Off the Leash: The schizophrenia of faith …

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I had a conversation with my youngest daughter, a college student, this week about religion.

She was raised in the Episcopal Church here in Idyllwild and holds to the particular tenets of the church in which she was raised, which many of us do.

She has attended various Christian gatherings with her friends in San Luis Obispo and felt unwelcome, or more specifically, like an outsider.

Her notions of God and what it means to be a Christian are different from theirs, sadly this has caused a small rift between her and her friends.

The conversation, for me, raised the question of “them” and “us.” If you’re not with us, then you must be against us. This notion is nothing new to me.

I think about it often and have felt the effects of this way of thinking on many occasions myself. The idea of “them and us” has been around since people walked the earth and lived in clans. It goes with the turf, so it’s nothing new. But as technology has shrunk the world into a “global community,” it is all the more urgent to transcend this archaic tribal practice.

Looking back on many of the horrific chapters of human history seems to me that the “you and us” doctrine has been a fundamental problem. Religion is as guilty as any institution of perpetuating this ideology.

Christians against Jews, Jews against Muslims, Shiites against Sunnis, Hindus against Muslims, Catholics against Protestants, the list goes on and on.

Since the 1970s, religion has become more and more a hot button issue in American political debate, to a very divisive end in my opinion. So let’s talk about religion, one of the two topics you’re never supposed to talk about. I may kick myself in the morning.

As a Christian, the religion with which I’m most familiar, I’d like to talk about the role our church has played in this ugly little game. The Christian movement was born around the person of Jesus, a radical Jewish rabbi, who challenged the dominant thinking of his own people. With some he was “in,” and for others, because of his claims and message, he was “out.”

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