Identity

iBrian

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When we embrace our own sense of faith, how important is a corresponding sense of identity? And in what form does it take?

More specifically: if someone is raised is a traditional religious way and they associate strongly with that, then they have formed a sense of identity from that path for many years.

However, for the secularist, coming to an appreciation of God in their own way often entails a lack of identity. There seems to be some form of psychological pressure that we should orientate our perception of God alone one of many old and new paths.

I have often seen people in general state that they are looking for a "path2 - an established body that has writings that may resonate within the seeker.

However, often I can't help but wonder if sometimes it is as much about finding a pigeon-hole?

I have not pigeon-holed myself. I am neither Theist nor Deist, yet something of both. I have never been drawn to read writings of others to define my beliefs - I define those on my own personal experiences. I go through life without seeking titles - though Christians often think I'm Atheist, and Atheists often think I'm Christian. :)

I can see the appeal of traditions and paths, but I rather stubbornly keep to my own.

How important is a sense of social identity when relating to the Divine? Are pigeon-holes very necessary on a psychological level, or are they merely a tool for honing personal faith?

When we seek along our own paths, how much of our relationship with the Divine is defined by our linguistic associations?
 

Mus Zibii

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I take from everything, and what's true--I keep. I look at the concept of identity as something icky. Trying to not to be defined is how I define myself, I guess. I don't want to be pigeon-holed, either, unless I'm just visiting.
 

louis

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However, for the secularist, coming to an appreciation of God in their own way often entails a lack of identity. There seems to be some form of psychological pressure that we should orientate our perception of God alone one of many old and new paths.

From Louis....
An interesting "Freudian slip" ... using the word "alone"
when I think you meant to use "along"...
For myself, personal identity is a "given" - something
that was and is always mine - not something earned
or acheived through any connection with something
other than me. But some people seem to have a problem
with being alone in their own heads - they always trying
to connect with something "bigger than themselves" -
such as "God", for instance.
Then why do they imagine God as the ultimate individual -
a being who was and is always ALONE- the only one of his kind who answers to no rule but his own whim ????
Could God be only a projection of something they would
all like to be but think it unattainable in human life ?
 

Blue

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Mus Zibii said:
I take from everything, and what's true--I keep. I look at the concept of identity as something icky. Trying to not to be defined is how I define myself, I guess. I don't want to be pigeon-holed, either, unless I'm just visiting.
I tend to agree with you, but-----------
We are the identity awarded to us at any one time by those that meet or get to know us.
This can be different according to who you are and what is perceived by them.
It is inevitable that they will try to pigeonhole us according to their perceptions of us though, in most cases; that is because that is what human beings do.

'Trying not to be defined' though is perhaps impossible, because it depends so much on others. We can try not to be defined and pigeonholed, but so often we will be judged by whatever we do and say.
 

louis

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MY Identity

Blue said:
I tend to agree with you, but-----------
We are the identity awarded to us at any one time by those that meet or get to know us.
This can be different according to who you are and what is perceived by them.
It is inevitable that they will try to pigeonhole us according to their perceptions of us though, in most cases; that is because that is what human beings do.

'Trying not to be defined' though is perhaps impossible, because it depends so much on others. We can try not to be defined and pigeonholed, but so often we will be judged by whatever we do and say.

From Louis ....
I couldn't disagree more !!!
As "Popeye, the Sailor" used to say : " I am what I am ! "
Not what anyone else says I am. Our sense of who and what we are should always depend on how we judge OURSELVES - not how others judge us.
 

mandrill

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I said:
When we embrace our own sense of faith, how important is a corresponding sense of identity? And in what form does it take?

More specifically: if someone is raised is a traditional religious way and they associate strongly with that, then they have formed a sense of identity from that path for many years.

However, for the secularist, coming to an appreciation of God in their own way often entails a lack of identity. There seems to be some form of psychological pressure that we should orientate our perception of God alone one of many old and new paths.

I have often seen people in general state that they are looking for a "path2 - an established body that has writings that may resonate within the seeker.

However, often I can't help but wonder if sometimes it is as much about finding a pigeon-hole?

I have not pigeon-holed myself. I am neither Theist nor Deist, yet something of both. I have never been drawn to read writings of others to define my beliefs - I define those on my own personal experiences. I go through life without seeking titles - though Christians often think I'm Atheist, and Atheists often think I'm Christian. :)

I can see the appeal of traditions and paths, but I rather stubbornly keep to my own.

How important is a sense of social identity when relating to the Divine? Are pigeon-holes very necessary on a psychological level, or are they merely a tool for honing personal faith?

When we seek along our own paths, how much of our relationship with the Divine is defined by our linguistic associations?

For many people their religious background is something like their cultural identity, or their 'roots,' if you will. Many people have this need for a strong sense of family and/or community .. you know, like in "Fiddler on the Roof" :) . Many people do need this sense of belonging and would regard the solitary path with more fear than excitement at the unknown. For these people though, I think religion serves a different purpose than for those who arrive at it later, honestly seeking something more in their life.

I love your last question, as it reminds me of one of my favorite topics of interest in college. My degree is in Anthropology, and I was always fascinated with the ideas put forth by Benjamin Whorf and others that our world is largely shaped by our language and that anything we cannot name we cannot think about and therefore it does not exist for us. So much of what is out there is really beyond our language and thought .. things that can only be experienced and not clearly defined. This is probably why so many gods have sex organs .. people cast them in their own image because they can't conceive of the alternatives. Its perhaps one of the most difficult things for a human being to accept that he is just never going to understand everything .. that some things might always remain beyond his rational grasp. I know I always had a problem with that .. I always wanted to "know," to be able to capture and pin it down. It took me awhile to realize that it is often just better to feel .. to allow the power that is to "speak" to other aspects of myself than my analytical forebrain.
 

littlemissattitude

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I said:
When we seek along our own paths, how much of our relationship with the Divine is defined by our linguistic associations?
You ask some interesting questions, Brian, that I'm going to have to think about some before I can even begin to find answers to them. But what you say about language, Brian, and what mandrill has said pertaining to this topic, prompts this association: Among the many other things that it is, Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land" deals with this question. Valentine Michael Smith, fully human (one would assume) in a biological sense, is really more like the Martians who raised him than like his human forebears. And so he can do things that humans cannot. As I read that story, it seems to me that the implication Heinlein is making is that because Mike can think in Martian, he can do the things (things like pull inside himself and slow all his bodily functions to imperceptibility) Martians can do simply because he has the vocabulary to get his mind around the concepts involved in doing these things.

I also tend to believe, as mandrill seems to, that a lot of the thoughts and abilities that we attribute to god or the gods are actually human attributes that we cannot conceive of the gods not having. I get in trouble with that theory with a lot of my friends who are religious in orthodox ways. But, honestly, that's the only way I have been able to figure things out so far.
 

iBrian

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Aha! The Whorf Hypothesis!! Long time since I last read on that. :)
 

Thomas

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Hi Brian,

a number of interesting questions.

Hi Brian,

a number of interesting questions.

I would say our identity is an amalgam of three 'views' - the first is of our intrinsic nature as it is - what I am; the second is our nature as we perceive it - who I am (or, who am I?); the third is our nature as revealed to us by others - who do people say that I am.

The middle view is 'me' but were this a total subjectivity then I would never have cause to question myself. I am me - qed - or as Popeye would say 'I am what I am'. I am the centre of my universe.

Either of the other views is a result of objectivity - I am not the universe, I am in it.

Religion is founded on revelation which, as the word implies, opens one's eyes to our human nature and thus the nature of humanity as it is, and thus nature as it is. Such revelation is simultaneously personal and total - it encompasses the whole of humanity as one - and reveals 'me' as a distinct and yet subsistent entity (a hypostasis). I share my nature in common yet I am recognisably me.

The theist religions champion the idea of the reality of this subsistent being, whilst monotheism rises above identity to the archetype of being as such (and 'beyond-being'), which at the same time sets the paradigm for all subsistent and therefore subsequent being.

***

Broadly speaking the non-theist traditions deny any reality other than the One, which is beyond all comprehension. The theist traditions accept existence precisely as a relative and subsistent mode of the One that validates its existence. Once one affirms the existence of the individual self as divinely ordained, then one is obliged to acknowledge the finite order - space and time - the world and history.

Thus Christianity, for example, whilst a religion of interiority, cannot ignore the world and history, but rather champions the idea of a salvation that transcends the individual condition to include the whole world, and views history as a process along this path.

***

The linguistic issue is very profound, especially when revelation is obliged to fit within a linguistic system and thus will stretch it beyond its human limits.

Thomas
 
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