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what is the root of self righteousness? and why does it seem to plague so-called religious folk more than others? whether the religous claim to be of any of the innumerable christian sects, or of islam (orthodox, NOI or other), or whether one claims to be a jew, a strict follower of the torah, etc ..... what is it that leads some/many in the 3 main "religions" to become so plagued by what is called self righteousness?
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It's based in the fundamental belief that there is only one right way to do something. You know the saying, "There are only two ways to do anything... the right way and the wrong way."

Nearly all religions preach that their path to God is the only correct way, and every other path leads to damnation. So, there is an inherent exclusivity to it. Self righteousness is a predictable by-product of this exclusivity. How else would a person feel, knowing that they are going to "heaven"... while everyone else is going to "hell"? Because they're "right"... and everyone else is "wrong"? To know that you have found the "light"... while everyone else dwells in "darkness"?

How does it feel to know that you are better than everyone else?
quote:
Originally posted by Black Viking:
It's based in the fundamental belief that there is only one right way to do something. You know the saying, "There are only two ways to do anything... the right way and the wrong way."

Nearly all religions preach that their path to God is the only correct way, and every other path leads to damnation. So, there is an inherent exclusivity to it. Self righteousness is a predictable by-product of this exclusivity.

While it may be your experience that such is the case, as a scholar of religion, I would assert that as a characterization of religion/religions in general it is erroneous. If this is an attribute of religions, it tends to be associated with certain forms of monotheism, but even there, it is by no means ubiquitous. Indeed, there are traditions of inclusivity and pluralism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, not to mention religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or indigenous traditions of the Americas or Africa. Not all religions are exclusivist, not all religions are theistic.
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
Indeed, there are traditions of inclusivity and pluralism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, not to mention religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or indigenous traditions of the Americas or Africa. Not all religions are exclusivist, not all religions are theistic.

I agree. But, to be fair, I did say nearly all religions... in particular the basic three that the OP reffered to.

Also, the idea that there is only one way to do something is not particular to religion. It's grounded in our culture, and so it's a prevailing concept in almost everything we use to define ourselves.
Not all religions are theistic (Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism and some branches of Hinduism are non-theistic), but almost all religions are exclusivist. Even the aforementioned ones. I've still seen plenty of Buddhists and Hindus who believe that anyone who is not a believing Buddhist or Hindu is "unenlightened".

Even though many Asiatic religions have a broader view of spirituality and have less dogmatic codes, most of the practicioners still believe that their path is the ONLY path or is THE MOST CORRECT path. I read a Buddhist website that claimed one can have a high level of enlightenment, but cannot fully experience Nirvana unless they make a solid committment to the entire worldview of the Buddha. Roll Eyes

There are still some beliefs in these religions that are dogmatic. Such as the Hindu instance that the Vedas are more special than any other book, or that one should submit puja (praise) to the Vedic gods, or that their view of Atman is the most advanced view. Buddhism insists that any view that deviates from their view of Anatman is "illusion", or that one cannot achieve enlightenment unless they are a human (particularly a male human), gods and non-humans can't achieve Nirvana without becoming human (and male).
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
While it may be your experience that such is the case, as a scholar of religion,....


i have to admit that i did a double take when i read that because it's not often that i see people calling themselves a "scholar." how long have you been studying religions and what was it that inspired such an indepth interest?
quote:
Originally posted by Black Viking:
It's based in the fundamental belief that there is only one right way to do something. You know the saying, "There are only two ways to do anything... the right way and the wrong way."

Nearly all religions preach that their path to God is the only correct way, and every other path leads to damnation. So, there is an inherent exclusivity to it. Self righteousness is a predictable by-product of this exclusivity. How else would a person feel, knowing that they are going to "heaven"... while everyone else is going to "hell"? Because they're "right"... and everyone else is "wrong"? To know that you have found the "light"... while everyone else dwells in "darkness"?

How does it feel to know that you are better than everyone else?


good questions. i think they show that self righteousness is also rooted in low self esteem and poor self image. these are some of the key reasons some feel the need to adopt a mindset or a spiritual belief system that makes them feel they are "better" than somebody else.
quote:
Originally posted by 1milehi:
quote:
Originally posted by kresge:
While it may be your experience that such is the case, as a scholar of religion,....


i have to admit that i did a double take when i read that because it's not often that i see people calling themselves a "scholar." how long have you been studying religions and what was it that inspired such an indepth interest?

I am working on a Ph.D in religious studies at Rice University. Prior to coming to Rice, I obtained a M.Div., was ordained, and served as a college chaplain and adjunct professor for 11 years. My principle areas of research are philosophy of religion and African American religious experience.

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