(I) could never understand the fascination that Thomas Merton had with other religions…why should we look further if we believe the words Jesus spoke about himself “I Am The Way, The Truth and The Life…nobody can come to the Father but through me”.
Only Thomas Merton can speak to his reasons. Perhaps a Merton scholar in the readership here can cite a passage from his letters or books.
Speaking for myself, and looking among my friends, I am fascinated by the choices they make in religion. On a personal level, if I am interested in a person, by extension, I’m usually interested in what drives them, what makes them happy or fulfilled, and such.
I can imagine Christian and Buddhist monks might harbor a mutual fascination. How are they alike? How do they differ?
In each situation, the fascinated person may not be seeking direct theological insights, but rather more information about persons. Learning about a friend’s monasticism is more likely an indirect experience of God, if one is prepared to take one’s experience to deeper examen.
For me (I)slam is a false and twisted ideology born … of violence, spread by violence and fueled by violence. More than 100 passages in the (K)oran command violence against non-(Muslims). Certainly not a ‘religion of peace’.
Yes, this is difficult in the context of this moment. If you are moderately well-read in the Koran, then you have more expertise than most Christians on this point. I wouldn’t take a final talking point on the Koran seriously from anyone other than a Muslim. Of course, our friend Max would argue vehemently that Christianity, and perhaps no religions are “of peace.” But I wouldn’t take his word on anything having to do with religion.
The best we can say with accuracy is that many people who adhere to religion are women and men of peace. My sense is that to be a “person of peace” requires something of a personal commitment, beyond a casual practice of one’s faith. But that’s fodder for an in-depth essay on peace.
Beyond that, every religion has members, practitioners, and leaders who do not exemplify virtue. Some of these folks are true believers. And some are pretenders. How does one tell? I suppose one must study them carefully.
Some Christians think of themselves as evangelists, disciples, and apologists in the more neo-traditional sense. If so, it seems logical to want to know what others believe if one understands one’s mission is to convert them to Christ. The alternative is to treat everyone as uninformed duplicates of the self. Jesus’s words are powerful to Christians, certainly. But non-Christians have been reading the Gospels for centuries and millions walk away, unconvinced. I think we have to ask: why is that?