A world of beliefs

During my university days, one of my favorite reads was Ninian Smart’s first book on worldviews. As Wikipedia puts it: “His concept of religions as worldviews, and his value-free approach to religious studies – that is, refraining from elevating a single understanding of ‘truth’ as some sort of evaluative criterion of religious authenticity – opened up for him the study of non-religious ideologies or worldviews.”

What this means is that there is no a priori reason to think that your worldview is more valuable than another.

I have also joined the Catholic Church recently and studied theology last year. In the Vatican II declaration Nostra aetate, conscious of its past tone of condemnation, the Church is intentional about highlighting what unifies, not what divides.

Today, the world has become so pluralistic as to embrace same-sex marriage in the US. For Christians at least, this is a time of reflection. On one hand, Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” On the other hand, we are living in a postmodern world of ‘truths’.

Where do we stand? How do we speak? (and more importantly, how do we listen? ) I would like to quote from a book I have studied at a religious retreat in May:

As we work to rebuild trust or to build it for the first time, we must pray and work to avoid the natural reactions to the distrust directed at us. We need to avoid such things as defensiveness, seeing ourselves as a “victim,” and avoiding or judging those who don’t trust us.

– Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus

Through this reminder, we recall basic but oft-neglected qualities like trust and respect in our encounters with others. Too often, we believe that this should only apply for our loved ones and not for strangers. But are we cognizant of the need for trust and respect in all human interactions?

Because of my idealist temperament, I have a deep affinity with the notion of trust and often wonder about its place in a world of ‘truths’. Meanwhile, a website like dialectic.sg is doing a good job at educating netizens about respect.

On this blog, I hope to record some reflections on love, dialogue, and understanding on matters of ethics and religion. Once again, I hope that you will enjoy reading my posts.


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