Mar 9, 2007

Possible Objections to Typing Religious and Spiritual Teachings

It has occurred to me that by analyzing religions and spiritual teachings (along with all kinds of movements and ideologies) from a socionic or anthropological point of view, I may be touching on a very sensitive subject. I will continue until I see a compelling reason to stop. The whole point of many religions is that they are supposed to be universal. By suggesting that each organized religion or movement gives unequal weight to different information aspects, I'm basically undercutting their claim to universality. However, there are many other reasons to doubt the universality of individual religions, and this is just one of many.

Another criticism that I have received before is that I am trying to obtain a "mental" understanding of something that is intended to be understood with the "heart." Here I would answer that first of all, I am very familiar with variations of the "heart" aspects of religion and have experienced them firsthand over many years. However, my own pursuit of understanding (including spiritual understanding) puts extraverted intuition first (see the description three posts ago to see what kinds of things that entails). Secondly, the remark that religion is meant to be understood with the heart is an ethical sentiment that does not apply to all religions and spiritual teachings. In many logic-centered religions it is normal to have theological discourses without engaging personal sentiments. For these religions, religious truth is not obtained through feelings but through study and correct interpretation. Finally, even religions that are "heart" centered frequently include teachings about the nature of the physical world, history, and future events that are not heart-centered and do not engage ethical feelings.

Another possible objection is that religions typically include teachings about how to go about doing things in all areas of life and include value systems that have something to say about every area of human activity - from science to sex and from politics to professional choices. Religions don't limit themselves to teachings only about one or two information aspects; therefore, it is impossible to type them. To this I would answer that teachings relating to different information aspects differ in their depth and emphasis. The aspect that receives the most emphasis is also the common ("default") language of the group that you will find when you visit congregations of that religion - even congregations located in completely different countries.

In upcoming posts we'll see what kind of perspective this approach can give us.


Cyclops said...

As perhaps a simplistic answer but perhaps profound, should religion or religious grouping not be 'all things to all men' ? That is to imply, if there is a deity greater than what we are, then mere questions and psychological typings should not underpin or be a challenge to said religions teachings.

But then, the converse is, for instance, trainee priests undergo years of theological study, where questions are asked and why, logically, should it be ok for only some to ask the questions ? Well logically, it isn't.. So..what is there to hide :)

Rick said...

It's hard to imagine a religion being "all things to all men" -- a sort of universal system or society that would be equally applicable to all people without placing certain qualities higher on the totem pole than others.

Such a system wouldn't even look like a religion in the normal sense of the word, which almost always implies a moral code or a certain way of life -- which already requires some sort of information emphasis.

Such a religion would encompass a person's entire being, influencing all aspects of life with equal strength. Maintaining personal health and well-being would be just as important as being kind to others or being aggressive towards others in certain kinds of situations. Being efficient would be just as virtuous as being enlightened.

The religion would have to have 16 apostles of different types, where each would have the chance to fully express the unique knowledge of his type :)))