Thursday, November 19, 2009

Religious Dialogue

I attended a Forum with Professor Noah Feldman from Harvard University. His talk touched on many issues (of which I might write more later) but the one that I found of key importance was his invitation/challenge for people to participate in civilized, respectful, unabashed comparative religious duologue. All the hatred and prejudice in the world comes from ignorance, misunderstanding, and misinformation. The more we understand about other people and our beliefs, the better we are able to relate, empathize, and establish commonality. Religion is a huge part of people's character and identity, yet for some reason, it has become culturally taboo to discuss it. And thus, ignorance remains. I suppose most of my friends know that I am LDS (a Mormon). Yet, I also suppose that if I were to ask a great deal of them what I believe in as a Latter-day Saint, they may be able to give superficial answers such as: "you don't drink alcohol or coffee and you abstain from sexual relations before you are married," but their answers would likely stop there. Most people would not be able to explain why we live these standards, or in other words: the doctrinal foundation of an LDS Lifestyle. I am in no way attempting to be accusatory—the same could be said about me if I were asked about Catholics, Jews, or Muslims—I am merely making an observation. I am in agreement with Professor Feldman; I do not think it should be taboo to talk about religion. I think that society has much to benefit from its members more readily engaging in respectful, civil, religious dialogue.