1.28.2008

A Heathen Amongst Christians

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!

11 comments:

Gibbarella said...

Im sure you know what faith is and have some in you. What he was probably saying is the class is going to be a little bias toward Christianity so if you have enough faith and grace you will clearly see that Christianity is the only religion.

cathryn said...

Well sure, I know what both faith and grace are broadly in the dictionary sense, but that's not what I gathered he meant. Obviously it's going to be biased towards Christianity, but upon first impressions, the group seemed to be fairly open-minded.

Jackie said...

Hey Cathryn! I found your blog via Alison. E-mail me if you'd like; I have some thoughts that I'd rather share via e-mail than via public comment. :)

Jackie said...

My e-mail is jackiewyse (at) gmail (dot) com.

Terah Lynn said...

I am glad that you could join us on Friday night and I hope that you will come back again :)

Alison said...

Grace is free and faith is all a matter of degrees, so don't worry too much about the prerequisites!

boty said...

Hmmmmm I just got caught up on your blog and I MUST say there is a regular poster on your blog that I would most likely enjoy stabbing...at the least shoving her in an oven and watching her burn.

I hear that you'll get the most out of watching Alice in Wonderland if you believe in giant insects, talking flowers, and card armies.

Anonymous said...

one does not have to be a "member" of an organized religion to have faith and grace. you have hope, humor, talent, and compassion,and you use these in a positive way...never to hurt another or make them feel inadequate or somehow less deserving or inferior in any way. you treat folks the way you want to be treated, to me that is true faith and grace. people who insist their way is the only way not only lack faith and grace, but lack true understanding of why we're on this earth and what we are supposed to be doing. Boty, what did i tell u about putting people in the oven?

cathryn said...

OMG mom - you crack me up! "what did i tell you about putting people in ovens" lol

boty said...

"Boty, what did I tell you about putting people in the oven?"

To turn the vent on and clean up after my self...see I listen!

boty said...

OOPS! and to baste every 20 minutes!