Sunday 14 October 2012

Sunday Special: Signs of Faith.

Question: Is there any point being a Christian unless you outwardly demonstrate it by dress, declaration, symbolism, or 'club' membership? In fact, is there any point in being a member of any religion without actually telling someone?

This is not a religion bashing post; but a genuine question. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a hard-n-fast atheist, and as such there are certain things about belief in the supernatural that fascinate me.

When I encounter someone 'brandishing' a cross-shaped necklace, as above and below, I always wonder what they are trying to say to me, and why. Are they trying to give the impression of being a 'good person'? Or perhaps just shouting a hearty 'hello, look at me, I'm a jolly Christian'.

And what about all the expensive gold finery worn by the barmy big-wig religion bosses; is it really necessary? Does it make them more 'religious' than their 'flock'? Do they need it in order to demonstrate divine superiority? Or is it worn simply to create a feeling of 'them' and 'us'.

My question really is this. If you genuinely believed in a particular, or unusual deity, would there be any point if no-one else knew?

Unfortunately I see a parallel here between religious symbolism, and car stickers that say 'I heart Labradors' (not on my car, thank you).


  1. i do think one can sincerely believe a thing and not need to proclaim it. the belief might be personally sustaining and need only be expressed in how one lives, rather than in what one wears or says. i have personally always been suspicious of proselytizing of any sort. i resent when people try to convince me that one way or another is the true or intelligent or right way. i believe we each can make sense of our lives for ourselves, hence i wont try to convince you of anything either.

    i am curious, though, what others think about your question. hope you are well.

  2. This post gives me cause for thought.....I agree with what you say, and Angella also, and yet on a daily basis I wear a very tiny, very discreet, cross. Raised a Roman Catholic I am a victim of the 'born on your knees guilty' mindset...which drives my non-Catholic husband mad. My grandmother kissed the altar rails morning noon and night and was not a nice person. As an older and wiser 58 year old, I no longer attend Mass.....the cross I wear is a gift from my son, it was given to me at a time in my life when it was important, and I wear the cross for else. I do not profess to understand organised religions of any sort.......I know people, and there are many types...good, bad and middling. I would like to think that we all just put one foot in front of the other every morning and try to live every day with some kindness and decency and tolerance.

  3. They are talismans to make us feel safer, like wearing garlic in Eastern Europe, carrying a gun in the USA, a stout walking stick in a London park or towing a wife covered in black-out material. Crosses (and the rest) are adult Teddy Bears. The whole world would be a nicer place and function much more smoothly if we all just admitted same and actually carried our favourite Teddy Bear everywhere with us AND talked about them with each other!


    One coffee down so far, three more to go before I'm human. Stop asking me these deep questions in the morning!

  4. Oh, I love The Owl Wood's comment. I have a necklace with a medallion -- Green Tara, Buddhist bodhisattva that symbolizes various attributes. I wear it, Like TOW suggests, as a Teddy Bear, a comforting talisman that speaks to me of compassion and quietness. If I'm wearing a low neckline, I leave the necklace off, as it is distracting and really is just a private thing that I like. I don't want to get into a discourse on Buddhism with people who may see it and ask.

    As for the big gold crosses (and other regalia) worn by Catholic big-wigs, I think they ought to be ashamed of such ostentatious displays when they preach the life of Christ (not a believer myself) and they minister to the masses of the world's poor. Just think of the food and shelter one of those hunks of gold could buy. I say, put your money where your mouth is.

  5. I have one but don't wear it in case it gets caught in lethal machinery! I also have a little fishy in my car window (which is doubly good as I like to go fishing as you know!)

    I can't speak for anyone else of course but my primary relationship is with God. I don't need to shout about it, it's a personal thing between myself and Him.

    Don't we all have a cross to bear anyway, whether we show it in gold or not?

  6. Wow, what a controversial post, bound to get up some noses..
    I myself lived as a so called christian up until my Father died in the most awful way. I then did my rethinking, I was only 24 at the time.
    I am now what some would call an atheist but I like to think that I am more a Pagan.
    I do not broadcast this to all and sundry as they probably would not understand but it stisfies my need to believe in something and nature is right in front of my eyes to believe in.
    I think that religion is the biggest cause of troubl in the world and has always been so.
    Fear keeps people believing in most cases, I know it did me and it took a long time to shake it off having had it instilled in me for 24 years.


  7. Some interesting and thought provoking comments, Cro. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool hard and fast atheist. I have no quibble with religion but prefer that people keep their various beliefs to themselves. Me, I just try to live by Wheaton's Rule, ie: "Don't be a dick."

  8. I am a Christian: I tell people I am if it comes up in conversation (or on a blog post!) or if it seems relevant. I wear a cross sometimes - more often than not - but why? I think it is partly to "advertise" my faith, but it is also to remind me of what I believe. I don't have a fishy sticker on the car - my agnostic Mr FD would have something to say about that!
    I think my faith is primarily between me and my God. It should affect how I live my life, and I like to think I'm a better person because of my belief in/relationship with God. If people ask me, I will tell them, but I don't think it's my job to ram it down people's throats. That's why, I suppose, I will wear a cross - to signal that if someone wants to talk "religion" I have a religion totalk about!
    Sadly I agree that religion SEEMS to be the biggest cause of trouble in the world - but I think it is more about power dressed up as religion. Those who truly take the words of their God seriously, and consider other people in that, would, I believe, not be fighting/killing those who they consider to be infidels. As far as I understand it, every world religion should have love at the root...but that so often becomes corrupted into love of self, not love of others.
    As for the rich trappngs of Christian leaders - I do think it is too much. But I think it is rooted in the beliefs of Medieval times that these people are representatives of God, and for God only the best -jewels, gold etc. - is good enough. There is a bishop or archbishop who only wears a simple cross, but I don't know who it is.
    Certainly when people are struggling in the economic crisis, the rich trappings of organised religion can be very anger inducing.
    Goodness me. This is a bit erudite and thought provoking!!!

  9. Knight Templar Christians have never felt the need to advertise their beliefs, ever since the end of the Crusades, and there are still plenty of old 'priest's holes' hidden in the fire-places of houses around the UK.

    Modern day Christians are obsessed with evangelism, so the bigger the cross, the better, as far as I can tell. I have more respect for reclusive mystics than I do for the likes of Billy Graham, but then again I have never been drawn to all-inclusive clubs. I am too much of a snob for that, despite my outward humility - honest to God!

  10. Dear Cro you have a most interesting and thought provoking blog post.
    I to am an atheist, to be more precise, a Druid Atheist who recognises the celtic deities as basic archetypes.
    In regard to the wearing of symbols: I wear a ring that identifies me to others on the same path.
    My biggest grudge against those who follow religions is their two faced hypocrisy!

  11. It's all about how you live, not what you wear - or so it should be.

  12. Well . . . Into the mix; When I was baptised at 11yrs by my fundamental (putting it lightly) Christain Father and his "Brethren" my "ignorant, wordly Aunt" (My dad's words) gifted me a silver cross complete with Jesus . . . It went in the bin! My Dad was horrified . . I can't quote where it makes reference to this in the bible and I'm not about to call him to ask (I've a busy day) . . . But something to do with idolatry and vanity!
    There, just thought I'd add that in, and scarper . . .
    Enjoy your day x

  13. Despite not being religious, I collect prayer beads and crosses from around the word. both vintage and new. You can always find prayers beads at a local market. It started because they were easy to carry home and less grotesque than some of the awful crafts you see in some places. My beads have grown into a lovely collection. I hang them together on an old hook and simply enjoy them as a whole, with no significance to me as religious items. I particularly like Mexican crosses in silver and often wear a cross as simply a piece of jewelry. My mother in law, on the other hand used to give me (leave around my house)little embroidered necklaces (issued by the Catholic church) that would "spare me the eternal fire" should I die not a Catholic...a real issue for her. She used to make my kids make rosaries for prisoners (black beads) when she baby sat them.

    I do believe we all have a Talisman of sorts and like the comment above that crosses are Talismans.

  14. Now Cro, you must realise that the high-up religious guys like the pope and arch-bishop HAVE to wear all that gold and regalia and live in palaces while the third world starves, because that's what Jesus did (can you tell I'm on my soap box?).
    I wear a pentacle on my finger because I am a white, western, 'middle class' female and therefore people automatically assume I'm a christian. I am a pagan and my beliefs are between me and my gods.
    Have a great weekend.

  15. I think some Christian folk wear a cross more as a constant reminder to themseles. Personally I don't feel the need to advertise my beliefs.

  16. Ya know, Cro, I have wondered about that very thing myself at times. I consider whatever a person wants to believe should be kept to themselves. I despise "pushers" of religion.

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  18. I find all religion an abomination - perversely hypocritical and vengeful.

    1. When writing the above, I decided to limit myself to the simple question of why folk need to demonstrate their belief in the supernatural. I'll leave my attitude towards 'religion' itself to another day.

  19. If you'd like another perspective regarding the wealth of the Catholic Church, take a look at this video:

    Gotta love Sarah Silverman!

    1. And the Pope would get 'all the pussy'. I like her. Thanks for introducing that!

  20. While I am definitely a believer (a dyed in the wool Mormon), I am sympathetic to those who have a jaded opinion of organized religion. I don't feel that religion itself has been the cause of trouble, but rather the misuse of it by those who lust after power. As for symbols like crosses, one is a pretty poor christian if a necklace is required to identify them as such. However, it could serve as a useful symbol to remind the wearer how they should live.

    1. Hello Jim. I suppose it's the 'bigger and better' diamond encrusted gold crosses, as worn by the big-wigs, that disturb me most. I just don't understand why it's necessary.

  21. This is such an interesting discussion.

    I find religion and people's beliefs very interesting, but personally believe that organized religion is behind many of the woes in the world, because " my god is better than your god" even though in reality people believe in something very similar with minor differences that evidently are sport to argue.

    I choose to believe in Mother Earth. I'm not sure if that makes me an atheist or a pagan, but we do enjoy the old holidays and rituals centering on celebrating the planet and us as inhabitants.


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