As this is my final entry based on Living Religions it will contain, in addition to chapter specific material, some final thoughts about the course. Chapter 14: Religion in the Twenty-First Century rounds out the other chapters by discussing how changes in the dynamics relating to the diversity and spread of religions will pave the way for how religions impact the world in social, economic, and political ways over the coming centuries. Thanks to innovations such the Internet and swift modes of intercontinental travel the barriers between many religions have become blurred in some ways and thicker in others; these barrier changes allude to changes in the way people view other religions, possibly leading to a greater understanding and acceptance of the beliefs of others that will in turn open channels to work towards a globalized unity. With any luck people will begin to see the futility in arguing over abstract beliefs and just let things happen, it’s a long stretch to actually see this become a reality in my own lifetime but a long term goal society should strive towards none the less.
This course has made me realize that, despite the pop-cultural depiction, most religions have so very few differences in their overall message, which is usually about mutual benefit of humanity and to live and let live; certainly there are outliers to this assumption, but the general consensus is roughly along the aforementioned line. Despite the typical “us against them” mentality that rears its head during times of political strife, take for example the case with the war in Iraq and how it has turned the Christian dominant America against the Islam dominant Middle Eastern countries, innately the religions used to fuel wartime propaganda are innocent and are used as little more than political tools; such an abusive use of religion to back entirely unrelated issues should be obsolete in 21st century societies, religion deals with what happens outside ones time on the planet and shouldn’t take priority over rational thinking. The bastardization of religion centric morality is blight on mankind, lines between abstract beliefs and logical thinking should be drawn not only to preserve the actual basis of religion but to ensure ulterior motives aren’t used to promote political means; more people should take the initiative to educate themselves on the varied topic of religion and refrain from basis their assumptions on non-objective based opinions and media propaganda. As I stated at the start of the course my intentions were to gain insight on various religions in order to gain an appreciation for the merits the concept of religion has to offer and to see exactly how off based my belief that religions have become a force for “evil” in the world; from this course I realize that, at core value, religions offer a decent structure to base ones moral choices and base their actions on but one’s own interpretations are necessary to maintain a healthy balance of thought.