Sunday, September 11, 2011

What do you believe?, part two

Our western, postmodern culture, seems to have decided that there are two options for expressing belief.

On the one hand, a person can be adamant and forthright in their belief.  Of course, it seems that if a person takes a firm stand professing a particular belief, that person must also deny all others as flawed, and therefore unacceptable.  To accept one faith system negates the validity of all others. 

On the other hand, a person can profess a willingness to listen to other people with an open mind.  It seems, though, that if a person takes the position that they are willing to genuinely listen to their neighbor, they will not be able to make their own statement of faith.  To accept the possibility of other faith systems precludes professing any one.  

These seem to be the two positions taken by many people in our culture; it's either "there's only one that's right", or "there's no single one that's right".  In my estimation, both are positions of immaturity.  A person with a more mature faith does not need to denigrate others; neither do they need to accept everything and never make their own statement of faith.  Rather, that person can stand confidently and express articulately their own belief without feeling attacked when a person of a different faith expresses something different.

For instance, I am Christian.  I am not ashamed to articulate my Christian faith; neither do I feel the need to criticize those who are Jewish, or Muslim, or Sikh, or Buddhist, or anything else.  While I believe that I'm right, I accept the possibility ... no, the truth ... that G-d is bigger than I can understand, and that maybe the person who believes something different than I do might also have a valid angle on the truth.  To fervently believe that I'm right does not necessarily mean that everyone else is wrong. 

Now, I have no particular claim to special maturity in faith.  But it seems to me that maybe that's the problem with spirituality and faith in our culture ~ immaturity.

If we only see truth in our own tradition, we miss the richness of the diversity of G-d's creation.   It's pretty self-centered to only see truth in ourselves; plus, it's an act of replacing divine with human sovereignty ~ and that's never a good idea.


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