By Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Two things I have always heard should not be discussed in the work place: “Politics and Religion” and it is with a great deal of reluctance and hesitation that I am writing this article. It is only because I have heard so many people speak about their religious views to others in such a cold and callus manner that I find myself wondering if these people know anything about religion at all to begin with! They usually identify themselves with Christianity and feel a need to condemn those around them at every opportunity with their religious views and somehow feel they are spreading their view of the gospel.
There are however many Christian denominations who are committed to charitable works providing many needed services at home and abroad They are always receptive to the needs of their fellow men. It also should be noted that some of the greatest strides for human kind in western civilization have come through Christianity such as the English “Magna Carta”, The United States “Bill of Rights” and The “Emancipation Proclamation” abolishing slavery in this country leading the world to do likewise.
Another interesting statistic to note: since the development of the printing press by Johannes Gutenburg around the year 1140 which printed the first book – the Christian “Holly Bible”; more copies of this book have been printed and translated into more languages than any other book in history.
I also hear remarks such as “I’m blessed today” or “have a blessed day”. These remarks at their core are somewhat boastful and they seem to express an attitude of “I’m better off than you” kind of thing. Also there are those who seem to express their needs and feelings in the name of God and Jesus continually as though they are trying to show others how religious they are.
A second religious group feels they have a mandate from their God to “kill the infidels” and those who do not believe in Allah and practice the Islamic faith. As we in the United States have been made so painfully aware, there are still countries in the world where people are persecuted and executed because of their religious beliefs. In the history of human kind no other issue has started and sustained so many wars, atrocities and general hatred as religion. Nations invoke the name of God and even claim “God is on their side”.
We in the United States are so fortunate to live in a country governed by a Constitution which guarantees everyone the freedom to practice the religion of their choice (and to be free of religion if they so choose) and that “Church and State” are separate. Here in Los Angeles we are experiencing a surge in immigration from South America, Asia Minor, the Orient, the Middle and Far East who all bring their own religion and customs to this country. This trend is extending across the United States. Tolerance should be exercised by all in our day to day lives as we strive to live in peace and understand one another.
In the Christian world “Wikipedia” has identified some 38,000 different Christian denominations. In the Islamic world, I am able to Identify 4 major sects with some 33 different denominations. In modern day Judaism there are 4 distinct groups of “diversity”. Also consider the other major religious groups in today’s world such as the Buddhists and Hindu with their own sects and denominations and we clearly begin to see how diverse religion can be. Now; think of all the ancient religions throughout the history of mankind and the numbers are beyond comprehension. Below; see the map illustrating religions in today’s world provided by “Google Images”.
I once heard a witticism which stated “man makes God in his own image” instead of being the other way around. Many people seem to think they know what needs to be said about religion and make it their business to inform others of what they believe is “God’s will”. I seem to be hearing more and more of it these days, especially from those claiming to be Christians and in a very unchristian manner! Clearly there are Christian laymen who need to continue their Christian education, or maybe they shouldn’t speak at all until they have completed an education in “Theology or Divinity School”.
There have been occasions when I’ve been cornered by people, some identifying themselves as self appointed ministers of their religious faith who begin preaching and I have to stop them by saying, “don’t tell me about your religion – show me your religion”. I want to explain to them somehow that reading and study the scripture will teach them that true religion is about doing. Helping the elderly, the disabled and homeless. Once they have studied enough then humility and conviction will show them the work that needs to be done.
When I came to Los Angeles it was exciting because I was going to see a Jewish community. Finally; I was going to meet the descendants of those people I’d read so much about in the Old Testament. I have heard some negative things about Jews but I have to confess that my overall experience has been good. I also have to say that when it comes to charity they have excelled in every aspect. Jewish charitable organizations dispense food, clothing, shelter and medical care for the elderly and needy not only in their own community but to the greater community at large.
Another rule I’ve heard is, “If you can’t say something good than don’t say anything at all” and the old standby, just “Think before you speak”! If you feel you could be saying something which is in so many ways controversial than just don’t do it.
This weekend we in the United States are observing “Memorial Day” honoring our military service men who have given their lives defending freedom and liberty. Hopefully one day we all will understand that war is an ineffective tool for resolving human disputes and that peace and diplomacy are more effective concepts for the resolution of human disputes between nations.
I’m Felicity and thank you for spending some time with the Noodleman group.