Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"You May Say I'm a Dreamer, But I'm Not the Only One."

My deep, intellectual question on world religion hasn't left the transoms of my mind. I posed my theory to several other people, most of whom agreed with me that Christianity isn't the only "right" or "correct" religion out there. My random sample included Christian ministers, the highly educated and lastly, the category I like to call "simpletons".

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea that my son's Lutheran school teaches, or at least Luke's interpretation of what they're teaching, which is that people who aren't Christians are fundamentally flawed characters. Luke insists he doesn't hate people of other religions, he just "hates the fact they're not Christian." That's not tolerance. That's not acceptance. What's the difference between that and Luke saying he hates an Indian man because he's Indian and not caucasian? Luke defaults to "well, that's what I was *taught.*" "Forget what you were taught, Luke, and tell me how you honestly feel," I told him. He honestly hadn't put any thought into it until I mentioned it. My 11-year old is perfectly capable of absorbing abstract ideas, and I told him I wanted him to seriously think about what I was proposing. It made him uncomfortable and a little frightened, rattling his whole belief system. Sorry, son, but Mom's a radical punk just like Jesus. God gave you a brain and the power to logically reason; use it.

My friend Nicole is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. They're a far more liberal denomination who accept and understand other world religions while keeping their worship Christ-centered. She told me there's a UCC church here in Park Ridge, which I'm seriously considering checking out. Nicole said to me, and I quote, "It's probably not a surprise, but in my own study and reading of the gospel, I just can't affirm the exclusivist reading that says that the ONLY way to God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus was a "radical punk" (love that turn of the phrase, btw) who welcomed all kinds of people and wanted everyone to be included. I had a theology professor who told us, 'Don't put God in a box.' She pushed us to use new language of affirming God in bigger and more expansive ways. I try my best to live that, even in my limited way. One way I do that is by respecting people of different faiths."

I'm increasingly finding the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is just too conservative and closed-minded for me as I mature. I sort of *have* to keep Luke there in school and play with my band and be a good Lutheran until Luke graduates 8th grade.

I asked my Tatus what he thought, because I respect his opinion. Mind you, I was very tired when I talked to him on the phone, but what I gathered was that he agreed that the school shouldn't be teaching kids to loathe other religions, and that it is indeed narcissistic of us to believe that Christianity is the sole way to Heaven. And he's a staunch Catholic. My impression was that he's curious about some of the teachings the Catholics advertise as fact. (I'm likewise nerve-ended about some of what the Catholics do...that whole praying to saints and Mary thing? How is that different than praying to the millions of Hindu gods? God got himself into quite a pickle by saying "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Separate issue. Never mind.)

I asked my ex-husband what his dad thought. My late, ex-father in law was a Presbyterian minister who had a PhD in theology. He too was enlightened enough to recognize that other religions had validity and that Christ wasn't the only way to Heaven.

I decided to jump the intellectual ship and ask a simpleton. I explained the African Pygmie twig analogy to a 25-year old girl I work with, and all she could come back with was "Well, I was taught that other religions are a sin so I feel like I'm sinning if I say I like other religions." I said, "Fuck what you were taught. What do YOU, as an adult, believe?" She said "umm" and "uh" a lot, and just kept, like my 11-year old, referring back to "Well, I was taught..." Failed experiment. Moving on.

As I proposed in my last blog on-topic, nobody can prove me either right or wrong, and I won't find out if my theories were correct until after I die. My Christian praise band is busy trying to hold faith interventions for me and I've been essentially ex-communicated from them on the subject, which is too bad. It's not that I don't believe in Christ as my Savior, for I do. I just think open-mindedly.

Liberal Christianity: More fruit, fewer nuts.

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