Sunday, September 21, 2014

How far can you count?

How come we seem able only to count to 2?

Pope Frances is visiting Albania whereCBC News tells ushalf the population is Muslim, the other half Christian. Two colours. Black and white. No grays.

Comments posted on North American websites hurl accusations back and forth; the labelsyou lefties or you redneckssuggest a world with only 2 political sides. (Some imply that in Canada, the Greens, the NDP and the Liberals are all "lefties," as opposed to the Harperites who are "that blessed ONE in a world of only 2," and vice versa, of course.)

I'm pretty sure ISIL, or ISIS, sees the world as 2: us and the infidel.

I remarked on this at the dinner table the other day, ill-advisedly declaring in defense of 2 that the entire population was either male or female, and was brought up short in support of all those many who are born with gender characteristics that are ambiguous, even scary to those who tenaciously cling to the fiction of a black and white world, a world of 2.

I grew up in the Mennonite Church in a predominantly Christian community. There we learned that "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Luke 11:23, also found in the gospels of Matthew and Mark)." We also learned that, "Jesus answered (Thomas), 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:6, not recorded in the other gospels)." There's really no easy way to interpret these passages other than as a description of a world of 2those with me and those against me.

I was diligently taught not to count past 2 in these matters.

Honourable Justice Murray Sinclairspeaking on the subject of Christian Church/Aboriginal reconciliationsaid that  "Christians and their churches must demonstrate respect for Aboriginal spirituality . . . they must no longer insist that Christianity is the only way for all people."  (Esther Epp-Tiessen in INTOTEMAK, Summer 2014, Vol 43, No 2)

If Justice Sinclair is right, then the kingdom of heaven is not populated by a monochromatic white but by rainbows of colour, not 1 as against 2, but 3, 4, 5 . . . ∞ together, a myriad of persons known not by the greenness of their leaves but by the flavour and nutrition in their fruit. (See Matthew 7: 16 - 20)

I've never been to Albania, but I'm guessing there aren't only Muslims and Christians there, and among those two groups, that there are liberal thinkers and conservative thinkers and any numbers of gradations between, plus Buddhists, Unitarians, agnostics and atheists, etc. I’m also guessing that good fruit doesn’t only grow on tree 1 or tree 2.

(What a bit of irony70+ and still learning to count!)

We do our politics, our religion, our social interactions, our very families great wrong if we can't bring ourselves to count past 2.

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