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Apr-17-2011 17:56printcomments

Easter Week Memo: Religion Ignites Inner Spirit to Stride Anew

What does our facial dashboard say for today?

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(SALEM, Ore.) - Mankind looks toward religion as a source of spiritual uplift. We feel incomplete, inadequate, lacking of a full-fledged understanding of ourselves and the forces around us.

We thus turn to theology as a means of worship.

Religion, like nationalistic custom, has both a history and a tradition. Events unfold through the ages which bring forth pressures to bear for and against a given faith. Those who face ridicule and persecution solidify their strength, using a common value-system which build on these traditions.

Ethical precepts give birth to a set of standards: That which is right or righteous and that which fails such testing.

In those religions of the Judeo-Christian World, the vitality of following the ethical system became paramount. Thus, failure to do so constituted sin. Various penalties, some of them quite severe, awaited the wrong-doer who dared to defy these ethics.

In one sense, religion picks up where the law leaves off. The quest for morality stresses discrete behavior. The need for legal code prescribes proper behavior for what would otherwise be seen as a public danger. Ethics tends more toward personal behavior and the inner self.

The popular maxims of "Love thy neighbor" and "Do unto others" are founded on the belief that man otherwise will fall to the temptation to be utterly selfish. History suggests this is a valid premise.

Most of those acts now perceived as historic evils--such as feudalism, imperialism, plunder and slavery--all are based on the lust to exploit rather than to love one's neighbor.

The Ten Commandments, for example, involve respect of others and their property. Respect for the Lord goes atop that pinnacle of faith. This is then followed by respect for parents, neighbors, their personal property, their sacred lives, and the sanctity of a stable marriage.

Parents are sure to adcocate to "honor thy father and mother" from a subjective viewpoint. Such honor is not accorded as iron-clad law but rather in a climate that acts to encourage mutual respect. Children are not mere pawns.

Words of themselves do not ignite. They need to be backed up securely in visible practice.

Training is that elusive key. Orienting our children to be considerate of others is the starting point. Empathy is thus learned and replicated. Foresight is sought after as well.

De-emphasizing serving the ego emerges as Goal #1.

Once this is achieved, other elements are within reach. Honesty to others and to oneself remains a challenge worth pursuing. Subjugation of others to your own desires then becomes a dead-end to progress.

The eternal pitfall in faith is in usurping God's would-be job description. Judgement Day is to ours to assign. We must distance ourselves from being in constant judgement of our fellow creatures.

The diety provided us a mouth to indicate our choice of our future destination. We can point our lips upward and elicit a smile, in the direction of Heaven. Or we can choose to cry and frown, with lips pursed downward toward Hell.

What does our facial dashboard say for today?

_________________________________ Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:

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