Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the way we see things

Well, it was between glasses and a cat. And in the end, I'm holding out on the cat. I say that because I figure a new pair of glasses will last at least five years and a cat might too, but not if I move and have to give it away. There are little kitties everywhere just wanting to be adopted! That's what I keep telling myself. And snuggling with Horace the Dinosaur in the meantime.

It's about time I got a new pair anyway, about time being a bit of an understatement. I've had the same pair for about ten years. My eyes aren't really all that bad--I need them to drive and to see the board in class, that sort of thing. Wear them in the movie theater, all of that. But they're getting a little worse, I've noticed, and it's about time for another eye exam anyway. Problem is, my head is small. And mostly only kids glasses fit me. It just narrows in around my eyes so they always look gigantic on me. But the ones I picked out aren't so bad, and they're much trendier than I'd normally wear so that'll take some adjusting, but I'm happy about them. I'm getting the exam tomorrow, and from then however long it takes for them to come in.

My religion class continues to be interesting. We're on Christianity now and the professor grew up in church but isn't a Christian and the way he teaches it is very sterilized, and he'll miss the heart of a certain theology or teaching by a hairline, but it's enough to feel unsettling. The context is thrown, the words sometimes directly from Scripture but mostly they're his paraphrasing which seems to miss. It's little things but they feel important, they color everything differently. And then--well, I'm as frustrated about Pat Robertson as anyone, and I read something Don Miller wrote about all that, which handled it well. But it's already become all this ammunition against Christianity, all this bitterness, and I want to look at people--and myself, in the middle of being so frustrated at him--and say, this is not our God!

But I digress. I was going to say that I think if I could help it, I'd rather have Muslims teach me about Islam, followers of whichever religion teaching me about their own. I'm not sure whether this is wise, but I see how Christianity is being taught in this class--it's not terrible, but even from just an academic standpoint, something about it is off--and, knowing the professor isn't a believer, I wonder that any belief wouldn't be better taught by its believers. The problem is misconceptions. Right? People hear Pat Robertson and all Christians are painted by that. The same with Muslim fundamentalists--or even from teachers who understand something academically, but not at the heart of it.

I know what I believe--with a good amount of wiggle room for wrestling out questions with God--but how do I relate with someone who is Buddhist or even denominationally different (is that the right word?), an Orthodox Christian, for example, if I don't understand it the way they do? Maybe it's one of those things you really can't get at unless you believe. A guess would that the best missionaries to North African Muslims are North African Muslims who've become Christians. (Now that I type that I wonder how true that is because there'd probably be a lot of division following a conversion like that, but--).

Hrmm. I'm glad I'm in the class though. I'm glad it's making me think about these things. My natural tendency is to jump in, to immerse, when it comes to cross-cultural anything, and I think it applies here. Whether wise or unwise is the question. I want to be able to see clearly, and it's a hard thing to do coming out of my own beliefs, because I can try to understand other things but there's a certain truth that I believe. You see? This is where I think political correctness and 'everyone gets to God in his own way' camps take it to the other extreme. So how do I really understand? I don't think believing in one thing keeps you from doing that. Certainly believing in nothing isn't advantageous either, as evidenced by my professor. So where do I touch down in this? I want to see things as they are without defecting from the parts that I know.

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