Belief, Ritual, and Morality: part 1

The first post on this blog, apart from the initial welcome, was about morality in orthopraxic religions. Back then, I said that one day I would explain my own personal view on the subject, which was already partly exposed on that text, but a more detailed and several posts long presentation was already in preparation and the day for it to be fully written has come.

The 18th century French philosopher Montesquieu once said that freedom exists when power is prepared to stop power, i.e., when autocratic rule is impossible, and so he argued for the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. It is my belief that freedom also has something to gain if a similar thinking is applied to religion, namely the separation of three things: belief, ritual and morality. The blending of two or all three of them diminishes one’s free thinking or free will, for when one’s faith is trapped in the proper ritual worship, then there is little room for a diversity of beliefs; likewise, if morality is imprisoned by religious dogmas, then individual ability to live freely is hampered. Think, for instance, of women’s role in Catholic priesthood and how the arguments often revolve around a belief on Jesus’ choice of disciples (all male) or on a supposed inherent female inability to perform a correct consecration; consider also the condemnation of homosexuality based on orthodox religious scriptures and how that affects people’s lives and freedom, especially in countries where those same scriptures are used as a basis for civil laws and morality.

What I will present in several posts isn’t a reconstruction of a pan-polytheistic system, though it is heavily influenced by the case of pre-Christian Roman religion. Above all, it is an attempt to create a basic philosophy that provides a backbone for other considerations on the role of religion in modern society and among other systems of belief and/or ritual. And it is so on a personal level, though hopefully others will agree with it and take it as theirs too, if they haven’t already reached similar conclusions.


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