Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Religious Dinner Table

When I taught World Religions, I used a metaphor to explain how I thought the conflicting religions of the world could possibly get over their centuries of acrimony.  This is really not a new idea, but a nice dream. This class was right around lunchtime, and so many of the metaphors and references had to do with food, so bear with me.

Imagine a large circular dinner table, if you will, with no head- like Camelot's Round Table.  At the table are the leaders of all the religions of the world.  The Pope, the Dalai Lama, Bishops, Rabbis, Voodoo guys, the LDS President, there's even room for the Scientologists.  Just don't send Tom Cruise because there are rules about jumping on the furniture.

Everyone is seated and comfortable, and lunch is about to be served.  On the menu at the religious dinner table is Pizza.  Why pizza? Well, for 2 reasons, one- as my uncle says it's like sex, when it's good it's great, and when it's bad it's still pretty good,  And two- it is the one food that I have found most people can agree on.

That said, pizza can be difficult to agree on.  I personally like a thin crust with pepperoni, olives and mushrooms.  My wife likes Hawaiian.  I hate Hawaiian and she hates pepperoni and olives, so how if we can't agree on pizza how will all the world's religious leaders?  The Jews won't have Canadian Bacon, but might want a New York style, the Catholics will want meat and Chicago style, but not on Friday and the Vegan Pagans will want soy cheese and a gluten free crust.  I smell more acrimony brewing.

Okay, well let's have them agree to disagree on toppings, sauces, cheeses, crust styles, etc. everyone gets their own personal pizza.  How then, if each za is different does the metaphor work?  I say focus not on the type of pizza, but on the fact that despite that some like the Hut and others Dominos, everyone can agree that pizza in some form is good, or at least acceptable.

Religion is the same as pizza.  If my wife and I can have friends over and decide to eat pizza, but not get bogged down in the details, perhaps those in power can put aside some of their issues and agree on the basic concept of dough with some fixings, then perhaps they can go the next step to mending some of the oldest conflicts on the planet.  Pizza is not called the perfect food for nothing, people.

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