Here in rural North Yorkshire I do a lot of interfaith work. Most of it is with a faith that is hostile to and undermining of Christianity and most of us around here are syncretists. That faith, of course is consumerism. We make a lot of noise in the Western church about sexuality, ordination, what is church etc because we are all in denial about the biggest sin: Consumerism.
Don’t you just love it when blog postings are so opinionatedÂ and brook no other opinion than their own?
Last Friday I spent some time in a local school: it was a big event. Someone at the school is a cousin of a reincarnated Tibetan Monk from the Drepung Loseling Monastery http://www.loselingmonastery.org/Â in exile in India. The monk was coming in to speak. On my list of ‘Unlikely things in rural North Yorkshire that I never expected to happen’, that would go down as number one, I think.
It was fascinating: I have never met a Buddhist monk or spent time with them. One of the most surreal things was watching him sing ‘Go tell it on the mountain’ with the children in assembly.
I can remember debates when I was first a Christian about ‘which road leads to God’ and many people getting very angry (all in the name of ‘love’ of course) about Jesus being the only way.
Â I do believe in Jesus as the unique revelation of God; I don’t accept the secular Western view of ‘of course it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you have faith’ as it doesn’t take engagement with a tradition seriouslyÂ or honour the integrity of followers of a faith seriously enough….and if you tell me the popular interfaith story of the elephant once more I will hit you (it says more about the oh so wise detachment of the observer than any truth).
Â Neither do I believe that followers of Jesus have any business telling other religions that they are going to hell or indulging in angry and caricaturedÂ denunciations of another religion.
It was so lovely to sit and talk and try and understand each other; to hear a Buddhist saying that they had much to learn from the activism of Christians and insistance that faith had to have an outworking…without pointing out the faults of the other. It was great to hear some common ground: we both fight against consumerism and materialism. It was goodÂ to (I think this is the current word) ‘dialogue’. It was a positive experience to explore difference and for each to speak positively about their own faith (general note in Christian evangelism: evangelism never means ridiculing the other, not listening or being aggressive…….listening andÂ , to use an old word, ‘talking winsomely’ goes a long way.Â Also: always remember that you are in Sales and not Management: GodÂ converts).
I learned so much that made me think/makes me think…but then, if the world is alive with the glory of God/Jesus, maybe it is true that you find him everywhere…
Oh, and by the way, he smiled a lot and was very gracious…Â whatever we do, don’t you think it would be good if we wereÂ known for that?Â