Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Christians and the Pagans

"But now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning." — Dar Williams, The Christians and the Pagans

Don't know the song? Click here!

It's a silly line from a cutsey folk song, but think about it. The line is describing one of the rare times in human history where people with different opinions can sit down and talk with each other without calling for blood. It's unfortunate that some areas of the world like Israel and the Gaza Strip can't do this right now, that tensions are too high. But the simple fact is that we're in a more tolerant age than we ever have been before.

The message of the song focuses on tolerance. Essentially, that family, friendshp, and connecting is more important than any strongly held religious belief. Yes, many of us disagree about religion, sometimes very vehemently, but what it comes down to is everybody wants to be able to live a good life and provide for their families.

And, in fact, I believe it's essential to expose yourself to different views and beliefs. It allows you to see different perspectives and really examine why you think the way you do. You You may even change your beliefs, just a little bit, but it also strengthens the beliefs you have and choose to keep. You get to the core of what you believe and why.

How many of us really critically examine the beliefs we grew up with? How many of us are just taking what we learned for granted?

That's why, when I'm on Twitter (and also in real life), I follow athiest skeptics and religious traditionalists, although I fall somewhat closer to the skeptic end of that scale (I'm a theistic agnostic. Confused? Click here). I made a decision very early not to exclude people as friends based on religious belief. People are more alike than different, IMHO. If people are interesting, have interesting things to say and if we have something in common, then they're someone worth knowing, even if they are a Christian and I am a Pagan.

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