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Archive for September, 2009

“My religion is simple…”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about religion recently. Mainly because we are looking at getting our new son, Ashley, Baptised at the church we got married in. The main ‘hiccup’ is that since we got married, and we baptised our first son, I have become a Buddhist (or at the least, interested in Buddhism). When we told the minister we wanted Ashley baptised, he wanted to meet with us to discuss it. We went to his house and chatted about the process, and the concept behind it. Did you know the difference between a Christening and a Baptism? I didn’t, till our chat with the minister. Anyway, one thing he said was that he believed that if we wanted to do this properly, we should believe in what we are saying during the baptism. Very wise, I thought. But here in lay the problem: The questions asked by the minister to the parents were questions like “Do you believe in one true god” and “will you bring him up in the Christian faith”. A little difficult if you’re Buddhist…
We were asked to go and have a think about it. That was almost two weeks ago.

I finally got round to re reading the service sheets the minister leant us this morning. My aim was to see if I could, with integrity, answer yes to all the questions the minister would ask me in front of my family, the congregation and, ultimately, God. My wife is a strong Methodist, and really wants both boys baptised. We’re ok with Joe, but my ‘recent’ change of faith could jeopardise that for Ashley. So I looked at all the questions:

“Do you believe in one God – The creator of all and our Heavenly father?
Do you believe that God revealed his love to us in our Lord Jesus Christ, and through his death and resurrection offered us forgiveness of sin and a place in his family?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit who make’s God’s life, truth and love real in our lives, empowering us to live as his children?

Answer to number one is Yes, I do. I just don’t follow him anymore.
Answer to number two is Yes, I do. That is the basis for the Christian faith.
Answer to number three is Yes, I do. I only need to look at the packed church on Sundays, and my Wife’s joy of being there, with her boys to see that.
So far, so good. Next questions:

Will you love him, committing yourself to care for him in body, mind and spirit?
Will you therefore, ensure that he is brought up in the faith and life of the Christian community?
Will you, by your words, prayers and actions, set before him a Christian example, so that he will be encouraged to put his faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Answer to number one: I wouldn’t have become a father otherwise.
Answer to number two: If that is my wife’s wish, then yes, of course.
Answer to number three: What is so different from a Christian example and a Buddhist example? The ten commandments, the Buddhist precepts, they’re both very similar.
Suddenly, I wasn’t so worried about letting my wife down. It struck me that all religion, be it Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or Sikh have the same basic principles. They may differ in many areas (and if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have such wonderful variety in this world), but on the basic core, they are very similar. I was suddenly reminded by a new website I follow, Tinybuddha, of a quote by his Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is fammed for saying

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

And in reality, all religion is kindness. The sad things that happen “in the name of” religion a due to misunderstanding and misrepresentation. But think of all the wonderful things that happened in the name of Religion! I remember thinking that Ghandi was clearly a Buddhist. However, Ghandi was a committed Hindu, and led all his protest against the British with a concept that is easily interchangeable between Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and all other religions or faith systems, Love.

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