I’ve been in a writing mode for the last few days. I’m preparing for a keynote in a few weeks at a banquet for several hundred aviators at Aviation Association’s annual gathering, this year at Belterra Casino and Resort. And, of course, I’ve been writing a book on happiness, too.
Yesterday, however, my writing was temporarily interrupted by a call from one of the producers of HuffPost Live – it’s their live television/internet version of the news. It seems the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life had recently released a report that a “huge number of Americans do not want atheist in-laws.” They were going to have a live discussion on the subject and they wanted me and a couple of other “experts” – as they called us – I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing when she said that. I’ve never been an “expert” at anything, except perhaps at “nothing.” Anyway, I agreed and enjoyed the conversation. If you’d like to listen to the archived version, go here: “Why Most Americans Don’t Want Atheists In-Laws.”
I actually read the Pew report, too. If you’ve read it, you know there is really nothing new or earth-shattering in it. In fact, it’s the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from fundamentalist versions of any faith but, in this case, Christianity. Nearly two-thirds of “conservative” Christians would be upset to have “atheist” in-laws.
Would I be upset to have “atheist” in-laws?
Not at all. No more so, in fact, than I am about having very conservative Christian in-laws. Which, of course, I do. What I would find disconcerting, however, is whether my son or daughter or my future in-laws were narrow-minded or, worse, closed-minded, whether atheists or theists.
In Buddhism, there is something known as “wrong view,” which basically means we view reality – any reality – through distorted, narrow lens. This is an affliction that affects everyone. And, the spiritual goal is, to cultivate “right view.” Which does not mean, cultivate your view of things as “the right view” and everyone else’s view of things as “the wrong view.”
This is the core error in fundamentalism, whether radical Christian fundamentalism or radical atheism.
The middle way is the better way. Respecting all persons for their own faith journey, or lack of it, is the healthiest position.
It is, in fact, the only position wherein peace may prevail.
Between Christians and atheists.
Between Israel and Palestine.
Between Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Between Republicans and Democrats.
Between couples of the same faith, opposite faiths or no faith.
Between couples of the opposite sex or the same sex.
The middle way is the only way.
If you enjoy the things I write, visit my blog where you’ll find much more. Go to www.SteveMcSwain.com