Moderation

Religious symbols from the top nine organised ...

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The Farlex free dictionary says of moderation: being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme. Their definition #4 also caught my eye: Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.

Moderation as a religious virtue needs both of these things. Sometimes we get enthusiastic and get carried away, working on one job or project to the neglect of other things in our lives. Sometimes we can be unrestrained in an inappropriate way by over-indulging in something we love, be it wine, video games or shoe shopping. Moderation is the force that helps us balance on our path. Enthusiasm is good. Enthusiasm gives us energy. Moderation helps us “spend” our enthusiasm wisely.

Moderation in religious views is important for several reasons. One is that those who are not moderate with and in their religious views often start down the path of using their religious views as license to be unkind or harmful to others. This is not to say that we can’t be fervent in our beliefs and fully dedicated to our gods. We can love our gods, but we do need to respect other’s beliefs in our polytheistic world.

One of the things that gives me pause with monotheists is that by their basic belief, they believe that everyone else is wrong simply because they are not monotheists or because others are worshiping the wrong god(s).  This is problematic, since there are many different religions in the world. There are more than 30,000 varieties of Christianity alone! Especially in the proselytizing faiths,  it’s hard for adherents to hold a moderate, tolerant viewpoint. And yet we all must, if we’re going to survive and thrive.

Another issue in religious moderation is that many of us crave the religious life. We want to live our daily lives in company with our gods. We want to add depth and meaning to our existence with our religious impulse.  Religion can bring wonderful richness to our lives, but too much focus on religion alone can distort the life-affirming aspects of our practice and leave us neglecting important parts of daily living.

For example, I had a friend whose husband got fired from several jobs in succession because he would not stop proselytizing at his workplaces. He would not stop when coworkers told him he was making them (and customers) uncomfortable. He would not stop when directly ordered to do so by his supervisor. Even after his repeated job losses, he maintained that he was doing the right thing, and losing jobs simply meant that he was being persecuted by evildoers.  His former coworkers and employers, by contrast, would say that he was the one doing evil by harassing people and not doing the job he agreed to do when he signed on, and by failing to be economically responsible to his family. The really sad part is that he might have actually reached more people with his religious message, had he been more moderate in his delivery of it.

A less extreme example is the previous owners of our house. They left a number of religious items when they moved out– plaques, posters, signs, prayers, religious trinkets. They also left a significant level of filth and decay. Praying is good. So is cleaning and upkeep! Moderation reminds us that we need to devote time to both. And as Inspiration Injection reminds us below, we also have to be moderate with our moderation and not become so cautious that we lose our enthusiasm for life.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Moderatio « Rufia Prisca's House

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