Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Does "Religiously" Actually Mean Anyway?

"I love Lost. Sawyer is a man I tend to fashion my life after and Kate is going to have my children. I follow Lost pretty religiously." Thank you Scott Stevens for a look into your Tuesday night activities.

The idea of following a television show religiously nowadays is pretty common. Scott, in describing his dedication stated he religiously follows Lost. What would he say if I asked him, "What about Sacrament meeting, do you follow that religiously?"

Now lets listen to another friend of mine, ironically her name is Kate. "Oh. Freinds is my favorite show of all time.
I followed it religiously and now I go back and watch them since I have the DVDs." Kate Todd is not alone. Sometimes we get so attached to our shows that we watch episodes that we have seen already just to remind us how much of an idiot Joey is, how mixed up Rachel and Ross are, how inept Phoebe is, and how unbelievable Chandler and Monica were (metaphorically speaking of TV as a whole and not just trying to call Friends out for basically rehashing Seinfeld without the humor).

What if I posed a similar question to Kate that I did to Scott, "Have you watched reruns of General Conference?" I don't want to condemn my friends. In fact, if I had to do a little investigatorial research on myself and my TV habits I would have to admit that I watch 30 Rock with a zealousness that would impress David Koresh. I watch General Conference religiously, but that doesn't mean I bought all the episodes on itunes...

Now I pose a couple of rhetorical question with hint of hyperbole, a trace of tongue in cheek, and a sprinkling of serious reflection. What do we mean when we say "I _______ religiously"? Do we really show as much dedication to certain things in the media as we do to our actual religions? I mean, we are told to avoid idolatry and we are often warned that the idols of today are not golden calfs. Does Scott go to the LDS church on Sunday and the church of Lost on Tuesdays?

Did I just blow your mind? While you regain consciousness from that last truth bomb I just dropped on you I want you to ponder one more thing. We go to church once a week and most television shows that people admittedly watch fairly "religiously" show only once a week. Is Sunday the Lord's day and Monday Jack Bauer's day? What does that mean? I'm not sure, I just thought it was interesting.

So, here are my questions to you: What media do you consume "religiously"? And what do you think this phrase means today, to do something "religiously"?


  1. I think this blog post pretty much made this class awesome.

  2. Yes, it is an awesome blog post lol.

    To do something religiously, according to the world, means to spend a lot of time with something. I don't think people connect doing something religiously with say going to church. The two aren't the same thing, in the minds of many people. In fact, many people have completely disregarded religion in their life; many people don't attend church on Sundays.

    This post makes me reflect that we've received counsel to partake of all things in moderation (media and the like), but I don't think the world world really has a concept of partaking of media moderately. Of course, we don't have the moderation thing down, I just think it's interesting to think about.

    Right now, I can't get enough of Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler gets me every time. I'm rolling with laughter with this comedy!

  3. I think that doing something religiously today just means to do it with dedication and zeal. The word has lost its connection to actual religion or spirituality. It's like that semiotics second-order thing. It used to mean something that tied in with a person's spiritual beliefs and practices but it's been altered as religion has become less widespread or cool or whatever.

    Also, I don't watch anything religiously these days but I was definitely a Grey's Anatomy convert for the first three seasons.

  4. Perhaps doing something religiously means to show dedication as you participate in the activity on a regular basis. For example, on Sunday evenings (forgive me) I must watch the Amazing Race, be it at 7 on TV or 11 on the internet. Also, "religiously" implies not only a devotion to the activity, but it seems as though it should almost be a reflection of who you are. I watch the Amazing Race because I think competitions are fun, reality TV is entertaining, and traveling is the bomb. Am I onto something? I dunno...
    -Hannah Gibby

  5. Music is what I consume religiously. As I sit here and read this blog and do my response, the tracks keep spinning.

    In my opinion to do something religiously is tied with the fact that it's the routine of it all. You go to church "religiously" meaning every Sunday you have a sort of ritual of getting up, getting ready and heading to mass, sacrament, etc. It's an activity or passion that you love so much that you are involved in/with it as often as you can. I'd like to know if there has been a real meaning of doing something religiously being tied to something really religious. But, tomorrow I'm going to the gym, with my jams because I also excersize....religiously

  6. Wow, you totally blew my mind with this one. I'm beginning to think that I watch "The Office" religiously. If for some reason I'm unable to catch an episode on Thursday night, you better believe that the next morning I'm waking up early to watch the replay on hulu. In contrast, if for some obscure reason I miss out on a church meeting, you won't find me eagerly pursuing the details or a replay of what I missed.

    In my mind, the phrase "to do something religiously" means that we pursue that thing with devotion and passion. The devotion aspect is evidenced in your explanation of how Sunday is the Lord's day and Monday is Jack Bauer's. Passion is illustrated in the fact that if I were to criticize the show "Lost" I feel like someone who watches it religiously would take offense and try to stick up for the value of the show. They would likely have a similar reaction to an attack on their personal religion.

  7. I think that the phrase, "to do something religiously" doesn't really mean what we think of as religion. Even though someone may be obsessed with 24 Monday night and attend Sacrament Meeting every Sunday the two incidents are still different. I think the phrase has come to mean we won't miss an episode. And it is true that oftentimes we put our favorite media habits above church oriented things. We may spend an hour watching a TV show but do we even spend half of an hour reading our scriptures or praying? But on the flip side I would argue that often our motives are different. For me, when I am watching a show I like, it is purely for entertainment. I feel no obligation to the characters to watch the show, I do it because I enjoy it. On the other hand, while I enjoy going to church I don't go for entertainment purposes. I go because I love the Lord and it is a commandment. Even though we say we do things "religiously" I think for the most part we have a different frame of mind then we do when going to church.

    Andrea Wiser

  8. Interesting post... an idea I have thought about often with the start of this class. So often we describe activities as 'religous'- "I follow the Jazz religiously" (which I do not), I work out at the gym religiously".
    We have made the term 'religiously' a verb that describes something we enjoy on a regular basis, something that we care about, and most of all, what we spend our thoughts and time on.
    I think we may be condemning ourselves just a little bit when we say things like this. Of course, these things we do 'religiously' most often do not share the true, deeper meaning we find in our actual religions.
    It should at least make us think more on what it does mean, that we are so dedicated to these differing activities. Perhaps we should follow our religions more 'religiously', and follow our activities more 'regularly'.
    At the end of the day though, I don't think it's something that will effect the eternal scheme of things. Only when an activity starts infringing and replacing our religion does it pose as one of those 'idols' before me.

    Sarah Wett

  9. I think the terms probably comes from an older view. Religion used to be something very important in a persons life. By this I don't mean the religion of sports, music, or anything else, but their actual religion. Now in the world today, people don't often consider religion such a main part. Think about all the religious movements of the past and how people stood up for different religions. Now it seems to be something that is mocked or made fun of, especially by the media. It is interesting that we use this term in our daily language to mean nothing to do with an actual religion, but more to describe an attitude toward something. Our culture has taken such a twist away from actual religious importance and substituted it with things in our every day society.

  10. I consume news religiously. I must admit that I feel a little tinge of guilt every time I hit the pillow at night and realize that I made time to read the New York Times for over a half an hour, even the Daily Universe, but I didn't get to my scriptures that day. Shucks. I read other literature pretty religiously. I find myself sometimes inadvertently teaching more out of the words of Lincoln, Confucius, or Freakonomics.

    What do I mean by religiously? Well, I can't seem to live without it. Not only that, I have a desire to share it with others because it brings me such joy. If only my twitter feed contained half as many scriptural references as it did Op-Ed columns that inspired me that day...

    If religion is defined as the opiate of the masses, then news and literature are definitely a sub-religion of mine. I enjoy reading as much as I am addicted by it, as if it were opium in the form of ink and paper. It's my drug.

  11. P.S. That last one was by Josh Guest. I am Josh Guest. And I affirm original authorship by mine own hand.

  12. First of all, Andy, I think you are great. Secondly, I think "religiously" is a term used as an exaggeration for the purpose of humor. It's like the phrase "I ate a ton of food." No one literally eats 2,000 lbs. of food. It's just silly talk.
    However, people do often get caught up enough in their life to make the term actually literal. Like those darn trekkies.
    I have seen every episode of LOST and look forward to every week of watching it. But my schedule doesn't revolve around it (thanks to Hulu) and it in no way steers my values. So when I say I watch it religiously, I'm just using a popular verbal hyperbolic figure of speech.
    Good post. You are neat.

  13. Dear Andypants / class:

    I believe the term 'religiously' refers to the dedication, consistency involvement that we should have towards our faith, which we express with other things.

    The extent of doing something religiously definitely depends on the activity. As popular as LOST is I seriously doubt the ability for a network to air such a complex if it weren't for the online communities and places to discuss. Some activities have more opportunities to participate 'religiously' such as other interactions aside from the hour long show. I confess, I too am a LOST fan. I blame my former boss.

    I don't watch tv religiously. He however, does.

    Ben + Andy + BBDO = Happy.

  14. Our religion is exceptionally organized with a finely-tuned, fully-authorized message and corresponding lifestyle. Because of that, we tend to think that that's what "religion" means; however, that would preclude such major religions as Confucianism and animism, which apply to billions of people. I think that for something to be considered a religion, it simply needs to be a guiding philosophy or practice that dictates how we live our lives. I garden religiously; I try to plan my summers so I'm close to a plot of land I can work. I exercise religiously; I scheduled all of my classes late enough in the day that I would have time to run without pressure to get back. I go to church religiously; no matter where I am, what I'm doing or who I'm with, come Sunday, I'm there.

    Understanding religion from a less-structured definition will help us better relate to people outside of our Mormon microcosm who do have patterns and principles to live by. As long as we define religion by what we have, we limit our understanding of the life experiences of others.

  15. I would have to agree with some of the other readers on these mind blowing questions. "Religiously" is often a term people use for dramatic effect, to spice up their conversation a bit; and I think that is usually the case. However, I do believe some people do certain things religiously, and it is these people who have seemed to lose touch with reality. When an activity becomes "religious" it can become an obsession and a drug. Just look at the gentlemen we watched on Trekkies.

  16. I think when we say we do things "religiously," we may not mean we literally worship those things or activities, but we, as "natural" men and women, might be putting them before our true religion. Just like Josh said, whenever I fail to read my scriptures/say my prayers/help a person in need, I feel guilty because of all the things I DID do that day. I definitely checked my email, I probably looked at Facebook, and I very likely read some blogs.

    I think the prophets have been warning us of overindulging in media because, for some people, it is taking a considerable amount of time from what's most important (scripture study, prayer, service). It would be safe to say that most of us indulge in some form of media daily, but are all of us indulging in a form of true spirituality daily?

    I, for one, need to do better.

  17. I think that "religious" connection these days and in relation to this topic refers to a deeper connection. The term seems to be used loosely now to describe anything that can be related too and easy to become obsessed with; anything that people look to for inspiration or deeper meaning.

  18. It is funny to me that you posed this question, because just a couple weeks ago, at church, one of our friends asked us how we have been. My husband replied that we just live tuesday to tuesday, waiting for the next episode of LOST. Your blog made me realize how Tuesday really is LOST day, just like Sunday is the Lord's day in our home. It is sad to realize.
    Thus, doing something religiouly, I think,is something that you do devout time to on a regular basis. It might even go to the extent that you feel like you have missed out or lost a put of you if you don't do it one week or something.

  19. I think the world "religiously" has become more of a term of exaggeration than a reference to anything actually dealing with religion. In fact, when I hear the term "religiously" I don't associate it with religion at all. The more I consider it though, it is sad how "religiously" we tune into our favorite shows or check our favorite websites while we don't religiously tune in to more uplifting programs provided by our religion. I don't think it's bad to watch a certain show every week or to frequent certain blogs but I do think we need to find a balance between those activities and our religion.

  20. What media do I consumer religiously....Definitely music...although you could consider the music I listen to religious since I can only study with instrumental mucic. I used to watch FRIENDS religiously and I watched at least the first 3 seasons of LOST religiously. Other than that, the only other thing I do religiously is attend my classes, eat my meals, and go to church on Sunday.

    K so I don't think "religiously" is meant to be literal. Rather, I think it's just a "likening" of sorts...a comparison that means you do something a lot, or you are really committed to something LIKE RELIGIOUS people.

    If it was literal then sleep would be religious, eating would be religious, drinking, etc etc etc. Everything you do all the time without fail would have to be "RELIGIOUS" because you do it religiously. That's why I don't think it has to do anything with religion..it's just a word to use to say a strong committment....just like the media uses arabs as bad guys in all thier movies. To be an arab does not mean to be bad...only in the movies.

    Steph Walton

  21. There are a million bajillion comments on this post and I want to join the party. I got bored of reading them all so hopefully I don't repeat anyone. Though the chances of that are slim.
    I watch Lost religiously. You have to or you are, in fact, lost. Especially since it's the last season. Duh.
    And the definition of religion is so vague and it seems so one can really agree on one definition because it means something different to each person on the planet. But, it makes for much more interesting study and discussion if we open it up to things like TV and sports, etc. And definitely I would say those things have replaced religion in many people's lives. Whether they truly fill the gap is another question altogether.

  22. I think to do something religiously colloquially means to do something all the time. It means you schedule time to do it every day and make sure it gets done. It has been redefined in our culture to casually mean something you consistently do.
    I do think you can make things a religion, like things other than traditional religion. But when people refer to something they do religiously they simply mean something they devote time to. I do not think it necessarily means they worship it or have made it their god.
    I think there are many things I do religiously, and those are just my habits or things I do casually throughout my day, everyday. I think things can distract and become a sort of religion but for the most part when people say they do things religiously it means they make it a regular part of their schedule.

  23. Sir Laugenour,

    I though I'd join the bandwagon and be the 23rd person to post on your blog. You are the winner.
    Anyways, there's not much that I do religiously, other than go to church. You could say I get on the internet religiously...but that's a stretch. Maybe if you count The Adobe Suite, cause I pretty much open those programs religiously.

    In my opinion, we use the term "religiously" very loosely these days. Meaning when someone does something routinely and everyday. But maybe subconsciously we could actually "believe in" and be addicted to these habits, but I only to that extent.

  24. raimo also said,
    whe we use the term religiously speaking, we're saying we do something in a uniform pattern, or better yet, we're devote, and follow it quite closely. so I use my cell phone religiously, to call potential customers, and email for work, religiously.