Paul Budde's History Archives

Separating culture and religion

The 700 different religions in the world all originated within their own local cultural, geographical, social, and economic environment.

In that respect I see Christianity (as separate from Christendom) as a cultural development. As a cultural development I am undeniable part of it. Many of the religious Christian events are in its origin dating back to Germanic and Celtic times (and even before). They are linked to seasonal events, agriculture cycles, astronomical and weather events very much within the natural and geographical environment of Europe – the heartland of Christianity. They also reflect a journey of the evolution that we are all part of. The same cultural, geographical, social, and economic circumstances are shared with the people within that society and that creates bonds and communities. Belonging is a very strong human need and the big and small religions all clearly do provide a level of security and within that context they have done and still play critical roles in education, healthcare, community services and many other social activities. At the same time unfortunately also too frequently, when this work is linked to religion, it gets entangled in superiority and narrowly defined morality, as for example is displayed by Christianity (e.g. USA) and Islam (e.g. Iran).

However, if we split the religious dogma from the underlaying culture I feel connected as a global citizen to the many cultural events and rituals. Many of these cultural aspects have been given a religious coating, but if you separate them, I do not see them as religious, they are at least in their origin cultural.

So, you can see me participating in the Easter rituals in Ootmarsum, some have a Christian other have a pagan history. I am happy to burn a candle for Mother Mary as a symbol of the mother earth as this has become a tradition in our family as a sign of thinking of each other on special occasions or special moments. For the same reason I will burn incense in a Hindu or Buddhist temple. I love the atmosphere in medieval cathedrals and the age-old Romanesque churches and monasteries. I am equally interested in mosques I love medieval Islamic art and architecture. I am a great admirer of Gregorian, and Russian Orthodox church music. These are all great gifts to humanity from these cultures.

Sometimes such moments give you a spiritual moment and other times that community feeling of ‘belonging. It also provides links to our forebears as some of these traditions in their origin go back thousands of years. But also, one can do this out of respects for other cultures and other traditions. In the end we are all together on this planet Earth.

At some of these places, you can feel the piety from millions of people who have come to these places for centuries and that gives me a spiritual boost. In the same way that a beautiful sunset, a spectacular mountain, a picture of a faraway galaxy and many, many more parts of the evolution give you that feeling of awe and being part of Nature.

Nature as God