Does our path make us religious mongrels?

I got called a “mongrel” last weekend and I have to admit that I do not disagree.

Let me explain.

About a week ago I attended the Midwest Missional Conference in Chicago. I was thrilled that this year’s main topic was how ecumenical dialogue, especially when it comes to perspectives on mission, needs to improve. With the world the way that it is, it seems obvious to so many how important understanding is between difference faiths. However, little is discussed on how much better our shared space could be if there was a conscious effort within Christian denominations to put aside differences and work on the common good. Imagine how much better our lives as a whole would be if there was better understanding between Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Methodists, etc.?

A lot of this conference was talking about some improvements made, leaders in the dialogue efforts, and the discussion on how difficult this process actually is for people who are committed to it.

As we were listening to the speakers, one man stood up and mentioned that he actually does not think that it is that difficult at all. In fact, most of us do it every day. We, as individuals, are personally living a unity and complexity that many organizations have found difficult to execute.

Many of us have complicated and intricate religious paths that have lead us to where we are today. It even seems more and more rare to meet someone who is a “cradle-to-grave” believer that never doubted, never read other religious texts, never liked something another denomination does, or never went to a friend’s church who wasn’t their faith. Just because many of us choose to belong to a certain denomination does not mean that we, as individual believers, have a faith that fits perfectly within the exact outline of said denomination. “In a sense” the commenter stated, “we are all mostly mongrels. Even if our organizations have trouble, we as individuals have intense ecumenical dialogue both with our community and within ourselves.”

Ever since he said that I cannot stop thinking about it. For me, this is very true. I am a religious and ecumenical mongrel…and it is a beautiful thing that can lead to more understanding.

So much of the foundation of dialogue is reconciliation and seeing the humanity of the other person. If you agree with this conference commentator, we as individuals can start to pave the way for our respective institutions by doing what we do naturally—living communally with all that the world has to offer.