Teaching Falsehoods…

I’m beginning a fifty day research trip to bolster my teaching. I love to teach. The only jobs I’ve ever had are teaching what I love: music (piano teacher) and travel (tour guide/writer). Crossing a border they ask me my profession. I say teacher. But much as I try, I teach falsehoods. I try to be unbaised…but, like any teacher or journalist, my reporting is seen through my lens and is therefore distorted. With more readers, I get more friendly scrutiny.

In keeping with the global perspective I like to nurture, I want to think God and Allah are the same creator–but today I’m reminded firmly via email that the Christian God is “triune” (three-in-one–father, son and holy spirit) and Allah is just one.

When my boy Andy was just 3 or 4 I taught him to finish table prayers by putting his hands straight out, bobbing them up an down and saying “Allah, Allah, Allah”…just to freak out his ethno-centric grandpa. Now I realize I may have been mixing up my Gods. Oops.


26 Replies to “Teaching Falsehoods…”

  1. Rick,

    Thanks for blogging and taking us along for the ride. My wife and I are just a few weeks back from our trip through Vienna and Slovenia. We were very impressed with the suggestions in your guides — In Vienna especially the Opera for $2 Euros, the ring trolley tour and the restaurants. We had an enjoyable few days at Pension Suzanne.


  2. Mixing up gods eh? Yeh… if you get too relative you might not even find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

    You can also make the argument that the world as you see it is what it is, as it is your perception of it. In the end the only perception that matters is yours.

    If you’re a “Christian” the bible is your reality. Spend your time trying to see things as Christ did/does.

    Mankind is easily offended. you shouldn’t feel bad about being an American or a Westerner. Diedrich Bonhoeffer was a German living under the Nazi flag but he was a good man. He was a model German citizen (not Hitler). You shouldn’t feel bad about being a Christian in a time where you disagree with the so called U.S. “Christian” administration. Martin Luther was a proud Christian in a highjacked corrupt religious climate. He was a model citizen of heaven. Do not let others define what you are a part of.

    Being at home in your culture is not a sin. Being ethno-centric is not a sin

  3. You might deduce from my email tag that I’m an adherent of Advaita, one of the several philosophies within Hinduism. To a Hindu, behind the many names of God, there is one true entity. The god of the Moslems and the god of the Jews shares a root name and attributes. The trinity is a separate development that was not as well known to Mohammad (or at all, depending on your reading of history).

    If the bible is your “reality,” Rick, you’ll lose too much empathy for more than three quarters of the world’s cultures. My personal philosophy is that where the different religions agree is the heart of spirituality and where they disagree is mostly dogma intended to keep tithes coming in.

  4. I don’t think you were too far off, Rick. God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna — all routes to the same ultimate Reality. Man created dogma and the belief that only one religion is right. If that’s true, which religion IS right? One is right and everyone else in the world that worships differently is wrong? Sorry, not buying it. My view ticks off fundamentalists (of all stripes), but it’s this — I think the big picture is far bigger than we humans can ever imagine. And as long as we serve our god (whoever we conceive Him or Her, or Them, to be) – or even if you don’t believe in a god, as long as we treat each other with love, kindness and respect — then we are OK. Isn’t that the belief that basically underlies all “religions”?

  5. Sorry, but I would like to take the unpopular opinion that the difference between all “religion” is whether you call Jesus Christ your one and only God and Saviour. There is no way around it. Either Jesus was speaking truth or He was a nut. He said He was God and the only way to heaven. You can’t believe that and believe that there are other gods. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies that were not by the way “fortune cookie” prophesies. They were very detailed and all came true. Don’t be afraid to test the Bible and see if you can disprove it. If you can then let me know. If not then make sure you have studied it before discounting it as the truth. One last thing, regarding the last post…who says that we need to treat each other with love, kindness and respect? Why is that the truth for everyone? If everything is relative than there is no true moral standard. Therefore killing,hatred,and everything else goes,if you feel like that is your reality.

  6. Lovely name, Heather, it refers to heath, a damp ground with grasses and low-lying shrubs. Biblical scholars have published tomes of disputing theories on how the bible was written. Even conservative scholars have to admit to a certain amount of redaction, wherein later writers added in prophecies to seemingly predict events that were current at the time. As with any good fortune-teller, enough ambiguity was added to allow for almost any interpretation. Accept your religion on faith, as you should, but don’t think that you can use the bible as pure fact and expect anyone else to not question it. This is all done better in different forums and I apologize for adding to the digression.

  7. If you can disprove scripture, as written, then you can disprove the claims of Christ already quoted by Heather. And if you can do that, then the entire Christian faith is the greatest farce ever cooked up, with the possible exception of the theory of evolution perhaps, lol!

    No one, not even Dan Brown (and the Holy Blod Holy Grail authors he plagiarized his ideas from), has been able to do so as of yet without their theories being shown for what they are.

    If one takes the time to read and understand the claims of Christ, there is no way you can compare Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever other “ism” you prefer to belief in Christ as the way to salvation and rationally conclude that all pathways “lead” to the same destination.

    That’s a human invention borne out ignorance/indifference/misinformation that helps us to feel better about ourselves and the choices we’ve made in our lives.

    Convenient yes. But ultimately pointless.

  8. This is rapidly devolving into a religious discussion, and of COURSE everyone thinks his or her religion is the right and only one. (Except, of course, for Unitarian Universalists, who believe all religions are right…or atheists, who believe all religions are wrong!) No surprise a few Christians have popped in to defend their faith. And don’t forget, any upright Muslim will believe just as strongly in the word of the Qu’ran and that there’s no debating or disproving THAT, either. You could take out the words “Christ” and “Christian” in the Christians’ posts above, and substitute “Allah” and “Islam” and have them read pretty much the same. “Our religion is right and everyone else is just wrong — and I’d like to see ya disprove it!” (Sigh.) The beauty of faith is that it doesn’t HAVE to be proved or disproved (and certainly can’t be proved in the way a scientific theory is proved). It just IS.

  9. Religion threatens people, I know. But I’m not sure why…..

    Anyway, what I’m challenging people to do is read AND understand what Christ’s claims are, what Mohammed is saying, what the teachings of the Vedas suggest, what Buddha, Confucius, and others are saying, and then try to come away from that analysis and “still” claim that all faiths are essentially the same — that they point towards the same destination. If you’re honest, it’s impossible to do that.

    To suggest that one can simply substitute Christ’s name with that of Allah demonstrates a lack of understanding of what these belief systems teach.

    Everyone has a right to believe what they want. I’m no evangelist and it certainly was never my intention to come to a “travel website” and force my beliefs on anybody.

    But, again, to suggest that one faith is interchangeable with another demonstrates a convenient lack of knowledge on matters of supreme importance.

    I leave the last word to anyone interested.

  10. “I’m no evangelist and it certainly was never my intention to come to a “travel website” and force my beliefs on anybody.”

    But I will do it anyway, enuff said.

  11. Isn’t freedom of speech – and freedom of religion great?! How sad that religion is the basis for war. Still, how great the world is. Thank you, Rick Steeves, for sharing so much of it with us – and for helping us to see some of it ourselves. God bless us, everyone!

  12. You say you are a Christian. This is so easy, that means you are a follower of Jesus Christ. If you are a follower of Mohammad that’s your choice. Find out about Christ and find out about Mohammad and decide. For me Mohammad was a false “prophet”, a child molestor and an very evil man so it would be difficult for me to be his follower. Christ said He was God and proved it so that’s an important part of why I have decided to follow Jesus. Dick

  13. I’ve always observed that sports and religion both divide people and bring them together. Travel gives you the opportunity to celebrate/ponder other teams…here’s hoping everyone obsorbs a bit of the greatness passed down from a calidescope of generations, and learns from the not-so-great paths some teams have taken.
    All for one and one for all and some for all three ! Variety is the spice of life. May everyone find their own inner satisfaction with the team(s) of their choice.

  14. This is the 21st century! High time we dump all that pig-ignorant primitive superstition. Acknowledge the fact that there is no God and Jesus is a fraud. 4000 totally innocent men, women, and children died 9-11 because there is no “Great Pumpkin”, by any name, protecting us. Considerably more totally innocent men, women, and children are dying in Iraq because no one is protecting the Moslems either. Only human kind can solve our problems, or not. Superstition has never solved our problems.

  15. Thanks Steve (and protogee!) for the great blog!

    When we travel we become seekers. We seek beauty, truth and peace.
    A little prayers for my traveling comrades…
    Let us look into the face of ones we cannot understand and find in our hearts to not judge.
    Let us look at the wonders of this world and choose to love.
    Let us give freely to those in need as we hope those we meet along the way will give to others.
    In Christ,
    a happy traveler

  16. Rick S. –God is only triune if you are a trinitarian Christian. There are of course those who are not, some of whom began the Unitarian church, now part of the Unitarian Universalist Association. They believed that the unitary God, not the triune one, was actually the God of Christian scripture.

    Re the responses on this blog: A former minister of mine always said that the fundamentalists/literalists of any faith have more in common with each other than with their own supposed co-religionists. Ditto the progressives/liberals of any faith. A value that many religious liberals hold dear is tolerance and respect for other belief systems, often a search for common ground. Literalist believers of any stripe don’t have that value, thus the kind of disagreement we are seeing here.

  17. Great comments by all except for this one by “Tuck:”

    “But I will do it anyway, enuff said.”

    Religion threatens people. Thanks for so clearly illustrating my point. You rock!

  18. It so saddens me to see such dogmatic intolerance on a website and blog that celebrates the concept that we are all–wherever we live–people with families and aspirations and faith. Christians who belittle and demean the faiths and experiences of those of us who choose other paths certainly do not carry on the teachings of Jesus as I have read them. I wish my Christian friends joy in their celebrations, I cry with them in their sorrows, and I respect their faith. My true Christian friends will do the same for me, without snide comments that my Jewish faith is not good enough. I do believe that all religions are metaphors for the search for meaning in the universe. Whatever God/gods there may be, if their power is so great, I cannot believe their compassion is so limited. It is man who pollutes the religious message–no matter what religion it is–through his faulty understanding. Peace.

  19. Oops. said it all. I loved it. Made me laugh out loud!

    I’ve been a fan of yours shows for years. Now an instant fan (and subscriber) of your blog. Thank you so much for starting it. Give your son a pat on the back for his inspiration.

  20. As you travel in Eastern Europe, try to get to Cluj in Transylvania. Unitarian Churchs have survived there for centuries, largely due to the history of being protected by a sixteenth century king who was Unitarian and promulgated a policy of religious tolerance. Before and after that, however, ever since the vote at the Council of Nicae in 325 A.D., Unitarian Christians have been considered heretics by the triune crowd.

    American Unitarian Universalists don’t really believe all religions are right, but rather that each religion is picking up on pieces of a divine truth which is continually being revealed. Every religion also is producing many falsehoods as they attempt to give people a final answer about God, Allah, Yahweh, or whatever you want to call that divine truth. I just appreciate anyone who is willing to examine and revise their beliefs in the light of new information. Bright Blessings on you, Rick Steves!

  21. Some people took my comments as intolerant towards other religions. If Intolerant means that I choose not to believe in any other god but Jesus Christ, than I am. However, that does not mean that I want to kill or fight or harm anyone that believes otherwise. I just want to be able to speak my beliefs and to have those beliefs contemplated as others do. When you say you are a Christian, you automatically get labeled as someone who doesn’t love others. I think it’s because some people who say they are Christians don’t act like Christains. Does that mean that all Christians don’t love? Muslims don’t all hate the United States but certain extremist groups do. I shouldn’t then think that all Muslims want to bomb my country, should I? To love someone doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them on everything, does it? My belief in Jesus as the only way to Heaven is offensive and I understand that. Jesus Himself said it would be. I still love people who have other beliefs. Peace :)

  22. Consider the possibility of there being no got at all. Wouldn’t all the worry, killing, etc. be a huge wast of time, energy, and life? Perhaps that effort could be actually spent in bettering our lives here and now.

  23. Travel and religion – wow! What a concept!

    The triune God is a human construct – not a God thing. Seems to me that if we all lived more like Jesus and Allah LIVED, and less like their followers live, we’d all be more true to their teachings.

    Travel gives us the opportunity to meet those followers and discover that we’re all far more similar than dissimilar.

    Keep on traveling!

  24. i’m an atheist and share the views above of ‘jesus’ 7/14/06….i believe there is no god. but i do admit to thoroughly appreciating the art, music, architecture and immense beauty religions have brought into our world. i won’t mention all the killings here. passive religion is harmless and even a good out for those who really do not believe, but only claim to in order to avoid ridicule, ostracism, or in some places, death. we americans are teenagers, yet to wise up, in our grasp of history and the effects of traditions on nations. we must travel with open minds, and now more than ever, be good embassadors….always….

  25. It seems some commenters are confused about Buddhism. The Buddha was not a god, and he it not held as a god. He was a King in India at around 2500 B.C. He left his life as a king, and set out to free himself from suffering and gain understanding of the world. He was the first person to achieve Nirvana, or a state of mind where one is equanimous with everything, so one does not suffer. Buddhism follows his teachings to end suffering through various practices. That is what Buddhism basically is, in a dumbed down version.

    Buddhism does not answer or concern itself with the question of “gods”, as it is irrelevant to the aim of Buddhism.

    It is more helpful to think of Buddhism as a 2500 year old version of self-psychotherapy than a “religion”.

Comments are closed.