Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Do You Know Outside Your Faith Tradition?

At our church on Sunday, we had a protester. He doesn't believe in the Trinity, and he wanted us to stop preaching about the Triune God.

Now he's not a Unitarian. I can't quite get my head around his beliefs. I think he believes in God and the Holy Spirit, but doubts the divinity of Jesus. It's not mainstream, and it's not even a mainstream idea in the non-mainstream churches.

At coffee hour, we had a chat about other religious traditions we have known. Some of our church members talked about their experiences with Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. Later I thought about how odd it is that I have almost no experience with Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons or even more mainstream Evangelicals, yet I've known several Buddhists, a Wiccan or two, several Baha'is, and a Hindu.

My husband's restaurant work in his early years led him to know many Muslims, but I haven't met many. There was a woman in grad school who came to our Saturday gatherings where we'd work on crafts and eat yummy food. We knew that she was Muslim, and she would head back to Egypt after finishing her M.A. She kept her hair covered when any men were around; her husband seemed like a lovely man. We didn't talk about religion much, and I've always regretted not getting around to having those conversations. Some parts of the nation struggle with getting to know their Muslim neighbors, but I don't seem to have any.

The older I get, the less interaction I have with those outside of my home faith tradition. Is this state of affairs temporary? If I lived somewhere else, would my Lutheran church be doing more to foster ecumenical peace? The larger ELCA claims commitment to this ideal.

Part of my feeling of stasis may come from the fact that I've lived down here in Southern Florida for 12 years, and I've been in the same job for nearly 9. I'm not meeting lots of new people period. Instead of worrying about the fact that I'm not meeting new people, I'll try to focus on nurturing the relationships that I do have. It's not so usual to have a Hindu as a close friend, after all, and knowing her has enriched me in ways I wouldn't have predicted.

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