Previous conversations usually centre around the mundane (work) or bloke-ish (women). Last night we started with sport (another popular one) moved on to tax avoidance,(!) how raising taxes harms the economy, how to fix it, why do we (the British) still claim ownership of some islands well apart from the UK mainland, and finally settled on religion!
I was always led to believe that there were two taboo subjects - religion and politics - that you should avoid at all costs especially if among friends (even more so if you are in a pub!) Last night we broke all the rules, but it didn't matter because I was in good company. Between the three of us there was a Catholic, a lapsed CofE with atheist tendencies, and one who would be hard pushed to describe his religious leanings.
The conversation started with a little controversy: are religions responsible for most of the worlds problems? We delved into the consistencies between the religions and the differences. We pondered if there was really just the one God who all the religions worshipped... but just called a different name. We tried to weigh up the effect of religion with war and extremists on one side, and charity and morality on the other. We noted the difference between the religious and the organisation of religion. The question was asked "What is the point of religion?" to which there was a variety of answers, none of which seemed to hit the nail on the head.
It was towards the end that we decided that no one religion has it right... there is the possibility that we will all meet in the same place at the end of it all.
This was all possible because even though our opinions varied, and our beliefs were strong, we could talk about them without fear of mockery or persecution.
This reminded me of a club I used to attend at school. A bunch of open minded people would debate a particular subject or statement and see where it took us as we pondered our existence and the fabric of the universe. I missed those days, and I'm glad to have found some of that feeling again last night.