Your comments on - Explaining your Religion/Personal Belief pg2
Article ID: 2030
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,650
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Author: Pagan Communities
Posted: September 16th. 1997
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Initial Thoughts from the Community (Day One)
How would you explain your religion and/or
personal belief system? Page #2
(as of Monday 8/4/97 8:07 pm)
"A polytheistic religion that sees a balance in nature between the feminine and masculine with each playing a different, but equally important role. One that places great importance on personal responsibility and holds that there is more than one path to the Divine."
"A religion and a personal belief system are two entirely different things. A religion is something that has a spirit, or whatever you think the higher power is, and through religion this higher power is worshipped. A personal belief system is a way of thinking that includes your moral beliefs and your thoughts of what is right and wrong. Wicca is a religion because followers worship the Goddess and the God. Sure, you can think of it as a personal belief system, because your belief in the Goddess and the God can influence your way of thinking, but because a higher is worshipped...We must think of Wicca as a religion."
"An earth based religion that shares common beliefs with other religions past and present and allows for the individualization of its members within these common beliefs. A unifying religion that is based upon natural balance and the idea that we earth and all are connected in spirit and that intent defines the individual."
"As a child I believed that my Goddess was with in me and I didn't think I need to go to a church to find my Gods. For many years I didn't go to any church as none of them were satisfying. I am now glad to say that I have been able to worship the way I feel most comfortable and fulfilled."
"As a kind Earth loving God/Goddess honoring magickal way of life."
"As a practitioner of the Bardic tradition, I seek to be at one with Nature and all that surrounds me... whether the land itself, the creatures upon it or in the air above it, in the waters it contains, or the spiritual entities which exist in through or in spite of it."
"Basically a way of living that feeds my spirit and soul giving me a feeling of oneness with nature and fulfillment."
"Briefly, I don't think that is possible in my case. I follow too many paths to really nail it down briefly. How do you describe a Voodooist/ Chaos Magician who dabbles in Ceremonial Magick and Demonology ?"
"First up, I would like to clear up a couple of the answers ... there are a few questions namely num. 20 21. and 22 that needed a third answer ... BOTH and even a fourth NEITHER. 20.... Both. Because I feel I am a part of the Pagan Religion, but also because it is a part of my personal belief system. 21 and 22... Both. Because Witchcraft and Wicca have been defined as both. Because we all seem to combine the Personal Belief system with religion in the pagan community. To answer any differently than I have, you would have to define both terms. I believe that there is an Ultimate power in the Universe that created all things in it including our reality and our Gods. I believe that in order to make the earthbased religion I follow in general more to my liking, I have to understand and update the old definitions of the Wheel to fit what happens in my life and the lives around me. To fully adhere only to what we believe our ancestors believed is to degrade ourselves and put one style of living above the other- but also to lose the best of both. Definitions of Religion and Personal Belief system are as follows. I think this may be a way of reconciling the two so that we can all work as a cohesive group-- Religion.... A system of beliefs and practices held in common by over fiftyish people. The glue that sticks a group of people together using common ground. It defines the mechanics and general beliefs of this group of people of which make them unique from other religions.-- Personal Belief System... A system of individual interpretations of your religion of choice. This PBS must be reconcilable to this religion of choice i.e. you shouldn't practice human sacrifice if your religion cannot support you in it.(i.e. if it is illegal by the standards of the country you live in... ) yet you can use the athame in the south and the wand in the east, even if your religion uses the opposite. Using different symbols at home is fine as long as you can still use and understand the meanings of the ones used by the group. Its like I can speak with a Mormon about spirituality by working within their symbol system to explain myself and to interpret in my mind what they are trying to say to me. Roughly using these definitions you can see how the two concepts can be used together. Religion being the nest from which we can all be supported in our own journeys. Unity is the answer. Pass it on....."
"For many Wiccans, we try to follow about five basic principles that we strongly believe in. We believe there is a god and goddess that are like two twin energies. We believe in a deep reverence of the earth. We believe in the concept of reincarnation. We believe in and use magick. We believe to never try to convert people to our religion, but if someone has a question well try to answer it the best we can."
"For me, the Craft is a way of life celebrated each and everyday. This celebration is in the admiration of a blooming flower, the awe felt at the sight of a full moon or the joy of watching a ground squirrel feed. The Craft is an appreciation of all things living and all things of the Earth. It is a love of the Goddess and God who created all things and a realization that each and everything is a part of the two- and that the two are one. It is a belief that magick really works and there are things out there that can not be seen- but are still very real."
"Hmmm...this is a tough question. I usually explain that I am Wiccan and that is an earth based religion. I usually explain the Rede and the Law of Threefold Return and Karma. I use religion, rather than personal belief system, because I truly see Wicca as a religion. I feel this way mostly because of the Rede. Its a statement that should apply to all who would call themselves Wiccan."
"How do I explain to a non-Pagan? I usually start by saying that I follow The Old Religion. Invariably the person then asks what that is and I describe it then as the religion all of our ancestors followed before they were forced to become Christian. I then explain that while there are differences between the various traditions there is enough in common that we teach respect of each others paths."
"I am a member of a religion which is Earth Centered and Earth Identified. I believe that I hold the ultimate responsibility for all of my actions and behaviors. I perceive the Earth and its Environment as the physical aspects of my Goddess and Her Consort the God. I recognize the necessity of tolerant religious behavior towards others and expect to receive it in return. No religion is inherently evil any more than fire is evil. Evil is in the mis-use of a thing or concept. Fire can warm you and cook your food or it can burn down your house but fire itself is NOT evil. "
"I am a Metaphysical Universalist minister, and as such, I am part of a Universalist order which acknowledges all peaceful traditions which teach or espouse the sacredness unity and interconnectedness of all life. We acknowledge that the Universal Mind is infinite and unknowable while we are in human form, that there is only one race that we know of so far and it is human. that there is only one nation and it is the earth. and that what we think and say reflects our spirit and creates our reality. We acknowledge that we live in a finite world where we are governed by its physical limitations and so we endeavor to live our lives in a manner which minimizes the harm we do to ourselves and others. We acknowledge that each individual and culture is responsible for determining for themselves what constitutes right action and appropriate behavior but we do not condone the imposition of same onto unwilling and or unknowing participants. We are considered pagan only in the strictest sense of the word in that we are not Christian although we welcome people of any faith."
"I am a Welsh Traditional Druid and we are monotheistic. We believe that there is one God Who is male and female and responds to all names that mankind calls Him Her. There is truth to be found in all religions and we learn from all of them for we recognize that our aspect of God is not the only one that is valid. We place equal emphasis on ritual and philosophy in our daily lives and desire community with each other in order to increase our understanding. I think that the keywords here are tolerance and kindness when possible because all journeys lead us back to the One regardless what Path we each choose in each lifetime."
"I am a Wiccian who believes in living the craft as well as worshipping it daily. The Gods are not only a part of me, but a part of every thing that I do. This is life for me and I am happiest this way. Even when I was very young, and trying to be a good Roman Catholic, I was always wondering why no one else saw the 2 Gods. Later there where other things that set me apart. Like the sight of the life energies that radiate out form all life. Then when I became a person who met the Gods on every night, my life start changing and now, as a Wiccan and Craft Smith here, I am much better and happier in life. I always tell others that the religion for them is right- and that if their religion lets them see clearly all that is in life and their is faith strong, then they to have the right religion for them. If they are Christian and can freely live that, then it is right for them...For the best and only path in life for me is the wheel that I walk upon and that there are many wheels with in this wheel. They are separate, yet all linked to gether. There are many lessons to learn and still more to understand. This life is but one short chapter, and when it is over, I will go to the next chapter and learn still more and maybe even pass on lessons to others. Blessed Be-George "
"I am an eclectic Wiccan Witch. That means, that while I do worship the Goddess and the God and all their aspects, I do not follow any specific recorded tradition. I read many books on Wicca and Witchcraft and decided what fits my beliefs and what does not. I incorporate what does into my life and practices. I practice magick which is the exertion of my will on the universe. Magick works for mental and emotional goals, but is harder to have success with when I work with the purely physical."
"I am eclectic think that's the term I try to gather from all of paganism mostly wicca/druid/ismand native amer-ind shamanism. and all other occult I find interesting which is most of it"
"I believe in a Divine power superior to myself and build a relationship with the Goddess through learning more of myself and communicating with Her. I am not a member of any particular religion because to take attempt to label a community of beliefs steals away the Beauty of our Community. My practices are my own and I work under no guise of a collective religion. I work to be the best person I can the Goddess helps me with my quest and I use magick as a tool for the benefit of life. I am not Wiccan I am not Christian I am not Islamic I am not Druid and I am not any other singular label you can tack on to the moral spiritual and emotional workings of an individual. If one thing is true it is Nature Loves Diversity and our diverse individualistic beliefs ARE the beauty of Earth-based religions."
"I believe in a Goddess who is the ALL to me. She is represented here on earth in many forms, most all of which are the natural world i.e. trees, water, earth, sky, wind, fire, as well as the spirit inside one. She is always there and very comforting, but can be demanding as in the case of whiners...yes which even I do"
"I believe in a trinity of trinities- divine manifestation of the law of three times three. The three trinities are in a nut-shell- triple goddess, triple god, and the triple One. It is my personal BELIEF that this is how divinity exists for ME. This belief does not limit Them to manifest in other ways or forms. We limit the Divine- too much Goddess is MUCH bigger than our squabbles over Them. They don't need our belief to exist, but I'm sure They appreciate it. Regardless they are all ONE and exist within and through us while independent and separate at the same time. This very briefly is my PERSONAL BELIEF SYSTEM. Wicca on the other hand gives me a means with which to express my beliefs outwardly. THAT is religion in a nutshell."
"I believe in deity. Deity, for me, has masculine and feminine aspects. These aspects manifest themselves as Goddesses and Gods. I believe in the Wheel of Life, Reincarnation, Magick, Karmic Burden, and that deity is immanent in all things."
"I believe in the divine spirit of the Gods and Goddesses. I give praise to the long forgotten feminine more than the masculine but do not discount the masculine. We need cooperation on our planet which is reflected by my praying to both Gods and Goddesses."
"I believe that the Divine is everywhere in all things. I believe that deity is only humanity's way to interact with the Divine. I believe deity to be dualistic having both male attributes God and female attributes Goddess- neither being above the other and both being quite human in deed and personality. I follow the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law. I worship in rituals that I conduct alone. These are usually done during the full moon and the eight seasonal holidays. I use Magick in worship and ritual for healing and to influence my life to the better. I would hope that the non Pagan in question is somewhat knowledgeable in the ways of Paganism. I have a very hard time explaining myself to people who have no idea of anything outside of there own religion."
"I believe that the Divine manifests itself to me not as a stern father type figure, but as a mother AND a father. I pray for their aid and support within my own ritual of worship- and our first and most important law is HARM NONE. Note. This is the simplistic version for people who are pagan-challenged and very young children."
"I believe that there is one great spirit. A force that binds us all together. It shows itself to different cultures and people in different ways so that they can understand. I do not attend large religious services regularly. I prefer to have a more intimate connection with the divine. I do enjoy large ceremonies sometimes. And when I say ceremonies I don't just mean circles I also mean other religious services as well. I don't hate organized religion. All religions are basically the same- read the Golden Bough. I love going to Catholic Mass at Christmas and attending my friends children's Bar Mitzvahs. But I prefer to see the divine in the context of a great spirit."
"I believe. what do I believe?.....I believe that we are each capable of knowing what is right for us. And there is no way that an organized religion can truly answer to all of us-or for that matter ever for a few of us honestly. There is an immense range of beliefs in the world and room for even more. Many of them over lap. Many more of them parallel. But they are not the same. Let each respect their own teachings. I do not follow the gods of the Christian or the Jew, yet I respect them their belief. I do not follow the morality of the Muslim or the Krishna, yet I respect them their morals. That is my belief. or at least the base of my belief. Speak not to me of what is right and wrong, when you do not truly know your self. Subjecting me, my sisters and my brothers, to your beliefs does not make them right.. it only makes me a slave of your beliefs.. I believe that I should ...if you will pardon the quote.. do unto others as I WISH them to do unto me...That all should have this same right and that all should respect this. I will respect your beliefs, so long as you respect mine. We need not agree...yet we need not go to war either. As to the specifics of my beliefs.... First I believe that I will never learn to spell. It is a wasted fight. I believe that power comes from within. I respect the teachings of many religions, cast prayers to the guardians of the four winds, the base elements, and Death. I bow my head to no deity as my lord. Yet to all out of respect. What are my beliefs?...that's one hell of a question. Even sitting here alone, I am hard pressed to put into words what they are. Yet I know them. I know that my honor is dependent upon them. I know the commandments of my beliefs and I try to live by them...but they are my beliefs and no other should be judged by them. My beliefs are "live and let live.".. "die and let die". Allow each to have their own and take strength from them all. There can be found wisdom in many teachings and only through experience can we find enlightenment. -Dallas"
"I belong to a religion that worships the Divine, honors the earth, and respects all living things. My religion is one of freedom, but not without strict discipline and strict adherence to ethical and moral codes that are embodied within the Rede and the Law of Threes. It is both my belief system and my religion - I gain my belief system from the tenets I am taught by my religion and I choose to follow my religion because I believe in its tenets."
"I call Wicca a religion because it functions as a ritualized connection between myself and others. If it were only a personal belief system, I would feel no need to give it a name. It is true that we have many different beliefs and practices. But such diversities are quite common among religious groups. Even in the most nominally dogmatic organizations, there is considerable contention and compromise in every step of community activity. Such diversity is a vital source of strength and plasticity that allows religious groups to survive centuries of change. Wicca is a word that describes many different personal belief systems held by people who have decided to bring their personal ideas into the field of social meaning and religious activity . . . such is the action of naming beliefs and of manifesting them in group rituals or community consciousness."
"I celebrate the Earth and all of its aspects. I prefer not to call Earth mother or father as I think that the true Divinity has no gender. Earth both creates and is filled with life. All aspects of Earth's life is sacred and not enough people respect Earth's unique features its special needs. Having only been studying Wicca for two months, I am testifying as a newbie. I observe Wiccan- Pagans as having the same basic belief system as Pagans but they also offshoot just a couple of extra habits by which they believe. One is that they seem to live their lives by The Threefold Law- which states that any energy good or bad you bring into the world comes back to you in threefold. I see it as "what comes around goes around" or you'll "reap what you sow." My personal belief for many many years is the Golden Rule -- "do unto others", so this belief appealed to me when first checking out Wicca. Wiccans also have what I see as religious ceremonies while celebrating the Sabbats and Esbats. They abide by the Wiccan Rede. I don't know your difference between Witches and Wiccans, so I can't really reply on my feelings comparing the two. I see Witches as also using the Crafts of old -- candlemaking, scentmaking, braiding, potpourri making, gardening. All things which they can bless as their hands are creating each item. If this isn't the correct definition of Witch please correct me. I need to know."
"I define myself as a henotheist. All religions exist and all are right. I personally believe religion is a personal choice and belief. Organized religion only tries to mask the true personal choice. I practice some magick and fully feel passages such as the moon and seasonal cycles."
"I don't think it can be explained briefly. I try to just answer specific questions."
"I don't. I will explain it to someone at length, but not briefly. It takes some time to get through their preconceptions before we negotiate an understanding. Comments on the form 19. Why did you ask this? If they answer no 20-22, it doesn't make sense.-20. My own Path must be a personal belief system by definition.-21 22 In general Wicca seeks to honor and incorporate personal belief systems into its practice of religion. Witchcraft doesn't. This is where the government and Wicca is potentially in conflict. Wicca permits and encourages changes to accommodate personal beliefs, while the government can't deal with such a mutable religion."
"I" explain my personal belief system to others as a form of respect for all. My respect is extended to the divine spirit in everything in this world. When the question of rocks or man made items arises, I explain that rocks are, in my opinion, just as alive as I am. And man made items become infused with spirit as they exist since they were made by man who has the spark of the divine inside why can there not be an extension of that spark to what we produce. Those items we make are as much the products of our spirits as our hands. As far as the similarities and differences between religion and personal belief systems goes, yes, it may be confusing at first. But when I think of it as Religion is the entire collection of beliefs in a comprehensive form. The Spiral Dance and a Personal Belief System is how I, as a child of the Lady, chose to put into practice the beliefs in the religion. So actually I have a religion and a personal belief system and the two are dependent intertwined and inseparable. We must somehow come together as a family community physically and spiritually if we are to survive the coming centuries and the inevitable attacks of those raised to believe we are wrong to not worship the god they choose. And there will be attacks and as we unify the attacks will become more vicious and frequent. Our best hope is in unity and faith. As we stand together with the Lady and Lord anything becomes possible. Blessed be."
"I have a really big problem with that. For me, my religion is a personal thing and its very hard to explain what I believe. Its hard to find the words. I just tell them the basics and do not go into any detail. I usually try to explain that I believe in one Divinity that I think every religion worships using different names for it. I tell them that I think that Divine can manifest in a number of different ways in the forms of Goddesses and Gods including the Gods that all of the major religions worship. I tell them that I believe that all things living and not are a part of that Divine and that is why we should respect other beings even vastly different than ourselves. It is not our place to judge what being is superior to another. I usually throw in all the standard reassurances that I do not worship the Devil or wear a pointed hat and cast love spells on everyone."
"I tend to take bits from lots of different related pagan religions and meld them together into my personal belief system. I mostly focus on Dianic/Wicca and Neo-Paganism. A lot of information on pagan religions is fairly eclectic anyway. Z. Budapest and Starhawk, and lots of our other religious leaders and writers, tend to use rituals and deities from all sorts of pagan religions worldwide...I think that the constant change and looser structures that characterize many modern pagan paths mean that followers can take different elements from each religion, or from just one, and thus make it into their own personal belief system- while still saying that they still follow a particular religious path."
"I truly do not feel that The Craft can be pigeon-holed as one or the other- Religion v. Personal Belief. Granted while the hard edged literal definitions differ, the similarities in the overlap of those definitions are very important. The question I pose is this...If you practice a Religion should not your Personal Belief System fit part and parcel with it? And vice versa. As for how I would explain my religion to the outside world--Actually a non-pagan friend of mine summed it up very simply-- Good is good and Bad is bad. I've done nothing bad by my laws/ beliefs or yours-.Rowan."
"I try to get away with "an earth based religion", then I just let them ask questions... as they know what they want to know-because by just spewing a bunch of information at them, I feel it may confuse them."
"I use the words Wicca and witchcraft interchangeably though I know that there are witches who are not Wiccans. Bad habit, I guess. Therefore I use magick in both my religion and personal belief system. That, and if you are part of an Earth based religion, it BECOMES your belief system. If you really believe and practice its teachings, it becomes and ingrained part of you. It IS you."
"I would neither attempt to define nor explain anything that personal to a stranger. In the interest of your question however I will try to define and explain my life here. I am a witch..not necessarily Wiccan although I have used the term as a convenience. I do view Wicca as a new religion incorporating many of the beliefs of the more aboriginal religions of our ancestors. By that I mean Wicca in addition to delineating divinity as God/Male and Goddess/Female also seeks to find a balance in mankind's place in the Earth- not Earth's place in mankind's future. This is a good thing...mostly. Wicca does and this is the opinion of an old hag that nobody listens to anymore who is hopelessly out of date tends to moralize. While I realize that the almost universally accepted Wiccan Rede has a place, it is not the only nor should it be the only ethical guideline to a user of magic. I also see that many Wiccans spurn the use of magic altogether which to me is sad. Wiccans pray. I do not pray for divine intervention...I use the powers bestowed upon me by the Universe to create my own reality...to make necessary change within the sphere of my life. While I honour the concept of the divine, I do not worship in the conventional manner. That to me is a Christian- that is NOT to say bad- concept. I recognize many aspects of deity as individuals in their own right, not necessarily part of a larger Supreme deity or Source or Goddess. This is another Christian concept that has been adopted by many pagan groups. Again, that is not a BAD thing, just not my own. The GOOD, perhaps BEST, thing to come out of the New Age spiritual movement is that concept of Balance within the Cosmos-that recognition that we are merely microscopic parts of something far too great for us to comprehend. Remember a virus is merely a microscopic part of something too great for it to understand too and it often cripples or even kills that something. I believe that the modern movement to more Earth-based religions and consciousness may be the only thing which will permit our species to continue on this lovely planet of ours. I am insanely optimistic. I believe it. Nobody has to believe as I do nor should they. Just believe that every single entity living, past or future, affects every other living thing now and forever. It is an awesome responsibility that each of us carries; and the first step towards fulfilling that responsibility is recognizing it."
"I wouldn't. A philosophical system is not something that can really explained briefly. It requires a framework which in turn can require a significant amount of additional background information. To try to pass this information along in a brief manner can not do it justice.-Eric Marsh"
"I'll answer your question in a minute, but I want first to say that I feel very uncomfortable with this line of questioning. It sounds like you're saying that in order to be accepted as a valid religion, we need clergy and a set of rules. One of the biggest draws that witchcraft has for me as a religion is the absence of these things. I think that if we are to stay true to the basic premises of witchcraft, which for me include the idea that all forms of interaction with the Divine are valid ,we must try to define Witchcraft as a religion that doesn't or may or may not involve regulated external forms. Witchcraft is a religion based on the belief that Deity is imminent in all living things. The creative intelligence of the Universe, the source of all the beauty mystery and life we see around us, is actually present in all that It created. So the Divine which witches call God and Goddess is in you and me in the animals plants and microbes and in the rocks water and winds. Holding the belief translates into a way of life typified by a profound respect for all living things. We don't have a rule book. The one rule Witches adhere to is "An it harm none, do as ye will." Short, deceptively simple, and profound. To live by this rule, one carefully works through the consequences of whatever he wishes to do generally asking for guidance in prayer, and if it will harm none and enhance his life in some way, goes ahead. One of the aspects of witchcraft that most of us cherish is this ability to interact directly and personally with the Divine. Clergy, to the extent they exist, are people with experience they are willing to share. They may perform ceremonies to mark rites of passage and may lead celebretory rituals, but in general their role is as teachers and counselors. But most witches are also aware that any living thing can teach us and most of us do our most profound learning in meditation and in sharing with Nature. This path involves developing a sensitivity and understanding of natural cycles and changes the holy days of witches are those that mark the passing of the seasons. We use ritual primarily for its ability to change our consciousness, to help us into a level of awareness where we can perceive and interact with memories and wisdom deep within us that are part of our heritage and part of the spark of Divinity within us. We also use magic, which is primarily the art of using mental focus backed by will, to nudge the probabilities in a world of chaos toward the ends we have determined will harm none but further our goals as determined in prayer. Witchcraft is a path that encourages its followers to explore all parts of themselves and develop honesty and responsibility in everything they do. One of the principles of working with magic is that whatever we put out will return multiplied. Given that most of us also believe we return through many lifetimes, we recognize the seriousness of doing harm to anyone...the repercussions will be waiting for us when we return. In my opinion, this strong emphasis on personal responsibility and power is the thing that makes witchcraft such a powerful path for personal evolution. We are answerable only to our Goddess, to the eternal parts of ourselves, and to the future selves who will have to deal with whatever we create. But this is a responsibility that any of us with a basic level of maturity take very seriously indeed. This way of interacting with the Divine and its emanations in the world does not require clergy or a set of rules. There are many books written by wise people who offer guidelines and their own explanations. But we recognize that only the individual in a given situation is able to know and weigh all the factors in the present time, and with Divine guidance, make a decision that minimizes harm. I will defend vigorously my right and that of my brothers and sisters to make these decisions for themselves."
"I'm not sure how I would explain my religion if that is what it is. I just came out of organized religion and would like some disorganization in my life right now. Something you may find interesting. I was a homeschooler for ten years, and a very important factor in court cases involving home schooling, was whether you were acting as a preference or a conviction. A preference is not protected. If your mind can be changed by punishment, or you will compromise in any way to make things easier, the courts believe you are acting under a preference. If what you're doing is so important to you that nothing will change your mind, and if you believe that god has ordered you to do what you are doing, then you are acting under conviction and the courts can't or couldn't touch you. I don't know if this is helpful at all, but just thought I would pass it along. This hinged on a court case where an Amish family, the Yoders, refused to send their children to public school and were quite willing to face jail time, loss of everything for the sake of their children's education. I would think that the question of preference versus conviction would be important in earth based religions too."
"My basic belief/ religion is that there is a duality in the force called Godde. In life there must be two sexes and Godde is no different. Being a female however, my duty is more to the Goddess. A Goddess is what I can identify with and that particular facet of Godde is what understands me. Although all the gods are one, in my opinion, and all religions basically the same. In most of the worlds established religions, the rules are basically the same- do what you want as long as you don't hurt anybody. There are, of course, other rules in there to control your thinking and your attitude to the church- but the only important rule is to be good to each other. I find this significant."
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