Talking religion in 2011
By: Megan Finnegan | Published Friday, December 21, 2012, 3:23 PM | Updated Friday, December 21, 2012, 3:23 PM
The time for resolutions is upon us. After recovering from our hangovers (or in my case, the severe and ill-timed case of food poisoning that afflicted my fiance and I and relegated us to our couch watching When Harry Met Sally
and sipping sparkling water for New Year's Eve, which is actually a lovely way to spend the evening), we're all full of freshness and possibility and promise.
Many resolutions, which seem so realistic with 365 sunrises at our disposal in which to accomplish them, fall by the way side before Martin Luther King day, mostly because they are exercises in perfection. "I will never eat too much dessert again!" etc. I've of course vowed to lose 20 pounds, workout 4 times a week, write 1,000 words a day, weed out my closet by half, and stash 1/3 of my earnings away to pay for our weddings. These are honorable goals, but easy to fall short of, and I've been thinking about something I can do that's less tangible but just as significant to bettering myself.
In 2011, I'd like to have more discussions about religion.
This is a tricky one, because I don't mean that I plan on preaching to anyone, or bringing up religion to make anyone uncomfortable, but I would like religion in general to become more of an easy topic, both on a personal level and a general cultural interest level.
I have close friends, people who I feel like I know inside and out, but I realize that I don't know, for example, what they believe happens to us when we die. I could assume, as I do, based on their particular religious upbringing, but I don't necessarily know.
I sometimes steer clear of religious conversations with family members, because I want to keep the peace, and because I'm not exactly sure what they believe. I definitely stay away from talking religion with certain people when I know I'll disagree with them.
I spend a good deal of time thinking and writing about my own religion, and trying to understand the religions of others, but too often this is done in my own mind. I believe that talking about beliefs can only help to strengthen them, and I don't do that enough. I also feel that debacles we saw in 2010 like the so-called Ground Zero Mosque issue and general anti-Muslim vitriol
or the censorship of art at a national museum
in the misused name of religion would have been lessened if people in general could discuss other religions more openly.
With that in mind, I'm going to do my best not to shy away from potentially prickly conversations just because they might be difficult. It is only through dialogue that we can learn, and that's all I can hope to do.