I love the way Barbara Brown Taylor put it in her book Holy Envy: “However many other religious languages I learn, I dream in Christian. However much I learn from other spiritual teachers, it is Jesus I come home to at night.”
My spiritual quest has been 40 years in the making and there is no end in sight. Right now I’m in a deep dive into Taoism and Buddhism and there is so much from both of these traditions (they aren’t religions) I can use. Truth is if you asked me to define myself I would have to admit I am a Christian Taoist. It is Jesus I come home to at night but Lao Tsu (the ‘author’ of the definitive book on Taoism The Tao te Ching, which means The Way of Virtue; I put author in quotes because there is very little evidence that one man wrote the 81 chapters of the Tao), offers me simple advice about, well, being simple. He tells me to slow down, smell the flowers, enjoy what I have, love others.
Wait, that’s Jesus isn’t it?
Those who have attended our Bible Conversation aren’t afraid of other faiths. We don’t feel our faith, our Christianity, is offended or threatened by the teachings of other faiths. In fact, we know that if we are open the other faith traditions can inform ours, make ours stronger.
That’s why we started Conversations on Faith and held our first such conversation with a Muslim and a Jew. We all enjoyed hearing their stories and hearing about their tradition. Our next one (November 6th) will be with a Sikh and a Unitarian Universalist…when was the last time that happened in Lucketts?
Our goal with these conversations, as you can tell, is to offer contrasts. Sikh’s believe in a single God, as do we versus, say, Hindus who have many gods, and who are often confused with Sikhs. Unitarians are accused, sometimes, of believing in nothing. ‘Oh, they just do what they want.’ Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, UUs as they are called, were given birth to by Christians and Unitarian Universalism used to be a Christian tradition. AND they believe in seven core principles–all of them–that unifies them more in what they believe than Catholics!
Our goal is to listen, to hear about these other traditions not to become one (though they could happen) but to see what in those traditions we can use in our lives. What are their principles that maybe could inform and strengthen my own faith, we might ask. That is what Barbara Brown Taylor meant and what she learned in her exploration of other faiths. That’s what I’m learning now in my study of traditions from the east.
We need not be afraid of hearing the truths of other religions. Maybe we can pick up some things that we can use. And even if we don’t, just hearing about other traditions opens our minds and hearts and helps us love more. Loving more, after all, is what Jesus asks of us. In fact you could say that’s all he asks of us. And every other faith tradition has this common characteristic: by practicing the faith you will learn to love more.
Why not consider your own study of another faith or faiths? Dive in and see what you can learn. You might be surprised that first of all religions teach basically the same things and secondly you might find you like one of them…but I’ll bet even if you do, you will still come home to Jesus.