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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Respecting Religion? We Have A View On That
We've actually written about it a few times here (Religion, You Say? We Have A View On That), and addressed a series of questions that were e-mailed to us last fall (Religious Debate...or Something), our thoughts and opinions on religion.
Religious debate is indeed one of those "hot topics" people are taught not to discuss in polite company, but we're not overly polite, or subtle, and are not afraid of what people might think about what, and how, we choose to believe and live our life. Mostly because we (most of us, anyway) have found happiness in not caring if people judge us; because who do they think they are? That doesn't mean we are not without struggles that make us unhappy, but religious struggle is not one of them. The Father still has the church praying for us, of course.
Today while walking around town center, listening to our music, minding our own business (only moderately scowling at people, hard for them to see behind big sunglasses anyway) a Mormon missionary honed in on us. He crosses the busy street full of pedestrians towards us. You can always tell, they come at you with an open smile, which immediately looks suspicious.
We took out our ear buds out of our ears (meanwhile, when someone is wearing ear buds it's usually an indication they are not interested in being talked to), raised our sunglasses, and before the words, with their American accent, were out of his mouth, we knew.
Having been a missionary in our younger days we know the spiel, and it's pretty much starts out the same across denominations.
"Have you heard...", he starts.
Right away we are laughing, and we stop him. We smile and we tell him upfront that we used to be a missionary and we are not interested. As we are ready to turn away he starts asking questions.
"Do you believe in God though?" he inquires, he wants to chat.
"No, I decided to go another way, and be happy", we explain to him.
He asks what happened to make us no longer be a believer, and if we don't question why "we" are here? With a discrete explanation we gave him a satisfactory answer.
We continue our short conversation with him, he asks where in the states we are from, he replies he is from California (for those who don't know, we are an American temporarily residing in the UK). He is friendly of course, and invites us to his church, asking if we could find the answers we were looking for, if we had proof that God existed, would we follow him (God)?
We simply said "No", explaining that we don't need religion to live a happy life, that we have decided that we can live without the answers we were looking for, and we choose to resolve to the fact that bad things happen to all people, in varying amounts, and that we'd rather learn from them, find a way to turn them into a positive and try to enjoy life, rather than seek out a "creator" to give us the "answers" so that we live by his/her/their rules.
We parted ways being proud that, while we did indeed laugh and smile we did not do it in a condescending way; sometimes we don't come across the way we think we are, but his friendliness confirmed we were "doing it right" today, which is an achievement for one of us residing in the head today. We treated him with respect by explaining ourselves simply and by not making him feel like his decision to follow religion made him ignorant or any other things people like to make religious people feel.
We guess when it comes down to it, if we are greeted with respect for not being a "believer", then they should be treated with the same. People are entitled to their beliefs, it's what gets THEM through their day, and makes them feel they have a purpose. Though we do have a problem with fundamentalists, but that's another story. It's the pushing of it on others that we don't appreciate, but you can't blame them too much for trying, they think enough people haven't heard "the word", or can be happy without it.
At the end of the day who are we to step on the stones that build their support, that give them the strength to see another day?
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