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Author Topic: Dealing with devout non-Christians  (Read 833 times)

Kairos

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Dealing with devout non-Christians
« on: January 23, 2014, 01:32:01 pm »
Some of my friend have spiritual beliefs which comes from, or are influenced by New Thought. I love and adore them, and I get so much joy from talking with them about spirituality. My problem is that there are many times when we talk about spirituality that I feel my beliefs are being radically misinterpreted or subsumed. At these times, I feel as though I'm not allowed to have my beliefs. It is as though they view my beliefs as underdeveloped, and that in time, I will see that I really agreed with them all along, or that I'm just using different words for the beliefs that they are trying to express.

To give one example, when I speak about my belief in a multitude of deities, their response isn't to say that I'm wrong, but that the deities which I believe in are ultimately from one source, a kind of overdeity or supreme god. I know that there are polytheists who believe in things much like that, but I don't and when I try to tell them that I feel they have misinterpreted my belief, they say I am being argumentative.

I know that I can be argumentative at times, which means that I might seem like I am arguing instead of explaining or clarifying, or that I think I'm explaining or clarifying when I am really arguing.

As I said, I love and adore these friend. I don't want to stop talking with them about spirituality. So my question is how do I deal with this situation? Should I just let these things go and just keep quiet for the sake of our friendship? Or is there another way to handle things?
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baduhmtisss

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Dealing with devout non-Christians
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 01:47:11 pm »
Quote from: Kairos;137516
Some of my friend have spiritual beliefs which comes from, or are influenced by New Thought. I love and adore them, and I get so much joy from talking with them about spirituality. My problem is that there are many times when we talk about spirituality that I feel my beliefs are being radically misinterpreted or subsumed. At these times, I feel as though I'm not allowed to have my beliefs. It is as though they view my beliefs as underdeveloped, and that in time, I will see that I really agreed with them all along, or that I'm just using different words for the beliefs that they are trying to express.

To give one example, when I speak about my belief in a multitude of deities, their response isn't to say that I'm wrong, but that the deities which I believe in are ultimately from one source, a kind of overdeity or supreme god. I know that there are polytheists who believe in things much like that, but I don't and when I try to tell them that I feel they have misinterpreted my belief, they say I am being argumentative.

I know that I can be argumentative at times, which means that I might seem like I am arguing instead of explaining or clarifying, or that I think I'm explaining or clarifying when I am really arguing.

As I said, I love and adore these friend. I don't want to stop talking with them about spirituality. So my question is how do I deal with this situation? Should I just let these things go and just keep quiet for the sake of our friendship? Or is there another way to handle things?

Oh dear. This would bother me enough that I would not talk to them about the subject, just for the sake of the friendship, if I adored somebody that much. But, I would explain the way your feeling to them in much the same way you just explained it here. I thought you seemed perfectly polite and very much not argumentative.

I also would like to say that there comes a point when a discussion becomes more of a hindrance then a help. (Personal opinion here) If you enjoy conversations with them, but they consistently say things like "You're wrong, this is what you really think", then the discussion ceases to be helpful, and starts to get into the territory where the other members of the discussion are being sort of oppressive. Whether they intended to or not. Your beliefs are your own, and standing up for them does not make you argumentative.

Just my thoughts and opinions. I am sure other members have much better advice though.
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Jenett

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Re: Dealing with devout non-Christians
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 03:48:38 pm »
Quote from: Kairos;137516

I know that I can be argumentative at times, which means that I might seem like I am arguing instead of explaining or clarifying, or that I think I'm explaining or clarifying when I am really arguing.

As I said, I love and adore these friend. I don't want to stop talking with them about spirituality. So my question is how do I deal with this situation? Should I just let these things go and just keep quiet for the sake of our friendship? Or is there another way to handle things?

 
In a situation where you like these people and want to talk about it, I think that keeping "just not talking about it" as an option for later is good, but trying to work it out clearly at least once is probably better. (I mean, as long as you can presume that it is general good will on both sides.)

However, it's something where you need to be very clear about what's going on - talk about it as its own thing, not try to deal with it in the middle of another conversation.

How about finding a time to say "Hey, there's been something that's been bugging me. When I talk about my religious and spiritual life, I feel like you keep telling me that I believe something different than what I actually believe. I understand that you've got your own beliefs about how the universe fits together, but so do I.

I really want to talk about this part of my life with people I care about - and that includes you - but when you tell me I believe something different than what I do, it makes me feel like you're not listening to what's important to me. Can we figure out a way to avoid that, or to make it easy to let you know that you're doing it, so we can go another direction with the conversation?"

Something about that clear. And then sit back and listen and see what they say. If it's "Oh, gosh, didn't realise I was doing it that much." you can probably sort it out. Have some examples ready (like the ones in this post, maybe a couple more from recent conversations you've had). If they blow you off, or don't take the issue seriously, then you can move to 'just don't talk about it with them'

(Though, honestly, blowing off a "this thing is serious for me" conversation makes me reevaluate how close I want to be to someone in general: it's the kind of thing that will move someone from friend-friend to shared-activity-person in my head.)
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Kairos

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Re: Dealing with devout non-Christians
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 06:13:12 pm »
Quote from: RainbowSnake;137519
Oh dear. This would bother me enough that I would not talk to them about the subject, just for the sake of the friendship, if I adored somebody that much. But, I would explain the way your feeling to them in much the same way you just explained it here. I thought you seemed perfectly polite and very much not argumentative.

I also would like to say that there comes a point when a discussion becomes more of a hindrance then a help. (Personal opinion here) If you enjoy conversations with them, but they consistently say things like "You're wrong, this is what you really think", then the discussion ceases to be helpful, and starts to get into the territory where the other members of the discussion are being sort of oppressive. Whether they intended to or not. Your beliefs are your own, and standing up for them does not make you argumentative.

Just my thoughts and opinions. I am sure other members have much better advice though.

I went for a walk with my Goddess and I "heard" a thought that I should not speak about my beliefs unless I was directly asked and not correct anyone's idea about what I believe unless they ask me to clarify some aspect. I'm not sure if this thought came from me or Her. I can imagine it would be something She might say. Things that are hidden or mysterious are part of Her domain. But the message, if it was a message, was not so clearly from Her as other ones have been.

I know She was with me because she showed me so much beauty that I cried a tear out of sheer awe. Then She scared me witless shortly afterwards. I just don't know if She spoke to me.

The thought of keeping quiet unless I am asked has a certain appeal to it. I'm not one for shouting out my beliefs to all and sundry, and I'm not looking to change anyone else's beliefs. But, you know, I kind of feel that its a disservice to all my pagan brothers and sisters, if I keep my beliefs semi-secret.

Quote from: Jenett;137532
In a situation where you like these people and want to talk about it, I think that keeping "just not talking about it" as an option for later is good, but trying to work it out clearly at least once is probably better. (I mean, as long as you can presume that it is general good will on both sides.)

However, it's something where you need to be very clear about what's going on - talk about it as its own thing, not try to deal with it in the middle of another conversation.

How about finding a time to say "Hey, there's been something that's been bugging me. When I talk about my religious and spiritual life, I feel like you keep telling me that I believe something different than what I actually believe. I understand that you've got your own beliefs about how the universe fits together, but so do I.

I really want to talk about this part of my life with people I care about - and that includes you - but when you tell me I believe something different than what I do, it makes me feel like you're not listening to what's important to me. Can we figure out a way to avoid that, or to make it easy to let you know that you're doing it, so we can go another direction with the conversation?"

Something about that clear. And then sit back and listen and see what they say. If it's "Oh, gosh, didn't realise I was doing it that much." you can probably sort it out. Have some examples ready (like the ones in this post, maybe a couple more from recent conversations you've had). If they blow you off, or don't take the issue seriously, then you can move to 'just don't talk about it with them'

(Though, honestly, blowing off a "this thing is serious for me" conversation makes me reevaluate how close I want to be to someone in general: it's the kind of thing that will move someone from friend-friend to shared-activity-person in my head.)

Speaking with the younger ones might help. They tend to treat me more like an equal. The older ones are more of a problem. They've kind of taking it on themselves to be the teachers our group. I think that they will see any attempt to talk with them about this issue as an excuse to "correct" me, rather than work with me.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 06:14:18 pm by Kairos »
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Jenett

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Re: Dealing with devout non-Christians
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 06:31:25 pm »
Quote from: Kairos;137542

Speaking with the younger ones might help. They tend to treat me more like an equal. The older ones are more of a problem. They've kind of taking it on themselves to be the teachers our group. I think that they will see any attempt to talk with them about this issue as an excuse to "correct" me, rather than work with me.

 
Ok, that's a bit of important context that you left out of your original post.

Are these people friends you just know through mutual interests, or are they friends in a specific context?

If it is a religious or spiritual group context, then - well, part of the thing about those is that there may be some standard beliefs or practices or approaches most people share, and *in the context of the group working together*, some beliefs or approaches may be more acceptable or desired than others.

In which case, them correcting you, or trying to put your beliefs into the context of the group may be frustrating (and may be a sign that this is not a suitable spiritual group for you). But it involves a different kind of solution than it would if you were just talking to friends as peers, in a social setting.

Can you expand a bit more on the situation? It'd likely help people give you much more helpful advice.
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