Sunday, February 22, 2004

Dinner in the Shire

Thursday night, Tina and I had dinner with Bilbo Baggins. However, he went under the pseudonym of 'Michael O'Flannigan.' About the same height, the same white frizzy hair, and very much the same disposition. He and his 'friend,' Jill, are our neighbours and they decided that it was high time that they had us to their place for dinner. What a fantastic evening! When I told them that I was studying PG Wodehouse for my Independent Study, they were quite pleased! They have quite a soft spot for Wodehouse; when they were dating way back when, they would read Jeeves and Blandings Castle and Mr Mulliner stories to eachother.
These people are fascinating people. They own some sort of a clothing company, I believe, and have therefore traveled across the world, coming in contact with an incredible number of cultures. Upon mention of one of the Asian countries (pardon my not mentioning the specific one, I kept trying to remember things to write down and they progressively got stuffed out of my head), Flannigan told us of the religion that is practiced there- one that I'd never heard of before, but perhaps the World religion students or the son of a religion prof could help me out here- something to the effect of 'confusion' but it can't be spelled like that, but that's what I heard. Interesting, at any rate, this country has managed to combine all the religions practiced within that country into one, for what reason I'm not sure, but I believe it's called 'confusion' or maybe that was one of the ones that was assimilated. I made the comment that it was interesting that they were able to do that will all different religions, because somehow within the Christian churches we can't even do that among denominations, and we all believe in the same God. This turned into a segue for a huge discussion on religion and denominations, and as Tina and I were the only practicing Christians in the room, it made for quite an interesting time! Flanagan came from a Catholic background (as he said, you're born Catholic and you die Catholic but you're rarely catholic inbetween), Jill was christened in the Church of England, went to a Presbyterian Sunday school, and went to a Catholic school, Marion was Methodist at on point, I believe, and Tina and I are both CRC. Different traditions were quite well represented, then, but most of the viewpoints that came out were quite cynical of the Church. The Alpha course was brought up, and Marion brought up an interesting view point, saying that she didn't like the course because it brings people into the church by creating a community for them, and that's the primary reason that the people who attend become 'religious.' It's therefore creating a false pretense to draw in people. It very much reminds me of discussions that I've had with people about cults, because very often, cults will create a 'safe' place for people to come, make them feel welcomed and loved, and draw them in as such. I didn't realize that people felt the same way about Christianity!
I suppose that I've got a lot to learn about what others think.

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