I don’t often share my writing elsewhere unless it pertains to what I’m doing here. In that vein, I wrote a post on Wednesday over at Ignitum Today which discusses the benefits of studying other religions. Although it is told from my point of view as a Catholic, I think many of the lessons to be learned are applicable to any person, even atheists. Hopefully it also gives some broader background for what I am doing in this space.
With all of the hobbies to pick from, I choose to spend my free time studying lies. Everything from why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays to why Hindus eschew cow. Of course, these are factually true, in that those practitioners do believe those things, but as a belief for Catholics, they are not. As Catholics, the differing views espoused by other denominations or faiths can be striking; they are misguided at best, outright falsehoods at worst.
When it is phrased in such a manner, religious studies can seem pointless. Where else in life do we choose to partake in learning untruths? Wouldn’t time be better spent understanding our own Catholic faith better? Heaven knows we have enough material to keep us occupied for well beyond our lifetime.
Despite their objectively incorrect theology, every religion has the potential to touch our lives. It may be in how a particular faith altered the history of our world, or how a traditional religious custom has become part of our town’s heritage. Religion can even sneak into our mainstream culture: many restaurants in the US restructure menus during Lent to offer more vegetarian and seafood options, while several Japanese cultural customs are remnants of Shinto purity beliefs. On some level, all of these scenarios hinge on understanding religion to comprehend their full meaning.