Friday, August 21, 2009

Converting the heathen

Considering my own religious background, I really shouldn't be discussing this. There's been quite some unhappiness over the enthusiasm of my fellow believers in making converts out of the heathen. Up to a point, even I get uneasy about this practice because it just comes across as hard-sell. And it's easy to see how that enthusiasm can rub people the wrong way, living as we are in a society that values religious plurality.

If we don't proselytise, we're told we're not doing our part in the great harvest that our supreme authority wants us to bring in while we still can. So being able to proselytize is an integral part of the belief we have the freedom to enshrine in this society. But I also believe that my freedom to swing my arms ends where your nose begins. And this is the balance we have to accept, living in this society of ours, where everyone else's beliefs are equally accepted and respected.

Because of our religious freedom in this society, no one is about to curtail our freedom to express our beliefs, even the ones entailing making converts. But no one asked us to be obnoxious and offensive in exercising those rights either. Perhaps it may be beyond my limited wisdom that there is indeed a place among us for our full-time walking religious billboards with their fervent deathbed-stalking-fanaticism (they do have the best of intentions, really), but I don't think we need to pursue proselytising so aggressively. All the time.

If we truly lived up to the ideals espoused by our beliefs, people will see in us something of the divinity that we purport to represent. When we walk the walk, people with the, um... more existential questions will have the confidence that we can also talk the talk, so we don't have to accost random people, they'll come to us instead. I may be being somewhat judgemental, but that's how real, effective proselytisation takes place.

Sure, easy to say. Have I done anything of the sort yet? Er, as far as I can tell, no. Then again, what do you expect from the family's black sheep? Baaa...!

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