“Authentic faith leads us to treat others with unconditional seriousness and to a loving reverence for the mystery of the human personality. Authentic Christianity should lead to maturity, personality, and reality. It should fashion whole men and women living lives of love and communion. False, manhandled religion produces the opposite effect. Whenever religion shows contempt or disregards the rights of persons, even under the noblest pretexts, it draws us away from reality and God.” – Brennan Manning
I left church a bit early yesterday to head up to an Islamic Mosque in Fort Wayne. Not my typical Sunday afternoon itinerary, if you were wondering. It was part of a “Cultural experience” for our Perspectives Class… experiencing people of another faith in real-life right in the middle of my own culture…
There were two main things that struck me:
1. GENERATIONS: There was a small boy (maybe 2 years old) praying in the line right next to his father. Kneeling at the right times, standing, holding his hands, one eye on the Imam (leader), the other on his dad. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him – this innocent child following the ways of his father, who had followed the ways of his father… not knowing or wanting to pursue anything different. A way of life.
Maybe it struck me because I questioned that very concept within Christianity. Am I following this because that’s what I’ve been raised to believe? Will this child in front me who’s kneeling on tiny knees just do the same only in his religion? How do I respond to that – a simple act of security and generational faith?
I believe there’s a difference between religions. I believe this child is ultimately not seeing truth, because I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven. But sometimes, I do think it helps to see this… to understand a little more of where they come from, much as in the same way that I have – to learn the grace of empathy.
2. SUBMISSION: I covered my head in respect with a scarf upon entering the mosque. There was something in that symbolic submission that helped me FEEL it. Much in the sense that those rituals and traditions are meant to in any religion, it gave me a sense of quietness, a sense of deference. Obedience. Law. Mostly I felt the weight of it. Sheer cotton, yes. But it was the outward observance of something that was heavy, almost oppressive in the act. I am glad to have felt it.
Interfaith experiences are always interesting and challenging in a way. They make us take a look at what we believe, in a good sense, and evaluate based upon others who believe in their faith very strongly as well. As I walked out, someone I was with solemnly commented, “I just want to shout from the rooftops that there is FREEDOM in Jesus… that I know that freedom to be true.”
It was a good chance to see and feel and be with people in a place to learn. I am so thankful for clear opportunities like this one. And for the affirmations of faith that I know at a heart level – enough to proclaim from the rooftops.