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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

February 14, 2013

AS I WALK ALONG, I WONDER

I often wonder about religion being exclusive. How can one group of followers believe that they alone have the truth? (Though I realize that I should write it “Truth,” with a capital T.)

Recently I read that a pastor was censured by his governing body because he gave a benediction at an ecumenical service. The service was for the children at Sandy Hook who were killed. Participating in the service were Protestants and Catholics and Jews and Muslims. In any case, this earnest Protestant Pastor gave the benediction for the service and was scolded by his governing board.

I was speaking to a church member some time ago and she travels the world for her business. She has recently joined our church but her previous church was speaking out against the religion (which was not Christian) of many of her business contacts on the other side of the world. This made no sense to this woman, for she knew her business friends to be good, ethical, moral and committed to their faith. Yet her home church minister spoke against their religion. She left her church.

Many years ago, I was traveling in northern Tanzania on Christmas Day. The town we were in was mainly Muslim and it was business-as-usual. It was strange for me, a Christian who was always doing Christmas/Family things on December 25, to be elsewhere where the message of a newborn child in a manger was not cause for everything else to stop. Last fall, I drove past a Muslim organization in Dublin on one of their Holy Days. I was driving to work. Everyone at the Muslim center was going for a Holy Celebration. It was interesting to be on the other side of the equation.

It’s a new world out there. My last two sabbaticals have been spent in India to experience a bit of the Hindu Faith, and in the Northern Mediterranean region to visit as many Muslim, Orthodox and Roman Catholic communities as possible. I did not make a conscientious effort to study other religions, but it seems that I am drawn to experience them. I make no pretense as to having a doctoral dissertation-worth of information on other religions. Still, I am drawn to what makes us seek a faith which sustains us. I am also alternately optimistic and pessimistic about the ability of people of differing religions to live together.

Anyway… I have a two-week continuing education clause in my contract. It is built in so that I can keep perspective. I got to thinking about my list of places I want to go and they all revolve around other cultures and their religious settings. I’ve even made up a list for the next couple years. It’s pretty simple. I take a two-week leave and go. This time I am going to Thailand and will be visiting as many Buddhist Temples (Wats) as possible. In the meantime I will also make contact with a longtime friend from Chicago who taught with Marty and me in Zambia in the Mission School so long ago. He is retired and living in Bangkok.

Laura and Josh are going. As Josh says, “it’s your trip Bob-o, (as he affectionately calls his father-in-law) we’re just going along for the ride.” Glad to have them. Between them, and plenty of coffee to overcome jet-lag and the connection with an old friend and visits to Bangkok, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai Temples…I am good to go.

If you wish to go along, you can follow at  www.tussinthai.blogspot.com

It’s already posted, and I hope to make my first Thailand-Blog entry on Saturday, February 16. I’ll be checking my regular email along the way also.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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