TED Conversations

Tai Kapaji

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Why do you go to church?

This is not a debate. I am interested in conversation and hearing the various reasons why you choose to participate in church, or church activities.

This may include any church related activities that you feel qualify.

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    Mar 24 2014: Tai,
    In Sunday school, I was taught that God was apart from reality, that God is a male deity. I was taught about heaven and hell, but the focus was on hell, the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. My questions brought about the nun's advice.

    About two weeks later I was alone in nature and began to meditate on God. I wanted God to reveal (himself) to me so I could get answers to questions. In the process I began to feel that I was not alone. Then there was this dialog, I knew that it was all in my head, but this was not what I was used to. I felt that I was rising to a higher plane of consciousness, that I was communicating with some higher force.

    I became aware that God is not somewhere else, that God is not apart from reality, that God has no sexual gender. God is the life force of the cosmos. I also became aware that everything in nature could be reduced to a common denominator, and that common denominator was closely associated with what God was. It was the source of all that is, or was, or ever will be.

    I returned to my Sunday school teachers to report what I had experienced, and they said that the devil was putting thoughts in my head. I did the same with my secular school teachers and they said that I was having some kind of mental breakdown.

    It would be eleven years before I could tie my experience in with anything else, and it was in a nuclear physics class; the common denominator is the sub-atomic world. With that knowledge, I began a study on what the ancient world knew about God. It led me into Eastern philosophy, mysticism, mythology, symbolism, and a book on world religions. It takes religion out of the box and dashes it with color and inspiration. I wrote a book about it.

    Religion is about the spiritual quest. It is not about what happens to you when you are dead. It's about learning to live life to the fullest and not dragging others down in the process.
    • Apr 8 2014: Great thoughts.I would suggest you look at what Islam teaches us about how to live life and develop the spiritual connection to God.
      Quran is the final book of God which is the only book that is still preserved in the language it was sent down which is still a living language i.e Arabic.
      The Holy Prophet (PBUH) the last messenger of God said:
      The best amongst you is one who learns the Quran and teaches it
      Read about the Quran and Sunnah to know what I am talking about
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        Apr 8 2014: I have read the English version of the Quran. Like any religion, there is good and evil, even within the religion itself. The Arabs were instrumental in helping the development of science. For that, I give them credit. But they are also very intolerant of other faiths. It is this intolerance that leads me to question the underlying motives of Muslims. It seems they are more interested in leading the world to Islam rather than to world peace.

        I am a Christian and believe in the Christian spirit "love thy neighbor as thyself". I do not judge one by their faith, I judge they by their actions. I presently have a Muslim friend who needs my help right now. My church teaches me to help others. But based on what I see in the world today, you won't find me in a Muslim church.
        • Apr 8 2014: I appreciate your response.Allow me to explain
          Muslims being intolerant to other faiths is a generalization.It depends on person to person.Some make friendships with other faiths while others don't.You can not make a judgement by what people say,what you hear on the news etc.That is a matter of preference for every Muslim and how much knowledge they have gained of their religion.
          Muslims do not have any underlying motives ,they just want everyone to know what the absolute truth is.
          The thing is all religions in this world have the same common ideologies of making the world a better place,to do right and not to do wrong.Not to hurt anyone and help each other out when in need.
          The question that comes into mind that which is the right religion because there can only be one right answer to a question.1+1 will always equal 2 no matter what you do
          We are given this life to find the absolute truth to seek knowledge and know what is right for us and what is wrong.Learning about other religions is a necessity for us so that we may know what is the absolute truth.We can't just blindly follow what are parents taught us.They might be right or wrong.Once we are mature enough we have to dig deep and gain knowledge to know which is the right religion because there is only one right
          Now coming to why is Islam the right religion and not the rest.That does not mean all other religions are bad.All other religions have their good points that are common to Islam aswell.But the wrong points are where there is a difference of religion.
          The wrong points that arose in different religions besides Islam was because of it being altered by man.It lost its authenticity by being revised and translated hence leading to things not prescribed by God.Whereas the Quran has not lost its authenticity to this day.Arabic the language of the Quran is still a living language spoken in the world of today.All the verses in Arabic that were sent down by God were memorized by the companions of the prophet.
        • Apr 8 2014: Continuation from above

          So when the Prophet(pbuh) died the companions compiled what they had memorizedin book form so that it doesnot lose authenticity.When Muslims pray five times a day in congregation verses of the Quran are recited so sometimes it happens that the muslim leading the prayer(imaam) makes a mistake so one of the muslims behind the imaam corrects him.Praying five times a day has been prescribed on Muslim during the time of the Prophet(pbuh) and is still done with the same timeliness.When the month of Ramadan comes once a year all Muslims fast and perform the Taraweeh prayer at Night.In this prayer only done in Ramadan the imaam starts of with the first verse of the Quran and by the end of the Month recite the entire Quran.So during the 30 day the entire quran is recited in sequence divided accordingly.And whenever the imaam makes a mistake any muslims behind correct him.So just analyze we have the imaam memorizing the whole Quran and the some of the people behind him to verify he is reciting correctly.And this taraweeh prayer has been performed during the time of the Prophet(pbuh) upto this day. This is how entact the book of Quran is.
          It is said that it is the most easiest of books to memorize.Children age 7 memorize the whole book.
          Another beautiful aspect of Islam is the Hajj(Pilgrimage).Just look at the number of people who perform the pilgrimage of Makkah where there is no distinguish between which race,color,sex,creed you are from all the people perform Pilgrimage together as one and if you notice everyone wears two white cloths making everyone the same.The president of any country will be performing Hajj next to a janitor.No differenciation whatsoever.

          This is just some of the samples of the beauty of the religion(ISLAM) You have to read to appreciate the beauty and forget what other people have to say
          It is in Islam that there is no compulsion in religion.Everyone comes to Islam at his freewill.
          May God give you the wisdom to follow RIGHT
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        Apr 9 2014: I respect your viewpoint. you don't sound like a Muslim that I would have issues with.

        As far as which religion is right or wrong, the ancient mystics made it clear that no religion can have a monopoly on God. To say that there can only be one right religion is an opinion that I can't agree with.

        To know and follow your faith is a matter of interpretation. Muslims will quote the Quran when they kill other's in Allah's name. The Christians did the same during the witch hunts. Neither faith can guarantee against evil if one is determined to judge others by their faith. It must come from the heart.

        The spiritual connection to God must go beyond the words. The words were there to lead you in the right direction, but as Jesus and Paul said in the Epistles of the New Testament, unless you be born in the spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. It is this spiritual connection that I desire. It doesn't matter to me how one finds it, it only matters that one is looking for the right reasons.

        Peace be to you.
        • Apr 9 2014: Get to know about Imaam Suhaib Webb
          A non Muslim who converted to Islam
          One of the amazing and knowledgeable Imaams of our era
          He is way greater than the imaams who have been born Muslim
          I have great respect for this guy
          You will know its the truth when you read and listen
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        Apr 9 2014: I read some of the articles in his website. I can see why you like him. He has a good way of thinking. If all people were to embrace his teaching, Muslim or not, the world would be a better place.
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    Apr 9 2014: I think, it's a good habit to spend one hour per week to align my values and priorities. It brings a sense of meaning to my life. It gives me a chance to be thankful for everything I have. It also gives me a chance to participate in something good: the church I go to sponsors many activities from building water sources in Haiti and shelters for abused girls in India to collecting warm jackets for the children from the school across the street.

    I am not concerned about going to hell or to heaven. I am more concerned about living my life in a good way. Could I do the same in a secular way? Perhaps. But why does it matter?
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    Mar 29 2014: My son told me the other day that he goes because they always have doughnuts and other treats at the end of the service. I asked him what his thoughts were on God, he said that God is this person who used to live here with the rest of us until we started sinning then he went up to the sky. He believes he's seen a picture of God with his muscles and Trident in a battle against evil and that God sat down with paper and pencil to write out the Bible himself by hand.

    I just thought it was funny to hear how an how an 8 year old interprets what he hears and learns in church.
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    Mar 24 2014: I was raised a Roman Catholic. My first time in a church was mesmerizing. In Sunday school, I quickly became disillusioned by what they were teaching. I saw the potential for heaven, but their teaching was mostly about hell. At the age of nine, my Sunday school teachers were becoming overwhelmed with my questions. A Catholic nun advised me that I needed to get alone with God and ask him the questions and let him answer.

    Shortly thereafter, I had a spiritual experience that would teach me far more than what the church was teaching. I continued to go to church because my parents made me go. When I left home, I stopped going to church. I joined the navy and was trained in the sciences. Yet I had this nagging feeling that something was missing in my life that science alone couldn't fill. I started looking for a church that I could relate to. I went to several different ones, but always felt that the message was watered down or biased by church dogma.

    I am presently attending a Spiritualist church because that is the part of my life that I am trying to understand. Besides, I like the people that go there. I am a freethinker. I refuse to believe anything unless I understand it. It is my goal to understand what spiritual experience is all about and how it can enhance our lives. My own spiritual experiences have been very rewarding, but I don't understand how to make them happen. I do know that they occurred when there was conflict in my life. But do I need conflict to induce a spiritual experience?
    • Mar 24 2014: Thank you for your input, I go to church for similar reasons although I have never had a spiritual experience. I find it interesting when people refer to this, could you elaborate?
  • Apr 9 2014: That is absolutely correct that spiritual connection to God goes beyond words and it what is that makes you strong.And for that matter you can get it from just realizing how we came into this world,looking at the beautiful nature around us,hearing the harmonious sounds,smelling the food etc.
    But when it comes to practice one has to follow a particular religion to be in that spiritual sync with God.We can get it by either of the following Jewism,Christrianity,Islam etc.God sent down these books so that people go in the right direction absolutely correct you said. but the Quran was sent down as the last book that is said was the religion for humanity.It fixed all the misconceptions and wrong doings people were doing despite receiving the books of the past from the messengers.It is said in the Quran

    Keep Faith all pure and undefiled.

    There is Allah, the One and Only:

    Eternal, Free of all needs; on Whom

    Depend; to Whom go back, all things;

    He hath no son nor father nor partner.

    There is no person like Unto Him.

    when people associated Jesus as son of God.

    No book came after this because the religion was complete and God kept the book intact for people to learn and gain guidance from it.The knowledge is out there for the ones who seek it
    No religion has monopoly on God,every religion has it views on portraying God and His association with his creations.Islams message is intact hence being the right religion and praying five times a day is the best spiritual connection one can get.A reminder everyday that there is God who has created you and where you shall have to return.And not just getting the spiritual connection while going to church.Prayer is the best spiritual connector and it is prescribed in Islam so that you do it regularly and at a alotted time.

    Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way.I just want to convey the message as truthfully I can.To learn or not to learn is in every mans disposal.Once you know the truth you will abstain from false
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    Apr 8 2014: My main reason for going to church is to connect with, and focus on, the Lord. To thank Him for all the blessings and pray for others. While being there I also learn new stuff with the sermons.

    Sometimes there is the Holy Supper or a baptism, our only two ceremonies, but there may also be a wedding or funeral.

    When it is all over, there is the opportunity to connect with friends and relatives over coffee and cookies.
  • Apr 8 2014: It is my sincere request to Learn what Islam is about.It is the solution to all you problems.It is the means of staying on the right path.
    Read the Quran and Sunnah and you will realize the power.
    Read about the life of the Prophet(pbuh) to know his character,his deeds.
    The first word in the Quran says :Read
    Only if you read will you not be in the state of ignorance
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      Apr 9 2014: Religion is a matter of identity. If my name was Syed, I would read Quran. But my name is Arkady. It's a Russian name with a Greek origin. So, I do the same as you do, except I read the Bible. I hope, you don't mind :-).
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    Mar 24 2014: Tai, I think you started this off with the comment of "I go to chuch for the sense of community". I think you nailed it and I will expand to expalin.

    We "mostly" accept Maslow's Hiearchy of needs. Please look at the needs chart and relate religion to each of the five steps. A case could be made for each of the steps.

    Second. If you examine the cultures of the world there is a place for the mental and moral welfare of the community. We tend to gather by finding likenesses, wants, fears, desires, needs, etc ....

    Finally compare Maslow to Psalm 23:
    1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. - Not mentioned in Maslow's hierarchy needs
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, - Physiological
    3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. - Safety
    4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Esteem
    5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. - Self-actualization
    6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. - Love/Belonging

    Church meets our most basic needs on many levels.

    Even those who choose not to attend practice values common to the culture ... Not everyone who denies Christianity is pure Atheist. There are Agnostics ... Agnostic theism ... agnostic atheism .... and just plain not practicing.

    The sad truth is that the argument is always "Are you Christian or Atheist?" or the argument can be swayed such as "Do you attend church regularly" OR "Do you go to church every week".

    It is no coincidence that surveys about religion occur near election dates .... Politics are all about US versus THEM.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Mar 22 2014: "The devil makes work for idle hands." It is boring at the top of the food chain. Religion, going to church, keeps us occupied, keeps us out of trouble, in order.
  • Mar 19 2014: I will start off by saying that I go to church primarily for the sense of community.