Afghan Cuisine And Its Religious Influences

The Afghan cuisine is quite unique through its types of food and through the preparation techniques. It is very well known that the foods that make up the Afghan cuisine, their tastes and spices are quite a tasteful mixture of the food traditions of the regions that surround the country. Despite the eastern oriental foods that are famous for being exaggeratedly hot and spicy, the dishes in Afghanistan are neither too hot nor pungent. Another great feature of the country’s cuisine is that in contrast with its western neighbors the food here is not flavorless. Western travelers are very impressed with the food here and it has been documented that the foods in Afghanistan are a unique blend of exotic ingredients and great taste.

Cooking and food have a very important role in the country’s culture. Food is considered something that brings people together and in Afghan culture one should always share his/her food with others. In western countries it is considered rood to pay unexpected visits, but it is very much different as far as Afghanistan is concerned. Here guests are always welcome and people usually drop in without any previous notice and it is never a problem for the host. People always have food for their guests and not to have something to offer to your guest is unheard of even in the poorest families. Thus, you could never get up from an Afghan meal being hungry, no matter how little time the host had to prepare it.

The dishes served in Afghanistan are usually symbolic of certain occasions, such as the Qaabuli Pallow dish that is considered to be the crown of Afghan cooking and which is served only to special guests or on very special occasions, usually marriage ceremonies. Also, there is another dish, called Letee that is served to new mothers as it is quite light for the stomach, while having a high nutritive value. Dogh is a summer dish only and Mahi dishes are always on the table during Nowroz (New Year’s). Eggs are quite a preferred ingredient that is prepared in many special ways so that the guests are well nourished. People in Afghanistan believe that food is a very important element in nature and that depending on the ingredients it can produce warmth, coldness or neutral temperatures in the human body. Afghan people have a great respect for food and there are some essential foods that have special meanings I certain situations, for example, stepping on a piece of bread is considered a sin.

Creativity is a very important feature of the Afghan cuisine as there are a lot of dishes that can be “improved” after the cooks imagination and taste. The most important thing about the food culture in Afghanistan is that everybody should be full and satisfied at the end of the meal.

Every fall the Afghan Muslims celebrate their spiritual holiday called Ramadan. The new moon represents the beginning of the Ramadan which presupposes a month of religious and personal reflection, fasting and finally feasting. The people of Afghanistan honor this holy month with festive and fortifying meals that are meant to make both the fasting and the feasting meaningful and enjoyable.

The Suhoor or the Early Morning Meal represents the most important meal of the day as eating is forbidden during the day. Traditionally Afghans eat porridge, bread and a lot of fruits at a very early time as close to dawn as possible.

The Iftar or the Evening Meal is eaten people can stop their daily fasting and the traditional snack foods are again bread, cheese and fruits. After this everybody is supposed to spend some time praying and then they can have the big evening meal that is generally consisting of heart stews or vegetable dishes.

Eid Ul-Fitr or the Feasting Finale represents the end of the Ramadan period when a huge celebration is organized and the foods served now are better than all the meals served during Ramadan. The people in Afghanistan are now preparing their veil and chicken delicacies together with all sorts of spicy dishes that can impress anyone with their unique and exotic tastes.

Summer Bible Camp Themes For Kids Fun Sun And God

Summer Bible Camp Themes for Kids: Fun, Sun, and God

Summer camps are a great way to get your kids out of the house during the summer months and to ensure they stay active, have fun, and learn something along the way. One of the most popular kinds of summer camps in the world are those that center on religion and on the Bible. However, no two summer camps are the same, even if they incorporate the teachings of God. Thus, you should consider the different summer Bible camp themes for kids as much as the location and cost of attendance of the camp. The following are just some of the most common summer Bible camp themes for kids.

Sports

One of the best parts about a summer camp is that it gives kids the opportunity to spend some time outside. Thus, it is only normal for sports-based activities to be one of the most common summer Bible camp themes for kids. After a day of playing soccer, softball, or volleyball, a kid can then expect to lessons from the Bible. This makes the summer camp program all the more interesting: there is everything from intense activity and fun to spiritual development. This makes the summer camp all the more effective because it develops many areas of a child’s personality and interests while also promoting a spiritual relationship and knowledge of God and the Bible.

Activities

There are also summer Bible camp themes for kids that focus on specific activities or skills. For example, some camps focus on creative writing, music, or computer skills. Along with such activities, there is also a Bible or religious component. Thus, a child can go off to camp to learn as much about their passion or interest as they do about God and Jesus. This makes a camp all the more effective because it can develop a child’s talents while teaching the child as much about religion, God, and spirituality. The key to choosing between summer Bible camp themes for kids is to consider the child’s interests and talents as much as the religious studies offered by the organization.

Specific Bible Passages

Some summer Bible camp themes for kids focus on certain lessons or ideas from the Bible. Thus, one camp may focus on Jesus whereas another may focus on creation or the Old Testament. Thus, when choosing between summer camps, it pays to ask about the specific teachings of the camp. This way, you can tailor your child’s religious training or studies and can ensure that you choose the right camp for them.

The Four Major Divisions Of Hinduism

The four Hindu denominations or divisions are the Saivism, Shaktism, Smartism, and Vaishnavism. Hinduism is a very rich and complex religion.

Each of its four denominations shares rituals, beliefs, traditions, and personal gods with one another, but each sect has a unique philosophy on how to achieve life’s ultimate goal, which is liberation and is also known as moksa. For example, a person can be a devotee to Shiva and a Vishnu devotee, but one can practice the Advaita Vedanta philosophy, which believes there is no difference between Brahman and a person’s individual soul.

Conversely, a Hindu may follow the Dvaita philosophy, which stresses that Brahman and the soul are not the same. However, each denomination fundamentally believes in different methods of self realization and in different aspects of the one supreme being. However, each denomination respects and accepts all others, and conflict of any kind is rare.

Vaishnavism, Saivism, and Shaktism, respectively believe in a monotheistic ideal of Vishnu, which is often as Krishna, Shiva, or Devi. This view does not exclude other personal gods, as they are understood to be aspects of the chosen ideal. For instance, to many devotees of Krishna, Shiva is seen as having sprung from Krishna’s creative force. Ganesha worshipers would connect themselves with Shiva as Shiva is the father of Ganesha, making him a Shaiv deity.

Often times, the monad Brahman is seen as the one source, with all other gods emanating from there. As a result, with all Hindus, there is a strong belief in all paths being true religions that lead to one God or source, whatever one chooses to call the ultimate truth. As the Vedas, which are the most important Hindu scriptures, state that truth is one, the wise call it by various names.

Smartism, is monist as well as a monotheist and understands different deities as representing the various aspects and principles of one supreme entity, Brahman or parabrahman. Teachers such as Swami Vivekananda, who brought Hinduism to the west, held beliefs like those found in Smartism, although he usually referred to his religion as Vedanta. Other denominations of Hinduism do not strictly hold this belief.

A Smartist would have no problem worshiping Shiva or Vishnu together as he views the different aspects of God as leading to the same One God. It is the Smarta view that dominates the view of Hinduism in the west, but in contrast, a Vaishnavite considers Vishnu as the one true God, worthy of worship and other forms as subordinate. Accordingly, many Vaishnavites, for example, believe that only Vishnu can grant moksha. Similarly, many Shaivites also hold similar beliefs for Shiva.

There are some Hindus who consider the various deities not as forms of the one Ishvara, but as independently existing entities, and may thus be properly considered polytheists. Although, the pantheistic tendency in Hinduism allowed only a subordinate rank to the old polytheistic gods, they continued to occupy an important place in the affections of individual Hindus and were still represented as exercising considerable influence on the destinies of man.

Firqa And Fiqh

Among the indicative of divisions or distinctions, the words used in the Koran are hizb (pl. ahzab), ta’ifa, shi’a and the derivatives of f-q-r. All can be understood with the general meaning of party, group or faction. The word hizb in its singular, plural and dual forms appears 19 times and the word shi’a and shi’ya occurs 11 times in the Koran. The word ta’ifa and its dual forms appears 23 times, used more or less randomly to refer to groups or parties among the Ahl al-Kitab. Tusi (d. 460/1067) calls the Shi’ites “the group which is right” (al-ta’ifa al-muhaqqiqa).

In Koran (3:23), the word fariq is used in the meaning of a faction. The one occurrence of firqa refers to a unit among the believers: “The believers should not go out together to fight, of every firqa of them a ta’ifa should remain behind to acquire religious knowledge” (9:122), “After the hearts of a fariq among them had almost turned away” (9:117). The word firaq (sing. firqa) is a noun from the Arabic verbal stem furaqa means split, divide or differentiate. In his book al-Farq bain al-firaq, al-Baghdadi used the word firqa means sect. So does al-Shahristani in his al-milal wa al-nihal when he used the word milla to mean nation, he used the word nihla to mean religious order.

According to the famous tradition, “The Jews are divided into 71 sects, the Christians into 72 sects, and my people will be divided into 73 sects.” This tradition is recorded with some variations in wording in many sources, namely Masnad (2:332, 3:120 & 4:102) by Ahmad bin Hanbal, Sahih (5:25-26) by Tirmizi, Sunan (2:503) by Abu Daud, Sunan (2:1321-2) by Ibn Majah, Sunan (2:241) by Darimi, Mustadrak (4:430) by Hakim, Mishkat (1:61) by Khatib Tabrizi, Majma’az Zawa’id (7:157, 159) by al-Hathami, al-Kafi (8:224) by Kulaini, etc. Once Imam Jafar Sadik was asked, “Why Muslims are disunited?” The Imam asked, “Were they disunited in the period of the Prophet?” The man said, “No.” The Imam said, “Because they were obeying a single order of the Prophet and not going here and there in the matter of religion, and therefore, the unity of religion is possible only under the divine guidance of the Prophet and the Imam of the time after him.”

A few of the recognized authorities on the sects of Islam are:- Al-Maqalat wal firaq by al-Qummi (d. 301/914), Kitab Firaq al-Shi’a by Nawbakhti (d. 310/922), Maqalat al-Islamiyyin by al-Ashari (d. 324/935), Kitab al-tanbih wal-radd by al-Malati (d. 377/987), Al-Farq bain al-Firaq by al-Baghdadi (d. 429/1037), Kitab al-milal wal nihal by Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1064), Kitab al-milal wal nihal by Shahristani (d. 548/1153), Dabistan al-Madhahib by Mohsin Fani (d. 1081/1670), etc. The following sects emerged in the mainstream of ummah:-

Sunni : Hanafi, Shafi, Maliki and Hanbali

Shi’ite : Ithna Asharis, Ismailis, Bohra, Alwi, Abadia, Abbasia, Kaisaniya, Zaidia, Matnasakhia, Mut’razia, Tania, Razia and Ishaqia.

Kharji : A’zarkia, Abardia, Salabia, Kharzamia, Khalafia, Karzia, Mut’zilla, Maimunia, Mahokamia, Shamrakhia, Naoshia and La’amina.

Jabaria : Muztaria, Magfiria, Jebia, Sabakia, Kaslia, Khofia, Fakaria, Hasabia, Mairamia, A’haiyya, Mo’haiyyia and Afalia.

Qadaria : Ahmadia, Sanavia, Kisania, Setania, Sharkia, Abadia, Nakasia, Tabaria, Kastia, Lazamia, Manzamiya and Wahemia.

Murjia : Tehmia, Almia, Rajia, Tarkia, Mashaikhia, Sakia, Manshia, Murtrawia, Ashrabia and Baduwia.
Jahamia : Moaltia, Marabandia, Mutrafia, Varidia, Hurufia, Makhlukia, Gairia, Fatiyya, Zanvakia, Lafzia and Waqifia.

Fiqh:
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The word fiqh is used in the literal sense to mean understanding and in this sense; the words fiqh and fahm are synonymous. The word fiqh was originally used by the Arabs for a camel expert, who could distinguish the pregnant she-camels with others, and thus the expression fahal faqihi was current among them. It indicates deep knowledge and understanding. In addition, the Arabic idiom goes Fala’n la yafaqahu wala yanqahu (So-and-so neither understands nor comprehends). In pre-Islamic days, the term Faqih al-Arab was an appellation given to Harith bin Kaladah. The word fiqh is used on several occasions in the Koran in the meaning of understanding: “What has come to these people that they fail to understand single fact” (4:78) and “They have hearts wherewith they understand not” (7:179). It implies that in the Prophet’s time, the term fiqh was not applied in the legal sense alone but carried a wider meaning. It may be noted that in the early days of Islam, the term fiqh and ilm were frequently used for an understanding of Islam in general. In Tabaqat (2:363) of Ibn Sa’d, the Prophet is reported to have blessed Ibn Abbas (d. 68/687), saying: “O God, give him understanding in religion” (Allahuma faq’hahu fi’din). The year 94/713 is known as sanat al-fuqaha (the year of the jurists), because a number of the celebrated jurists of Medina, notably Sa’id bin al-Musayyib, Abu Bakr bin Abd al-Rahman etc. died in that year (Ibid. 5:143). It seems reasonable to assume that the term fiqh and ilm were separated when jurists and specialists in hadith came into existence towards the end of the first century. It may be gathered from above analysis that the scope of the term fiqh was gradually narrowed down, and ultimately came to be applied to the legal problems. The word fiqh is defined by Raghib in these words: “Fiqh means arriving at the knowledge of the unknown by means of knowledge of the known.” In its technical sense, the word fiqh was restricted to Islamic jurisprudence.

The original source from which not only the basic tenets but also all principles and ordinances of Islam are derived is the divinely revealed Book.

Civilization Iv – A Game Review

Civilization IV is a game that has many players glued to the screen there playing on. They love the new features, additions and changes that make it even more appealing than the previous Civilization games. It is a game that will draw in anyone who loves games about history and who eats up strategic games.

In this game you can pick to be one of several nation leaders. And each leader has two special abilities that will transform how your game will play out. In the beginning the game starts out pretty simple. You can trade only through using roads and rives and as the game progresses you can eventually trade through ocean tiles.

Religion is a new aspect to this game. There are several different religions to choose from and the key is to get everyone in your colony to follow the same religion and beliefs as you. Having the same religion as your neighbor might mean that you become friends and that can promote several advantages to game play. The game will not ultimately be changed or affected by religion in any way, but it does add to the game and makes it interesting to play using it as a tool.

The way the military functions is another difference in this game. There are more factors for attack and defense that can be considered. It allows you to see what your chances of success are before you chosen to attack or defend yourself. The military also receive upgrades and bonuses as they gather experience points.

Many people had suggestions for this game that included adding game speed flexibility. And so due to user feedback, game speed was added. You can choose from a slow speed, to a fast regular speed to a quick speed. In quick speed mode the entire game can be finished in a few hours. Increasing the speed times allow a better challenge for players. That means that they can begin in slow mode and move into quick speed as their skills become more developed and defined.

You can upgrade the game buy spending more money. There are 32 resources that enable construction at double the speed, or can accelerate growth or add happiness or health to a colony. The new interface allows you to develop cities without having to constantly stop and open the menu. With all of the messages you will be receiving the less time you need for stopping the game will help you to advance in the game at a quicker rate.

Civilization IV is another brilliant addition to the Civilization saga. It provides players with the features they have come to love and respect while adding some new features to add to the appeal of the new game. Reviews have been mixed where most players love the new additions to the game and can`t wait for another one to come out, while some others frown at the graphics used. It is based on personal opinion and how critical people decide to be.

Overall, this game was highly recommended. It has been noted that once you begin playing this game you won`t be able to put it down. Its intense and powerful way to construct an empire leave you feeling hooked in the game right up until the end. This game will be sure to twist your brain and tweak you until you design the perfect place amid lots of unexpected battle attacks and situations. You need to begin this game able to think fast, make the right decisions and ultimately do nothing less than win the game and battle the world.

Cultivating Spirituality Without the Baggage of Religion

It starts with a single question. It’s a deceptively simple question: Do you want to live a meaningful life? The answer seems ridiculously obvious. You probably think “Yes. Of course.” It doesn’t require reflection and most people stop their line of thinking right there. But if you ponder the question in much depth then you’ll find yourself in a maze of prickly issues. What’s the meaning of meaning? How do you evaluate whether your life is meaningful or not? If your life is meaningful then how can you make it even more meaningful? The answers to these questions are not obvious at all.

The truth is that if we want to live a meaningful life then we’re already on the slippery slope of spirituality. Meaning is a spiritual creation. It pertains to our relationship with our most deeply held values by which we live. Those values don’t exist in the physical world. We can’t touch them, weigh them or pick them up on a radio-telescope. They have that other worldly quality that transcends the physical plane. Yet those meaningful values are so important to us that they can make the literal difference between our living and dying. They can be the driving force behind much of what we do and feel. They help us to sustain our physical health and their absence can lead us to despair, depression, physical illness or suicide. Existential meaning in the form of spirituality really matters!

Many people assume that spirituality and religion are the same. Although they are related, a close examination reveals a subtle difference in their definitions. Religion has more emphasis on a shared societal belief in a deity, the purpose of life and the origin of the world. It’s heavy on belief. The definition of spirituality is more personal. It has to do with one’s inner path toward one’s most deeply held values. It may encompass beliefs but that’s not the emphasis. One may even be spiritual without believing in a deity. It’s also possible that a person can be religious without much spirituality. In fact, we’ve been killing each other off through the millennia in the name of religion. Why is that? What’s going on?

One thing that’s going on is that we’re afraid. We’re afraid because someone else’s beliefs threaten our own. We’d like to think that we’re right and they’re wrong. Because if they’re right in their religious beliefs then that means that we’re wrong. We hate to think that our grasp on the ultimate reality can be so off base. On some level many of us counteract that uncertainty by becoming arrogant. It’s a rigid defense. Consequently, many religions have historically been aggressive in asserting their hold on truth. Christians killed Pagans. Muslims killed Christians. Christians killed Muslims. It seems that at one time or other everyone has killed the Jews. Now Sunni and Shiite Muslims kill each other. The list goes on but it begs the question: If so many religious movements are claiming to have the ultimate grasp on truth then what are the chances that ANY of them have it right?

In starting to read this article, you might have felt a little apprehensive that I want to convert you to yet another version of religious dogma. Was this to be just another discussion about the one true religion? If so then your skepticism would be realistic. It seems that most writings about spirituality want to sell you a doctrine of religious belief: what you SHOULD believe about God and how he/she/it works. Open up wide and be prepared to swallow! Assume the position! Many of us don’t want dogma and we’re tired of this kind of assault. But that’s not what we’re about here. I’m not going to address that level of belief other than to say I’d really like for you to keep your current beliefs about God and how all that’s configured. That’s not my concern. Good for you! I’m glad if you do have some religious beliefs that you cherish. I’m not focused on religious belief. It’s not about the WHAT. It’s about the HOW. How do we weave spirituality into our everyday lives? How do we make it a joyful force that enriches our experience and guides our actions? How do we strengthen it? I’m most concerned with these questions because I know that there’s a huge difference between religious belief and spirituality.

There’s a major tenet that I’m going to propose. It’s that religious beliefs occur in our consciousness while spirituality mostly involves our unconscious. This isn’t just psycho-babble even though the rest of the world doesn’t make this distinction. If you think that the unconscious is just some esoteric Freudian term think again. Do you know how to stick shift a car? Do you wonder how all those muscles coordinate when you walk? Do you ever wonder why you feel so anxious approaching certain kinds of situations? Do you ever wonder why you don’t even think to approach some situations that you should? Let’s have some respect for the unconscious because that’s the source of most emotion. And when we’re talking about how to FEEL more spiritual meaning in our lives we’d best know how those feelings work.

Your unconscious is powerful, more powerful than you’ll ever know. It can even steer your conscious thinking. There’s a strong link but the link works in both directions. The unconscious can steer consciousness but consciousness also influences the unconscious. Future chapters will discuss how we can consciously cultivate our unconscious to yield a bumper crop of spiritual feelings. Notice that I’ve used the words “influence” and “cultivate” instead of “control.” It’s a crucial distinction. In the realm of spirituality as in the realms of treating sexual impotence or observing quantum physics how you choose to approach the issue greatly influences the outcome. If you want to grow spirituality then you don’t want to try to control it directly because it won’t work.

When you decide to live a meaningful life then you’re really deciding that you want the “felt sense” of meaning from your everyday experience. “Felt sense” is an expression used by many therapists when they refer to an emotion that originates in the unconscious. The unconscious has an intuitive understanding of the situation and yields a subliminal experience that isn’t conceptual like conscious thought. It’s more like a musical score that plays in the background of our life stories. Spirituality is critically important because it influences how the story unfolds and it exerts its effect from below the surface. In fact it’s so powerful that it helps steer the direction of conscious awareness.

The world doesn’t perceive that there’s much of a difference between religious belief and spirituality. The reason is because we maximize our conscious control and we hate to think that we’re so affected by our unconscious. Our consciousness is what we can see. We like to equate the self as being where we make our conscious choices. We don’t like to think that anything beyond our consciousness might have our behavior under its thumb. It hurts our pride and deflates our egos… even if it is true. But our pride doesn’t determine what’s true. It only determines how much truth we’re allowed to see.

Discussing Politics & Religion

Just like the real reason for paying attention to the warnings of the Ten Commandments, being to help you avoid unnecessary pain, politics and religion are topics to be very careful in engaging in without great thought. Unfortunately, today this is becoming increasingly difficult. This is because the two are getting very mixed up in the news, which you can’t possibly avoid unless you are living out somewhere in the wilderness without a smart phone, computer, TV, radio or are out of newspaper and magazine delivery range.

Since these discussions are an inevitable part of today’s world, we might as well figure out how to navigate the landscape safely and avoid accumulating more enemies than friends. You can prepare for this by becoming aware of a few important aspects of politics and religion. This will help understanding how they come out in discussions and greatly interfere with good miscommunication and understanding. Here they are the three main problems:
Deserts

We often just adopt a conviction towards a particular religion or political party, rather than carefully study the choices and learn all we can to determine a good fit before we commit. We join a particular political party or religion and learn as we go. And of course the political party or religion is growing and changing itself cumulatively, much apart from the people who make it up. Sometimes this is to the point of no one in the group agreeing on much of anything. We end up wandering the dessert looking for this understanding that is lost, hidden under the sand, because no one can keep track of it. There is simply too much information about everything to know much of anything these days, despite a gallant effort to do so.

Swamps

The differences between political parties and religions run very deep below muddy waters, well below the surface of the names they use to define themselves. In addition, these two institutions always mean different things the each person who has joined them. No one person can tell you what all the Republican, Democratic or Independent political party; or what Democracy, Communism or Socialism; or Judaism, Christianity or Muslim religions encompass, without leaving out most of it. The real understanding of these things is stuck out in the muck of a swamp, where most people don’t tread.

Minefields

Nowadays, we so over-identify with these things, that we can’t separate the words and ideas involved with them, from our personhood or being. If we are a Republican and Episcopalian and somebody criticizes the party or the religion, they are attacking our personhood, being malicious and trying to hurt us on purpose. This is the inherent problem of language. We originally invented words to represent real objects we wanted to show someone else. The trouble is that too much abstract space has come between the word and the object it is supposed to represent. Unfortunately, some simple words used to represent complex entities carry automatic negative connotations that can be very destructive to communication.

So what are the solutions in trying to have a healthy discussion about politics or religion? Here are seven practical suggestions that should result in your having more friends than foe:

Discuss, Don’t Argue

The first question you should be asking is why do you want to engage in a political or religious discussion, most definitely with another person of a different persuasion? You will never be successful in selling your belief or preference and it is futile to try. Probably the best that can happen from a healthy discussion on these explosive topics, is that you both find out how little you really do know on the topic and both learn more. Discuss, don’t argue.

Play Fair

Always play fair. Don’t give yourself explicit permission to impose your opinions—even if they are well-informed—onto others in being superior by proclamation and absent of judgment, without at least extending the equal opportunity to the other person. Sometimes life doesn’t seem very fair, but that doesn’t mean people can’t try to be that way with each other.

Don’t judge

Avoid being judgmental. Separate the beliefs from the person. A person is more than just what they believe or know regarding politics and religion. And those different beliefs which you may not like have been shaped by the person’s different family, cultural and educational backgrounds. Beliefs, and even knowledge of what you know to be true, is just different from the other person’s, not necessarily better as you may wrongly assume.

Don’t Personalize

Never deliver or take anything too personal because there are many more reasons to not do that than do it, and doing it can rarely have a successful conclusion. Beliefs are not realities and they don’t define a person. Besides, a person doesn’t fully understand the belief he or she is most certain is right, at least well enough to communicate it clearly, and certainly not worthy of losing a friend over.

Be Specific

Realize that no one understands or endorses every tenant or even any general belief of any particular political party, religion or any other group. Over-generalization is not good for communication, especially when it becomes an indictment against one group by a member of another. Be as specific as you can without generalizing.

Ask Questions

Rather than getting angry and frustrated in a pending argument and then becoming defensive in defending your own views, stop and ask good questions to understand why and how the other person is concluding something you don’t agree with. Statements generally impede two-way conversations, while questions facilitate it. Pause during the animated stage of discussion, and ask good questions to make the conversation more productive and less destructive.

Know When to Walk Away

Finally, when a discussion becomes hostile to the point of no return with personal attacks becoming rampant, it is time to walk away. This can be temporary if it is just acute or permanent if it breeds chronic, toxic contempt. People are all different and some can be misaligned to the point of having to agree to disagree on just about everything. If that is not in the cards, then at this point it becomes a personal decision as to just how much effort you want to put into continuing the friendship.

Getting into discussions about politics, religion or any other contentious topic, can sometimes be more trouble than it is worth, with no winners, just losers. But if you can’t avoid these discussions, consider playing by the above seven rules to get better outcomes and keep your friends or make one from any enemy.

Religion and Alcohol Consumption

For thousands of years, alcohol has been steeped in mystery and symbolism, eventually working its way into the very fabric of cults and early religions. One of the oldest methods of purposefully altering a person’s conscious state, consumption of alcohol as a means of enlightenment, ceremony or entertainment has been a part of human culture for as long as history has been recorded, and possibly longer than that. But as societies developed over time and religions grew, alcohol became both praised and demonized by various groups at different times. Today, some of the world’s major religions denounce alcohol use – like Buddhism and Islam, and other religions use alcohol as an integral part of ceremony and rite of passage, such as in Judaism. However, regardless of what a person’s faith is, anyone that consumes alcohol to excess for long enough will become addicted and need serious, life-saving treatment in order to survive. For this reason it is important to understand the role – or lack thereof – of alcohol in religion.

Because alcohol produces a profound alteration of the senses, early human cultures considered it to be a divine substance and treated it accordingly. Alcohol consumption was featured in funerary practices and other Pagan rituals, and eventually played a large role in fertility, as these early peoples considered alcohol’s aphrodisiac effect to be a powerful aid in fertility – one of the most important aspects of early society. These Pagan cultures revered alcohol in the same way they revered plants, animals and other natural substances that they perceived to give them special “powers” or enhanced attributes.

Of course, history tells us that these Pagan cultures eventually evolved into the highly organized Christian religions that we know today. For instance, Protestants, Baptists and many other sects of Christianity permit the consumption of alcoholic beverages, provided the consumption of such drinks is never to excess, keeping in line with the general Christian practice of moderation. However, Judaism not only permits the consumption of alcohol, it encourages it among certain sects and groups. In some cases it is required to drink an alcoholic beverage as part of certain ceremonies, depending upon a person’s position in the church.

Other major religions like Islam and Buddhism are staunchly against the use of alcohol. Buddhism is more passive in its teachings but generally states that nothing should be taken that will alter the natural state of the body. Islam, on the other hand, teaches that the consumption of alcohol is wicked, and at certain times in history was worthy of severe punishment, including death. While these views are not as extreme today, both Islam and Buddhism remain very much against the consumption of alcohol. This is seen by many as detrimental to because it may prevent practitioners from getting help for a problem if they need it. A prominent writer for the Association of Religion Data Archives, David Briggs, summed this problem up best by stating: “The strong norms against alcohol abuse, particularly in conservative congregations, might deter a lot of people from admitting they have a problem and seeking help.”

Alcoholism can happen to anyone, regardless of what religion they participate in. And while some people find solace in their religion, many others do not and therefore their own religion is not able to help them overcome this progressive, deadly disease. In this case, the person must look for outside sources of help like a professional alcohol rehab program. If you or someone you love is suffering from this disease, please act now, because religion alone cannot save a true alcoholic.