Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A Rose By Any Other Name? Or Is It More Than That?
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS RELIGIOUS REFERENCES. DO NOT READ IF ANOTHER PERSON'S BELIEFS OFFEND YOU.
This just in from the A.P.:
AMSTERDAM - A Roman Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands has proposed people of all faiths refer to God as Allah to foster understanding, stoking an already heated debate on religious tolerance in a country with one million Muslims.
Bishop Tiny Muskens, from the southern diocese of Breda, told Dutch television on Monday that God did not mind what he was named and that in Indonesia, where Muskens spent eight years, priests used the word "Allah" while celebrating Mass.
"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem."
God, Allah, Jehovah, Shangdi...these are names that various religions all over the world use to refer to the All-Mighty, the Supreme Being who created us all. But there are some religious zealots out there who believe that their supreme being wants them to not only hate people of a different culture or religion, but to actually kill them for those differences. I'm not referring to Muslims, per se. I'm referring to those people out there who believe their religion is the only religion, the only way to worship the All-Mighty. Unfortunately, those people can be found in just about every religion. It's when those people choose to forcibly impose their beliefs on others that I have a problem. And now I hear about this priest who wants the whole world to change the name they use to refer to their Supreme Being to Allah, in an effort to "foster understanding". And that will accomplish understanding how? Should we all start speaking the same language - world wide - so that we might "foster" even more understanding amongst the residents of earth? Okay. Which language? Should we also make all women wear burkhas or face covers so that we don't offend certain religions? Should we also require all worshippers of the All-Mighty to sit in the lotus position while humming and chanting with their eyes closed? And maybe we should insist that every temple and mosque around the world hang a cross front and center. I mean, really, wouldn't it be great if we could all worship in the same way, with the same understanding? Wouldn't it feel wonderful to know that everyone in the world understands your religious views and together, we could all feel the warmth of our All-Mighty's grace? But changing the way people refer to the All-Mighty isn't the answer. That's not fostering understanding. And it's not necessary amongst the peaceable and tolerant religions of this world. Its only important to those who wish to impose their will upon the rest of the world. I don't mind referring to God as Allah. I do mind being bullied or threatened or intimidated into doing it. I do mind doing it because somebody feels a need to appease someone else who has no tolerance for my beliefs. I believe in religious freedom. I believe that a person's relationship with God is between that person and God. The conversations between God and His children aren't always open for public consumption. I believe that God planned our world so that we wouldn't all speak the same language and we all wouldn't look the same and we all don't live the same experiences. I believe that God gave each of us a separate set of circumstances for our lives and how we get through it and how we relate to each other and how we accept and nurture our relationship with Him is what matters. If you don't believe the same, I accept that. I don't want to force my beliefs on you. Ever. I will share my feelings with you, but I'm almost certain that your beliefs and mine won't always agree. Isn't that wonderful? Again, if you don't belief what I do, that is okay with me. But don't tell me I should use your words or adopt your traditions and suppress my own because it will make us understand each other better. We can understand each other better by explaining our beliefs without fear of reprisal. We can understand each other better by practicing tolerance not submitting to intolerance.
But that's just my belief.