Religious discourse can be very controversial. Although I am open to share and listen to the religious beliefs of others (or lack thereof), I have never been interested in debating the issue. How can one debate the issue of faith? I find it pointless. I have nothing to prove nor do I want to convert someone to my way of thinking (or belief). However, I do want to comment on the endorsement this week by Pope Benedict XVI of the doctrinal document “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrines on the Church“. In a nutshell, this treatise asserts the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, while other churches, like the Orthodox church are “wounded”, and that Protestant churches are not “true” churches. It also claims that Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.
In this age of inter-denominational and inter-faith dialogue, which is working to bring about a better understanding and respect for others of different beliefs, I find this assertion and endorsement by the Pope as troubling. As the arenas of government, politics, economics, culture, etc., struggles towards greater harmony and peace, it appears that the religious community and their leaders, regardless of their faith, are moving towards greater fundamentalist polarization of beliefs. We don’t need to look only to history to see the danger in this type of thinking. We need only to look at the Middle-East today, Iraq in particular, to see the outcome of such rhetoric. Although I am a Pentecostal Christian and have beliefs, which could be classified as “christian fundamentalist beliefs”, I do not believe that only Pentecostals are going to heaven, nor do I believe that other denominations are “wounded” or are not “true” churches. As a Christian, I do believe that it is only through Christ that someone can receive salvation, but I don’t condemn to “hell” someone from another religion or those who have no belief in religion at all. Judgment, as far as I am concerned, I will leave to God.
There are 3 points I would like to share in regards to this topic.
1. The church I attend, although fundamental, it is non-judgmental. The Pastor believes, preaches and is involved in inter-denominational and inter-faith dialogues. This is one of the reasons why I go to this church.
2. As far as I know, there has been no bombings of Catholic or Protestant churches; no burnings of effigies of the Pope by Protestants; no return to the Inquisition; no killing of Priests, Nuns, Pastors or Reverends; no violent demonstrations or protests; no separation into neighbourhoods based on religious beliefs, due to this proclamation. I would pray that those of the Muslim “Ummah” will be influenced by this example.
3. There has been no difference in the dynamics of the relationship with my family, friends or acquaintances of different denominations (or faiths for that matter), since the Popes endorsement of this edict. It is all a non-issue for us. Regardless of religious beliefs or non-belief, we are all still “cool”. Love and respect prevails.
John Smulo asked me to participate in this meme…. which I am more than happy to do:
- He sacrificed his life for me out of unconditional love, so that I could have a personal relationship with God;
- He revolutionized religious behaviour through the “Sermon on the Mount”;
- He “called” it as He “saw” it, regardless (and knowing) of the consequences;
- He challenged the rigidity, religiosity and hypocrisy of the religious leadership of his day;
- He accepts me as I am, while expects me to be the best I can be through Him.
I now tag anyone who is inspired to share in this topic. Please let me know if you do.
I’ve been tagged by both Aulelia and Angie to share 8 randoms facts about myself….
- I live in Ottawa, Ontario which is the capital of Canada.
- I am a Oakland Raiders fan(atic).
- I have 3 tatoos. On my right upper arm I have an “Anhk”; on my left upper arm, I have an Arabic script which translate to “Allah is gracious”; on my right neck I have a west African, Adinkrah symbol for the supremacy of God called “Gye Nyame”, which means “except for God”.
- My 3 favorite movies are Apocalypse Now, Braveheart and Scarface.
- My 3 favorite musical artists are Bob Marley, Femi Kuti and Prince.
- My 3 favorite actors are Denzel, Robert Dinero and Johnny Depp.
- My 3 favorite blog pages are Charcoal Ink, Nuvision for a Nuday and SmuloSpace.
- Today is my birthday.
Now I am suppose to tag 8 people. hmmmm…. John Smulo, Field Negro, Tafari, Refined One, Ensayn, Ronald Albright, Shaheen and Darius T. Williams.
Do you see a difference?
Do you see obedience and sacrifice….
Or do you see apprehension and danger?
Over the past year, I have read three books concerning the meaning of life. Interestingly, (for me anyway), two took a more psychoanalytical approach in answering this question, while the third was Christian based. I will summarize what each determined was the answer to this timeless endeavor, in the order in which I read the books.
1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck: This theme of this book surprised me as I was under the impression (due to the title), that this was a religious based book. Although it had an underlying spiritual element, it took a psychoanalytical based approach and argued that the meaning of life could be understood by accepting these truths:
· Life is difficult and contains a series of problems.
· Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve these problems.
· It is in the whole process of how we meet and solve these problems, that life has it’s meaning.
· How we meet the challenges of dealing with these problems is the basis of how we grow mentally and spiritually.
· The tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.
· The set of tools that is referred to as “discipline”, are “techniques of suffering”: which are the means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process.
· There are four tools which make up the “techniques of suffering”: delaying gratification; acceptance of responsibility; dedication to truth; and balancing.
· Psychoanalysis is essential in assisting someone in mastering one or more of these four tools.
2. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: This book looked at the question from a Christian perspective. According to the author, we were all created by God for a purpose- His purpose…. and “it is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny.” Consequently, there are five purposes to our life:
1. To bring enjoyment to God.
2. To be a part of the family of God.
3. To be like Christ.
4. To serve God.
5. To serve others.
3. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl: This book is based on the experiences of the author, a psychiatrist, who survived a number of Nazi death camps. Within this backdrop, he argues that how we choose to deal with experiences, especially “unavoidable” atrocities and sufferings, is the determining factor of whether we will live (survive) or die. From his experiences during WWII, he concluded that those who had survived the concentration camps, had the will to live through those horrible times, were those who found a deeper, even a spiritual “meaning” to what they were going through. He went on to develop a psychoanalytical “meaning-centered” form of therapy called Logotherapy. According to logotherapy, we can discover the meaning of life in three different ways:
1. By achievement or accomplishment.
2. By experiencing something or encountering someone.
3. By the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering.
All three books were a good read and I recommend them all. Being a Christian, the second book had more of a lasting impression on me and my understanding of the meaning…. “purpose”…. of my life. However all three books gave me a deeper insight of how I live my life, the choices I make, the reasons I may make one choice rather than another, and more importantly, also an insight into what makes others “tick”.