Culture, traditions and the law

It fascinates me that per the Roman church (and those liturgical churches that came out of it), Lent is observed from Ash Wednesday to the evening of Holy Thursday, just before the last supper, excluding Sundays.  The Eastern church and Milanese Rite don’t start lent until the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday, and they end on Holy Thursday, including Sundays.  This seems to be a tradition formed after Easter, when each Sunday became a “feast” day, and therefore, Sundays are excluded from Lenten fasting – not just that one isn’t required to fast on Sundays, but is actually forbidden to do so.

Culture and traditions – you have to wonder why it is that those become almost as important, or in the case of Islam, the things that people notice – instead of the religion itself.  It’s sort of like letter of the law versus spirit of the law.  Even Christ talked about this when He healed a man on the Sabbath.  “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”  (Mark 3:4)  Clearly, it was the spirit of the law – keeping the Sabbath holy – that was most important.

So many people don’t realize that Mohammad said that the People of the Book were to be protected under Islamic law.  Say: “O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord” (5:71 AYA/68 MP).  There are, of course, challenges – are you truly believers, or do you simply provide lip service?  But custom and tradition in several Islamic countries have actually led to persecution of Jews and Christians, rather than following the actual religion itself.

Baha’is have as a tenet of their faith the independent investigation of truth, and learning through deepening oneself in the writings.  And yet they’ve created this “Ruhi Method” of learning, which relies on rote memorization and no actual development of wisdom.  While their saving grace is that if they move forward in unity, God will eventually set their path aright – it’s sad to see a beautiful religion turning away from the actual teachings.

I think I’d rather take my clue on behavior from the Exemplar we were given, y’know?

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