May 9, 2009
A jew, a catholic and an atheist are sitting on a park bench outside the Smithsonian Institutes Native American museum. It sounds like the beginning to an interesting joke. But today, it was just a real life scenario that leads to my latest blog entry.
I was playing ultimate frisbee on the National Mall just next to the Native American museum. After the youngin’s had finally run me ragged, I went to a bench to rest and change my shoes. As I am sitting there, I decide to check my email. I am reading a response to my last blog entry from a catholic friend in Kansas (she believes the new “pure sugar” Mountain Dew could make me believe in God…I will certainly give it a fair chance) when a polite gentleman asks if I would like a free cd. Not wanting to be rude, I accept. Low and behold it is a cd full of christian music. I can’t contain the surge of laughter at the timing. The people sitting next to me decline the cd and are curious about my giggling. I tell them that I had just started reading an email about my blog post dealing with atheism when I was handed that christian cd. My neighbors have a good laugh at this themselves (something about an inevitable lightning strike). One asks if I am indeed an atheist and I tell her that is the closest label I am comfortable putting on myself. They offer their affiliation as a jew and a catholic. They were not there together, but had just met and were talking about their jobs.
This chain of events started a very interesting (and civil) discussion on religion. It turns out the catholic was no longer practicing. He had come to the conclusion that maybe he was agnostic. He didn’t really believe that any of the major religions had it right and was no longer able to put any faith into them. It seems that the word “faith” was one of his biggest reasons. His belief is that faith is knowing something is true without any evidence. He prefers to use hope since none of us really know anything, but hope that something is watching over us.
We parted by agreeing that this, what we had just experienced, is how religion should be. Freely discussing each of our beliefs and accepting each others views without judging or attempting to convert one another. People scream for world peace. Maybe just a heavy dose of tolerance would point us in the right direction. Coexistence may be the first stone in the path to true enlightenment.