Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to disagree

Robert Frost's proverb "Good fences make good neighbors"
applies especially to differences of faith.
My sister is Mormon. I'm Catholic. There are important matters of the faith that we do not agree upon. You would think this would cause tense moments and awkward silences. You would think there should be subjects we must avoid at all costs. You would think this difference would cause strife and division between us. It doesn't.

It really doesn't. My sister taught me the skill of holding onto your most precious beliefs while respecting that others disagree. In other words she taught me the skill to tolerate any one's right to be wrong. Because of her, I can look her in the eye, disagreeing with her completely, and still find love. Before I was even a Christian, she showed me how to love in Christian Charity. She showed me that when you hold the Truth in your heart, it is like an armor. Nothing can touch it.

She showed me how to be unshakable.

So, how does that translate in a world where disagreements of the sort that exist between Mormonism and Catholicism lead to harsh words and strong emotions at best? It looks an awful lot like what you will hear on this podcast. We are very matter of fact about our respective faiths. We listen. We find the common ground and point out the differences. We allow space to exist where it exists and we don't insist on agreement. We build a good fence in that particular spot and gaze over it, saying, "Well, that is different."

That doesn't mean the differences aren't fundamental or essential. It simply means that I know her heart is for God. She is in the palm of His hand, and I know He loves her perfectly. I tell her the truth of my faith, she tells me the truths of hers, and then we live those truths the best way we can.

She is no hypocrite, my sister, I can tell you that. So I can trust her to be wrong. She can trust me to be. We both love each other and believe wholeheartedly, "I can trust God with her."

I guess that kind of faith in God and His providence is one of those spots where there is a gate in our fence. It's a place where we find common ground, where we can really open up and see into each other's fields for a short distance. We won't agree on everything, but this little spot is good. We can rest there for a little while.

So what if she prays for me and not so secretly wishes I was Mormon? I pray for her and wish she were Catholic. That's perfectly okay. Conversion is a continual return to God, so if she prays for my conversion I am strengthened by her prayers, and she, the same.

I trust so completely that God meets us where we are. She is there. I am here.

And here you are.

So, my neighbor, are we at a fence or a gate?

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The idea for this show came from a Facebook discussion of the Vice Presidential debate that turned quickly into an anti-Romney, anti-Mormon thread. I countered, with help from a young woman of my acquaintance, and decided it was an opportunity to clear up some falsehoods about Mormonism. The first step to good apologetics is education, so here is an opportunity to learn about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from someone who knows her faith and lives it.

1 comment:

  1. I had to smile, when you spoke of the Facebook discussion (anti-Mormon thread) which gave you the idea for this show. I'm not on Facebook, but have experienced somewhat the same reaction, to comments I've left in political discussions. Once, I spoke in appreciation of Glenn Beck's geopolitical opinions and his ability to gather people of different faiths - to join in opposition to President Obama's attack on constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms (Catholic Church). Well, lets just say people have strong feelings about Mormonism! I'm pretty sure that the success of Romney and Beck, have made those wary of Mormonism, especially quick to voice their heartfelt opinions. Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe it has always been this way, and I just didn't notice. There aren't as many Mormons in Canada, so maybe it's more of an American election season reaction.

    Anyway, the fact that two sisters can talk about their different faiths, without being disagreeable, speaks very well of both of you.