A few weeks ago, I asked members of the Project Conversion Facebook page to ask questions about, well, anything. There was such a good turnout that I believe we’ll make this a weekly date. Each Monday, I’ll make a call for questions and answer them (to the best of my ability) the following Thursday. Anything goes on the inquiries, so set your curiosity free. You may also send in your questions via email at email@example.com.
Let’s get started!
“…it seems to me that the words and actions of leaders, prophets, and gurus are what psychopaths would say or do, which has completely disillusioned me about everything I thought I believed. I have been messed up with this for days! What can you tell me?“
Wow. First off, what is the definition of a psychopath? Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the feelings of others and often the rules of society. I completely understand Ms. Katheryn’s distress. History is filled with personalities twisted by ego and corruption and bent on gaining power. The difference here, however is that if one is to take their religion or spirituality seriously, there must be a degree of divorce between the faith of the believer in the divine, and the institution. For example, if the Catholic Church is part of a organizational scandal, does that mean one should doubt their relationship and faith in Jesus? I don’t think so. Katheryn, the Buddha once advised (to paraphrase) us not to believe or conform to anything that did not match up with our reason. I wouldn’t confuse your loyalty to the divine with an earthly institution or its mouthpieces, especially when they conflict.
“In your year of experience, did you get any clue as to why we are so exclusive in our religion? Why we can’t accept that there are different paths to Truth?“
First of all, there are many “believers” who are quite universal in their faith. The exclusivity we express is a component of humanity that pervades much of our lives. This is my house, that is your house. This is my country, that is yours. Our government runs better than theirs. My religion teaches truth, not yours. Ad nauseum. Many of us think this way because humans have a knack for compartmentalizing everything, from our religion to the shelves of food in our refrigerator. There is safety with walls, even walls around ideas. We feel cozy and valued when we belong to an exclusive club. That’s just human nature. As for the second part of your question, try the reverse. Why can’t you accept that there may in fact only be one valid path to Truth, while all others are convincing diversions? Of course, my question is rhetorical, however such universalism is just as hard to swallow for some as its opposite. I find that the solution for peace despite these differences isn’t in degrading someone beliefs in spite of your own or making a point of conversion, but in asking others to bring the best qualities of their faith/philosophy to the table of humanity in a spirit of service.
“I am concerned about so much hate today- and misunderstandings about other’s beliefs. I am especially concerned about how politics and religion have become dangerously close.“
Me too. You know, I suffered with hatred for so long before last year, and I can tell you that that only solution is honest communication. The Qur’an offers great insight here. Allah states in surah 49: 13 “We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” Why is it that God made us in diversity if the intention was that we are to know one another? Wouldn’t it have been easier for us to look, act, speak, dress, and express ourselves the same? Of course, but just look at nature as our example. All the colors, the sounds of the animals, so vibrant and yet each compliments the other. That is humanity. Our diversity compliments one another and thus manifests a far richer existence.
“I would love to know which of the religious paths you feel is most accepting of/welcoming to the gay and lesbian community? And which would be the least?“
This is a tough one, because it often comes down to the individual’s interpretation of scripture. For example, there are Christians and Muslims who believe homosexuality is a grave, Hell-deserving sin, while others believe that if God created us in the womb and homosexuality isn’t a choice, how can he “pre-damn” his own creation? There are some faiths that, as far as I know, seldom mention or pass judgment on the issue at all, namely Buddhism, Jainism, most forms of Paganism, perhaps Sikhi, and Hinduism (depending on the school) to name a few. Abrahamic faiths, including the Baha’is, traditionally view homosexuality in less than favorable terms, including opposition to “gay marriage,” however these views are currently experiencing a revival of sorts in their translations.
I appreciate all of your questions. Please remember that the answers here are my opinion and may not represent the official stance of these faiths.
What are you curious about? Is there anything about the Project Conversion journey or faith in general that you’d like me to tackle? Feel free to ask during the call for questions on the Facebook page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org