This morning I had a strange encounter with two women from the WatchTower organization. They came to the door holding the Bible and asking me if I believed in the Bible while quoting from Scriptures. Now to put this situation in context, I am rushing to finish some computing work for a later meeting about 20 minutes away in Campbellford. So trying to be diplomatic I told them that I had been raised Catholic but that the Church had been having many problems and so my brother and I who had come down for the Easter weekend had discussed these issues. We both agreed that the Bible, whose first edition was written 50-90 years after Jesus death could be a flawed record of Christ’s life and teachings. Discovering a mutual interest we had decided to explore and share readings and insights on the nature of Christ and our own spiritual direction. In sum, I was trying to convey an active and somewhat independent spiritual life but a robust one. That should have been the signal to these women that “okay, here is a household where spirituality is active and vigorous, no need to spread the Word here”.
Not so. The women would have none of that notion. They insisted on reading passages from the Bible and inviting themselves in for a discussion.
So I tried another more direct approach saying that churches and faith’s today were straying from Christ and other spiritual leaders traditions . That various faith’s today were taking an anti-spiritual direction with battles over prayer in schools in North America or the Muslim jihadist approach of direct attacks upon native, Christian and other faith traditions around the world from Nigeria thru India and the Philippians. I tried to argue that One True Faith and missionary conversion zeal were examples of terrible religious excess. Rather faiths should embrace the many forms of worship and spirituality as long as each of those faiths honored the the Pareto utility rule -> Acts of faith may result in some individuals being made “better off” but with no individual being made worse off [a variation on the Hippocratic Oath, Fiduciary Trust or the Golden Rule].
However, it is the idea of so many of the majority faiths in the World that God and Spirituality must be ruled by One Faith and one set of dictums [theirs alone]that I find abhorrent. Even worse and clearly blasphemous is the near military missionaries and Muslim jihadists. Yes I agree with arguments from scientists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris that religious-based strife has plagued the World for centuries and especially in modern times; but their embracing of the counter NoFaith of Atheism is equally repugnant because it implies any striving for spirituality and moral ethical insights based on Theist ideas is futile if not null and void.
But the Missionary Women would have none of this…. suffice it to say I exercised the right of refusal to their consternation. So in Pareto disutility I arrived at my meeting 45 minutes late and had to spend a great deal of time assuaging a perturbed client; the Missionary Women left miffed, while in my mind’s eye Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris were winking with wry smiles. Thank God I thought that the separation of Church and State had been well established in democracies throughout the World …. just so long as Christian Prayer only is allowed in US schools.