Every one in a while, I bump into an Earthling-relation nightmare. One arrived in my inbox from a classmate a few days ago.
Take a look at this:
(My thoughts are in Green)
Good morning and Happy Sabbath, dude we don’t check email on Sabbath, I thought you knew that
I was thinking about our lovely “getting to know you” session yesterday during _____’s class and I was inspired to write an email based on _____’s answer to the question “What is your passion?” When he said religion, I realized that the topic of religion, inevitably, continues to sprout in our classroom every day. It’s almost impossible for it not to given the variety of different religions and ethnicities we have been blessed to learn from. I usually tend to stray away from the in-depth, yet competitive conversations and I wanted to share why.
I think we all agree that there is one God. One supreme power that created us all. The nine people on this email all believe in some kind of a creation story, which seems to be extremely similiar and in some cases even identical across the board. I believe that God has put us in the same classroom not to sit and have debates about what you do and what I do and whether it’s wierd or not, but to show us that God is praised around the world in various ways. Speak for yourself, not G-d. For all you know we could actually be here to debate. Whether you pray five times a day or pray once a day, whether you go to church on Saturday or Sunday, whether you call it Kosher meat or Halal meat, ALL praise goes to God.
I believe that you all are leaders. Leading is much too much hard work. Can I decline the leadership position? That’s why you are on this email list. The purpose of a leader, especially since we all seem to be passionate about our beliefs, is to lead others to God. Nonononono. That is missionizing. We do not do missionizing. Stop trying to LEAD people places. This can be done through conversations about beliefs, studies of books (The Koran, The Bible, or Torah/ Neviim, etc.), or a variety of other ways. The greatest testament of your faith is how you live your lives. I believe that God concentrated our classroom to reach and be examples to those who don’t believe in Him or who questions His existance. There are a number of people in our class who don’t believe in God and when they see us having conversations downplaying each others religious traditions and looking for loopholes to why our belief is better, Woah, that was so directed at me personally it only perpetuates their negative, confused, and narrowminded concept of religion. That’s why religion should not be the focus of our conversations all the time. It should be God. So we should talk about non-specified beliefs regarding G-d, and no debating, right? On the basis that we should be spreading the all-encompassing, un-differentiated, somehow Christian-flavored in the end goodness and greatness of said heavenly being? And we should do this without mentioning or arguing or asking about the differences? Come again?
Your mission in life is not to tell someone that what they believe doesn’t make sense, excuse me, don’t tell me what my mission in life is especially if you don’t know where they are coming from in their life journey. If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense. Life context has yet to change the basic principles of logic. When I told one of you that I was Seventh Day Adventist, which is primarily founded upon Jewish history, the Sabbath, and the originial Ten Commandments, I received the response “You don’t look Seventh-Day Adventist”. We all believe in different ways to reach God, to dress, to act, to pray, to date, to eat, and to have fun, but the underlining connection and the only reason why we can have conversations in the first place on an intellectual level is because of God. Let’s stop judging each other. Let’s stop getting caught in the name differences (Allah, Alpha, Father, King, Jesus, Yahweh, HaShem, El Shaddai, Lord, Master, etc.) because we can play that game all day. Let’s try to be living examples for our classmates. Go ahead. Have fun being a living museum exhibit. Would you please leave me out of it?
I believe God’s hand is in everything. We were meant to meet and begin these conversations with each other, partially to strengthen our walks with God, Just finished our morning jog…but also to help others to reach Him. Again the missionizing. Let’s be mindful of what we say and what we do because our classmates are looking for us to endorse why the concept of religion is confusing. God is not the orchestrator of confusion. Let’s not allow “self” to create that illusion.
I wanted to write this email for a while but the timing felt right this morning. I am just a guilty of this as we all are and I pray that we as leaders can continue to set examples for our classmates, our teachers, and the Downstate community as we continue to praise God and teach others about how amazing He is. If I offended anyone in this email I apologize and you are more than welcome to speak to me about anything at school. I am welcome to conversation that is progressive and focused on God first because He is the only reason there is a concept of religion in the first place.
God bless and Happy Sabbath
Now, I kind of like the the open, easy, running interfaith dialog going on in my program. It’s interesting to learn about people from real people in real time instead of from near-clones of religious educators or text someplace. So what if I can be a little too quick to point out inconsistencies or topics that fail logic? Nobody else seems to mind. Instead, they return it blithefully, enjoying it just as much as I do. The guy that sent this? If I had ticked him off personally, I’d understand this email a little better. But he never joins debates, and I’ve been respecting his wishes to stay out of it. What’s his problem?
Anyone have an opinion, or can give me advice on handling this?