Flyers win! I don’t get TSN (the channel the hockey game was on), so I headed to a sports bar to watch the third period of Game 6 between the Flyers and the Bruins. At the bar I ran into a guy who started talking to me about religion. It turned out he wanted to get his daughter baptized and wasn’t sure what church he wanted her to be baptized in. He asked what my church taught about homosexuality, and I told him we thought it was wrong but that it wasn’t the biggest issue in the church.
We got into a discussion about it, and neither one of us shifted our views too much (he seemed to be pretty convinced it was purely biological, I’m not convinced it is, and I see no reason to say that homosexuality is purely biological whereas other sexual attractions / disorders are purely cultural – it doesn’t make sense to me to make that kind of sharp distinction). I told him that my religion teaches that people are not condemned for anything that’s beyond their control, because God is just and merciful, and he said he didn’t believe me, since all religions claim their God is just and merciful, and most of them are not telling the truth. I hope he googles Swedenborg.
The last question he asked was what I thought about psychology. I didn’t know quite what he was asking – was he wondering if were like
Christian scientists Scientologists and rejected psychology? – so I told him I didn’t know much about it, but thought of it as a tool – that psychologists do not tell people what to believe, but try to help people be more in integrity with what they believe. Definitely not a very good summary of what psychology is, but I was trying to answer the question of how psychology and faith should interact, since I still wasn’t sure what he was asking.
That was the end of the conversation. He thanked me and politely (really) told me that I had a pretty naïve way of looking at the world, that I didn’t really seem to understand that people have really messed up childhoods and that everyone comes from a different background, and that’s what psychology tries to address. He said there was more that he didn’t really want to say since it would seem condescending. And that was that. Ah well. Lesson learned.
What lesson? I tend to drift into pie-in-the-sky, idealistic enthusiasm when I’m talking to people about religion. The problem isn’t that I didn’t know much about psychology – it’s that in what I was saying, it didn’t sound like I was talking about real life. Drifting away into idealism, smiling too much, etc., is what I do to deal with the nervousness I feel about having those conversations. I try too hard to make what I’m saying sound appealing, instead of just saying it straight, dealing with the here and now. Lesson learned, and all-in-all a positive experience.
Anyway, Flyers win!