Sanchez: On bigotry

I FEEL blessed exchanging thoughts with my fellow Feaster, Sis Riznie Sevilla. She asked for my views on the New Age teaching. It’s really popular right now and like all the other ideologies, it has its misconceptions as well.

New Age, according to Wikipedia, is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure, which to me sounds and tastes like chopsuey.

I’m not a bigot. As a Christian and human rights advocate, I respect people of different faiths. In my spiritual journey back to the Catholic faith, I have been exposed to various influences: through Revo Yanson, the SunStar Bacolod editorial artist, I have been introduced to vegetarianism of Hinduism, and from vegetarianism to Buddhism.

I often eat vegetarian meals in Sian Tian in Burgos Street and Fa Tzang Bodhi Grove Chinese Temple or Fo Guang Shan Yuan Thong Temple where before meals, their leader says the Buddhist grace before meals.

I said mine in the Catholic grace before meals after making the sign of the cross, signaling that I honor and praise my Father Abba.

I have many Muslim friends. One is Sultan Maguid Maruhom, a fellow member of Amnesty International. We were roommates in an AI meeting. We got to exchange views on interfaith dialogs. Our point of convergence is of course respect for human rights.

Before I became a charismatic and now called a Brother or shortened to Bro, Indonesian Sufi Muslim Hussein Faizal and I called each other Brother. In Montreal, Bro Faizal visited Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral together with other Catholics.

His conflict was often with a fellow Shi’ite Muslim when he criticized wudu, the ritual washing the hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, head and feet with water. He was unable to resist Islamic norm of an arranged marriage to an Indonesian Muslim, instead of to the Canadian Catholic he had a romantic relationship whom he wanted to marry.

I loved these friends where we can agree on common values. Does that make me a New Ager? I don’t think so. My inspiration was the life of Jesus and his parable of the Good Samaritan. Perhaps the Samaritans – the Jews’ hated rival – were the first “New Agers.”

Samaritans were a racially mixed society with Jewish and pagan ancestry.

Although they worshiped Yahweh as did the Jews, their religion was not mainstream Judaism. They accepted only the first five books of the Bible as canonical. Because of their imperfect adherence to Judaism and their partly pagan ancestry, the Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews.

We know how the Lord approached the Samaritans, even made one the good guy in the parable. “While I may disagree with you on your views on sexuality,” says Pastor Rick Warren who prays the Catholic Divine Mercy prayer, “this does not give me the right to demean you, to demoralize you, to defame you, to turn you into a demon.”

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