Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coexisting- religious tolerance

I'm not a Christian, but that doesn't mean I haven't read the Bible.  I am familiar with the history of Christian thought.  I think a guy named Jesus existed two thousand and some years ago.  I even think he had some awesome things to say.  Nothing against him, really.  I don't worship him (and frankly, would he be comfortable with idea of being worshiped or deified?), but that doesn't mean I can't admire the message.  I'm not an atheist either, but I still understand their point of view, even if I don't it.

What I have a problem with is the "missionary impulse", as one of my college professors liked to refer to it.  I have a problem with hypocrisy, and I have a problem with any worldview that insists it is the only "right" way to experience the world, especially when it's followers engage in behaviors that are strictly forbidden by that viewpoint.  You will notice that my money is always where my mouth is.  I don't tell people that steal is bad and then rob my neighbor of what is justly his due (through economics).  I don't cheer for killing- even the legal sort (executions).  I don't force my view on anyone.  If you want to read this, great.  If it offends you, well, bugger off and find something else to read.

I may be a pagan, but I will not convert anyone (including my children who are being exposed to many other belief systems in an effort to be fair).  I won't say one thing and do another, especially while pretending righteous indignation or damning others who don't see things my way.  I won't help you keep other people down or strip away the rights I believe them to be endowed with by simple virtue of being part of humanity.  I won't engage in religious warfare, but I will fight back if I'm threatened.

Rather than engaging in "othering", the practice of creating a divide between "us" and "them", lets look for common ground, or at least points we can admire in other spiritual paths.  If you refuse to engage in the us/them dichotomy, possibilities for cooperation and understanding.  And the next time a missionary comes uninvited to your door, be polite, but ask them how they would feel if you were trying to convert them.  From there, maybe you can have a conversation.

And, as a way of whistling in the dark please take a moment to look of the the Austin Lounge Lizard's song "Jesus Loves Me, But He Can't Stand You".




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