Gasp. That's right. This Spin is about religion. Feel free to click off at any time. It's not going to be a soapbox post, though, so you might want to stick around.
I'm one of the few people that will talk about religion. And I like it when other people talk about religion. It's ok by me.
I think we'd all be a little better of if we talked about religion more. It's all in how you talk about it. There is a huge difference between sharing ideas and lecturing or trying to convert.
I'm a Catholic. Born and raised. My parents were Catholics. But not all of my grandparents were. My paternal grandmother was Jewish. My father was born during WWII. Any guesses why she didn't raise him as a Jew? She also died when he was 2, and the Jewish side of the family didn't have the resources to take both him and my Aunt. So the Catholics did. But the Jewish side still saw him a lot, and he learned a lot about being Jewish from his visits with them. I learned a lot about being Jewish from my visits with them. There's a lot to learn.
The biggest lesson? Tolerance. We can all believe different things and still be friends.
Much of what you read about any moderate religion will tell you the same thing: No where in the texts our religion is based on does it say you need to kill other people who don't believe as we do. Extremists and people trying to use religion for political advantage like to read that into the works, but the words themselves do not support it. Moderate Christians will tell you this (Catholics included), moderate Muslims will tell you this. Jews, Buddhists. They all have extreme sects, but the mainstream religion believes in tolerance. Many of us shake our heads when the extremists do something that gets them into the news. "Ugh", we say, "Why do they make us all look like crazies?"
So, why can't we talk about religion? I'd like to know more about Muslim. The holidays, what they really believe. All we hear about is the ones who want to blow stuff up. Certainly that's not every Muslim! Or the world would be a pile of cinders. So, what do the others believe? And Judaism? All most people know is the holocaust and Hanukkah. But there is so much more to know about it. If only people could talk to each other about it.
I know, I'm over simplifying. It's hard to talk about religion without the passion that religion brings out in people. We desperately want people to agree with our view. With our understanding. Because if we can convince them to agree, then maybe we'll be more convinced that it's true.
In the end, that's what it's about right? Who has the "right" answer? When the big game ends, who did the right thing? Who prayed to the right guy? Or was it ok not to pray at all?
Ok, I'm done. I have to go read what other people think about this. Maybe learn a thing or two.
Bringing is all back around: If my Jewish relatives hadn't been tolerant of Catholicism, we all would have missed out. They would never have known my Dad, who was a great guy. I know that they loved him a lot. He (and I) would never have gotten to know them. I would have never learned how to play dreidl, or why the Passover dinner is so important. I also would have never heard my Great Uncle Karl tell my older brother the single most important thing I've ever learned about any religion:
"It's not important how you pray, on your knees or standing facing a certain direction. It's not important if it's in a church, a synagogue or a parking lot, out loud or in your head. What's important is that you believe. Believe in God, and believe that he'll help you do the right thing. Don't let any human being try to force you to do something you know isn't right."