Other People's "Good News"
We're getting into some very important stuff here, kids. Derek's posts in particular resonate with me, as he shares his sense of pain that the good news of the loving God we know through Jesus is considered "old news" or even "bad news" among many of our co-religionists.
But Derek makes another point I'd like to briefly touch on. He says that he used to believe in the deep pluralism of the one-world-religion universalists of the Kenneth Patton ilk (as opposed to the "salvation for everyone" Universalism of, say, Hosea Ballou -- and yes, I know he was a restorationist. Wasn't he?). ANyhoo, if I hear him correctly, Derek no longer feels that that kind of Unitarian Universalism has integrity, or is possible.
I'm WITH you, Derek. You know why? Because westerners who decide to groove on world religions mostly do so in an uncritical, flavor-of-the-month manner, picking and choosing what they like from a faith tradition and blithely ignoring all the icky, exclusionary material -- whether it be cultural, theological or practical. That's bogus.
Furthermore, and this is even worse, One-World-Religion universalists totally fail to realize that they've never been given permission by the practitioners of those "other" religions to claim them for their own use. You may ask: who has the authority to bar me from using the sacred words of concepts of any world religion? I respond that it is the faith claims of those traditions themselves that should give you pause, if not entirely keep your muddy boots out of the holy of holies. If we don't know what those faith claims are -- if it's just too inconvenient or too much work to learn them -- then ten cuidado. Be careful.
I'm guilty of this; don't think I'm not. Which is why I more and more rely on literature, film, theatre, art and poetry than materials from world religions in the making of analogies and in the crafting of what I hope will feel like a spiritually energizing, enlightening narrative.
I think the Indiana Jones series illustrates this just smashingly. The spiritual explorer thinks he or she is grabbing a really cool artifact from the past, and unwittingly unleashing all manner of hell.
No, I haven't started the paper yet, but the house is clean, the pesto made, the potatoes boiled, the shrimp ready for grilling. Why do you ask?
P.S. While I don't advocate "borrowing" bits and pieces from world religions in careless ways, I do think this is a Jim Dandy of an idea: