Bag the Bullhorn
This last weekend, I attended a religious education conference in Anaheim. This conference is a diverse gathering of about 40,000. As the name suggests, it was originally designed for religious educators, but anyone is welcome to attend. There are three days of workshops, an exhibit hall with booths sharing everything from books to fair trade coffee, and full-sized replica of the Chartres labyrinth to take some silent time and walk. A friend of mine calls this conference a spiritual Disneyland.
Even with the enormous crowds, there was a spirit of camaraderie. We were all there to learn and share and grow, with workshop subjects ranging from The Racial Divide in the United States to The Power of Beauty. Something I noticed as I looked at the attendees’ faces was that they were open, and, for the most part, smiling.
There was only one jarring note. Outside the Anaheim Convention Center, where conference attendees were walking from the convention building to surrounding hotels for various workshops, stood a man with a bullhorn. He held a large picket sign, and informed us that we were doomed to hellfire because our faith tradition differed from his.
I didn’t engage with this man, but I did wonder what his intention was. Did he believe that blasting attendees with a bullhorn would result in conversion to his way of thinking? Was he honestly hoping to change our minds? Did he simply want to make us feel uncomfortable, or angry? Was he following his conscience, believing that it didn’t matter whether or not his message fell on deaf ears—it was his responsibility to share it?
I don’t know. What I believe is that our spiritual path is very personal, and every one of us has the sacred obligation to discern that path for ourselves. It’s very similar to living our Life Purpose; once we know what our Life Purpose is, and commit to living it, we each choose a unique, appropriate path to its fulfillment. That is the joy of understanding where you are going.
And a blast with a bullhorn is no help at all.