Monday, July 17, 2006
Are you Catholic? The Struggle of Perspectives...
Last week I took vacation in Trinidad. I also had the opportunity to meet my new sister-in-law Michelle. She is Catholic. While watching TV, she commented on the news story about the Middle East which caught my attention. Of course, I have always known that folks outside the United States shared a different perspective on the Middle East than those who have the freedom and privelege to listen to one-sided conversations presented on our own TV sets.
Anyway, the perspective she shared was interesting. Folks from Trinidad have no interaction with folks who practice Judiasm but understand and appreciate the similarities between Judiasm and their practice of kosher which is analogous to Islamic practices of Zabihah. Likewise, she was more thoughtful about sinister acts going on in India and had thought that folks who were Hindus were more capable of evil that any other religion and that the atrocities that occur there simply gets no coverage. She further commented on how she felt that Hinduism was one of the most contorted religions on the planet (NOTE: Michelle is of Indian descent so don't get it twisted).
I found her perspective interesting in that folks from Trinidad actually on a daily basis interact with folks from faiths such as Catholic, Baptist, Islam, Hinduism, etc. Anyway, as a Catholic she also mentioned her adoration of Islam and mentions how the priest (NOTE: He is from South America) there understands that there is an ounce worth of difference between Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Upon returning, I had the opportunity to talk with the second Michelle who was a recent addition to our family late last year. She is an IT employee for a large airline. Her perspectives on several things were different than the Michelle who grew up in Trinidad. This Michelle spoke of things about Islam from an diametrically opposed perspective than what the Michelle in Trinidad did. She mentioned that her local priest (NOTE: He is of European descent) represented perspectives on Islam that were inline with the media in the United states but otherwise generally inaccurate.
The comparison of the two Michelle's made me think about the following questions in which I would love insight from the blogosphere on:
- Do Catholic practitioners blindly believe everything they hear about another religion if told by a person of authority?
- If a Catholic Priest says something negative about another religion. Do Catholic practitioners ever ask whether their experiences are first-hand or simply passed down knowledge?
- As a non-Catholic, if I were to hear a priest make a negative statement about either Hinduism or Islam in a public forum. How offensive would it be if I were to stand up and actually ask them when was the last time they stepped foot into a masjid or temple? I suspect we know the real answer already...
- Are Catholics in America more insular in their thinking and perspective on other cultures than other parts of the planet?
- Should Catholics take an active step for themselves to understand others or simply defer to the wisdom of others. What would Jesus do in this scenario?