Post #4 Evaluating Intercultural Behaviour
It was the year 2003 and Paul and I arrived at Andrew’s house eager for a day of console games. As we made our way in, I noticed very unique features of the house. It was heavily decorated with Chinese words, symbols, statues of unfamiliar idols, stone lions and artistic crystal ornaments. Certain idols were provided an altar with burning incense.
Andrew and his family were devout Taoists, hence the appearance of the house. In contrast, Paul was a staunch Christian and was devastated with what he saw.
Paul: “Andrew! You can’t be worshipping demons!”
Andrew: “They are not demons! It’s my religion just like yours.”
Paul: “I know you think they are but there is only one God, and if you continue worshipping demons, you will burn in hell.”
Andrew: “By cursing me, it doesn’t make you Christians any better!”
Each religion tends to foster the belief that only their own is real. As such, two overzealous members of different religions engaging in a debate regarding the matter is a recipe for disaster. Paul was accustomed to the fact that any idol other than the Christian God is associated with evil. While there was a harmless motivation to spread his religion’s gospel, it would have been useful to be more accepting that Andrew was exposed to his culture through his background for most of his life and that even conversion could not happen overnight. Also, due to the nature of his religion, Andrew regarded “burning in hell” as an offensive remark rather than a mere suggestion of consequence. Yet by regarding Paul’s remark as a negative representation of Christians, Andrew has likewise committed an unreasonable judgment of another religion.
It is critical that we understand that religions are meant to give people a sense of identity and ultimately inculcate values as long as they do not involve immediate harm to people. Hence we should respect differences in traditions and customs while celebrating similarities of shared human culture.