Thursday, November 19, 2015

Religious Literacy

I've just started reading a book titled Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I'm reading it to better understand the Jewish faith, but also to better understand the beginnings of my own faith. It is going to be one of those books that will take a long time to work through and I'll be reading it more slowly as learning material, not as one would read a novel.

I was intrigued by the opening sentences of the introduction.

"At a time when Jewish life in the United States is flourishing, Jewish ignorance is too. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of teenage and adult Jews are seeking Jewish involvements -- even Jewish leadership positions -- all the while hoping no one will find out their unhappy little secret: They are Jewish illiterate."

It goes on to say that many are uneducated in some of the basic things of Jewish history, culture and terminology.

I think that the same could be said of Christianity in the United States.
Just last Sunday my pastor was explaining a couple of simple words that are often misused, and therefore misunderstood, in our church language. It seems unfortunate that many today receive their knowledge of what Christianity should be from the news media or politically motivated personalities rather than from the Bible or from qualified teachers of the faith.

My plan on working my way through this book is to read a chapter or so each day after my daily Bible reading. Also in my 2016 reading plan is to work my way through the Qur'an and its teaching in much the same way. If anybody knows of a good Qur'an study guide, I'd appreciate your recommendations.
I also have the Kama Sutra, The Book of Mormon and a book on the life of Siddhartha on my bookshelves.
Oh yeah, and a few books on witchcraft, magic and the occult. Some Christians might find it disturbing that I have such books, but I just see them as tools of the trade.

I know that there are many books on Christian apologetics. I wonder if there are as many resources for Islam apologetics, Mormon apologetics or apologetics for any of the other multitudes of belief systems that exist in our culture.

I know that there are Christians of many different denominations that read this blog from time to time. I know of at least one Buddhist, suspect a couple of Mormons and know of several other non-Christians and atheists. It would surprise me if there are any Muslim readers. It actually pleases me that there are different beliefs represented in my small readership.
It is not my intent to become an expert on what everybody believes. I don't even know that I can become an expert in my own Christian beliefs. I would like to know enough about what others believe that I can engage in an intelligent conversation and ask good questions about their beliefs and I'd like to know enough about my own Christianity that I can truthfully and factually answer questions about my faith and the Jesus of the Bible as opposed to the Jesus of the media or contemporary culture.

Enough rambling for today.
I have an eight hour drive ahead of me as I make my way northward to see my son and his wife for a weekend visit.

A double check of the calendar shows this to be the 30th day of consecutive writing in my 30 Day Writing Challenge. I don't believe that I completed it according to its original intent and didn't use very many of the suggested topics. For me, it was more of an exercise in taking the time to write every day. I think I'll continue with a daily post through the end of the month and will try to be more frequent through 2016.
I thank you for your indulgence and for taking the time to read and occasionally comment on my posts.

John <><


Mike said...

Today might be a last chance for a nice day stop at Ted Drewes.

Duckbutt said...

It's always good to learn about others' religions.

allenwoodhaven said...

I believe in getting ideas from any source. I think it's a sign of both curiosity and confidence in one's ability to judge those ideas for value. The messenger is important, but not as much as the message.

I'm reminded of a book I read long ago, The Medium, The Mystic, and The Physicist, by Lawrence LeShan. The basic idea is that he compared the most sophisticated levels of thought in each of those fields and found that they were pretty much indistinguishable from each other. It's a old book. I read it in the late 70's, but it obviously left a lasting impression. It led me to realize/believe that all wisdom points in the same direction. I take that to be for tolerance, kindness, and enlightenment.