Sunday, January 8, 2012

No religion, please

One of the things I cherish is listening to people describe their faith journeys, or lack. Let's face it, not everyone thinks that religion of any flavor is a good thing. And, I enjoy listening to their stories as well.
In a supplement to our local Sunday paper I read an interview with actor Daniel Radcliffe. For those of you who may have just arrived from another planet, he is the talented young man who played Harry Potter in the film series based on J.K.Rowling's books. One of the questions asked was, "Your dad is a Protestant from Ulster and your mom is English and Jewish. Were you raised in a particular religion?" Why this reporter asked this particular question, I haven't a clue. But, I'm that it was asked. Radcliffe's response was not atypical. He said, "There was never [religious] faith in the house...My dad believes in God, I think. I'm not sure if my mom does. I don't. I have a problem with religion or anything that says, 'We have all the answer,' because there's no such thing as 'the answers.' We're complex. We change our minds on issues all the time. Religion leaves no room for human complexity."
While he seems to have lumped all of the world's religions into one general statement, I think we should read this as a qualified statement about the religious experiences that he has personally had. And, I tend to agree in large part with his assessment. There are a lot of folks who state that they have the answers to the world's ills.  Just read the Bible. Just pray. Just trust. Just have faith. Just, just, just. As Daniel so aptly put it, "there's no such thing as 'the answers.'" Life isn't that simple.
When I was young during and part of the Jesus Movement of the early 70's, we had problems with religion, too. We used to say and sing about not having religion, but having relation. It wasn't important what we thought we knew, it was important who we knew. And, that someone for us was the Jesus of Nazareth. I have spent the better part of my life trying to live up to that statement. It's hard, for sure. Being a Christ follower does not give me access to all of the answers to life. If that was true, I'd be God. (It's better for everyone that I'm not.) The Bible does not contain all of the answers to life's complex questions. It's certainly not a users manual for humanity. We are all frail, yet complex beings who try our best to put one foot in front of the other without stepping on someone else's toes.
Radcliffe's position is honest. But, I think incomplete. I would love to sit and listen to him. To hear the voice from his heart-of-hearts. He is a gifted artist. I would love to hear about his take on his giftedness. Not so I could challenge him. But, so I can learn more about the complexity of our humanness in this great cosmos that we call home.

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