06 January, 2010


Sometimes I honestly think a frighteningly large number of people "out there" are absolutely nuts.

Let's get it out of the way: I'm a Christian Pastor's daughter. Me, I'm not the type to publicly encourage people to convert to Christianity, but I wouldn't believe in it if I didn't think it was the best way to live my life--not because of a promise of heaven (whatever heaven actually is), but because I believe the precepts of Christianity make for a better life both today and in the life to come. If I truly believe that, would I not want others to believe similarly... with the thought that it would make their lives better?

With that in mind, would I be offended if someone suggested to me that their (different) religion would be of benefit to me in a challenge I'm facing? No! Assuming they follow their chosen path with conviction and devotion, I would take their suggestion as a generous mark of caring/concern, even if I rejected it. Frankly, I'd expect at least a broaching of the subject in any friendship within which our religions were very disparate--such as Christianity and Buddhism or Christianity and Islam, for example--ending in an agreement to disagree.

Though brought up in a conservative religious environment, I was taught that as fallible beings we were in frequent danger of misunderstanding God or failing to see what he was trying to teach us; our best effort was required to learn/understand, but ultimately we had to be humble enough to accept the possibility of error even while attempting to follow what we believed was right. We could be blinded by ego, by experience, even by a personality that might naturally be resistant or attracted to certain teachings. In other words, not being all-knowing, we could never be entirely sure of our choices.

Thus it was vital we use conscience and intellect in choosing a religious practice, but we should never look down on kind folks who had come to different conclusions. My father himself spent a lot of time talking to and learning from people of other religions because in doing so he tested his understanding and conviction in his own beliefs (it made him a better Christian because in being challenged he had to decide whether or not he really believed what he claimed to, and whether it all made sense).

A commenter at Hot Air said it beautifully:

I have been an ardent Buddhist and still love many of it traditions and technologies of the mind. And I am not a Christian. But I do understand what Hume was emphasizing. Even the Buddha taught that you had to provide the correct medicine for the current affliction of the mind. For someone who has so sullied his reputation and life, Tiger Woods really could use a hearty dose of Christian forgiveness, redemption and healing and usually this comes only by entering the Christian faith. Buddhists should not be too attached to Buddhism; it sometimes is the wrong medicine. The Passion of the Christ, the drama of the resurrection from Death is sometimes the best and only way to renew ones life.

As a Christian who was taught that one is either Christian or not--no fence-straddling, I don't relate to the the kind of religious flexibility the commenter displays ("Buddhists should not be too attached to Buddhism"), but I share his/her belief that the uniqueness of each individual affects that individual's religious experience.

That there are people out there who find this commenter's and my father's engagement in religious exploration and polite challenge/analysis offensive continues to surprise and confuse me.

Was Brit Hume wise to use a public forum to suggest someone convert to a particular religion? Probably not (the ensuing outrage was predictable). Was it offensive or rude? Not the way he phrased it, no. Or rather, only offensive to those who whose faith (verb) or faith (noun) are so fragile that the idea some people think them incorrect is enough to destroy a believer's worldview.

This is in line with the same silliness in which extremist islamists) threaten to kill people for "un-islamic" behavior (how can unbelievers' unbelief damage your own belief if you think your religion is the right one???), and something I honestly do not understand.

Yes, it's an emotional topic (one of the reasons Hume was perhaps unwise to bring it up), but have we truly become so PC that to acknowledge we've made judgments in our own lives is taboo?

I'd think the problem is a lack of humility about oneself and one's own beliefs, a lack of the humility that was modeled to me as a child... except I'd think religious pride/confidence would make the believer feel LESS threatened and offended by challenge, not moreso...

Are they all really that insecure?

I could see it as a matter of very proper manners, maybe: offense is taken at broaching such a personal subject in a public forum. But then the response Hume has received would belie the valuing of such careful manners...

I honestly don't understand it.

I CAN understand it on a case-by-case basis as insecurity or a personality that doesn't allow for challenge (I am right and you're wrong!), or as a cover for some sort of "issue" the threatened person can't cope with (i.e., "I despise myself, but being right in my religion gives me value and justification for being alive, so how dare you suggest I don't have the most correct religion!").

But I see no corporate/society-wide explanation... other than that the paragraph above is an accurate representation of what is driving the hysterical response to Hume.

If so, they're all genuinely nuts.

I suggest therapy so that they can get their heads on straight, learn to be kind to people different than them, and develop some self-confidence in their own choices.

Good grief, people!

[The above was written at 11 p.m. on a screen viewed through barely-open eyes, so take it for what it's worth.]