Letters to Jesus (Church, Religion, and Sacraments)-10
Human beings seem eminently disposed toward a “turtle shell” concept of religion. It is something we carry around with us into which we can withdraw when trouble approaches. We pull in our heads, hands, and feet, turn out the lights and wait for the problem to go away – then we mosey on. The tendency to wear our religion this way is pretty universal. Christians, Moslems, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. are each equally guilty.
One of the biggest problems that comes our way and forces us into our shells is other religions. Withdrawal is an equal opportunity solution. But why do we do this? Is religion a refuge of introverted withdrawal into which we curl up when threatened?
Beliefs, or systems of belief, are indeed a refuge – a safe haven in which we are comfortable. But the movement You began involved (and still involves) a number of risks that cannot be negotiated from inside a shell. An acceptance of times of discomfort, pain, and doubt that cannot be covered with our shells is fundamental to religious commitment. Also fundamental is openness and understanding of those of other religions who feel similar discomforts, pains, and doubts.
The turtle shell accomplishes nothing. If I am a Christian and willfully committed to the beliefs of that faith there will come times when, by word or action, I am forced into a situation where I either defend what I believe or pull back into my shell. The shell connotes a status quo(“don’t rock the boat”) mentality – a mentality which says, ‘I don’t have to display what I believe. I can live it and keep it covered so that others are not offended by it.’
This is a particularly sensitive area between Christians and Moslems nowadays. But if we have anything at all to offer each other, neither the Christians nor the Moslems can do so from a turtle shell concept of faith. Let the beliefs of believers be seen!