Friday, January 20, 2006

Discussions

For the first time today, I told my Dad that I am not Christian. The conversation was started by some junk mail for a Christian K-12 school that was received in his name. He didn't even look at the name on it, assuming it was for my Mom because she's the Christian in the family.

When I started teasing him about the junk mail, he told me that he would have never put any of us in a private, Christian school. "I would never have done that to you kids." I told him, "Dad, I would have refused to go." We really didn't talk much more about it beyond that.

Though this was the first time I had articulated that I wasn't Christian, I'm sure he knew. I'm sure my mom knows too but she still hopes that my siblings and I will "come around." I also think that she is a little afraid to ask us what we believe in (and what we don't believe in). I know it is partially because of some of the books that she has found in my house, such as books about different religions, including Paganism. What she doesn't know is that most of those books about Pagan religions and magic came from my anthropology classes from my first round in college back about 12 years ago.

As I was thinking about my Mom being Christian and the rest of us not following the Christian faith, I started thinking about mixed religion families. I know that for some families, it just works. For other families, it causes conflict. In my family, it seems that the way to deal with it is to not talk about it. (I have tried, my Mom doesn't want to talk about it and will walk out of the room if we (my brothers and I) start talking about other religions.)

Why is it so difficult for people from different faiths and beliefs to come to an understanding? I'm not saying that they have to start believing what the other believes in but I would like to see people learn to respect that there are other world views. I would love to have more discussions of not only what people believe in but why they believe that way. I think the "why" part of that kind of discussion would almost be more enlightening because people would have to support the reason for their beliefs and have to think about their religion on a deeper level.

3 comments:

Red Witch said...

Finding out "why" could very well lead to your doctoral thesis, so keep this question simmering somewhere all the time...

If you ask a born-again, washed-in-the-blood-of-the-lamb, fundamentalist Christian "why?", you will very likely get variations on a theme: "Because it's in the Bible." Unless you're lucky enough to ask one of my good friends and band mate -- he actually thought long and hard before he became born again, and he can talk about it without heat -- which seems to be a major accomplishment among most fundies.

I'm also lucky enough to have a staunchly Catholic mom-in-law who, while holding herself to high standards, is very flexible when it comes to everyone else, including those in her own family. Consequently, her family now includes one Witch, one Lutheran, several "other" Christians, one atheist, one almost-priest, two Buddhists, one cult-hopper, several Jews, several Black Muslims, several agnostics, and a plethora of great religious conversation. Her house is a "safe" house -- you can talk about anything there, as long as you are courteous and respectful of your conversational companions!

I'm not familiar enough with Minnesota (a hair-raising drive up and down the vertical streets of Duluth a few decades ago was about the extent of my visit) to know where your major universities are, but if you can locate a Religious Studies or Comparitive Religions course anywhere around you, that would be a great place to start your quest.

soleclaw said...

In my experience the main roadblock keeping Pagans and Christians apart is the fact that most Christians assert that their religion is the only true religion. This keeps Christians from being open...the fear that non-Christian beliefs will cloud their faith.

Sojourner said...

Thanks for your comments!

Red - I have been thinking about doing research on religins somewhere along the way to my PhD. The only thing is that the subject of religion fits more with a philosophical or religious degree. Psychology tends to shy away from that which can not be measured and religion and spirituality fit that bill.

Sole - I agree but would add that any person of any religion could fall into that trap.