Monday, September 29, 2014

A Question and an Answer

A friend of mine asked me what I thought of interfaithism. I had to look up the term and I couldn't find a single website that just gave me a definition. What I did find was a bunch of websites by some religious fundamentalists of a variety of faiths who think this mysterious 'interfaithism' thing is the end of the world- in a literal sense. So, the true answer to the question "what do I think of interfaithism" is "I don't."

What I could gather from these websites, that I could only describe as insulting at best, is that interfaithism is a word with negative connotations (from the fundamentalists screaming about Satan's tool or something) that is used now in place of interfaith dialogue. Interfaith dialogue, as we should know, is a wonderful thing where people who don't believe in the same things can still talk to, be civil to, and be accepting of each other.

Ah, found it. One such site actually had a definition for me: "the belief that all religions are valid pathways to God...spiritual truths can be found in all of the world's religions and that there is more than one path to heaven." Gees, to my mind, this sounds awesome, and what I've been saying for years. It's unfortunate that this concept is so threatening to so many... I'm finding this is largely a Christian threat. But, really, if all paths lead to the divine, why does that invalidate your path? "All paths" include yours, doesn't it? Why should you care what other people are doing at all?

Thomas Jefferson, while not a perfect man by any means, was a great proponent of religious liberty. In his famous Letter to the Danbury Baptists (the one that claimed the First Amendment to the Constitution built "a wall of separation between Church and State"), Jefferson opened with: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship...." Think about that. Think about what kind of world we would live in if religion really was a matter which lies solely between man and his god, and not between man and his neighbor and his neighbor's god. That's the way it should be.

In fact, most of these beliefs that fear this interfaithism thing is going to destroy them also believe that they should have a personal relationship with God. So, why do they get a personal relationship and I don't? If you view God like a parent, do you have the same relationship with your Earthly father as your brother? How about the same as your mother? The same as his boss? No, you have a personal relationship with him, and everyone else has a different, personal relationship with him. The "Heavenly Father" is no different here.

If that means you find your own way to Him, so be it. That's the way personal relationships work. That's why you answer to deity about your faith and no one else.

If you know me at all, you know I cover my hair in public because my goddess asked me to. It's part of my personal relationship with her. You also know that I have friends all over the world and from so many different walks of life. I know Christians from Anglicans to Yehowists. Quakers, both Christian and non. I know Jews, Orthodox and Messianic. I know Muslims. I know Buddhists and Hindus. Pagans, Neopagans, Wiccans. Universal Life and Unitarians. I know agnostics and atheists. I don't know everyone. I haven't met any Jains, I don't know any Sikhs, but it's just a matter of time. Everyone is on their own path, even as a part of their larger groups, and I'd guess that the vast majority of them are content on their path. They followed the signs they were shown and found their way. It doesn't matter if that way is structured and there are thousands of people in the world walking that same path, or if they find themselves completely alone on a path no one has ever trodden before or will again.

See, that is the power of the divine. The divine knows you. It knows who you are and how you believe and what you need to thrive. It knows that you are perfectly unique and that many things in this hard life that It gave us simply don't work for everyone. It knows that the structured path of thousands may not be the one that makes your heart sing, but may in fact lead you away from It. It even knows if that structured path of thousands is exactly the path you need to be walking. The divine knows you and will show you the way if you ask for direction. Your way, the way that is unique to you, even if thousands of people are going that way or just you - the way that will help you build that personal relationship that It wants to have with you, because It knows you.  If you ask and It shows you nothing, maybe nothing is what you need. The divine has Its truths and knows that some people can just be told a thing to believe, but some need to see, and some need to feel, and some need to do. That is the way It made us; It knows how we work. To say that there is only one path limits the divine, and the divine has no limits.

So, if you're asking questions, keep asking. 

It was twenty years ago when I started asking. I was raised Roman Catholic, going to a Catholic high school, and seriously considered being a nun. When I asked if that was the right path for me, I was shown another way. I started on that path with some caution, because it was new and strange and different, and sometimes it went uphill, and sometimes it forked, and sometimes it turned abruptly and felt like I was going backwards but those little signs pointing out the way were always there and I trusted that. There were even little cul-de-sacs where I was meant to pick something up and turn around. My path now is a hodgepodge of things, a conglomeration of all I was shown, all I was told to pick up, everything I've learned. I know it's right because I feel it.

Now, I imagine there are some people who might accuse me of just making stuff up, but I no more did that than they just believed what they were told. I asked for guidance and it was given, and I knew it as well and any person ever knows that a prayer has been answered.

The divine is beautiful and It knows you in ways nothing else can. Trust in It. Ask for help and It will show you your way.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Well said. All it matters is what YOU believe. There is no right or wrong to choose what religion you should be in.
And people shouldn't judge you for what religion you believe in. It only matters to you in what you believe in.

As for myself, I am ecclectic pagan. Or perhaps, very spiritual. I have many beliefs such as: Shamanic, Buddhism, a wee bit of Christian and Paganism, and I am very close to my Goddess. I just gather all of them at once and basically, become very spiritual that I am. Does that make sense? So, I just don't have one belief. If you narrow it down...we are taught to love one another equally, and no harm to others or within yourself. :-)