fair articles on them a lot, as well as the never ending series of biography books on them. They had almost every desirable trait: good looks, intelligence, great education, wealth, power, charisma, etc. But if he did all that today, he'd be outed fast- he may not even have finished his term in Congress.That was surely a unique era for cooperative govt-media relations; it will never be like that again. It will always be critical and even adversarial now. Remember Sen. Gary Hart, the would be Democrat presidential candidate? Well, his girlfriend was supposed to have said, " My heart belongs to Bush but my bush belongs to Hart." ha ha ha ha Yes, Gloria is one (remember the Le Cirque dinner which cost P1M+ for her group?), so is Tito Sotto, Enrile and the CBCP, who always dine with fine silver and china.

  5. Yes, you are right. The media have fangs and the opposing party has bloody fangs.It would be fun to do a book of these VP's and second-stringers like Hart. Or Spiro Agnew. Or Dan Quayle. Or Ross Perot. They have more character than the presidents in many respects. Part clown, part media man, part trail blazer. Used and abused.Yes, isn't that the height of misrepresentation for the CBCP to live high on the hog whilst the flock grazes for scraps on the trash piles.

  6. Brilliant, Mariano. What a fascinating rendition of how different people deal with faith and faith deals with them. Your father sounds like my father, only dad didn't smoke. But he swilled beer and snuck off to read the Playboys when we went to the market.This should be a blog, to stand on its own."The Essential Mariano"

  7. Edgar Lores says:

    This essay is so wide-ranging that I do not know where to begin. Let me say first that the observations and insights ring true.I have written down some points and tried to label them as true or false. Some of these statements are in the essay. I am repeating these for the sake of clarity in my thinking. These statements are more of a general nature and are not specific to the Philippines.1. The decline in church attendance is rife in the Western world. True.2. The decline has been counterbalanced by a rise in religious fundamentalism. Partly true.3. The decline is due to a general dissatisfaction with the answers provided by religions, in general, and certain churches, in particular. Partly true.3. Not all people who have stopped church attendance have forsworn belief. True.4. Some people have left one church and converted to another denomination or to another religion. True.5. Others that have left have sought answers outside religions and adopted isms of seeming certitude, such as evolution and atheism, or fallen into other isms of incertitude, such as agnosticism and substance abuse. True.7. There is a difference between religiousness and spirituality. Most believers – Filipinos are no exception – are religious but are not spiritual. True.8. A spiritual person may belong to a religion or not at all. True.9. Spirituality, rather than religion, is the true driver of ethical behaviour. True.10. Religions attempt to provide answers to the ultimate questions, but it is possible that both the answers and questions are entirely wrong – or entirely right. True and false.

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    What a damning restatement of Cartesian supposition: "I am a Filipino, therefore I am corrupt".

  9. andrew lim says:

    Thanks to Joe's blog, we are able to discuss things at length. Yes, Joe is right- you are capable of writing sharp critique, great humor and insight, all in one post. You should give this guy the space sometime, Joe. He is brilliant.

  10. Nice finish. Are you advising Mitt Romney by any chance?Number seven I find particularly meaningful and enlightening as it pertains to Filipinos. I've attended numerous Catholic services in the Philippines and would agree, they are precise in ritual but not soul gripping, at least for me. The most passionate service I ever attended was a church in South Central Los Angeles, Black Los Angeles, where my wife and I, the only whites in the building, were welcomed with amazing openness and charm and the church absolutely rocked with spiritual passion, from the soulfully joyous music to the fire and brimstone sermon and the amen's shaking the rafters. I also found a much quieter spiritual passion in a small candle-lit chapel on a hill in northern Portugal at 1 in the morning, alone in the quiet dark, where the rustling footsteps of the living dead chased me forthwith back to bed.

  11. Edgar Lores says:

    Andrew,A distinctive term, very stylish. Too stylish for the likes of people being described?

  12. The space is available, wide open, ready for the filling. I'd like to republish this comment as a blog but need Mariano's permission to do so.

  13. andrew lim says:

    Joe, There is a wonderful, wonderful article on Rappler ("Nuisance") now written by COMELEC's James Jimenez on his proposed label for nuisance candidates- outliers. Was going to suggest this as a future topic, and instead found this. Fascinating to discuss! Enrile claims to have no monopoly on truth, these guys prove there's no monopoly on sanity, either! ha ha ha Also nice to know that there's a good thinker there in COMELEC.

  14. andrew lim says:

    Edgar,Robes and vestments are always stylish!

  15. Mr. Jimenez writes:"After all, if we’re being brutally frank about it, some of our most deeply held truths can just as easily be ridiculed by others who don’t share them. At bottom, it sometimes seems that the dividing line between faith and insanity is mere consensus."Where'd I lay my list of presidential candidates?Thanks for the reference to this superb article. Here's the link:

  16. Anonymous says:

    Are religious institutions in the US tax-exempt like in the Philippines?DocB

  17. Yes, and they risk losing the exemption if they engage directly in politics as does the Catholic Church in the Philippines.

  18. Anonymous says:

    So there's the rub. They can get away with it here. Thanks.DocB

  19. Yes, it's interesting finding the differences in laws between the U.S. and Philippines. The U.S. libel law does a better job of protecting free speech. The legal interpretation on separation of church and state in the US does a better job of putting a firm wall between the two. In both cases, Philippine law favors the powerful.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why does the Catholic Religion figure in most historical episodes of clerical fascism?DocB

  21. They align with God when he is exacting revenge against powerless people like Job.

  22. J says:

    Actually, separation of Church and State was already in the Malolos Constitution, so it predated the coming of the Americans.Regarding the Church's influence over politics, well, I wrote a post before where I said that it's actually overrated:

  23. I enjoyed the article, thanks. And thanks also for pointing out that separation of church and state pre-dated the Americans.Your article suggests that the Catholic Church is puffed up on itself (my words, not yours) and President Aquno could disregard the Church challenge to the RH Bill and the Church would have to accept it. I tend to agree with that but the problem seems not to be with the President, but with people like Senator Sotto. The President can in fact be bold; he is not running for re-election in 2016. The Senators are more vulnerable.

  24. J says:

    I wrote that back when the President was just beginning to be all-out for the Bill. But the argument is that no politician is vulnerable to the Church, simply because there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. Case in point: Juan Flavier. Church campaigned hard against him, but he (a relative unknown non-politician who as Secretary of Health promoted family planning) topped the Senate race with flying colors (he landed second or third, after, wait for it, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) 🙂

  25. Coco says:

    It is difficult to talk about religion as the word has so many meanings, a few of them:Religion as a source for a “religious feeling”, a strong feeling of belonging, like the feeling you get in a full station when you sing the club song. Your individual feelings 100% disappearing in the group feelings. A heavenly feeling that can overwhelm you too in an empty church with a subtle smell of incense or someone playing Bach on the organ.Religion as the ultimate explainer “I have a pimple for something bad I did yesterday”. But the more science advances the less we need religion to explain. Now we understand how our brain can create hallucinations, little is left for scientific people to explain, the origin of the big band may be, but even there Stephen Hawking has an explanation now.Religion as the provider of a God figure, a God that can be as a Santa Claus, you as ask for favours and dream as you do when you buy a Lotto ticket. Go to Antipolo or to Lourdes to witness this. Or a God that will eventually punish your enemies if you are too weak to punish them yourself. Religion as the base for moral and ethical rules. Our social behaviour not explained by Darwin but by supernatural revelations. The “If there is no God, there are no rules” statement. “If you don’t behave you will burn in hell”Religion as an economic endeavour, Scientology or the Catholic church selling indulgences in Luther’s time. Friars confiscating land in Noli Me Tangere.Religion in the States has a different meaning then the religion lived in the Philippines. Just compare the catechism, in the introduction here it justifies Catholicism as being the right religion for the Philippines on 4 grounds, one of them being: “Filipinos strongly believe in ghosts, Catholicism has the Holy Ghost”!!! Religion for the elite is different from the religion of the poor. Your observations though are correct, but the causal relationships are weak. The evolution in religious behaviour and political developments are symptoms of other underlying processes.

  26. J says:

    Also, about the provision on seperation of Church and State during the First Republic. That was actually legislated with a very thin margin. The Revolutionary Government's official chaplain, Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, had already formed the Philippine Independent Church, which had sequestered Catholic properties in the name of the Revolution. President Aguinaldo and Bishop Aglipay envisioned the Church to be the state religion of the Republic, similar to the Church of England.But the Founding Fathers of the First Republic included enlightened thinkers (and members of Freemasonry) who knew that democracy is meaningless without secularism, so they filibustered against the proposal. The debate eventually ended in a stalemate, with neither side calling for a vote for fear that the other side might have the numbers. The secularists, it turned out, had the numbers, but the Aglipayan advocates continued to filibuster to prevent a vote (which is what Enrile and Sotto are doing on the RH Bill). So the secularist had a clever idea. Many of them decided to skip one session, and so the secularists appeared to have been outnumbered by the Aglipayan advocates. Naturally, the Aglipayans called for a vote. When they did, the "absent" secularists immediately emerged in the Session Hall. Apparently, they were just hiding. And so they overwhelmed the Aglipayans, and the church-state separation clause in the 1898 Constitution was passed.Also, you mentioned about 250 Philippine Jews. I'm sure you're aware that President Quezon provided refuge for the Jews during the Holocaust.

  27. J says:

    Hi Coco. I have a quick comment that might be off-topic. Regarding your observation that religion serves as a basis for moral and ethical rules. A friend of mine suggest that this function is also performed by other worldviews like atheism and humanism. Hence, he proposes that the separation of Church and State must evolved into the a separation of worldviews and State. What do you think?

  28. J says:

    Here's his essay on this idea, by the way: excuse me Joe for posting too many links on your blog. LOL)

  29. Coco, very interesting elaboration on religion. You've compiled a wonderful list of impacts and meanings. I agree my relationships are weak as I was mainly musing about the US trends, where there seems to be a conflict, Tea Party up and church attendance down. But VALUES remain up. And I do see some tempering of unthinking faithful in the Philippines in favor of high personal values not necessarily attached to religion.I'm interested in how you respond to J's question.

  30. Obviously, you got good grades in history. Or else you are a history nut, ha. What happened to the Philippine INdependent Church? I saw reference to it in Wiki but no statistics.Maybe the RH advocates should take a lesson from history, eh? Hide under their desks for a few hours.About a month ago, I did read about President Quezon's opening up the Philippines to Jews in WWII. I was highly impressed with his heart, mind and courage in doing so. There weren't enough Quezons in the world in those days.

  31. So then either politicians (e.g. Sotto) don't KNOW there is no Catholic vote, or they are afraid of being consigned to Hell.

  32. J, the article by Michael Kakumoto is excellent. What happened regarding the journal you refer to in your comments about the post?

  33. J says:

    Abandoned due to lack of funds, unfortunately.

  34. J says:

    I think it's a dying Church. Membership has been dwindling. When the Americans came, the Catholic church waged a campaign to recover the properties that the Aglipayans had sequestered. There are no significant difference between the doctrines of the two Church, except for papal primacy (which Catholics adhere to) and nationalism (which Aglipayans value; Jose Rizal and the Gomburza priests are saints in that Church). Regarding the Jews. Indeed, President Quezon is a hero at par with Oskar Schindler. But you might be interested to know that he also saw widespread Jewish immigration to the Philippines as a way to neutralize the restive Bangsamoro.:)

  35. Ah, that most common of denominators. Too, bad. However, I'm confident you will find other avenues of expression . . .

  36. Fascinating, the motives of Quezon. The Church pays a price by hanging onto rigid doctrine when the enlightenment of the world moves forward apace. Makes for quite a gap between what the Church says as right and what people believe is right.In Brazil, you dare not stand in front of a cathedral for fear of getting trampled by the outrushing hordes. It's still safe in the Philippines because most people are exiting quitely out the side door.

  37. Coco says:

    @J Ambot, I don’t know. I’m just a casual observer of what happens around me. But I like diversity, I don’t think that there is one best constitution, fitting every country in every situation. I believe that every good thing in exaggeration becomes bad, every bad thing in the appropriate dose can be good. Religions or worldviews are animals of the same kind I guess, all halo-halo or mixtures of several things, addressing basic human needs of understanding, belonging, feeling secure… What does separating Church and State mean? Can a president of the US say “… and God bless America”? Yes if it’s part of the folklore, no if he as commander in chief is asking God to make America stronger so it can rule the rest of the world more efficient in (his) God’s way? Shouldn’t a president lead by example? But if he goes to church, is he telling then that his God (or his interpretation of God) is better than the other ones? I believe that there or worse and more important things than removing a crucifix in a class room, like learning to respect each other’s opinion.The French revolution was anti-religion, but the égalité and fraternité are very catholic ideals. Rizal very anti-church but with very catholic values. By the way these values keep evolving too, in the Old Testament they were different, the interpretation(s) of the New Testament keeps evolving and the church keeps adapting it. So absolute statements with regards to religions and world views are very dangerous.Let’s relax, be happy. Enjoy diversity, in nature in thoughts, in political systems. It guides progress too. On the other hand, fight for your ideas, here and now, don’t guide the rest of the world or a future world. Recognizes excesses here and now, inequality here and now, false promises here, false arguments here and now!

  38. GabbyD says:

    @Jif jose rizal is a saint in the aglipayan church, then it is NOT possible for the two churches to have the same doctrines.

  39. Edgar Lores says:

    Just to focus on three points:1. Letting a crucifix remain in a class room is disrespectful of the opinion of others.2. Religions claim to hold absolute truths, and yet they are evolving. Therefore can one conclude:2.1 Their truths are not absolute?2.2 And if so, they are only half-dangerous? (As in the fundamentalism which in its extreme advocates and justifies the killing of infidels.)2.3 And if so, they are half-good? (As in maintaining social cohesion and ethical behavior.)3. Wholeheartedly agree about enjoying diversity in beliefs, nature and thoughts.

  40. Coco says:

    If 95% of the students in that class are Christians, it would be disrespectful indeed, not allowing to hang a crucifix, if 95% have other beliefs it would be disrespectful to hang one. One can discuss the percentages, not the principle.Only one religion can be absolute. All the others fake. Who will tell me witch one to choose? The Chinese play it safe, go to the Chinese cemetery in Manila and you will see on their graves crucifixes, a lot of saints, Buddha’s and Confucius. I do not believe that absolute exist. Is it not different when you believe in a local, flat world or in a spherical global one and what if we discover new earths? Is it not different in a rural society and in an highly urbanized one?Too much care is hindering, too little care too. Too much water can be lethal, too little too. Same for religions and world views, I believe. One needs a context to shape beliefs, but believing that your context is the only correct one and that you have to kill others to enforce it up on them might be wrong. (unless you can make money out of it by selling arms 😉

  41. Edgar Lores says:

    So our sublime moments of contact with the Divine can be found in the unlikely extremes of a crowded service shorn of egoic inhibitions to that of a solitary prayer past midnight. It’s like momentarily finding transcendent music on the FM band, one a rock station the other a classical music station. Mostly we are tuned in to the static between stations.The variety of religious experiences in Mariano’s family begs the question: In which extreme of belief or unbelief, or on which middle ground, lies the truth? The absence of a universal refuge incites people to ersatz solutions. Mariano’s resort to sake (beer was a favourite of mine) is reminiscent – no, straight out – of the Rubaiyat. In these days, designer drugs foreshadow, if not pre-create, the religious experience of heaven or hell on a small scale. Taking drugs may be the modern equivalent of church attendance.To diurnally recapture qualia without resort to substance abuse, one can take up meditation or lose one’s self in the throes of physical passion. As to the latter, I am reminded of (Florentino) Dauz’s short poem, which I recite from faulty memory:“Between your legs, Regina,The distance between me and GodNarrows down to nothing.”I keep wondering what is the equivalent experience for the female of the species.

  42. Attila says:

    Mariano Renato:Thanks for your comment and your honesty. You did a great job explaining it!

  43. Edgar Lores says:

    Coco,Thank you. On point 1 I should have been more specific. On Point 2 I have an alternative option.1. I should have delimited the example and said in a "public school". In a public school, a crucifix should NOT be displayed in a classroom. Irrespective of percentages, and even if all students are Christian.2. On the plurality of religions, there are six possible alternative stances that I can think of. There could be more. The stances are:2.a One religion is true and all else are false.2.b All religions are false.2.c All religions are partly true in that they share a common truth in an experience or a revelation of the Divine.2.d All religions are absolutely true.2.e All truths are relative and all are in error.2.f Religions do not matter.2.g Evolution or some other ism is a more acceptable belief system.2.1 I appreciate your initial stance of 2.a. It is the logical stance of a believer.2.2 But then you go on to say that you do not believe absolutes exist. That is close, but not quite so, to the stance of postmodernism expressed in 2.e. This leads me to deduce you are a believer with an agnostic streak. People hate to be pigeon-holed, and I don't think you can be. Your advocacy is for a middle path, avoiding extremes; in this you exhibit incredible flexibility. (Sorry, I am trying to understand you to be able to understand myself and the whole of mankind.)2.3 My stance is 2.d. I know it is illogical. But I think the Divine is greater than we can ever apprehend. However, I do not, unlike the eclectic Chinese, attempt to worship most or all deities. I acknowledge the Divine but do not "worship" it as it is not separate from "myself". Divinity is immanent in the universe (or the multiverse).2.4 Do I believe in absolutes? Yes, in the sense that there is purpose to the universe. But which purpose we will never know. So, as you say, let us be happy. And I would add, let all beings be happy not through mindless self-indulgence – yes, that too – but through learning and humility and respect.Namaste.

  44. I rather think you'd have to ask Regina. But perhaps it is simply best to wonder . . .

  45. Coco says:

    @ 2.1 Wala, I’m just an optimist, I believe that we will keep improving. I do not believe in a God creator, but I believe in a prefect destination, you can give it the name God if you want, an attraction we will grow to. Not for me personally but for mankind or better future. A billion atoms becoming a living cell, a billion cells a human being, a few billion human beings something higher? (=2.4?) Although my personal believes are irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have to try to make our direct surroundings a better place to live. Maximize happiness. Identify what hinders this: lack of equality, lack of freedom, lack of fraternity (= lack of information, lack of connectivity). Corruption is stealing, it limits equality; telling us what to do in our bedrooms by blocking a RH bill, limits freedom; political dynasties concentrate information, limit our fraternity. These are important things. I’m interested in what you achieve, not what in what you believe. But I have to admit that beliefs are nice conversation stuff for a lazy weekend.

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