Gee, I feel dumb asking this. OK, so. I’ve always been very big on religious literacy; IMO people, in order to be properly educated and ready to act as American citizens, should be familiar with the Bible and its influence in history, culture, law, and literature. We should know the difference between a Methodist and a Catholic. And of course we should know something about the world’s major religions–at least the basics, preferably a lot more. (If Americans had any idea of what Islam is about, we probably could have avoided a few problems over the last 40 years.) And we should be able to tell a Sikh from a Muslim (yes, I have a personal story about that). That fact that most Americans know diddly about any of this stuff is terrible.
So now that my older daughter is 8, it’s time to start properly. I have of course tried to teach her something about various religions and taken her to a few different church services. Christian services are no problem, I can handle those, and we even have a Benedictine monastery somewhere nearby, so I want to go hear Compline or something soon. And I can do Judaism.
But what about some other religions? There’s a sizeable Indian population in a city near here; there are a lot of Sikhs as well as Hindus. There’s a gurdwara and a Hindu temple (much newer; the gurdwara is 40 years old). But how in the world do I go about doing something like that? I can’t just show up on the doorstep and beg for someone to tell us about the place (I don’t think, can I?). So what do I do if I want to show up with my kid and learn stuff?
See, in my church, you could just show up on the doorstep and get a tour. It might not be very exciting actually, but everyone would be very happy to see you and answer any questions. But I’m pretty sure a lot of other folks don’t feel the same way, and I just don’t know how to go about this sort of thing. And I know I’d be completely overcome with self-consciousness if I tried it. I’d go all pink and speechless. I guess I need a Hindu friend, really, only we suffer from a dearth here because everyone lives over there, so I haven’t got one.
Yeah, OK, I’m an idiot. Help me! Or tell me to mind my own business and stay home.