Wednesday, July 11, 2007

3 religions in 2 weeks!

Wow, you guys, it’s been so long since I wrote. I’ve been in class every day then spending the rest of my time reading for class the next day. These 2-week classes are really intense.

I’m taking world religions right now, which is totally fun. The class is such a mishmash of people from all perspectives – we have Mr. Apologetics Guy, who likes to ask several times during class (in a derisive tone), “But why would anyone actually believe that?” or "What kind of logic supports that idea?" on up to the psych students who are like, “Do we really have to worry about saving these people – I mean, if they’re really happy and devout, can’t we leave them alone?”

Yesterday we almost got into a debate about it, but the prof cut it off. So this morning we were treated to a devotional about how Jesus is the only way and we’re all in trouble for being ashamed of him and/or trying to please “men” (his word) instead of God. Mr. AG also said, loud enough for everyone around him to hear, “I don’t know why a person would come here if they’re not that crazy about Jesus!”

Actually, I don’t know why he isn’t at another seminary – like say, Talbot, where he’d fit in much better. So sorry to be respectful of others, and refuse to believe they must be stupid, and not think I am automatically smarter and know better, and not believe others have something to teach me. I've said it before, I'll say it again: until another point of view makes sense to you - until you can see why an intelligent person would believe it - then you haven't understood it.

But this is the danger of interfaith dialogue. You get to know people, and you can know longer believe they are just dumb. I find it changes the questions you ask and your basic worldview about others. But I’ve written on all this before.

Now class is starting again so I have to wrap up. I am completely fascinated by our study of Hinduism – but since the book didn’t come into the bookstore, almost nobody read it. That makes me so sad, because it was such a great book, and I learned so much. I think only 3 or 4 of us read it. Buddhism got the short shrift too, because the book we read was so dry that it made it completely boring. It was the kind of book that makes you want to tear out your eyes, because you’re bored literally to tears. That, or you fall asleep every few sentences. Bummer, b/c that’s such a fascinating religion. And now we’re on to Islam, and the book we’re reading is so terribly biased against the religion. It’s so annoying. It's mostly been about how Israel won their territory because they had a greater “will to survive” than the surrounding nations (who then uniformly turned to terrorism as the answer); and on how our governments need to fight the pervasive terror of Islam, and so on. There was one chapter on moderate Islam, and about 50 pages on terrorists and “Islamists,” plus the biographical chapters on Muhammad were all about his violence. Ugh. At least most of the class saw through it - we all complained about the text today, so he recommended a few others (John Esposito and Karen Armstrong's).

I pulled out my copy of Reading the Muslim Mind by Hassan Hathout, which I totally wish I’d thought to ask to read instead. At least it’s written from Hathout’s Muslim perspective, and it is way more fair. Plus, you see the thought of a brilliant contemporary mind. Now I agree it’s important to know history – at the same time, we all know how far we’ve come in Christianity. Seems only fair to be able to see the same for the religions we study.

One more quickie: I have to recommend an old BBC program called “The Long Search.” It is about several world religions, over several episodes. I’ve watched a couple of the Buddhist ones, the Hinduism episode, and now the Islam one too. Really great work. Highly recommended. Got it from our library – yours might have it as well.

OK, got to get to class now!

1 comment:

JTB said...

That BBC program was the only good thing about the World Religions class I took years ago as an undergrad. It really is great.