Monday, April 18, 2016

Why People Don't Talk About Religion

I'm listening to the Michael Medved radio show, and he's talking about why few people are willing to discuss religion in social situations. Let me offer my response.

Remember when there were two topics not to be discussed in polite company lest someone become upset? Those two used to be politics and religion. No longer. Now, politics may be like a religion to many people, but talking politics reigns, as radio and Saturday Night Live, and outlets for our feelings--like this blog--let us spew our passions about current events to anyone with a smartphone or computer.

But the taboo against discussing religion is stronger than ever, as one's faith is considered extremely personal. Unless you believe that it's your duty and job to lead others to it.

For most people, uncertainty about God and what God wants is a bit disturbing, and sometimes brings guilt, confusion, doubt or discomfort. It involves many emotions, and rests in the intangible and un-provable. That's why it's called "faith."

Making people uncomfortable isn't a nice thing to do. Much better to avoid the topic and keep the relationship on an intellectual, real-life basis.

I confess that at our Shabbat table I made a mistake and asked two guests to explain, in one case what brought her into her religion, and in another case, what led him to leave it.
The one who came to her church said "it just felt right." The one who left it said his research regarding the physical world caused him to disbelieve tenets of the faith.

As a psychologist, I love learning how people think. And I care about the people I invite for Shabbat, and want to know more about them. As a hostess,though, I'm a flop--I made two guests uncomfortable. I hereby apologize for putting them on the spot.

If you believe that scriptures are from God, and that they're the truth, you're going to be passionate about them. Other than from its own material, can any religion prove it's correct, or that other people should believe it? Can anyone be objective about the religion he accepts as God's word?

In a nation becoming increasingly diverse as immigrants from more varied homelands contribute their cultures and beliefs, it's ever-more-difficult to insist any single faith is "the one." The only thing adherents can assert is that it's "the one for me."

That's why the Shabbat guest who answered "it just felt right" is as worthy of respect as the one who said, in effect, "it no longer felt right." And unless you want to get into doctrines--and who does?--what kind of conversation is that?

Much better to just let it go. It's part of our tolerance trend, or the "whatever gender you say you are" shrug, or our 'as long as nobody's hurt" acceptance. Sure, you can do your religion, and I'll either do mine, or, as increasingly politically correct, I'll do none, thank you. Not talking about religion now falls under the banner of respect. You can't knock respect.

Except when you're talking about politics...

4 comments:

  1. Lovely explanation..beautifully written. Will remember this one at the next social gathering. Thank you

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  2. Tolerance begins when there is a disagreement between two people who are loving and respectful of the other. Tolerance opens up discourse where both parties can learn from the other. There is no tolerance in either acceptance or avoidance. Tolerance is a misunderstood buzz word in society today and offending somebody is one of the largest no nos. We have lost the art of dialog and have succumb to nothing more than polar opposites screaming at each other. Religion and politics shouldn’t be taboo. They are fundamental in holding society together and our failure to discuss these subjects with each other is one of the reasons why our culture continues to erode. We need more understanding, open discussion and less knee jerk reactions and argumentative screaming. Great blog entry!

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  3. I don't know if I agree. Sadly religion has become nothing but group think for various groups that everyone who isn't part of their group doesn't like them. And they use religion as a weapon which of course if that is the case you can't go near religion with this person. Although it is an insult to the God of the universe to use religion as a weapon like this and sooner or later it may backfire.

    But work which as a guy I have to engage if this didn't exist everyone would be stuck in their group. Part of working and being forced to work forces you if you are a normal person to share a little about yourself and learn something about someone else which as someone Jewish my ethnic background plays a role of who I am. I don't fit any box though. Fairly religious but have learned about Karaite Jews and also do question certain things. When religion becomes following a religious leader blindly and nothing in life changes your views on anything I think then you can't have a "discussion" because it won't change anything. For example, I will confess I do not feel turning on a light on is work. Thanks to Thomas Edison you don't have to gather wood and do things that were work. As I see others groups I see this hatred to inventions and progress exists in all religions with some sects and has nothing to do with God. It also affected in my early years in the work world that I didn't want to use technology as it gave me the appearence of being unholy. Those who don't want to see Doctors and pray, who want to not use technology (and most people cheat anyway) it is basically not appreciating the inventions of others. But many people if contact with others doesn't make them think a little then yes you can't have a conversation about religion because it isn't a conversation if you are so smug on your own views and maybe look that maybe my own group isn't so perfect. But many people when it comes to religion are super smug and have no interest in a "conversation" but just a one way street to push what they think is right and that is a problem.

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