Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Ultra-Brief Comparative Religion

Check this out. I think it is cool to see what so many systems of belief have in common.

Christianity: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. This is the entire law: all the rest is commentary." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." (Mahabharata 5:1517)

Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varga 5:18)

Islam: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." (Sunnah)

Confucianism: "Surely it is a maxim of loving kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you." (Analects 15:23)

Taoism: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." (T'ai Shang Kan Yin P'ien)

Zoroastrianism: "That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself." (Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5)

I found this information in a book by Robert Kane on page 34. The book is called Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World. I didn't expect to find this information in Kane's book, but I thought it was interesting. A discussion about ethics would of course be incomplete without a discussion about religion. Just for fun, we should perhaps add one more statement, one from a more philosophical source--Immanual Kant:
Here's a picture of the book. I found this
picture on

Kantianism: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction." (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals)

Or: "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end." (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals)

Basically, we are all human beings, and it is well for us to treat one another as we would like to be treated. Let us not hurt one another or be unkind in any way. Surely no matter how skeptical we are, if we can celebrate at least one thing together, would it not be our short lives together on this little planet?

Personally however, I want to believe that we have much more in common than we perhaps realize. That is not to say that we don't have differences or that our differences are not important. Actually, I think our differences are complementary and not necessarily contradictory. I believe that because I think peace is better than conflict, and peace comes, I think, by learning to live with differences. And part of learning to live with differences entails looking not just at differences but at common ground. Sometimes we have things in common that we don't realize.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Two Boys Perform an Act of Kindness

I personally believe that kindness is something that is good. I like the following story because it illustrates a small act of kindness that had positive consequences. The story is pretty short:
An older boy and his young companion were walking along a road that led through a field. They saw an old coat and a badly worn pair of men's shoes by the roadside, and in the distance they saw the owner working in the field. 
The younger boy suggested that they hide the shoes, conceal themselves, and watch the perplexity on the owner's face when he returned.  
The older boy thought that would not be so good. He said the owner must be a very poor man. So, after talking the matter over, at his suggestion, they decided to try another experiment. Instead of hiding the shoes, they would put a silver dollar [which was then a commonly used coin] in each shoe and see what the owner did when he discovered the money.  
Pretty soon the man returned from the field, put on his coat, slipped one foot into a shoe, felt something hard, took his foot out and found the silver dollar. Wonder and surprise shone upon his face. He looked at the dollar again and again, turned around and could see nobody, then proceeded to put on the other shoe. When to his great surprise he found another dollar, his feelings overcame him. He knelt down and offered aloud a prayer of thanksgiving, in which he spoke of his wife being sick and helpless and his children without bread. He fervently thanked the Lord for this bounty from unknown hands and evoked the blessing of heaven upon those who gave him this needed help. 
The boys remained hidden until he had gone. They had been touched by his prayer and by his sincere expression of gratitude. As they left to walk down the road, one said to the other, "Don't you have a good feeling?" (As quoted in Gordon B. Hinckley, Way to Be! 16-18)

Book Review: The Rhetoric of American Civil Religion

I've recently received word from Taylor & Frances Online that a book review I wrote was published in the Journal of Religious and Th...