Fog and Religious Differences

It was cold this morning. The fog was lovely. I snapped this photo on my walk to breakfast.

It’s been a bit of a foggy afternoon too, in the realm of my mind. (No, Intro. to Psych. hasn’t made me a materialist just yet.)

I’m slogging through articles on the ‘Hindu-Christian encounter’ for my Hinduism and Buddhism class. Some are absolutely overwhelming. So many interpretations and reinterpretations and new understandings and fulfillment theories and self-realizations… I start to wonder if I’m just dreaming or if it all sounds the same.

Reading many of the articles was also a cause of personal anxiety for me, in that the first batch I read were highly inclusivist. Most of my evangelical friends would describe me as liberal, but (I think that) I fall well within the bounds of orthodox Christianity, and inclusivism does not.

So why would I worry about this?

I felt as though my professor was going to shred my grade to bits, all because I disagreed with material he’d provided for us to read.

At the moment I’ve stopped worrying about it, at least for the most part, mostly due to the fact that I kept reading through the articles. Sure enough, I reached the ones that I did indeed agree with. Whew. And besides, fretting offered me a chance to give myself a little pep-talk about grades and their ultimate insignificance.

But, all of this reading has forced me to embark on a paper-writing-voyage through the fog that is religious pluralism. It’s hard work. Dangerous work. (I agree, yes, yes, yes – NO! – yes, maybe, yes, yes – NO, NO, maybe…) But rewarding work too.

I’ve been challenged to think about dialogue, and it’s benefits for inter-religious relationships. I’ve also been challenged to think about differences, and my own fears about the different. For example, I would describe myself as an open person. Mid-way through this afternoon’s readings, I realized that I was getting pretty jumpy about re-named Christian doctrines. They may just be labels, but I’m clingy about them. They speak to the realm I’m comfortable with. They’re little buttons that I wear, letting the world know that I identify with an accepting group of friends and family who wear those same buttons. I need to work on letting go of my little ‘Christian-labeling-buttons.’ Truth is not limited by them. I’ve also been challenged to think about definitions, and what makes up a religion.

Perhaps I’ll share more after I finish my paper.

For now, I’ll close with this thought from Anantanand Rambachan, a professor of religion at St. Olaf College.

Communities where differences are real, but where they are minimized or downplayed, are more likely to suffer violent and traumatic upheavals when, in times of tension and conflict, such differences become prominent. Communities, on the other hand, which engage each other in a deep search for mutual understanding and which honestly acknowledge differences and cultivate respect are less likely to explode in times of conflict.

May we not be afraid of differences.


One thought on “Fog and Religious Differences

  1. Pingback: Light. | Blessing Trees

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