Easter has come and gone, as have all the unhealthy but rather pleasant Easter eggs that have wooed us through the tills, and having finished my bakery/hot deli stint on easter sunday, it would have been all to easy to put such events behind me for another year so as to concentrate on other matters to come.
This year was a little different though, as on the Tuesday before Good Friday, I fell into a conversation with a couple of Mormon Elders who, like many a good elder of that faith, were greeting passers by in the street so as to pass on their faith in accordance with their laws.
In the past I, like many before me, have avoided such pairings as their views are not my own, but on this occasion, like on one or two other occasions, I decided to play the devils advocate so as to question the nature of their faith, and their reliance on the book of Mormon.
Does this mean that I rubbished their particular strand of Christianity? No, certainly not, as I believe that no faith can be proven nor disproven. As such I admire anyone who gains comfort and strength from religious faith so long as such a faith harms no-one in the pursuance of it’s beliefs and aims.
What I did do , however was to broaden the debate questioning the nature of faith itself, and furthermore I offered to discuss such matters at a time and place of their choosing.
To my surprise, this offer was accepted, and so it was that myself and my wife, Miki, found ourselves in a Mormon hall with the two Gentlemen sitting opposite across a conveniently placed table.
It is my belief that they were prepared for many things, including an oportunity to discuss their faith with an eye to potential conversion, but what they had not prepared for was the short list of discussion points/ questions , that I had prepared that morning.
Sufficient to say that we left the room two hours later after a long and intense discussion, but in essence the meeting revolved around the points as outlined below.
|Q1 Might all faiths have developed from a common root?||Q1 (a) Can any faith be proven?||Q1(b) If not can any one faith claim precedence over another?|
|Q2 Is faith better from within rather than from without?||Q2(a) Does externally sourced faith support the believer as crutch, or act as a walking stick to drive the believer forward?|
|Q3 Does faith encourage free thought?||Q3(a) If our thoughts are in part a reflection of absorption of ideas through childhood and subsequent social conditioning, can any thought ever be totally free|
|Q4 Is there but one holy book?||Q4(a) If not, are all such books/book life guides, word of law, story books, or self help books?|
|Q5 As regards mental illness, how far should a religious message be modified so as to encompass a different language, a different thought process, and a different world?|
|Q6 In order to recognise you have “sinned”, should you be allowed to sin in the first place so you can recognise where you have gone wrong?||Q6(a) If so where should the line of acceptance be drawn?||Q6 (b) If corrective actions need to be taken should this be in accordance with natural law, man made law, or God given law?|
In response to such questions the two elders more than held their own. They expounded their beliefs in the Mormon church in relation to the points raised, yet they listened with interest, if not agreement ,with my views on a possible universal root stock from which all major religions have developed. They even accepted that more than one Holy Book might be given equal status, and that such a view was perfectly reasonable due to different languages, cultures, and periods of history, but as we left the building one very singular thought crossed my mind.
So many of us are irritated when accosted by such individuals, and openly refuse to endure their company, but if presented with the questions above, how many of us, with or without faith, would be prepared to sit down over a table and give straight answers in return?
As I said to the two gentlemen in question, my views on such matters are ambivilant.
Personally I believe that all faiths tap into one or more non-cognitive power sources, rather than into specific cognitive deities, and that many strands of faith must exist side by side due to differing world cultures and languages. I do not share their faith in its detailed entirety, yet by the same measure I cannot deny that what they believe in might be true. What that makes me as regards “ists” or ” isms” I’ve no idea, but so long as a religion is not divisive or antagonistic towards other religions around it, then I say fair play to all.
Sadly this can be said of few religions in todays somewhat turbulent climate, but as I said, at least these two guys listened , and tried to understand a different point of view.
That’s all folks, just a thought as we finish of the last of our easter eggs, and maybe a bit of a challenge for so many of us to think about over the years to come.
First things first though, how about a self belief video. Watch, listen, embrace, and, I hope, enjoy.