Saturday, June 9, 2012

Texas Faith: Why not worry about your theology?

 Published on 12/14/10 at Dallas Morning news

In summing up the findings of Putnam and Campbell, Rod reaches this two-fold conclusion:

"The good news is that we Americans of different faith traditions get along remarkably well, not by casting aside religion, but by learning how to be tolerant even as we remain religiously engaged.

"The bad news is that achieving religious comity has come at the price of religious particularity and theological competence. That is, we may still consider ourselves devoted to our faith, but increasingly, we don't know what our professed faith teaches, and we don't appreciate why that sort of thing is important in the first place."
Rod goes on to write:

"It seems the more we know about believers in other faiths, the better we feel about those faiths. Isn't that progress?

"The problem - and it's a big one - is theological. If you believe that religion is nothing more than a statement of what an individual or a community thinks or feels about God, this is not such a big deal. If, however, you believe that religion is primarily a statement about what God thinks of us - that is, if religion proclaims binding moral and metaphysical truths that are necessary to live by - then a great deal depends on maintaining theological continuity and integrity."

So, for this week, I'd like to hear your thoughts about this question:

Why shouldn't people of faith worry about maintaining theological continuity and integrity, if indeed religion proclaims binding moral and metaphysical truths that are necessary to live by?

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas  

America does it!

People of faith, particularly "conservatives," continue to worry about maintaining theological continuity and integrity, but they really don't have a choice and cannot "control" perceived "deviants" by frightening them with excommunication or persecution. America is the land of the free and it does bring freedom to one from the clutches of one's own beliefs, however religious associations in America are tempered with free choice.

The men and women who came to America in the face of religious persecution in Europe formed their own communities and found the freedom to practice what they believed was their inalienable right. As more diverse communities grew, they developed an acceptance of the other out of a sheer need to co-exist and a desire to reject the idea of persecution they had endured. Although fanaticism was a part of the growth in persecuting Jews, Catholics, Mormons and Wicca, the idea of co-existence was also growing stronger.

One of the values immigrants cherish most is the freedom this land evokes, cajoles and activates in them. There is nothing like it anywhere on Earth. Immigrants are not what you think them to be; Mexicans, Indians, Chinese, Asians, Arabs or Africans but every one of us including you and me. Indeed the Native Americans have fiercely guarded and demonstrated their freedom as well.

Despite the binding moral and metaphysical truths espoused by the conservatives as truths to live by, the American gene of freedom has gotten them as much as everyone. They are worried about the dilution of their faith, but have gradually moved on from the familiar to unfamiliar, an inch at a time establishing new equilibriums.

They have reluctantly accepted pre-marital sexual relations; resisted abortion and have remained silent about men and women living together without the wedding vows, and now they are battling with the homosexuality issues and one day they will cross that threshold and accept new equilibriums.

The first living and practicing women rabbis, pastors or imams in the Abrahamic traditions particularly, and priests in other traditions in general, are here in the United States. That was an unthinkable thing some fifty years ago.

Our sense of morality is continuously enlarging and embracing diversity of thought as the legitimate other.Freedom of religion is the binding value of America and the American gene of freedom thrives and permeates in every one's DNA, and we will remain loyal to freedom over dogma.

Please visit Dallas Morning News to read all the responses:

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog is updated daily.

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