Jun. 12th, 2017

conuly: (Default)
I was an atheist. (And hey, I'm still an atheist!)

But, you know, I had questions about this religion thing. Some extremely vehement atheists are all "Children shouldn't learn about religion at all!", but this strikes me as completely the wrong approach. Most of the world is religious. We have to live with them. Better to give them a fair and even-handed amount of information about all major religions (and a good number of minor ones) so they can come to their own conclusions. You don't want them to conclude you're hiding stuff from them, anyway.

But I digress. I have a point here, not just a soapbox. I asked my mother once about saints in Catholicism. This was logical, because she was raised Catholic, so she really ought to know. And the way she described it to me is that sometimes, you pray to a saint rather than directly to God because it's kind of like asking your parents to talk to the teacher for you. They have a little extra pull, and also, the right saint presumably understands your situation through deep personal experience.

This explanation made perfect sense to me.

Now that I'm grown, though, and know many more Christians and ex-Christians than I did as a child, I wonder if a better explanation here might use the language of prayer circles. Sometimes Christians ask other Christians to pray for them, and Catholics do the same as Protestants, except that sometimes the Christians they're asking to pray for them are saints, not neighbors.

(This is another reason why I actually think all kids should learn comparative religion in school. The level of inter-religious ignorance going around is astounding. "Catholics worship saints!" is actually fairly minor compared to what I heard this weekend, which was 17 flavors of "Muslims worship Mohammed!" I don't have an easy analogy to explain why that last one is absurd, but I'm going to trust that everybody reading this knows it is.)

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