May 12, 2020
I’m in the midst of my Theological Literacy class. As usual, it’s like drinking from a firehose… but it’s all good. We are looking at various belief systems. As we discussed today, the study of theology is the study of God/Divine within one’s own tradition; whereas the study of religions is the study of different religions without any vested interest or intention of practicing them. Of course there is also need to understand those who do not have a theist belief.
As a Celebrant, Chaplain, Spiritual Care Counselor and human, I strive to gain insight and understanding into the ways that bring meaning to other people. I know I can never know completely what another unique human experience. It is important for me to have some empathy and understanding; so I can be ready to accompany others. And of course, a good dose of willingness for the mystery and the unknown.
Today we began our exploration into models of Theology or Philosophy. Today, Perennial Model and Pluralistic Model… Tomorrow we look at Participatory Model and Inter spirituality Model.
We were posed the question today: How do we understand the fact that other beliefs besides our own exist? There are three ways:
Exclusionism — My way or the highway - the doctrine or practice of excluding certain groups or individuals from enjoyment of certain rights or privileges - mine is the only way.
Inclusionism — I’m on the main road but there are many side roads that could get to the same destination - others might have some truth but mine has more - other traditions have partial truth, but mine is complete.
Pluralism — Life is a highway — theory that there are more than one, or more than two kinds of ultimate realities - all major world religions are valid/true and not contradictory but complimentary.
I am clear I am informed by the faith tradition I was born and raised. The beauty of a faith journey… it is in the hands of the individual, once we break free into adulthood. In my life, and in my work with people at end of life, I have grown into a pluralistic view of beliefs and faiths. There are many different roads we travel. I am my own vehicle. I’m fortunate I have traveled and explored many different roads. Road trips are good!
My prayer this night is the lyrics to a song we use in gatherings at The Chaplaincy Institute. I believe we each have gifts and those gifts come from our journey, and our unique beliefs. And I believe each person can be, and is, a unique blessing to the world.
We are the heart,
we are the hands,
we are the voice of spirit of on earth,
and who we are,
and all we do,
is a blessing to the world.
May it be so….