February 2006

Maybe the ward I grew up in wasn’t that good at its visiting teaching.  Whatever the reason, I have no idea how to visit teach.  The RSP in my ward gave us these nice little guidelines but they don’t answer the questions I have and now that I’m in Primary I’m never in RS to ask.

 I realize that this is the kind of thing to vary from teacher to teacher and visitee to visitee but… just what exactly are we supposed to do?  How are we to deliver the message?  My companion has no more idea than I do.  Do we chat for awhile then give the message and leave?  Are we supposed to write out a lesson with questions and activities?  How does one turn the selection of quotes in the visiting teaching section of the “Ensign” into a lesson?

…find out what it means to me…

In my ever-so-humble opinion, the controversy surrounding the infamous cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet comes down to respect.  The Danish newspaper that published the cartoons claims it was simply trying to open a dialog about Muslim and Western relations.  A laudable goal but one that should have been pursued a bit more diplomatically.  Yes they had the right to publish those cartoons; that has no bearing on whether or not they should have.  If they truly believed in tolerance and equality, they wouldn’t have.

What many in the Muslim world may not realize is that while they are often the target of “liberalized” journalists, and they certainly were the target in this instance, they are not the only target.  In response to the outrage of the Muslim world, one newspaper printed a cartoon depicting Jesus and Mohammad kissing in a “Tunnel of Tolerance.”  Such a cartoon is guaranteed to upset the people of both religions but the Western journalists don’t care.

They don’t care because in the last several decades, religion has become increasingly irrelevent to the “rational world” of the Western elite.  In the face of science and technology, mankind has found a new god, one they can measure, understand and to some degrees, control.  They find this much easier to bear than a diety who commands them to control their impluses and desires, who urges them to become more and better than they are.  They forget or reject that “the natural man is an enemy to God”  (Mosiah 3:19) and declare that anything natural must needs be good.

In this new scientific and permissive world, religion is seen as an anachronism.  It is the blanket to which young children cling to protect themselves from the world.  It is a cult, a curse to which the weak-minded give themselves to avoid making their own decisions.  Worse, it is a tool of oppression and repression, denying people their natural desires and forcing them to conform to some arbitrary standard.  Thus some Western people think it is their duty (their sacred duty?) to save the rest of us from our own folly, no matter what our wishes on the matter are.  Others are content to point fingers and laugh or to rage against the “stupidity” in order to prove to others how smart and enlightened they are.

Would that this lack of respect were limited to the “intelligencia” and the media but it is not so.  The various Christian denomonations throw mud at each other so, it’s not a surprise that the less spiritual-minded must struggle to believe their claims.  There is a short story in which the members of one Christian denomonation were so stirred up by the falsities and hate taught to them by their leaders that they rose up and massacred members of another Christian denomonation.  When was asked if she thought the story had been exaggerated for effect, a lady who lived in the area mentioned in the story said she didn’t think it was far-fetched at all.  There are people who take it upon themselves to stand with signs — and occasionally devil costumes — outside the places where a group is worshipping.  There are people who organize groups of their friends to go through other people’s webjournals and, like the Nazi SS, ferret out those who belong to “disapproved” faiths.

What this world is lacking, East, West, Developed, Developing, Religious and Secular, is something deeply, abidingly fundamental.  Respect.  Until we can all treat each other with the respect due to each other as children of God or simply as fellow human beings, then problems like the Danish cartoon will grow worse instead of going away.

Proud Daughter of Eve