Daniel Goleman wrote in Social Intelligence: “our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person.” (p.4)
Although our own very existence is dependent on other people, we have, paradoxically, a resistance toward them. We seem to like others when they are like us and distance ourselves when they are different. Yet at a deeper level we crave for something different. Same ole, same ole gives us a sense of security and safety, yet it is not fully satisfying. We really need the other and the other really needs us.
Instead of isolating ourselves in parallel universes, we need to start flexing our reaching out muscle, we need to start practicing the art of the embrace. To help with this Samir Selmanovic wrote the book It’s really all about God. If you are anxious that he might ask you to give up your identity, your tradition and start compromising … you can RELAX!!! To the contrary, he’s proposing a way to better discover ourselves, to deepen our understanding. What I like about this book, is that it is “an attempt to step above, under, or sideways from our religions and look at them not merely as their adherents but as human beings.” [Italics mine] Samir does a wonderful job at this in his reflections and more importantly in the memoir of his personal story. For way too long we have approached our religions (or any belief system for that matter) in such an abstract way (we like to call it “spiritual”) that we forgot the human element essential to them. Samir brings us back to earth and puts our religions to the test of life, breaking the typical boundaries religions tend to set.
The only way we can stop the animosity between various faiths traditions is by seeing each other as fellow human beings and not objects of each other’s conquests.
If you’re interested in finding out which religion is the right one or trying to find a way to validate your tradition against the others … well, you will find the book not very satisfying.
Before you can appreciate though what the author is saying it’s important to understand the presuppositions underlying the book.
1. About God. After all, the book is It’s really all about God, right? The basic idea is that there really is only ONE God. This God created only ONE race, the human race and so He is personally invested and involved in each human being life (reflected in God’s image in each one of us). Here’s the kick. Although we have this human bond in common, each of us has been created unique. We each reflect God uniquely in our life. We each represent a facet of this wonderful diamond called humanity, reflecting the glory of God. So to get a better glimpse of the Divine we need each other.
2. About people. The author doesn’t operate from a dualistic view of humanity: us vs. them. Out of the first premise flows this second one which confers dignity to all people. Even if we have different stories and come from different backgrounds we all have the same access to the Divine. God does not restrict Himself from anyone. God does not have favorite children. Because God created us all, we all have equal inherent value and in turn something sacred (of value) to offer to all. The problem is, due to this openness on God’s side we tend to think that it is unique to us, to our tribe, to our religion and develop a superiority complex. We construct sophisticated language trying to contain God and our experience of Him. And so from something once beautiful we erect walls around to protect us against the other, not realizing that in so doing we cut ourselves from a fuller understanding of God.
With these few notes have a delightful reading !!!
For those who read the book, can you share some thoughts with us?
For those who have not or don’t plan to … why?
Is there anything in what I said that makes you uncomfortable? Can you share?
Here’s what’s coming next Monday: The unpredictable God of order