Religion compare and contrast, and Old Silvertooth

Chris, with whom I have been having an interesting dialogue on Facebook about human nature, wants to know:

What do you think about other religions? Is it just “different strokes for different folks,” or are some religions better than others, or a mix? Where do you think other religions belong in Christianity?

A lot of how I view other religions is based on the bias I have seen within Christianity, including by myself. When I was growing up, I wouldn’t say anything, but I thought those Catholics who had “dirt” on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday looked silly. As a bit of cosmic comeuppance, in my last two (Protestant) churches, we now apply ashes on our foreheads on the first day of Lent.

I recall the first time I was allowed to take Communion at a Roman Catholic Church, on some important anniversary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, back in the 1990s. Interestingly, some of my Protestant friends refused to take the Eucharist because of being denied for so long, which I thought was CRAZY; they let you in, you gotta walk through the door.

Did I ever tell you about the Coptic who told me I was going to hell because Protestants didn’t believe in a literal transubstantiation?

So I have enough problem sorting out my own religion that the assessment of other faiths tend to be secondary considerations.

For instance, the Texas Republican platform condemns homosexuality and invokes God. People are boycotting Oreo cookies because the brand is “violating God’s law.” I disagree with these “thought” processes, of course, but it remains my struggle to find common ground with other Christians, first and foremost, if possible. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, Mohandas K. Gandhi said he’d consider becoming a Christian if he had ever met one.

All of that said, I’m also influenced greatly by the Baha’i faith, the religion of a former Significant Other. Basically, it said that many of the major religious leaders, such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, and Zoroaster, were part of a “progressive revelation”, with Christianity revealed for the city-state, Islam for the nation-state, and Baha’ism for the world-state. I never embraced it, but I accepted it as a way to respect other faiths.

Now from a purely comfort level, there seems to be far fewer jerks who claim to be Buddhists, for instance, than jerks purporting to be Christians or Muslims. And there are commonalities in many religions that suggest that at least PARTS of their doctrines are universal. Doesn’t everyone have some variation on the Golden Rule? I will admit, too, that I’m really not all that into proselytizing, at least by words.

When you fantasized about running away as a kid (I assume most people did), what did you fantasize about doing?

I liked watching or playing baseball. Or maybe I could have been one of Gladys Knight’s Pips.

If money were no issue – you were set for life, although you couldn’t just give it all away – what would you be doing?

I would get on trains and go to every Major League Baseball ballpark pretty much every season. I’d go see lots of live theater and a lot of movies in the colder part of the year, especially in New York City and in my region. I’d go visit friends. I’d read a lot more, write more. I’d love to have a companion with whom I could play racquetball wherever I went.

***
Steve writes:

Not sure if this is the appropriate post to put this on, but how did you chip your sister’s tooth?

Oh, THAT.

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a loner, even in my own family structure. I liked to read in my tiny little room, or play with my baseball cards. I played with my sisters, too, who were 16 months, and five years younger than I – mostly kickball or with their dolls – but I needed my own time.

The middle child sometimes would bug me. She knew about the parents’ “no hitting girls” rule, and she took advantage by poking me. I’d do my Garbo best: “I vant to be alone!” But eventually, I’d go chase her away.

On one of these occasions, when I was about 10 or 11, I was trying to catch her – wasn’t sure what I’d do if I did, since I couldn’t hit her – and I stepped on the back of her bathrobe. She went straight down, hit the floor, and started crying loudly. She had chipped one of her front top, permanent teeth.

Ultimately, the dental folks put some silver-gray epoxy on it. The specifics of it now escape me, but what was clear is that she had this discolored item right in the middle of her mouth for months. People would say to her, “Hi, yo, Silver!” or “Old Silvertooth.” She was mortified.

The good outcomes (for me) were these: I didn’t get in trouble, presumably because my narrative rang true to my parents; and my sister left me alone for quite a while. More bizarre to me is that my sister had, apparently for years, until I corrected her in the past few months, attributed her ugly silver tooth to actions taken by our baby sister rather than by me.

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9 thoughts on “Religion compare and contrast, and Old Silvertooth

  1. I would agree with you about Buddhists, but then, of course, there’s the fact that Buddhists seemed be having a lot of fun slaughtering Muslims in Burma recently. Man, when Buddhists are engaging in orgies of violence, what are we to do????

  2. 🙂 I like your answer for “if money were no issue.” I’d be in college forever getting degree after degree in, well, everything. Already have one in math, biology and geology, each, so next would be psychology, electrical engineering, religion, anthropology and so on.

    With the religions, I have a hard time with it because when I wasn’t Christian (most of the last ten years or so), I explored everything. I was a member of the Muslim Students Association and the Hindu Students Association and a bunch of others. Religions can be really, really different from our own, but I feel like they teach different, valuable things.

    People in the US who are descended from Christians do, I agree, seem slightly less jerky on average than most other faiths. However, I do know that religious wars were fought in Buddhism; that they have the same problems we have in Christianity in their home country temples (such as child abuse); and they can violently repress non-Buddhists, such as the repression by Buddhists of Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14926002 ) It doesn’t look like any religion has solved the “human nature” problem without extreme conformity and isolation.

    I don’t know, though. I worry that people won’t feel I’m a “genuine” Christian if, for example, I celebrate Diwali, which is a lot of fun. Or, for example, the gay thing: I do think the Bible prohibits some types of sex, but I don’t see anything in the new Testament about two guys kissing and I actually really like the Gay Pride Parade. It’s fun, too.

    We got a handout at Church – Roman Catholic – this week. We’re supposed to pray some days that the government won’t force the Catholic Church to do something that Catholics find immoral. Which I agree with. But we’re also supposed to pray that “sanctity of marriage” is protected. What business is it of the Church what the outside world is doing? Why can’t people just leave each other alone and not try and control each other?

    • My understanding about prohibitions of sex that have been attributed as no gay sex was actually about no exploitative sex of any kind (often violated in the Bible, BTW). I like the gay pride parades, too, though some of the counter-demonstrators have made me a tad nervous.

  3. I watched that video you put up, and I have to say he makes a pretty cogent argument to the view that it was about exploitative sex.

    I do actually think that anal sex is bad for your body and your mind. Now that it’s becoming more common, medical science is discovering the long-term damage that can result in both men and women due to anal sex. So I’m okay with teaching it’s wrong. Honestly, a lot of the New Testament seems to be a reaction to the excesses of the Romans.

    The last Pride parade I went to I didn’t see any counter-protesters, but that was a few years ago now. I was at one in Germany once – that was NUTS. 🙂

    Also there’s the thing of “thinking it’s wrong” or “teaching it’s wrong” vs. “prohibiting it by law” and “punishing it.” If one person thinks “Well, that’s wrong…,” what’s the big deal? It only gets to be a problem when we try and control people we don’t agree with. IMHO.

  4. Old Silvertooth lol That’s a good nickname. That story is also eerily similar to how I cracked my head open as a child. I was being chased by my brother, and instead of him stepping on a robe, I stepped on my own loose sock and smacked my forehead on the corner of a chair.

  5. As a preacher’s kid, I was exposed to a lot of other religious beliefs—and prejudices against them. Even though I no longer have any use for any religion at all, I nevertheless have trouble sometimes ignoring those prejudices I learned as a child (the prejudices I’ve picked up in adulthood are another matter entirely).

    From my irreligious perspective, you’re one of the people I think of who may yet help to reclaim Christianity from its jerks. And I say that about you often. People like me can’t do it, not because we’re too busy criticising the jerks, but because we have to stake in whether it succeeds or not—well, no stake except that it would make for a better world.

    • Arthur – Something that occurred to me a couple days ago: there are people, black people specifically, who are upset with Obama because he “hasn’t done enough” for black people. Yet, as you’ve noted often, he’s done quite a bit for gay people. I think it’s because, in some ways, it’s easier. A direct assistance to blacks (whatever that might be) would be considered “just helpin’ his own,” while appealing to gays, or Hispanics, for that matter, might be seen as political “pandering” by the pundits, but somehow more defensible because he is neither.

      Oh, and thank you for your kind words.

  6. Well, you opened quite the Pandora’s box, didn’t you?! Religiosity aside, I believe Jesus is quite clear on how to have authentic faith.

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