Religious Shop Talk

Church on the Prairie by Joe Ennesser
used under a creative commons license

Social media is such a wondrous tool.  I graduated from an Evangelical Lutheran high school, and so I still have a number of very conservative Christians on my friend’s list.  This past week, I was able to have a discussion with a friend I haven’t seen in years, who is a student of theology and is heavily active in his church (a non-denominational, but strongly Evangelical organization).  He posted a question about the use of language in prayer – specifically, why many Christians use antiquated words such as ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ when addressing their God.  This was something I’d thought a lot about when writing rituals for the local ADF Druidry group!  There were a few responses from other Christians, and I chose to add my opinion to the chorus.

What followed was a beautiful interfaith dialogue.  Another old friend messaged me asking for some clarification about my tradition, and we both spent far more time than we had planned on Facebook that night, messaging back and forth.  We didn’t talk a lot about our specific religions – we spent far more time discussing the way language used in ritual (or a church service!) affected the participant’s view of the Divine.  This man, who disagrees with my views on almost everything relating to religion (and I’m not super-fond of his either, to be honest) and I were able to have an enlightening discussion about how our faiths address our Deities, and the inevitable affect on how we interact with them.

He brought up many good points that I’ll be thinking about the next time I sit down to write a ritual.  But the biggest thing I took away from that conversation is that it is not only possible to have a productive religious discussion with someone you disagree with, but it is extremely useful.  Seeing how other religions or faith traditions address issues with their membership, how they look at their holy books or received wisdom, and a myriad of other questions that come up when dealing with something as nebulous as spirituality, can be incredibly beneficial – especially for Pagans, of whom many are involved in actively building traditions.  Other faiths have insights to bring to the table, and the only way to learn them is to discuss these issues and questions with those who are different from us.


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