can you be good with religion?
So this week I was doing some casual reading while I was at the office and ended up reading an article all about the persecution of members of the Baha’i faith. Now this triggered my desire to learn and I fell down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia and Google and started to learn as much as I could about just who the Baha’i are and how one would refer to them if one were to write a blog entry about them (This last one I am still not sure about). I must say that I didn’t really know what to expect but I can say that I definitely didn’t expect what I found. Essentially they believe that since we are all one race that it is time that it is united as one society by removing things like prejudice and discrimination. To be honest it was really refreshing to find a “religion” that has distilled their official doctrine down to something so simple and beautiful (Read more about it here).
Now to answer a quick question some reading might be wondering, no I am not in the market for a new religion or new beliefs, and no I am no further over the edge of sanity than I normally am. For me I have always had problems with the term religious because it lends itself to rigid us vs. them mentalities. My experience as a Christian boils down simply to Love God, Love People. While this seems really short and easy to say it has major ramifications and is complex to live out. Rather than rigid rules to be held to it is a more relational view point. “Do my actions follow with Loving God and Loving the people I meet?” Not always easy to answer but I feel that it sheds the us vs. them mentality that leads to church splits, holy wars, crusades, and just spats with other people in general. In practice I think that the Baha’i faith may be trying a bit too hard to include everyone by integrating all of the major religious teachers of all the traditions (Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Jesus, etc) although I think they may be on to something with their rational behind the integration. They suggest that many of the spiritual leaders carried the same timeless values (love neighbors, etc) but also provided needed structure and rules to the people of the time (dietary restrictions, prayer schedules) that in the context of their time greatly benefitted people but that, given changes in culture and society they are no longer effective or necessary.
Having spent some time studying church history I truly believe that the context in which scripture was written needs to be understood before teaching can really proceed from the text. Too often interpretations, translations, or just general humanity have gotten between groups of people in a way that isn’t healthy or productive for them or any future generations. At the end of the day all I can do is continue trying my best to love the people I interact with and to be as honest as possible as I can with them. It isn’t easy and I am never going to get it right every time but it is the motivation that provides momentum. I really think that there are a lot of lessons that Christians and Christianity can learn need to learn from the members of the Baha’i faith. The question is how warmly that idea would be embraced.