Recently I met with a brother-in-arms who, like me, dealt with brain cancer, and as I was just beginning treatment he was finishing up. Unlike me, his treatment put him through the ringer. We connected via a mutual friend on Facebook, and as I told him, our first interaction took a while for me to process and respond to. See when you go through something like brain surgery you lose your filter for a while and you say whatever you want whenever you want, no matter what the message is. Trust me, I had a significant lack of filter for quite some time.
We messaged each other from time to time on Facebook and I was able to see my friend go from frustration at, to peace with what he went through. As I told him while we spent time enjoying the fruits of the Anelace staff, I was proud to see that transformation take place and was glad that he was in such a better spot.
While we exchanged details of our bouts with cancer the topic of Faith came up. Very much like me, my friend Mike is open about his beliefs and how they differ from mine. We discussed his beliefs which if I were to poorly summarize seems similar to Buddism, but you would need to talk to him to have a better understanding. I should note that he made it clear that he does not trust organized religion. And frankly, I don’t blame him.
Take a very superficial view of Christianity. Christians are following a God that they can’t see, they are making decisions about their lives based on what they have learned. They worship God through prayer and musical worship, and we act as if it is totally normal. Well, to a lot of people what we are doing, believing, and basing our lives on is straight-up crazy.
Think about the history of Christianity. The wars that were fought in in the name of God, the use of the Bible to justify slavery in America, and the division between people of the same basic faith but denominations.
Now take me as an example. I took a break from college to move to Minneapolis in order to start a church, I regularly lead a large group of people as a worship leader. I believe that my God heals people, and I organize nights for prayer and worship to pursue that healing. And I will openly admit that the faith that I practice is in some sense crazy. That Christian faith is not logical, that it is mystical and spiritual.
When we got to that point of our discussion, I said to my friend that organized religion is based on faith. That most participants would accept the point that their faith seems odd, but because of what they have learned,the significant spiritual events that they have experienced, and based on a pulling that they feel towards their beliefs. That they are willing to discuss the logical and illogical natures of their beliefs all the while accepting the fact that they are pursuing a faith that may seem odd to others.
We were able to sit and discuss our significantly different beliefs casually giving other the room to pursue our beliefs even though they are so contrary to each other. Though while we do have different beliefs in regards to religion we share something that is very important: we want to act right in regards to others, to do the best at what we do, and have the desire to better understand the world around us. We share that reality, but just process those desires through different lenses, and that is ok.
So as we finished our drinks in the calm that is a coffee shop, and discussed the next time we could get together to ponder the greater and even lower things in life, we enjoyed the fact that two people could discuss such different beliefs with mutual respect for each other. Because in the end we of different faiths, and those that choose to opt out on religion, need to respect each other's beliefs and ideologies.