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.
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>).
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.
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester