a piecing together of thoughts on faith and life

When I was at the San Diego Catholic Worker the other weekend, listening to a lecture on understanding Islam and especially its commonalities with Christianity and specifically, with Catholicism, I was captivated by the concept the speaker brought up of din, an arabic term meaning religion or way of life.

Din (Arabic) is defined a life-way or religion particularly in Islam... The entire system is sometimes referred to din wa-dawla, religion and state (combined), there being no distinction within Islam between religion and politics.

(5/8/07 free-writing) Hmmm... isn't it odd that so much of the church's time is sent on teaching theology and orthodoxy, what are the right things to think and believe - about the world, or God, or people - instead of on how to actually live out Christianity? I mean, there are whole sections of bookstores labeled "Christian living," but for the most part, they just talk about being nice, praying, and reading your Bible. Sometimes how to think. But never about din, about your way of life, about the day-to-day and your whole way of looking at the world, all your status quo assumptions. Never about economics or politics, about the very decisions our lives depend on. If I have a faith, a religion, I do want it to be my din- part of my very soul and identity, from which I cannot separate any part of my life. Else, what is its purpose? I don't want a Christianity that is meaningless and useless during my earth-life - I want one that guides me and is present with me every moment and in every choice.

(And today) I love this concept of din- of a faith being a way of life, as I know Lily has talked about it being for her Muslim students... I want this for my faith... that it is truly my way of life, my worldview. I don't understand this compartmentalization of the sacred and the secular in our society, and how it is generally so accepted in churches. i hear over and over again from pastors i respect that they often receive comments from parishoners like, "you should stick to your area of expertise." But if my Christianity is not relevant to all of my life, every decision and realm of who I am, then is it worth it? If my faith is just about what the right things to believe are or how to pray right or being sure I get into heaven, it is just not enough for me. I need more. I need din, or nothing.
And I think that's okay. The teachings of Jesus seem to point that way- often giving social commentary and describing a new way to be in the world, how to be a part of a new Kingdom of God that is coming, and has come already. That is what I want my faith to be. One that guides each of my decisions... not saying that God thinks I should drink the better-tasting Coke rather than Pepsi, but that perhaps I should look at the practices of both Coke and Pepsi, look at the ways they are exploiting workers and destroying the water tables in the third-world countries where they have their plants, and work on my diet cola addiction.
And I want to know the truth, even if it takes work to find it, and even if finding it means I have to change my actions. Because I think all truth brings me closer to God, and closer to figuring out how my faith can be my life-way.

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