In most columns, writers tell what they think. In this piece, I’m telling you that I don’t know much about a lot of things, and I want readers like you to help me learn, and thereby help others learn as well.
Here’s the deal. We all know Forest Park is changing. I therefore have the suspicion that I’m missing a lot of what’s going on, either because it’s new and I haven’t noticed yet or because I’m a 59-year-old baby boomer and I just don’t get some things.
I’d like to learn more about some of the great world religions. I’ve been to Thailand four times; enough to realize that what the books tell you when it comes to Buddhism isn’t the whole story.
- Are there any Hindus in town who could help me understand Hinduism and what it’s like being a Hindu in Forest Park? Sikhs? Muslims? Buddhists? Chinese Traditions?
Another area about which I’d like to learn is religions that have tensions or controversies going on in them.
- I’d love to have a Sunni and a Shiite talk to me about the tensions in Islam.
- There’s some real heated stuff going in the Episcopalian/Anglican Church right now. Are there any Episcopalians who can help us understand the conflict?
- Some say Mitt Romney can’t be elected because he’s a Mormon. Are there any LDSers in Forest Park that can explain if the Mormons are a cult or a mainstream religion?
Jim Wallis wrote a book entitled “God’s Politics, Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” With the presidential campaign heating up, it’s time to think about how religion influences politics and how politicians try to exploit religion.
- What about churches and politics. In a recent conversation with Rev. DiMascio, he wondered why some churches get into social action and others avoid it.
- Is anyone involved in a presidential campaign deeply enough so that they could get me an interview with Barack or Hillary or McCain or Mitt so I could ask them how faith motivates and influences them?
- Personally, I think our public schools should teach about religion, probably in their social studies curriculum. Are their any teachers who would like to talk about the subject?
- How about some Palestinians and Jewish folk helping us understand the complexities of the Middle East? Again, we need light and not heat.
I’ve always had a fascination with religions that are on the margins, because sometimes they have insights that need to be heard.
- A Wicca recently got the U.S. Department of Defense to inscribe a five pointed star on the tombstone of a fallen soldier. Are there any Wiccas in town who would be willing to go public and share their faith with us?
- How about atheists? Some atheist authors are on best seller lists. I would really like to interview someone who is convinced that there is no God.
- What about ethical humanists?
My son is 30 and my daughter is 28. Neither goes to church much. I love them and they love me, but I confess I often don’t understand them when it comes to religion. Are there any Gen-Xers out there who can tell me why they do or don’t go to church?
- What are people under 40 looking for when it comes to religion?
- What am I missing because I’m a boomer and I just don’t get it any more?
I’m also curious about things in Forest Park that I am aware. For example, I remember when Bill Winston came to town with 12 members in his congregation. I’ve known Pastor Winston since he arrived and I’ve been to Living Word many times, but I still do not understand the culture of that church.
- Is there anyone who is working or has worked for Living Word who could explain how that organization really works?
- Do any of you have insights as to why so many churches in town are shrinking?
- How many of you live in Forest Park but worship in another town? Why? What are we missing?
I guess what I’m doing is issuing an invitation to make the religion page more interactive. I want get one of my kids to teach me how to do a blog on which religion and spirituality is the issue. If you would like to respond-and I hope many of you do-e-mail me at email@example.com.