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Is Poetry a Replacement for Religion?
@savhoisington The only question I have for you is where do you think these morals come from? Do they come from the poetry itself? This is the part about this idea that I don't really understand. I can see how poetry could be used to convey morals and ways to express guiding ideas. But I'm not sure I understand how poetry could actually provide these things by itself. I really want to understand this perspective, so I'm interested to hear what your thoughts here are.
@octavia I think that you bring up a good point with this. I too, do not think that poetry could pass religion. However, I do think that poetry could be used as a mode of transportation of ideals and values of religions, like you mentioned. Here is something that I am confused about on this topic though. What does it mean to "replace religion?" People will be practicing poetry instead of religion? The definition of religion according to Oxford Dictionary is "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods." So, if there is a chance that poetry replaces religion, that means that this definition is not correct. If poetry becomes religion, there needs to be no god or gods (just ideals from poems then??), unless then it is religion. If this makes sense, I would like to hear some thoughts on this from you guys. If it is not clear please ask questions because I am curious.
@snowyyeti I like your idea of a "mode of transportation" regarding religion and poetry. I don't think that a form of literature such as poetry can be a replacement for religion, but rather poetry is influenced by religion and can expand it. The transportation aspect of this gave me the idea of spreading religion. Poetry could be used as a way to express a new religion to individuals to enlighten them on it. Poetry could also be used to practice religion. I think that these two ideas work simultaneously together, and cannot replace each other. Personally, I do not see how poetry could become a religion. I just can't wrap my head around the concept. Maybe poems about past and current religion combined could spark ideas for a new religion?
@snowyyeti I see your point that poetry can't fit the definition of religion, but I don't think this is exactly what the idea of poetry replacing religion is getting at. When Keats said that poetry could be a substitute for religion, I don't think he meant that it can become religion. I think he meant that religion will become unnecessary because we have poetry. Poetry doesn't provide any God or gods, but it can reflect some morals that people hold to be true. I'm still trying to figure out where these morals would then come from. I don't quite understand how they would come from poetry per se, but I do see how poetry could express these values. Since poetry isn't becoming religion, and it is just replacing it, in Keats' mind, it wouldn't need to fit the definition of religion because it is an entirely different thing.
I feel that as I read these posts, the main idea everyone is saying is, "religion is too big for poetry to replace". I struggle to compare religion and poetry, but I feel my grasp on the concept is possibly, slightly more formulated after some thinking...
When thinking about what "religion" really means, I think of worshipping a greater power, and providing people with a set of morals/meaning of life. Poetry also provides deep meanings of life. Most poets seem to write about mortality, just as religion is centered around. I am thinking especially of John Keats, he explores concepts of being mortal, but not in a religious aspect. Poetry seems to go deeper than religion does, in the sense of human's emotions and perspective. Poetry seems to quite often be about feeling and internal conflicts, as well as presenting philosophies and morals to the readers. So after some thought, I actually don't think it is a crazy thought to "replace religion with poetry".
@gil The thing about this statement that many people seem to be saying that I am having trouble understanding is how poetry can provide these things. I get what you're saying that poetry goes deep into the human perspective about topics such as mortality (although I'm not sure I agree that it goes more in depth, but that is irrelevant), but how does poetry itself provide these things. Maybe I'm getting hung up on something small and insignificant, but I just don't see where in poetry these things can come from. I don't disagree that poetry can be effective in expressing these things, but I don't see how it can provide them. I see these things coming from some sort of religion or philosophy, but I think poetry is more a means of transportation of these ideas. You say that "poetry also provides deep meanings of life," but I don't think poetry is where these things originate. There is nothing about poetry's nature that allows it to manifest such ideals. That being said, I think both aspects are important. You need a source--which varies from person to person, and people have disagreed widely on what this source is--and a way to communicate the ideals. Poetry is just one of many ways to communicate and express them. I find this concept interesting, and I really want to understand the thinking behind it, so if you can explain what you're thinking, I would love to hear it!
@nicole thanks for your response! I think I understand what you're saying, and I am wondering where do the ideas of religion come from? The bible? Isn't that technically a form of literature as well? Is religion, like poetry, a way to transport ideas from long ago? Isn't religion a tool to continue the practice of many morals and values one generation to the next? In this way, I think religion and poetry are similar!
I think that poetry originates from "the human condition" (sorry for the AP Lang flashbacks). Most poems are densely packed with human emotion. The Groundhog, for example, demonstrates the process of grief humans experience. I also see your point that the ideas within poetry originate from philosophy and religion, because many do. I feel though that many poems take it a step further, and poems demonstrate and communicate the human, emotional aspect of morality.
All this being said, I still feel the vagueness of this topic is bothering me. I feel I need more clarity on exactly how poetry would even begin to replace religion. It is interesting noticing the similarities between poetry and religion, it just seems to me that everything is very vague when referring to religion as a whole. Religion is a HUGE range, and so is poetry! I just need more specifics/clarity with this whole topic...
@nicole I share the same concerns about how poetry can provide what religion provides. How I see it is that poetry has been influenced by religion and that is how those ideals are expressed by individuals. I agree with poetry being a line of communication for religion. It helps provide religious ideas, but it does not create them. I do not believe that the literature of religions such as The Bible or Quran could simply be replaced with poetry. They may include poetic verses or have poetry written about them, but replacing them seems... odd. There are many ways to go about this idea of taking poetry and dismantling the religious systems we have had in place for so long. But then again poetry has been around for quite some time as well so maybe it is not as much of a stretch as I perceive it?
Personally, I don't think poetry can replace religion. I believe there could be certain themes or topics that can symbolize things in religions, but it can't be a whole religion or replace one. I don't know too much about religion, and if it technically can be one haha, but at least in my opinion it's nowhere close. Also, I just started getting into poetry this year, so maybe some poems are very advanced to a certain point, talking about morals and ideas, but it doesn't seem possible to me how this type of literature could be religion in itself.
@gil I agree that the Bible is a form of literature, similar to poetry. I would say that the Bible itself wouldn't be the religion, but a way of communicating the religion. The religion would be found in the teachings of Jesus, the words of God, etc. (This is of course an example, there are many more religions with their own source and means of communication.) I would argue that the religion would be the ideas themselves that surround worshipping God. So the ideas would come from God, and would in a way be categorized along with God. But the physical literature made into a book(the Bible) wouldn't exactly be the religion. I think religion goes beyond writings and practices, even though these things can (sometimes) be very useful in following a religion.
As for poems such as "The Groundhog", I agree. They can be very useful to "demonstrate and communicate" certain ideas, morals, and aspects of the human mind. But they don't come from poetry, which is where I see a big distinction between poetry and religion.
I see how the question I originally posed can seem vague. As I said in the original post, this is a belief brought about by Keats, so I'm not sure I can offer much clarity, and that can only be found in what Keats wrote and said before his death. All the article I read about this said was, "Keats' aesthetic preoccupations led him to the conclusion that poetry could become a substitute for religion, and that it could provoke its own pieties." After you pointed out the vagueness, I did a little bit of searching on Google for a bit more clarity, but I couldn't find much on this sentiment. Mostly everything else I saw only said that Keats turned away from Christianity, but didn't offer much on poetry as a replacement. If you choose to look for more clarity from Keats, I would be more than interested to hear what you are able to find!
Poetry can be a replacement for the part of religion which dictates (or suggests) how one lives their life. In poetry morals and ideals are expressed through different lenses ,according to the author, which can have the same impact as reading a sacred text from a religion or what one hears in a place of worship. And one can base their life off of poems that take inspiration from religion. But besides that small "if" there is absolutely nothing else that has them on the same level.
@octavia in your response you say that poetry has to deal with ideals, and after that you say that religion deals with ideals. So I am a little confused by the statement. Nevertheless I do agree with you on how they are different things. Honestly you could argue either side, I see the sides to both of them I just stand strongly with how they differ more then they are similar. But this thread has really helped me because of the ideas that people have offered about poetry have given me light on my deep hatred for it because it is so hard for me.
@alechayosh07 While I more agree that poetry is not a replacement for religion because the ideals taken from religion are implemented into poetry, I also see both sides as having valid points and arguments. What I am more interested about your post is expanding this "deep hatred" for poetry, how did this arise? I agree that this forum, along with the others on poems that we have read better my understanding of pieces. Is poetry hard because of the older, profound language? Is it the style? Or perhaps elements of religion that are woven into the text but without previous knowledge would be incomprehensible. This brings me back to the forum prompt. We may need to learn more about poetry and all religions before truly knowing which side we will take in this question.
@abuzz For me it is more over the style that brings me trouble and allow for me to create this hatred. Some might disagree that finding the thesis or main idea in a poem is hard, but I find it so hard and it takes me to long to figure out what the author is attempting to show the readers. Where as when I go and read a short story or novel I have time to figure out the authors purpose. It sounds kind of lame and like an excuse but poems just really give me a hard time. It feels as though there is one large idea inside a poem, but that's not the answer to the authors purpose. The answer is the multiple tiny answers to the larger idea and that's where I struggle.
I really do find poems a hassle to read and understand. I understand the artistic approach to tell a story and I think it is cool in all but I would much rather read a simple paragraph than try to decipher what the poem is trying to tell me. I never read poems outside of an academic setting so I have never seen the use of them outside of academics. I like reading literature that informs and teaches me new things. I have never learned anything from a poem but then again that is not the point of a poem.
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