I wish to thank Irving Karchmar for his wonderfully interesting interview last week. I very much enjoyed reading and learning more of the Sufi Darvish faith. Thank you so much Irving!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Beth Chapman.
Beth is a Non-denominational/Buddhist and I know you will enjoy her post as well!
Here Is Beth Chapman's Introduction:
I am a writer (I write) who constantly looks at the world and asks "what if?" My background is in both philosophical anthropology and accounting. I work in the operations area of a manufacturing plant where, using stories and listening, I transform spreadsheets and numbers into people who work hard and try. I am a constant observer of people, our assumptions and perceptions. Life is a Rubik's Cube which I am constantly turning, always amazed at the patterns and sequences.
1) What religion do you practice?
I do not practice a ‘religion’. I practice, that is to say, work at every day, fail at every day, start over again every day, a belief system centered in hope, respect for all living things, and the fundamental or innate goodness in humankind.
2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I believe we are all born into this very simple belief system. I also believe that assumptions, perceptions, experiences and education (both nature and nurture) almost force us into a type of conversion. A conversion in the sense that we believe these things but have not discovered them or recognized them as essential and important to our existence- as individuals and as a universal community.
3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
Tricky one – what is the question? I will not moderate from my belief system – does that make me a conservative (smile)? I believe people need to express themselves and their experiences and should be so encouraged – does that make me a liberal or moderate (smile again). Before someone shouts ‘humanist’ or ‘relativist’ I believe that respecting all living things and the freedom to express ourselves and our experiences does not give you the right to take another’s expression away. It is not all ‘relative.’
4) In your opinion, what makes you moderate/conservative/other?
Beliefs, self expression, our very natures are so varied and unique that one must, by default, be open to other ways of doing things, the need to help others, etc.
5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
I would say you would have to ask them. I do believe, our world view and labels we are so addicted, and our assumptions about the fundamental nature of people would play a strong role.
6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
Where living out my belief system, my belief in myself and others, and others living out their belief system finds us all holding hands. The hands are different sizes, colors, unique, but able to hold hands in confidence, trust, laughter, struggles, failures and successes, and at the end of the day to look at the one we’re holding hands with and saying – “wasn’t it a grand day?”
7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I believe we can. There are days that I truly despair that we will or do. But in the end, my fundamental unwavering belief in hope wins out. So my answer would be we can. If we do not, if some do not, may the wonderful creative hands of life not look at me and say it was because I did not hold my hand out to them.
8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
It is grounded in hope and readily admits that my aspirations and actions may not always align, but I will try again and again, because I can, because I must, because I want to.
9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Oh my, every day I am alive is a holy day. Life is not to be taken for granted. I celebrate with lots of laughter, musing and pondering, asking ‘what if?’ and watching the faces of others and wrapping them in whatever way I can in hope.
10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Oh yes. I’m a student of other faiths.
11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes I do. I truly appreciate the ritual of setting aside days to reconnect with something fundamental. It forces us to pause and remember what is important to and in our lives. The ritual, the ceremony, the liturgy, the symbolism cries out for us all to remember, reflect and celebrate life.
12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I think this would fall under limiting another’s self expression and leave it at that.
13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
Women have never stopped being priests – ministers, the caregivers, healers and those who have passed down the faith of hope and renewal. The fact that they cannot earn a living, or wear certain vestments or say a prayer that will transform wine and bread into the body and blood of Christ is perhaps one of the most absurd ways an organized religion has limited our hope and our ability, if you will, to pray.
14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
I visit different organized places of worship, some do some don’t. You must remember, there are many ways to ‘segregate’ and all of them make my soul weep.
15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
On a ‘good day’ it is my daily life in that my thoughts, the way I walk, decisions, everything is filtered through these simple core beliefs. On a ‘not so good day’ when I let my perceptions, my weariness, my own needs take over, it is what brings me home. So yes, it affects my perception on all these types of societal issues.
16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
I’d probably say well done and then we’d have a cup of coffee and I’d become a student and listen.
17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
This one I cannot answer.
19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
I will truthfully answer yes. The why is really not important. Whenever anyone attacks another that is the only thing important.
20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes – even when I’m not listening.