Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time Enough At Last...

Unlike most other college students, I poke around the religion section of our four story library on campus in between class and afternoon labs to pass the time. I think the proper response would be, "NERD!" Which fits me perfectly since I get more excited over discovering a new book that I HAVE TO read immediately than I would watching sports.
[What's a line of scrimmage?]

Rows upon rows, shelves upon shelves, pages upon pages of words and ideas patiently waiting to be read. I guess I feel a bit like poor Henry Bemis in The Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last", who only wished for time to read but was constantly harassed by those who consider reading a waste of time. My wife and I are serious bookworms although she consumes books much faster than I ever could. So IF we had enough time to read and understand our neighbor's faith, would that make a dent in the religious warfare we have experienced throughout history?

[Screenshot of Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis in "Time Enough at Last", The Twilight Zone.]

Maybe if we had enough time to educate ourselves we might find that other cultures have creation stories wrapped in myth that also speak on issues dear to the human condition. Or the West might be surprised to find that moderate Muslims are also battling Muslim extremists within Islam. These are just a couple examples of what I found while browsing in our library on campus. The sad part is that the only thing from holding me back from reading IS time. I have school, house work, and my family that take up the majority of my daily activities. Any free time I get I devote to blogging and reading (I am currently reading C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy). I know we all have busy lives but if we truly want to live peacefully then we at least need to begin by understanding our neighbor's faith. We don't need to believe it, but at least strive to clear away any misconceptions and learn what they truly believe. Is this asking too much? Or are we xenophobic to the point where even reading about foreign beliefs may make our heart skip a beat? All I'm asking is that we try, and if we still hate or mistrust a particular faith well then at least we tried, right?

The ironic part is that there are thousands, if not millions, of people that do try to learn about other faiths from the same technology which interconnects humanity is also used to tear us apart. Like Henry Bemis, we have all the world's knowledge at our fingertips but we are reading with broken glasses. There is a never ending stream of emails, forums, blogs, and websites filled to the brim with pure hated for others. They seek to demonize their target while in the guise of illuminating readers of their target's true intentions. How can less knowledgeable people even tell what they're reading is false? We do not have time to read every article on the topic to validate their claims, so we accept what we read as true. What are we to do?

Do we dare visit our local Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, or churches and interact with the very people we fear? ABSOLUTELY YES! I must confess with all of the articles I write in overcoming the fear of other religions I have yet to visit a foreign place of worship. I know where they're at but I'm too timid to visit. Not because I am afraid they'll sacrifice me to a pagan god but out of fear of rejection. I'm afraid that I'll show up and they'll have a sign up stating "no Christians allowed". I understand this is a petty fear based on protecting the ego and I have more to gain than to lose. If you're like me and you're too scared to visit another faith's place of worship what do you have to lose by visiting your library? As Christians, if we truly want to love our neighbor should we not seek out to understand them? With all the time that God allows us I believe we do have time enough to be as loving as we each seek out to become. The question is then how loving do you want to be?


Don said...

I think we're on the same "wavelength" today. Great post. I have a Buddhist monastery about 3 miles from my home (right out here in the country, redneck central in Texas). I have been meaning to pay it a visit. They welcome visitors, according to the sign. Gotta find the time soon. Check out my 7/23 post!

captron52 said...

I love this post my friend! How true How true! If only all of us could overcome our fears and just give love a chance can you imagine!!!!Keep upthe good work!

Margo said...

I went to a Catholic high school, although I'm very much undecided about my religion. Some of my favorite classes were Religion classes, whether Scripture or World Religions or Does Religion Matter? I love learning about faiths from around the world, I think it is terribly important to have at least a basic understanding of other faiths.

Eruesso said...

Thanks Margo for visiting and for your thoughts. I went to a private SDA high school where I too was undecided about my religion. It is encouraging to meet those who are willing to learn from one another.

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