Someone told me once something I find very useful about religions in general….that we can see four common elements in all of them:
- Community (congregation)
- A sense of Awe
- Ritual and ceremony
- Ethics and morality
These four themes explain the parts of religion that have been useful for me and what not.
Sometimes we hear of other things being called ‘a religion’ (eg ‘the environmental movement), so I guess those things contain something of these four aspects. Take the Transition movement for example:
Yes, building community
Awe, yes, in the form of contact with nature, processes of life, the Earth
Ritual and ceremony in our gatherings and meeting structures, our celebrations, our sense of seasons
And yes Morality, in our Care of Earth, Care of people and Fair Share (thanks to Permaculture for this statement of Ethics)
What don’t we have in the Transition movement that religion has (for we do have stories and histories, key people and inspiring events)? In religion there is an emphasis on ‘faith’ or guidance from a god, or a story about the cosmos or the afterlife; maybe coming under the word ‘spirituality’.
Might we consider these four things as general ‘needs’, and once the needs are met, we are freed up to live full and powerful lives? So our Transition ‘towns’ are part of movement supporting healthy individuals and a cohesive society.
I would also add to my list of ‘needs’ an emphasis on learning and peace.