a few days ago we went to a concert in a nearby town. the performers were excellent, and i was impressed by their talent and skill. in the course of the concert, they performed a few sacred pieces with obvious sincerity. they were not a "wear-your-religion-on-your-sleeve" sort of group, but from the sacred pieces they performed and a couple of comments during the concert, one could tell that their religious beliefs were central to their lives.
i caught myself thinking smugly that these performers were gullible to be taken in by orthodox fundamentalist christianity. "how could musicians who were so classically well-trained espouse such nonsense," i thought, as the concert proceeded to its conclusion. later in the evening, when i had some time to reflect on my reaction, i was ashamed of myself. who was i to belittle, even mentally, anyone else's beliefs? though i don't agree with their implied beliefs, there is no reason for me to look down my nose at others because they believe differently from me or because they are not shy about communicating their faith to others.
i've rejected much of christian orthodoxy and think that christian fundamentalism is a harmful influence on our country, but there are many good, bright people who espouse orthodox, fundamentalist christianity. i have no monopoly on the truth, and i have to right to condemn others unless the practice of their beliefs results in harm to me or anyone else who disagrees with them. the performers i heard didn't rail against any political or ethnic group; they didn't belittle anyone else's lifestyle. they expressed their faith sincerely without any attempt to convert members of the audience and without ridiculing anyone. from their public persona, it appeared that they were the sorts of folks with whom one could have a polite discussion of opposing positions, rather than the rabid, angry fundamentalists that are ready to send those who disagree with them to eternal damnation.
may i not be so ready to put down those who hold beliefs that i've come to view as superstitions. may i look beyond someone else's faith that seems naive to me and see the person who is often kind, gentle, and generous. may i love those who disagree with me. may i abandon smugness and feelings of superiority towards those who embrace beliefs that i see as unreasonable. shalom.