Jan 6, 2013
As a Catholic, I’m always working towards understanding my faith, living my faith, properly representing my faith, and lately: being in harmony with those who do not share my faith. A couple of years ago, I was an ignorant little brat, believing myself better than others who didn’t actually identify as Catholic despite going to a Catholic school. That mentality quickly faded away once high school began but that didn’t mean that I became “any less Catholic.”
I tried my best to keep a delicate balance between my more secular values and my, well, not so secular values. It’s hard. I still try to do this today. More often than not, my secular values seem to dominate over everything else but I still have this longing to grow in my faith and fully live it out.
Earlier on this semester, the campus bookstore was having a hallway sale. It was my break time, I had nothing better to do and the prices seemed cheap enough, so I went ahead and browsed for around half an hour. There were a couple of books that intrigued me but there was one book that kept me coming back to it. “Through the Narrow Gate: Life In and Out of the Convent” by Karen Armstrong.
This book is a memoir of Armstrong’s first 20 or so years of her life. In this journey we see her as a child, a young teenaged girl, a nun, and then back to a child. Despite the fact that the back of the book advertised the author’s falling out Catholicism and/or the convent, I bought it anyway. It was a great read and I completely fell in love with Ms. Armstrong’s writing.
Recently, I downloaded Apple’s “iTunes U” app for my iPod, hoping to find some interesting stuff about engineering and/or librarianship. I was quickly thrown off track with TED talks. Quickly browsing through some of their “courses” I decided to download “Understanding Islam.” One of my favourite videos in this course is “The Charter for Compassion.”
Once I saw Armstrong’s face appeared on the screen, I did not know it was her but I did know that she looked familiar. As she did her little intro and started talking in her English accent (in Through the Narrow Gate she mentions going to Oxford), I noticed her immediately.
In “The Charter for Compassion” Ms. Armstrong first talks about her fascination with Islam. She notes the similarities or the references Islam has with Christianity. Here comes the zinger: Ms. Armstrong then suggests that all religions expresses tolerance towards each other and therefore, she is launching. a “charter for compassion” that is devoted to uniting people of all faiths. It will promote true compassion towards the other and just being a decent human being.
Ms. Armstrong’s vision is beautiful. Unfortunately, it is not realistic but we can come close to it. If only the whole world could look upon other religions with the same curiosity and respect that she does.