My wife’s best friend has a son that is getting married in Toronto on the 27th of August and we are invited to be in the wedding party.
So far my wife has talked about nothing but the ramifications of this marriage and how it will affect the wedding.
You see, he is Jewish and she is Muslim!
Now I should be quick to point out that neither one of them is a devout Jew nor Muslim, plus Johnny (we still call him that even though he is a grown man now) is paying for the wedding himself, so there is not much the relatives can say.
Nevertheless, you can bet your ass that there is going to be a LOT said behind closed doors.
As a matter of fact there is even the possibility that some of the relatives (or a lot of them) will not be coming to the wedding or the party after!
Since I have been asked to say something during the reception I thought it would be a appropriate to share this quote from my book “The Plain Truth About God-101.”
It is said that once upon a time a King gathered together a few men who had been born blind. They were asked to describe an elephant, but each one was presented with only a certain part of it.
To one was presented the head of the elephant, to another the trunk, to another its ears, to another the leg, the body, the tail, tuft of the tail, etc.
The one who was presented with the head said, “The elephant is like a pot!” The one who was presented the trunk answered, “The elephant is like a hose.” The one who touched only the ears thought that the elephant was a fan, the others said that it was a pillar, a wall, a rope, a brush, etc.
Then they quarreled among themselves, each thinking that he was the only one right and the others were wrong. The obvious truth is that the elephant is a unity of many parts, a unity that they could not grasp in their ignorance.
According to the pattern suggested by this tale, it is often said that world religions form a unity, and only this total unity provides the right perspective on ultimate truth. This is encouraged by the suggestion to consider the various world religions as alternative paths to the same goal.
Therefore, one option is that Christianity, Judaism and Islam, (as well as their individual sects) will each claim to be the only right path to God.
Although this vision is arousing a lot of enthusiasm amongst their adherents, it is important to know that these are not the only views. We also have to look at the Eastern religions for a counterpoint.
Therefore, another option is that all world religions are pieces of the same puzzle.
Theoretically, two possibilities exist. A proper evaluation of such opposite views as Eastern and Western Religion must be done before we decide on a course of action.
If the first is true (all religions lead us to the same goal), and we choose the second (only one of them is right), we have not lost anything. Despite our ignorance, we will arrive at the same happy end as the other travelers who have chosen different spiritual paths.
A less happy situation would be given by the second possibility, that a single spiritual path is valid and we have chosen the wrong one. In this case, we are courting a spiritual disaster.
(A third possibility, that all spiritual paths are wrong, is denied by the nature of our spiritual quest itself. This search demands a real fulfillment, otherwise our hunger for ultimate truth could not be justified and all religions would be nothing but fantasy.)
By default then, because one option is so unpalatable, (that there is nothing after life) we would have to choose the view that all religions lead us to the same goal.
Now this is not meant merely to generate rational proofs for justifying one or another alternative. No matter how complex and logical the proofs of one or the other causes might be, it is possible to find counterpoints of the same nature. At a rational level, these disputes could fill many books with no benefit to anyone.
No one can be persuaded or converted to one or another religious perspective only through rational proof and logic. This may be possible in science, but not in religion, otherwise everyone would already be of one faith.
However, rational proofs have to be considered because we are rational beings. Reason should not be rejected and faith proclaimed the only way of knowing truth. No divorce between reason and experience should be accepted because they are complementary and work together. Neither should exclude the other.
As a result, we do not have to reject the proof of reason in our spiritual quests, whatever their nature might be. The comparative analysis presented here is focused on Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the major Eastern Religions because they play a major role in defining today’s world spirituality.
Some may believe that a comparative analysis like this may fuel religious hatred and intolerance, but this is wrong. Religious tolerance and freedom cannot be built on ignorance but rather should be built on the understanding of commonalities. Therefore, as the prophet Jesus said: “Loving the person is possible even if one rejects his or her religious convictions!”
So it should be with all of us!!
Your ever-faithful scribe;
Allan W Janssen