There is something buzzing in my head since yesterday and I was not going to write about it. However, this is my place to put my thoughts so I am going to put this into words and see what happens.
I was having a discussion with someone who is studying to become a minister. She is very serious that this is her calling and I applaud her efforts. I usually do not engage in conversations about religion or faith with people because it is one of those topics that can spark a fight or lecture. This conversation just rendered me speechless.
It is her intent to minister to people who are in poverty. I applaud the effort but then I am wondering if this is such a good thing. What is the true intent; to help or to control? This is why I do not like to get into these conversations. Religion or faith is such a personal commitment but too often it becomes a big stick which people wield over other people’s heads. “Walk my way, it is the only way!” I so disagree on this.
She went on to explain her stance on Christianity and that she had no tolerance for non-Godly people. What? I thought to myself, these are the people who need love and comfort the most. She went on to explain that she believes in evil and that there are spirits that are demonic. She has no tolerance for those who worship evil. Again, thinking to myself that those who practice a satanic cult usually are people who need to obtain some control in their life and this gives them a sense of power. I make no judgment on whether there really is anything to it as long as they harm no one or anything. My confusion exists only because in my thinking, Christian doctrine states love everyone. I have had conversations with fundamentalists who claim their Christian sainthood only to then list off the people they say are worthless and infidels.
So much of my thinking has radically changed recently. However, I have never thought myself as being grounded in one form or another of a religious practice. I think that is because I have never been able to be in total agreement with one specific way or denomination. I have sampled from many practices and encompassed many traditions of my own making gleamed from various rituals of faith. I am asking questions now, which is how I got this proselytization from my acquaintance. I think her passion is fabulous and there are a whole lot of worse things that she could be passionate about.
But this is the comment that buzzed around and I cannot find peace with. She said, “I cannot accept anyone who does not embrace MY God.” Holy smokes, YOUR God? Unfortunately it threw me when she said it and she went on to say a few more things that I totally lost track of because this was stuck so predominately in my head. It saddens me to think that this is really not such an uncommon connector for people. “Their God.” The one and only take it or leave it one size does not fit all omnipotent being. I understand that this if often a product of pack mentality but the world has suffered forever with that concept of my way is the only way. People have died because of this thinking.
I sat for a few minutes and we slightly switched to talk about a class I am taking. I said the only way this method works is that you have to take your ego out of the equation. She stopped cold. “Ego?” she asked. And then it hit her. Ego, when you become more important than the lesson. Both of us are educators and this is a lesson I try to teach new teachers. You have to be less important in the classroom than the topic and your students. If you are there to pontificate and demonstrate that you are so knowledgeable on the subject you will not be an effective teacher. You are only a vessel of knowledge, that you are an instrument of application. The students are not there to be dazzled by your brilliance and a teacher will be less effective as an instructor if you are a sage on stage. She has learned this lesson in our classroom and I have seen her become a better teacher when her passion is about the material and not about her always being right. Allowing her vulnerability to be exposed has brought her to a better level of teaching. She now learns from her students as well. That is effective collaborative learning.
I only hope that as she travels down this path that she can bring some of this concept into her ministry. Unfortunately, this is one of those no win situations. The minute I say something about this to her, I am doing the same thing. I am saying this is the only way to be, even though my thoughts are totally the opposite. So I will not say anything and I will continue to ask questions. Because I truly believe there is not only one way to do anything.