February 28, 2007

If It Works for Me, Shouldn't It Work for Everyone?

Thank you Lyman Reed for your post about spiritual atheism.

I think he makes a good point about the danger of organized religion becoming more about the beliefs, and the religion, than the individual. Evangelism stems from the idea that, "if it works for me, shouldn't it work for everyone. And, why doesn't everyone see what is so obvious to me...what saved me?"

I've had this viewpoint with non-religious topics. I eventually realized, that even though I wasn't talking about God, or Heaven, or whatever, I was essentially taking the same view that bothered me so much about door-to-door religious salespeople. And what bothered me about organized religion, and parents raising their children in a religion without giving room to question, and so many other things about religions that have names attached to them.

The viewpoint of "making everyone see what is so clear to me" is human nature. Why, then, is religious pandering any more annoying than say, cultural, materialistic or stylistic evangelism? It's all the same. Once I figured that out, it was like a weight lifted from me. I no longer felt the weight of others trying to change me, and I no longer felt the need to change anyone else.

Be open about my passions, yes. But at the same time, be inspired by the passions of others - even if they aren't the same.

I suppose, it's not universal, and there are lines I draw in the sand of how close I'll let someone else's enthusiasm for something affect me (and vice versa). But now I get it, since I've been there, and I can identify with the feelings that flood our systems when converting others to our way of thinking. I suppose, in the end, empathy is the way to enlightenment.


JohnR said...

I've encountered something similar to this evangelism on non-religious subjects. A vegan friend of mine is always trying to get me to eat vegan, and many of our conversations seem to focus on the superior morality of a vegan diet (I'm an on-again off-again vegetarian). They're perched somewhere on the threshold between pushiness and admirable enthusiasm.

Still, I'm not sure if, in my experience, religious and other forms of evangelism are qualitatively different. The missionary on my doorstep is different from being embedded in (and trying to escape from) an evangelical society. But your post has me thinking. Thanks!

Lyman Reed said...

Great insights. Anytime we become caught up in trying to convince people to do it our way, we become slaves. What they are doing or thinking is dictating our own behavior. But when we can simply share what we know, what has worked for us, and then let it go, we are free to continue to live our own lives, and they theirs.

Thanks for bringing the idea to another level! I've got a new blog in my feedreader. :)