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Religious and Nonreligious Paths to Happiness

Religious and Nonreligious Paths to Happiness - English 3...

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English 3, Sec. 30 Dr. P. Gilmore Essay #2, Final Copy December 10, 2007 Religious and Nonreligious Paths to Happiness In the pursuit of happiness, many turn to religion. In most religions, the way to achieve happiness is to devote oneself to God. However, atheists, agnostics, and Secular Humanists reject religion in their pursuit of happiness, focusing instead on more earthly means. Two articles, “Soul, God, and Religion” by Swami Vivekananda and “Godless Happiness: What’s Faith Got to Do with It?” by Timothy Madigan, provide differing perspectives on achieving happiness. While both articles offer valid points and persuasive arguments on achieving happiness, “Soul, God, and Religion” is far more restrictive, while “Godless Happiness: What’s Faith Got to Do with It?” is more comprehensive in its approach to achieving happiness. The two authors differ greatly in their tones. Vivekananda (n.d.) is more formal, grandiose, and scholarly, mainly because of its time period and audience (pp. 1-5). According to Nikhilananda (1996), Vivekananda lived from 1863 to 1902 (para. 6). Most of that time period was part of the Victorian era, and the language of the time was definitely more formal and grandiose than it is now. Moreover, this speech, originally given to an audience of scholars, is much more likely to use such a formal, scholarly tone. On the other hand, Madigan’s (1998) language is comparatively casual and simple. First of all, his article was published in the last decade. Moreover, it was originally published in an online periodical. Free online sources are definitely more accessible to the general public than scholarly conferences are. As a result of the time period and a much wider audience, Madigan writes in a simple, casual tone.
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Madigan’s sources and content also explain his appeal to a wider audience. While both articles make good use of credible sources, the actual sources quoted vary. Vivekananda (n.d.) quotes and paraphrases from a variety of religious texts and religious masters, using passages and teachings that focus primarily on God. For example, he quotes the Old Testament of the Hebrews, which states that man needs “to regain his old nature, his pure nature” by knowing God. Later on, he includes this Bible verse: “No man can see God but through the Son” (p. 2).
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