Religion in general has always fascinated me. Born and raised Roman Catholic, by a devout Irish Catholic mother, the "bells and smells" of Mass were enchanting to a little girl. Plus I loved dressing up for Church. But, thanks to my Dad, other people's religions proved a source of fascination as well.
My Dad was a card carrying Agnostic, although his family was Jewish. (OK, he didn't actually have a card, but if one had been available Dad would have carried it.) His routine answer when asked about his faith was: "I'm not sure what I believe, how about you?"(That's my Dad in the middle with some army buddies circa 1943)
This authentic sense of curiosity and refreshing lack of "certainty" made him a magnet for religious conversations. He would meet a Buddhist in the checkout line at Safeway and come home telling us about "Dharma." He watched any PBS documentary on world religions and would tell his teenage kids, "You should turn off that crap (some would say the Brady Bunch had cultural merit, right?) and watch this show on Hinduism."
My Dad loved learning about all the major world religions, and I remember him saying to me, "Fredda, if you want to know what makes a person tick, find out what they think about religion and God. If you want to know how someone might justify killing another human being, ask them how their faith influences their beliefs about right and wrong." And my Dad was savvy enough to catch on to the fact that no two members of any one faith are ever in total agreement about all parts of that faith.
Dad loved pointing out how similar the main World Religions were if you got right down to it. "That Golden Rule is the Key," he would say. And he pointed out they all had their own versions of it. (And he found it super cool that Golden was his own last name. ) If I ever asked his advice about something that involved a value judgement, he would say with a twinkle, "Remember MY rule baby girl." (My Dad called me "Baby Girl" until the day he died, though I was well into my 30's.)
And shortly before my Dad passed away, at the in-house nursing home at VA Puget Sound Medical Center, I was perched on the side of his bed, reading him a book. Several strokes had left him unable to walk and barely able to speak. Looking at my beloved 84 year old father who had passed along so much wisdom, I made one final attempt on the religion thing. "So Dad", I queried, "do you believe in heaven?" "I'm not sure," he replied. "But whatever comes next I sure as hell don't think I'm going to be disappointed."
The PeaceTags' World Religion Collection and PeaceTags in general were inspired by Larry Golden. Something tells me there's a big smile on a certain Agnostic's face in heaven.
The PeaceTags World Religion Collection is currently available at participating retailers (check our website www.peacetags.com) They will be offered online via the website within the next few weeks.