The heathen would be me. The Christians would be Terah’s Sunday school group. I spent a pleasant Friday evening in their company being introduced to the study of world religions through a class called When Worldviews Collide.
As many of you know, I have no religious background. Both of my parents stopped attending Sunday church services as soon as it was not mandated by their parental figures, and they made the conscious decision to raise me and my sister free of religious constraints. In my opinion, this decision was both good and bad. Good, because I neither was force-fed beliefs nor blindly accepted faith-based notions crammed down my throat. Bad, because I have little to no understanding of any world religion. Sure, I’ve managed to glean a few tidbits here and there regarding Christianity and Judaism. More recently I’ve picked up a bit about Islam. But I am largely, and woefully ignorant concerning religious beliefs and practices. Sadder still, I am too unmotivated (read, lazy) to educate myself on my own. And here’s the thing, religion actually really fascinates me in a cultural, sociological sort of way.
So, when Terah informed me of this class, I thought, “well here now is an opportunity to scratch the surface of the major world religions and potentially come away with a little information and maybe even the inspiration for further self-study". Thus, I followed Terah out to Franklin Friday night to the home of the couple leading the class. Fortunately for me, the group didn’t seem to mind in the least that I am not a part of their Sunday school class, or don’t attend their church, or don’t attend any church, or that I am not even Christian.
The class consists of a video component and a workbook with weekly readings and questions to be discussed. It’s a small group – about a dozen of us. We’ll be comparing and contrasting Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Neat, eh? The only thing is…there’s always a thing, isn’t there?...due to the class being presented from a devout Christian perspective to devout Christians, our leader gently informed our group that the class would be most beneficial to those who believe the scriptures are truth. Apparently, to get the most out of this class, one must have both faith and grace. I’m not even entirely sure what is meant by ‘faith’ and ‘grace’, but I’m pretty sure I have neither.
Still, I am optimistic that even lacking faith and grace, I can learn something. I'm afraid I won’t be able to contribute very much, but as long as they don’t mind me being there, maybe I can just listen and learn, broaden my intellectual horizons a bit, and gain some varied perspectives. After all, if I can be friends with Republicans, surely I can peacefully hang out in a crowd of exceedingly friendly Christians for a couple of hours a week!