Nuts and Bolts

“The goal of spiritual life is not altered states, but altered traits.” Huston Smith (1919-)

Framework of the Project

The AnamCara Project is born of an ardent desire for world peace and the certainty that values are acquired through training and experience. It is an alternative to approaches that compare or confront religions.

The nine broad spiritual traditions exposed on this platform were chosen according to the following criteria: number of adherents, universality of the message and cultural relevance.

Each tradition is treated fairly but the material is not precisely balanced. For example, in the interest of simplicity and clarity, the subdivisions or branches of the traditions are kept to a minimum. It is impossible to describe what Christianity means to all Christians, Buddhism to all Buddhists, Islam to all Muslims, etc. A section on Bahá’í rites of passage cannot be as long or as detailed as the one on Hindu rites. Divination plays a large role in the practice of some adherents of the Taoist religion, but that aspect is not emphasised here.

Nuts and Bolts
Nuts and Bolts | © Tom Magliery | Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

While persecution is not glossed over, quarrels, war and dissension are given little, if any place in the Project. The eagerness of the media and certain experts to identify religion – rather than geopolitical and economic factors or bald greed – as the root of clashes throughout the world, is a position we consider both inaccurate and counter-productive. This kind of scapegoating feeds the feelings of insecurity and fear that foment hate, injustice and war.

The Project takes into account the diverse cultural, geographical and linguistic contexts of the spiritual traditions in order to encourage the building of bridges between and within them. Admittedly, the jumping-off point is predominately Western and urban; consultants must speak one or more of the languages used on the platform. Committed people and open-source technology are responsible for its inception, development and launching.

The Project does not pretend to be

  • Judgement of a tradition’s worth.
    Each and every tradition is valuable and contributes to making our world a better place to live today.
  • Objective.
    Even the most rational scientists now acknowledge the fact that the very act of examination affects the entity observed. The study of world religions is no different. Regardless of the scientific approach, the findings are dependant on the intent and the eye of the investigator.
  • A comprehensive study of religion.
    This Project compliments, but does not replace, existing exhaustive works on world religions. The visitor will not find information documented by quantitative, historical and strictly scientific data. In order to keep the scaffolding from obscuring the view, scholarship upon which the Project is sturdily built is kept out of sight.

Terminology

Language is a major indicator of respect. For that reason, the Project insists on attention to the following usages:

  • The suffix “ism” is used as infrequently as possible. Adding this suffix to an abstract noun tends to transform it from a living entity into a static condition. Even in our minds, a tradition should remain alive, not fixed in time and space like an insect pinned to an entomologist’s collection. Furthermore, as Huston Smith astutely points out: “All -isms end up in schisms.”
  • The initials BCE (Before the Common Era) and, when necessary, CE (Common Era) are used throughout the Project as the method of numbering years on the Gregorian calendar. The English phrase “Common Era” appears at least as early as 1708 and is now seen regularly as the secular equivalent of Anno Domini (AD) and the Christian Era.
  • The Project is committed to recognising the extensive contribution of nameless women, without ignoring the major visibility men have enjoyed throughout history. To show respect and uniformity of treatment, the adherents may be referred to as “s/he”, “they” (third person singular/plural).
  • A Glossary of current terminology is found under “Resources”.

Map of World Religions
This Worldmapper map shows where people who are adherents to any religion live. | © Sasi Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan) | Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.