The Unthinking Religious

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I witnessed a goat sacrifice the first time I visited India. That was different. But, as a tourist, the terminated bleating just added to the foreign experience. We moved on as the priest dabbed blood on the young couple's foreheads.

My second trip to India was different. I wasn't a tourist this time. I got to know some of the locals. Talking with one of my new friends while in a restaurant, I noticed she was ordering vegetarian for herself. I asked her about it, and she said she was not eating meat for a month so she could better pray to one of the gods.

She was fasting, much like for Lent.

And a realization suddenly grabbed me and threatened to throw me to the floor: I had assumed that only ignorant saps believed in polytheism. But this young lady is an intelligent, skilled, lovely individual whose grammatically incorrect English only makes her more endearing. And as I looked into her smiling face, I discovered I'd bought into a foolish Western belief.

Elephant-Shrine
Shrine

The assumption is all around me here at home. There's a constant degrading mantra about the "stupid religious" who hold beliefs because of willful ignorance. And, certainly, the supposed "Science/Faith debate" isn't helping either. But if I so quickly apply a similar negative lens to people, I'm doing the exact same thing. Unfortunately, insults to person or intelligence is where we tend to devolve in discussion--especially online (Facebook <cough>).

There absolutely are intellectual Christians who celebrate the life of the mind. But it doesn't matter how brilliant you are if someone disagrees about the foundations of your ideas.

I'm sure there are some unthinking religious out there, simply going along with the trend. But the same is also true of many skeptics and atheists as well. I am reminded, however, that many people--whether agnostic, Hindu, or otherwise--are bright, thinking individuals. But without an encounter with Christ, what's going to change their mind?

Indeed, without Christ, everything is pretty meaningless.

May you and your children bring the hope and peace of Christ wherever you go, whether to India or the grocery store down the street. Because there are intelligent people everywhere who need to see Him in action.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad
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4 Responses to The Unthinking Religious

  1. Lisa says:

    I had the same realization when we moved to Thailand. I had read about spirit worship and the like here, but it still seemed like something that "backwards villagers" would do. But here in my average neighborhood in the city of Chiang Mai I see average suburban people making their offerings every morning. There are spirit houses or altars with offerings in most people's yards, markets, modern shopping malls, empty fields, and in front of office buildings. Offerings are brought by old people, young people, day laborers, business people, every walk of life. It was mind-blowing to realize just how "normal" and modern these people are.

  2. Luke says:

    Exactly. And there's where my Western bias really did me wrong. Only here do we assume that spirituality is a sign of ignorance. I think it was good to have that notion flipped "on its ear" so I could see that I was the ignorant one! And... I really shouldn't have been. I mean, I grew up reading missionary stories. [sigh] Always more to learn...

    ~Luke

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