You guys, my favorite Pagan blogger, Star Foster, is retiring from blogging and from managing the Pagan Portal of Patheos. If you aren’t familiar with Patheos, you should really check it out—regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof. It’s a great place to share with others within your own religious community, but it also represents a wonderful opportunity for interfaith dialogue.
This is a perfect example of just such interfaith dialogue, in this case, between an evangelical Christian and a Pagan. Mature discussions of very different theologies and understandings of morality are wonderful, interesting, and can lead to wonderful insights for any party involved. And I think that you might agree, given the recent religion-related violence (and the couple of thousand years of religious bloodshed), that while we will never all share the same beliefs, dialogue and mutual respect between religious groups (and the non-religious) is much more desirable than ignorance and religious discord.
Right now, religion (often Christianity) is used on both sides of the political aisle (especially in the United States), from arguments in favor of universal health care to arguments against the bodily autonomy of women and against gay rights. In an increasingly polarized* political climate, it is no surprise that even the same denominations of the same subsets of the same religion are being divided and driven to extremes. So let’s get a few things clear about religious dialogue, okay?
One – We are not all going to agree. Ever. And, quite frankly, nor should we. There are some things that everyone should believe (rape is bad, child-abuse is bad, poaching is bad, etc), but not everyone believes those things yet (which is still difficult for me to believe). But we’re never all going to see eye-to-eye on economic issues. Civil rights issues have a tendency to marginalize would-be oppressors, but that takes a lot of time. And we’re never going to all have the same religious beliefs. Thankfully. So don’t go into a religious discussion with the intention of converting the person with whom you are speaking. It won’t work. It might sabotage the entire discussion. Wishing that someone would believe as you do is not the same thing as derailing a conversation in an attempt to proselytize.
Two – A statement of belief is not the same thing as an attack on someone else. It is also not an insult. I have heard: “Well, I really …