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Featured Advice from Outsiders

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Quintessence, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    As we go through life, we often seek help and guidance from those around us. Sometimes advice is unsolicited, and sometimes the advice comes from a perspective that is very foreign to our own.

    I was reminded of these things late last week when I received a letter in the mail from a proselytizer. I was tempted to mail them something in response, but instead just writing it here:


    Dear Proselytizer,

    I have a deep appreciation for an old-fashioned approach to things. The hand-written letter you sent me in the mail was charming, right down to the choice to use simple lined paper from a note pad. As charming as it was, however, it was not in equal measure respectful. I do not share your path, and it is not appropriate for you to offer me advice on a sensitive topic like death and dying. Foreign advice in matters so sensitive is not helpful and often hurtful; attempting to prey upon the emotionally vulnerable speaks very poorly of your religion. I hope you consider this the next time you craft a hand-written letter to proselytize.

    Regards,
    - An adherent of a religion that doesn't proselytize (your welcome)

    -*-*-*-*-
    Religion is inherently personal, and advice related to the bereavement process can be especially tone-deaf if we receive it from outsiders to our religious tradition. Advice from outsiders isn't always unhelpful, though. Inspiration from other paths can be just what we need sometimes, especially when our own ways are failing us.

    What are your thoughts when it comes to advice from outsiders to your religious tradition? Do you have a story to share about when it was unhelpful or even hurtful? What about a time where it was just what you needed to get through something?
     
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  2. icehorse

    icehorse Veteran Member
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    Unless it's in a debate forum I prefer the old:

    "How can I help?"

    approach.
     
  3. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Sākṣī
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    I don't have any stories to share. Can I just respond here that I'll pray for you and leave it at that? :p

    Seriously, though, religious advice to me is really no different that any other advice offered to me, solicited or unsolicited. I can choose to accept it or reject it. If I choose the latter, it is me, not the advisor or the advice itself, that renders it unhelpful. As far as being hurtful, how can advice I reject hurt me?
     
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  4. JustGeorge

    JustGeorge Active Member

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    I haven't been hurt by it personally, but my eldest son was greatly stressed when a neighbor told him his cat that had been struck by a car had gone to be with Jesus...

    Who is this Jesus, and what in the world is he doing with my cat?

    There's an assumption in my area that everyone is Christian or has at least the general knowledge of Christian basics, but to a young child who doesn't, to think a stranger has run off with your dead cat is very unnerving.
     
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  5. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Over time, it's getting to bother me less and less. Maybe I'm just getting used to it. As you said, it certainly doesn't reflect well on their religion, to think they know it all. So lately I've been looking deeper in proselytising messages, and this is what I see. "I'm unaware. I need someone to convince of that, and that someone is you. I'm so unaware that I figure I know more than you, or anyone else that isn't a member of my tribe. If nothing else I hope it garners me some attention. " Something like that.

    People who proselytise just haven't yet figured out that we're diverse. It's no different than a little kid with an ice cream cone offering you a lick. Because he likes it, he just assumes you will too. Do we criticise that kid, or do we understand it?
     
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  6. coconut theology

    coconut theology coconuts for Jesus

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    I have no fear of learning what others believe, and am not so 'sensitive' to not consider what others have to say fairly and objectively (as far as is possible). For instance:



    Powerpoint - https://archive.org/download/sincerely-dead/Sincerely Dead.pptx

    People often mask fear of the unknown with what they call 'sensitivity', when in reality, they're just afraid all of the time and simply don't want to look (which in reality is caused by evil spirits/beings). Whether that is 'you' or not, is up to you.
     
  7. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Interesting topic, and I've seen a little of both sides of this.
    2 quick stories if I can.

    Just the other day we received a care package on our doorstep with food, and a note talking about how times were tough, and the community should pull together. It went on to talk about one of the local churches, and how God was the path to getting through this.

    Raised a bunch of thoughts in my head.
    1) Nice of anyone to be handing out assistance in these times.
    2) Why the heck do I need assistance? My job and my wife's are completely unaffected, and we're trying to help others. Surely someone else could use this care package?!
    3) Oooh...Waffle fries. I needed to buy some of those.

    Weirdest thing, it was signed by our neighbours. Who we have never gotten along with, really. They're very...I dunno...rigid. And we're very easy going. Strange mix at times. But they didn't personalise the note, or even knock when they dropped the parcel.

    Going through the food parcel, some of the food was pretty close to use by dates, etc. I suspect the Church has been collecting food for the needy (laudible) but had an overflow, so put together some care packages they could just drop at local houses, along with a prosletyzing message. We tossed some, took the waffle fries...ahem...and topped up the package with some fresh stuff, then drove it to a food distribution centre that told us they could use it (over the phone).

    What was no doubt a well motivated original intent became pretty messy by poorly planned action, I think.

    -------------------------------------
    Second story is less interesting and more cliche. I lived in remote Papua New Guinea for a couple of years and saw the impact if missionaries. It was varied (depending on the mission/individuals) and again, sometimes muddied. Definitely it had positive impact in some places, and in some ways. Access to clean water, power and sewerage are all positive. But personally using local labour to build churches over schools rankles, and the integration of Christian belief into PNG society has left some strange bedfellows in place (witch burning capital of the world).

    I'm not blaming the missionaries directly for that...their intentions were overwhelmingly to help, from what I saw. But they're somewhat like me deciding I'll become an activist and 'help' protect the barrier reef. If I go there thinking I have answers, I'll probably do a whole lot of damage, unintentionally. If I go there thinking I might be able to learn something, it's a much better long term approach.
     
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  8. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    This makes a lot of sense to me, including the non-judgemental reaction. But if that kid asks me ten times straight if I want to lick his ice-cream, he might end up wearing a Sundae Hat...lol
     
  9. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Similar thing happened to my youngest daughter when our dog passed. It wasn't a Christian message, or prosletysing, but people told her all sorts of weird things that confused her (since they rarely stuck around to have a proper conversation with her...mostly that's what they were trying to avoid, I think).
     
  10. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Taking religion out of it for a moment...it can hurt you. Or....if you're self-aware and confident...perhaps not you. But not everyone is equally as able to discern good advice from noise.

    My wife's cousin is dealing with some mental issues, and some of the advice he's been given is horrendously inaccurate, judgemental, or simply confusing. Unpicking that becomes necessary before any proper advice can even be provided (my wife is a professional...I limit my help to a non-judgey ear, and someone he can shoot the breeze with).
     
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  11. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Haha... someone else I know recently got a care package like this too. I don't know if there was a note with it, but it was a Christian group. Even if there's sometimes a proselytizing bent to such gestures, I think that still sets a good example on the whole. Too often our heads get filled with the bad stories and not the many gestures of charities Christians engage in that are inspired by their devotion.



    The bereaved are particularly unable to do this because of circumstance - it is all noise. At times, the process of grief turns off discernment. Other stressful times do the same thing. It doesn't seem a matter of ability - it's all we can do to manage the torrents of emotions and let them run their course. To introduce one's religion with a talk of death? It's kind of a terrible sales pitch approach (devotees of death gods notwithstanding). :sweat:
     
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  12. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    "Consider the source. Consider the source."

    That was really good advice I got from a colleague who was a devoted but non-proselytising Christian. It begs the question, "Just who should be advising who here?" I learned to listen to that colleague. When I was having difficulty liking a particular student, she'd just say, "Well ... that kid is pretty hard to like."

    We have that challenge on these forums. Some come, assuming they are the teacher, others come, assuming they are the student.
     
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  13. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Heh...there are times it becomes very clear to me that there is some commonality in our backgrounds.
    Good points, and I hope I am mostly student through my life. Strangely I've started to undervalue some of what I have to teach though (particularly in professional settings). Anyway. Always a mix.
     
  14. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Yeah, I probably have something to offer as well. But I'm not very motivated. One guy started to tell me all about how different a certain book was ..."Very different from the usual stuff." When I kind of gave him a blank stare, he realised that I had written most of it. But nobody knows.
     
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  15. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    ^^ Keep this in mind ^^

    How did they “prey” on you? Did they ask for money, or something?
     
  16. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    in previous centuries.....the word was spoken out loud
    if you were within earshot
    you got the message

    and there is a parable for this
    and noted....the seed is cast....in everyway

    sometimes it falls to stones
    and cannot take root

    oooops
     
  17. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Just curious...did anyone here mention being preyed on? The conversation has appeared more balanced but I mighta missed it (skim reading and all that...)
     
  18. IAMinyou

    IAMinyou Active Member

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    It's one thing to share knowledge from our CREATOR and another thing to demand that you believe in their knowledge or you will go to a place called hell. Liars love to talk about a place called hell.
     
  19. IAMinyou

    IAMinyou Active Member

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    Yes. During the first witness of the 1000 year reign of Christ, there were many human beings walking around preaching the gospel of God but once the Roman government killed them all off just before the Roman Emperor Constantine announced he was the next pope after St. Peter and that all religious groups of the Roman Empire as his religion called Christianity that eventually became the Roman Catholic Church, it has taken a 1700 year apostasy before the second witness of the 1000 year reign of Christ delivered more eternal wisdom into this visible world of Satan. The body typing this sentence for me will die but I will remain forever and ever.
     
  20. Hermit Philosopher

    Hermit Philosopher Selflessly here for you

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    Dear Quintessence,

    Firstly, I hope you have people around you who are of comfort to you in your hardship.

    In regards to your post, I am absolutely guilty of having tried to comfort but having distressed instead. Especially when I was younger!

    I think it was because I found the sorrows of another very hard to sit with and could not tap into what it was they might have been in need of. Instead, I’d unconsciously find myself trying to comfort my own uneasiness with being in presence of their sorrow.

    With time, we get better at distinguishing between our own needs and another’s. I’d like to think I am better at comforting now.

    Often, I have found that listening is better than talking. Sometimes, it does mean listening to the silence of grief, though. That silence is very loud and we ought not judge too harshly those who cannot bear it.

    Humbly
    Hermit
     
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