The behavior and attitudes the above statement refers to is a prime example of what I believe is arrogance (according to Webster, arrogance is an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people). I haven’t experienced it with other religions, but I certainly agree that there is a lot of Christian arrogance in our world. How have I dealt with that? Well, on a bad day…I get angry...but on a good day…I’m able to understand a closed mind as incapable of integration.
A friend of mine recently sent me the following from his daily wisdom book His Holiness the Dalai Lama; the Path to Tranquility, “All the waters and rivers of different lands and climes have their ultimate meeting point in the ocean. So, too, the differing viewpoints on society, the variety of economic theories, and the means to their attainment benefit mankind itself. There is no point in indulging in dissension-creating discussions on differing ideologies. No positive result has accrued from attempting to convert all men of different temperaments and likings into one common ideology and mode of behavior. This can clearly be seen from the contemporary history of both the East and the West.” The Bible doesn’t say that God intended for us all to be the same (and that’s a good thing because what a boring world that would be!) What the Bible does say is that God intends for us to attain the same thing. God’s creation has always been filled with a variety of gender, race, nation, creed, orientation, and opinion—and with all of that, we still find salvation. As Christians, we don’t have the right to make others conform to our standards. Jesus didn’t make people follow him—it was always a personal choice.
This is my take… Our world is filled with people who are looking for something deeper, something to make them feel whole, as if they have a purpose for being here and they can somehow contribute to the greater good. If they discover that fulfillment through Christianity, more power to them! But if they find redemption on a different path, we ought to feel happy for them, not dismayed. Nothing good comes from oppression and domination…ever.
Having said this, how do I feel about religious actions being removed from social events? Well, if the event is a private gathering, then by all means have at it. There’s no law against practicing religion at your own event. But, if the event is a public forum, doesn’t it make more sense to make room for the reality and beauty of community? This, by the way, might get us a lot closer to attaining the unity of God’s Kingdom on earth. I hear the argument that prayer should be allowed in public schools and I think, all prayer or just the prayer of the complainant? We are so quick to be offended or to say that our rights are being jeopardized, but we’re often slow to realize how we offend and jeopardize the rights of others.
A college soccer coach was telling me about two students who recently joined the team. They happened to be Muslim. When the coach announced a water break, he was confused to see the new players run up the hill to the parking lot. When they returned he asked where they had gone. They said they had gone to their car to pray, which they try to do five times a day around the same time. At first, I thought it was sad that they felt the need to go pray privately. When I pray I don’t have to excuse myself. But the coach went on to explain that he and the team told the new players…they were welcome to bring their mats to the field. So beautiful are the mouths of those who speak peace.
I, like everyone else, have arrogant tendencies. Humility goes a long way when realizing that a true reflection of God is much larger than my own view of the world. Underneath every opposing belief is a soul yearning for connection with its life source. We have different ways of getting there, but we all go back from which we came.