"About controversies in families- I think that there are some people who will not be able to understand or see different perspectives and are blinded by their own convictions...it is OK until that person forces their convictions on others...then it becomes a painful relationship. Not only about faith. It is also about simple things like tea and coffee..if somebody irritates me repeatedly, with my drinking choice saying," I wish you drank chocolate flavoured coffee rather than mint flavoured coffee..." That too is so irritating to the point of conversation not going anywhere beyond what one thinks is right. Do you know that in some religions, there is no concept of heaven? They say hell and heaven is right there on this earth and both of them are created by humans? It is through our actions that we can create hell or heaven on this earth... the concept of heaven is not something up there high above the sky...it is here..when somebody sets somebody free, that person is creating heaven on earth. Whereas, when somebody dominates others and irritates others even after repeated requests not to...he is creating hell on earth. I mean not to offend but I want to say that before reaching the spatial/physical heaven or hell, (covered by heavenly clouds or hellish dirt) we must understand how these mystical concepts of hell and heaven work in our daily lives right from our birth. Both hell and heaven is in our soul to be reached or rejected here and now. They are not a distant place out of our reach ...no planning or programming will make you reach there, not even prayers...until you free yourself from your own suffering on this earth."- Sanghamitra
Of course each of us have convictions, beliefs of what we value, and there are times when we know or think we are in the "right." That is human behaviour and normal but as Sanghamitra pointed out, we can take our convictions too far.
It is ironic how often the people who believe in the afterlife of heaven and hell, are also willing, because of their beliefs, to make earth a living hell for those that don't... by isolating them, or punishing the "wayward sheep." Even worse, is the fact that those who may be fundamentalist about it, believe in their "right path" so deeply that they are willing to isolate their family for the sake of a possibility after. They are willing to lose a here and now relationship for the possibility of an eternal one later. And if what they say is "right" then not only will they not see this person ever again after death (and in their belief this person will burn in eternal damnation) but they are also not interacting with them and have already created a line in the dirt of "us" and "them" on this earth. The time given is used for testimony, for convicting, for consistently using each conversation as a tool to bring the "nonbeliever" around.
This unfortunately often bleeds into more than faith. When one believes one is undoubtedly "right" in faith, sometimes other topics follow. Politics are often the next big "given" and themes trickle down to the Splenda in coffee. Suddenly, one can not feel safe to speak because each conversation becomes an exercise of black and white thinking. Someone gives an opinion and suddenly it is perceived as an attack.
This is the difference between conversing in a safe relationship and conversing in the "rightly convicted" relationship. In the safe relationship, someone can say that splenda is disgusting without being judged as a shit stirrer. They can bring up their personal choices of diet without someone misinterpreting it as a judgement on themselves. Because if one believes in the spirit of choice, they automatically know that most people's choices are not a reflection of themselves. There is a clear boundary of where someone else begins. Thus there is respect, dignity and honesty. However, when dealing with someone who often brings up convictions, being right, and strong moral standpoints, there are not many safe topics to explore unless one belongs to their group. Which is why churches and bible studies ect. often have similar people attending with similar interests. They are validating their own convictions. Which is fine to a point, as long as that is what is recognized and when in relationship with others they do not engage in "othering."
We have friends in our circle who are fundamentalists. It is possible to have good relationships with fundamentalists of any belief. While I would say there are definite topics that are safer left alone- at least we have the respect to do so. Sometimes the conversation becomes strained because of personal belief differences, but then we both sense it, laugh a bit and decide to put the relationship before the issues. We both agree to disagree and move on to healthier topics. Topics that our relationship can carry the weight of are the go to. That is the beauty of discourse, of diversity, and of dignity.
My words are for those who are wondering what went wrong down the road. How did they find themselves in an empty relationship with nothing but traces of disrespect, disregard and a history of pain? Perhaps the ownership is on both parties. The foundation needs to be built before the safe house. The safe house needs to be built before going on to the roof to speak of the heavens.
In the end, I just wish that my education and the education of others who are emerged in religion and religious education, would have included these questions. I wish they would have talked about more than the cost of faith but the cost of what IS now. I wish they would have balanced their opinions out with philosophers who were agnostic and atheistic. Not as an example of evil but as an example of differences to be respected and considered. Those topics would have helped those who still chose faith, stronger in their stances, because they would have heard legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions from another side to counter act their legitimate, intelligent fact based opinions. Because we all have them. Legitimacy is in perspective. Facts can come from many places. I wish I would have learned history that wasn't just christian history. The Pharaohs were actually quite benevolent and began by PAYING their local farmers to build the pyramids. They were not just evil overlords, like I was taught with pictographs in sunday school, with hearts hardened by God. I wish I would have been taught history, philosophy, psychology and sociology from unbiased standpoints. I wish my essence would have been respected enough to allow me to look at all, and make my own way without manipulation. No wonder there is so much fear around the liberal arts topics, social sciences, science and secular post secondary schools in these circles. Because that brings choice. Luckily, these factors came fleetingly through the rebels and outcasts I knew, balanced faith bringers, music, arts, aunts... and the rest followed in my later twenties for my journey. It is with great relief and joy that I reflect on those that DID.
May you, the reader, have relationships that are not on sand, or at least one or two relationships in life, that have the six ingredients of love. In that I am rich for I have at least a handful- I wish you this richness too. May you let go of those that do not have that aspect or keep them in life for later growth. May you find hope in dark places and heal from previous wounds of the convictions of "right" thinking. May you honour your need for healing and pain, but also move through to the wonders each day has the possibility of presenting. May you savour your drink and delight in your nourishment of body, spirit and soul.
This post is dedicated to my husband on his birthday week, honouring the many conversations we have had on this topic, the deep grief, and the wonder that we share together. Love you and your 33 years. xo
Also, thank you Sanghamitra for your constant wisdom and encouragement of growth in my life. xo
All nature/ quote images from Pinterest:https://www.pinterest.com/KAlluraMarie/
And a throw back to my nineties teen years when I was indebted to the rebels and the outcasts who brought me alternative music, outside the box thinking, and the sight to see the loveables others saw as troublemakers. It was a big deal- pre iTunes, to hear songs outside of what was allowable in my school, and be exposed to radio or CD tracks- and I am so glad I had the friends who dared to BE. I hope they get back what was given to me: Life by Our Lady Peace.