Monday, August 22, 2016

Religious Ties to Civilization

One of the concepts of the Spherical Model related to the Social Sphere is that a critical mass of religious people is a requirement for Civilization.

So what do we mean by religious people? There’s a Spherical Model definition. But we’ll add to that today.

There was a talk this past week by Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gave his remarks at Education Week, a conference for learning all kinds of things, which happens annually, between semesters at Brigham Young University. I’ve been traveling near there this week, but for different purposes. Several people had mentioned this talk on Facebook, so I took time to listen to a recording Sunday evening.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
giving Education Week address

The title is “Bound by Loving Ties.” He talks about the etymology of the word religion. It has to do with binding—related to the Latin word religare, meaning “to tie,” as in the word ligature. And the re- prefix means again. So religion is about re-binding, or reconnecting ourselves to God our Creator. As Elder Holland says,

So, for our purpose today, “religion” is that which unites what was separated or holds together that which might be torn apart, an obvious need for us, individually and collectively, given trials and tribulations we all experience here in mortality.
He then goes on to introduce the importance of religion today:

What is equally obvious is that the great conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, the moral and the immoral—conflict which the world’s great faiths and devoted religious believers have historically tried to address—is being intensified in our time and is affecting an ever-wider segment of our culture.
Near the end he says,

[T]he core landscape of history has been sketched by the pen and brush and words of those who invoke a divine creator’s involvement in our lives and who count on the ligatures of religion to bind up our wounds and help us hold things together.
The talk is given to a mostly Mormon audience, but is broader than that. It is broader than just to Christians or currently religious people. It is about having a moral sensibility, and his references are mainly from classic literature and music, which may be why it speaks to me. (I often get the sense that Elder Holland is speaking to me.) It’s for all people who understand and value Civilization.

I’m going to share the whole video below. But he began and ended the meat of the talk with quotes from historians Will and Ariel Durrant. The first quote is from their book The Lessons of History, which is one of my project books. I’ve quoted from it occasionally, searching through it for particular sections. But I’ve been reading it through completely for a year or so, as a Kindle book I can read on my phone while waiting in doctors’ offices or various other waiting places. I tend to highlight something on every page.

So, first I’ll share those two quotes, which relate to religion’s effect on civilization. And then I recommend taking the time to listen to the whole talk. (Or you can read it here.)

“There is no significant example in history of [any] society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”[i]

“These church steeples, everywhere pointing upward, ignoring despair and lifting hope, these lofty city spires, or simple chapels in the hills—they rise at every step from the earth toward the sky; in every village of every nation they challenge doubt and invite weary hearts to consolation. Is it all a vain delusion? Is there nothing beyond life but death, and nothing beyond death but decay? We cannot know,” they say, “but as long as man suffers, these steeples will remain.”[ii]

The talk begins following a 2 ½-minute introduction, and the total video is 41 minutes.

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[i] Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (1996), p. 51.
[ii] Will Durant, The Pleasures of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny (1953), p. 407.

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