I remember a tragic incident that occurred during my ministry. One evening I was called to the hospital to be with the mother of a two-year-old child who was brain-dead after choking on a piece of chewing gum. The mother, a Unitarian Universalist, was estranged from the child's father, who was of another faith. Leaving the hospital, I found myself in the elevator with the father's minister, and I said to him, “Well, we can do the memorial service together.” And he responded, “No, we can't. We don't worship the same God.” His comment made my sadness deeper still, and the estrangement of these families seemed ever greater.
Category Archives: interfaith
(Inspired by this thread)
The only way inter-religious relationships can work is if both parties place higher emphasis on how they treat each other over what each other believes. In my experience, the difference between your average Christian and a fundamentalist is that the fundamentalist puts priority on what other people believe and not how other people treat them. Your average [sane] Christian focuses more on how the person treats them.
I dated a Catholic for a year and we had absolutely no problems when it came to religion. She only cared that I treated her well. She broke up with me [probably] because I got insanely drunk one night and blacked out lol… and I also refused to say the “L” word. Conversely, I dated a Protestant and she didn’t care about how I treated her, she couldn’t accept that I didn’t have the correct beliefs. And she had just gotten out of a pretty bad relationship where the guy shared her beliefs, but played mind games and was emotionally abusive… but she was with him for three years. I’m certain I didn’t play any mind games or was emotionally abusive to her .
Placing emphasis on “belief” is dogmaticism.
If both parties involved aren’t all dogmaticism but rather places emphasis on “orthopraxy” (correct action), then it might work out. That dogmaticism is at the heart of all religious intolerance, and will doom any sort of relationship to failure; either leading to break up or to a relationship where both people have the correct “beliefs”, but is devoid of respect. And what if one person just happens to lose their faith, and both only cared about dogma? What if they placed correct belief over all else? One person might simply lie to the other so that they would stay together. It’s possible that dogmaticism could even lead to perpetual dishonesty in a relationship for those who place correct belief at the highest priority in a relationship (faith is self-deception).
This reminds me of a comment made by someone in response to a Rabbi’s view on the historicity of the Exodus:
Maimonides strongly criticized people who insisted that the Bible had to be literally true. Nonetheless, many people still cling to the foolish notion that literal truth is a necessary belief. That is illogical for Jews, since we are not a FAITH based People whose way(s) of life are not based upon any belief. Christians, on the other hand, need literal truth because for them belief is more important than truth.
The mainstream Jewish view towards religion also seems to be one of “orthopraxy” and not dogmaticism. From another point of view on the opposite side of the spectrum, this table was put together by Luke over at Common Sense Atheism:
|…probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering.||… probably wants to increase world happiness and reduce suffering.|
|…holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence.||…holds thousands of beliefs for which she has no well-tested evidence.|
|…often makes irrational decisions.||…often makes irrational decisions.|
|…may or may not believe in free will.||…may or may not believe in free will.|
|…may believe any number of things about morality.||…may believe any number of things about morality.|
|…almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds.||…almost certainly holds some beliefs that logically contradict other beliefs she holds.|
|…is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases.||…is plagued by over a dozen powerful cognitive biases.|
|…may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was.||…may believe any number of things about who the Historical Jesus was.|
|…may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid.||…may be anywhere from extremely intelligent to frightfully stupid.|
|…is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices.||…is probably outraged by some religious beliefs and practices.|
|…may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime.||…may have any range of beliefs about evolution, cosmogony, and the nature of spacetime.|
|…may hold any of several views about metaphysics.||…may hold any of several views about metaphysics.|
|…may or may not have a highly positive view of science.||…may or may not have a highly positive view of science.|
|…may or may not believe in absolute truth.||…may or may not believe in absolute truth.|
|…holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence.||…holds many beliefs and attitudes out of trust, not evidence.|
|…may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible.||…may hold any of several views about the historicity of the Bible.|
|…sometimes acts against her own moral principles.||…sometimes acts against her own moral principles.|
|…can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times.||…can be angry, satisfied, sad, happy, lazy, or industrious at different times.|
|…often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about.||…often makes assertions about topics she knows relatively little about.|
|…may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs.||…may live in a bubble of like-minded friends or have many friends with diverse beliefs.|
|…may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview.||…may or may not regularly doubt her own worldview.|
|…believes in a god.||… doesn’t believe in a god.|
Concentrate on similarities, not dogmaticism.