Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Come Meet My Gods"

On Wednesday, after yoga, our Indian friend said, "Come meet my gods." We went to a different section of the temple, but one that had been visible during yoga, which had about 7 shrine-like areas. Each shrine had a statue that was lit from several angles. Some of the shrines had offerings in front of it (a wide variety of offerings: money, fruit, things I didn't recognize).

Our Indian friend stopped in front of each shrine and explained the god/goddess to my atheist friend and me. I found it fascinating, and somewhat hard to get my head around. I've always had trouble understanding Hinduism, but I keep trying.

I've had conservative Christian friends who would have refused to go and meet these gods. They'd have seen it as a violation of the first commandment. They'd have said that meeting these gods was the same as acknowledging their existence, which would be the same as worship. I disagree. It seems polite, when taking a yoga class courtesy of one's Hindu friend, to show interest in the place.

Oh, let me just be honest: I was fascinated by the whole experience. As we did yoga, people came to bow in front of each shrine, and a few people did a more focused worship (I'm using Western words because those are the only words I have). I wanted to see those shrines that glowed at us during our yoga. I was thrilled that our Indian friend wanted to show them to us. But I think I can show ecumenical interest without my Triune God feeling threatened.

My Indian friend has always said, "The gods network, you know." She's never objected to religious conversations, and she's always willing to let her Christian friends pray for her. I find her remarkably open-minded, especially compared to my conservative Christian friends.

Since Wednesday, I've started thinking of my own relationship to God, and how I would introduce the God I worship to people from other cultures (or from my own culture, for that matter). If I said, "Come meet my God," where would we go? To my church? Perhaps. To some spot in nature? Perhaps. To the downtown church, when my suburban church brings dinner to the homeless and stays for chapel? I'd probably start with that option and work out from there.

5 comments:

Mrs. M said...

This is a neat story, and such a good question to be asking. Thanks for giving me a chance to think about it.

Deb said...

Great question! I had to spend some time with a Shambhala Buddhist community for an assignment of my world religion's class. It was quite remarkable and an unforgettable experience... Some of my classmates were quite uncomfortable with their assignments (mosques, etc.) but I was very energized by the process.

Peace -
Debhuchbaph

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,

Thank thank you for the thought provoking and beautifully written post. I’d never thought of my work as introducing people to “my God” but you got me thinking along those lines. I posted my, less well written, thoughts here http://listeningasthosewhoaretaught.blogspot.com/

Thank you again.
God’s best,
Dorothy

Diane said...

I love this post and your openness! Lots of food for thought, and I love the invitation to "come and meet my gods."

It's only idolatry if YOU are worshiping them.

Kristin said...

Thanks, everyone, for your engaging comments. I'm glad all of you stopped by!