Pluralism illustrated… What Oreos and North American religion have in common

In North America, religious conversation seems to be getting more relaxed in a way that would seem like good news for Christians. We are allowed to talk about Christianity more with people in how it relates to religious belief systems on the whole without seeming like a threat. And more people seem to be saying to devoted followers of Christ that they too admire the person of Jesus and even have faith in Him. The problem that is increasingly occurring to me is that as I engage in conversation with people about “how this Jesus guy fits into the mix of things,” that’s exactly what it becomes for many people – a mix. Jesus is no longer an Oreo among cookies…among which there is no comparison.

There just isn’t any other cookie that could be mistaken for an Oreo. An Oreo is still a cookie; it has the properties of a cookie and can be defined as a cookie by its characteristics. But the Oreo used to stand out. (In fact, it is still claiming to be Milk’s favorite.) But if the cookie aisle were to continue on the trajectory it is on, it would eventually become the Oreo aisle. The variety of this one beloved kind of cookie is exploding! And all the sudden, the parameters for what defines an Oreo are being held loosely, they are expanding, some are falling away completely to add more variety for the consumer’s customization, pallet, and personal preference. Let us have as many versions of one thing as we possibly can so that we can all live in “peace” and be “ok” as we satisfy our own egocentric view of what the best Oreo should be as if it wasn’t Oreo that originally defined itself. [Peace is not, it seems, being unmistakably sure of the identity of the Oreo and knowing confidently whether one wants an Oreo or not.] This is pluralism. And when it comes to cookies, I’m not saying this is bad. I would be a hypocrite to say so, in fact. But this is telling of how our cultural mindset is changing. And it is good to be aware of as Christians engage in religious dialogue (in the broad sense…or “cookie” level) with others.

P.S. If there was only one other variety of Oreo besides the original, I would want it to be Double Stuff. This is a spiritual parallel in itself.

Closing Note: As I begin to blog again (hopefully more regularly and fruitfully for a change), I am not seeking to make definitive statements in hopes of impressing people or conform readers to my way of thinking as if Abingdon can’t wait to get a hold of my ideas and print them in mass. Now that I am a pastor of a church, I recognize why newsletter articles were actually once very valuable to people and are to some still. This blog will go beyond that. My hopes are that I can say things that trigger thoughts perhaps someone has not had as they walk the road of their Christian faith and that I can begin conversations that others can pick up and offer reflections that help further growth. So feel free to offer a different perspective, a corrective, questions, or comments of any kind.

Grace and peace,
Jonathan

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