Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Sikh, a Jew, and a Presbyterian Walk Into a Diner

No, despite the very politically incorrect way of starting this blog, there is no punchline. Instead, I wanted to share an observation with all of you. Over the last couple of weeks one of the blogs I follow is examining the issue of pluarlism (a philosophical view holding that reality is composed of various things or states, in contrast to monism, which holds that there is only one underlying reality). Specifically the blogger is exploring what it means for Christians to live in a pluralistic society like 21st Century America.

For some people the whole idea of plualism may sound foreign or a politically correct idea being forced upon them. But quite recently I saw a vivid example of pluralism right here in Twin Falls, Idaho. Kathy, Eric and I went out for lunch at Kelly's and soon, two booths away from us walked in two men, one being interviewed by the other for a job. The interviewer looked pretty typically Southern Idaho in dress and complexion. The interviewee, on the other hand, though dressed mostly in North American attire, had dark skin and was wearing a turban like headdress that made me think he might be a Sikh (an adherent of a monotheistic religion of India founded about 1500 by a Hindu under Islamic influence and marked by rejection of idolatry and caste). Like many others in the restaurant, Kathy and I gave this man a little bit more of a glance than anyone else, and other than that the two men blended in with the rest of the lunch crowd.

A little while later another couple walked in and sat down between the Price family and the two gentlemen from earlier. This couple was composed of a younger woman in her thirties and an older gentleman in his fifties wearing a yarmulke (a skullcap worn by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men).

No, I didn't approach either one and ask them their theological perspectives on life or what it is like to live in Southern Idaho and be so readily identified as "different", but it did make me think about how amazing and wonderful and challenging it is to live in 21st Century America. On the one hand it is amazing and wonderful that three monotheistic adherents could gather in three adjoining booths at Kelly's in downtown Twin Falls. On the other hand, with so much xenophobia and religious chauvinism, will our future be as diverse? Perhaps I'm just engaging in hyperbole, but if even Twin Falls can show so much diversity in one lunch hour, what will that mean for those of us who authentically want to show the love of God effectively in such a community?

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