Religion! What Religion? It’s complicated.

Religion! What Religion? It’s complicated.

I have a spot in my office where I display a few items from my youth. I have a statue of Buddha that was blessed by a monk and a set of Catholic rosary beads that belonged to my mother. There is also a baby book my mother kept about me that says I was Christened at St. Simon Episcopal Church on August 20, 1944. I also have a “chop” with my name in Chinese that I bought in China and there is a New Testament I was given on April 12 1953 when I would have been nine years old.

That book is now 63 years old. The inscription on the inside says “Harry Hallman accepted Christ in his heart on this day- April 12th 1953.” In the back of the book there are various prayers and something I wasn’t expecting: The lyrics to the National Anthem, America the Beautiful and My Country “Tis Thee. I also have my Vietnam Campaign Medal and an Air Force Commendation medal in that display.

I really had not thought about it much but that little display is a snapshot not only of my life, but also my religious activity and early beliefs. I was baptized Episcopalian, but I never remember going to that denomination church. I got that New Testament from going to Sunday school at some protestant church nearby. Not sure the denomination, but I remember the teacher. She was a very nice lady and she gave out candy as a reward for learning the bible. That was enough incentive for me to read the bible so I could answer the questions.

When I was about 12 I took catechism lessons and became Roman Catholic. I was baptized and confirmed. All my friends were Catholic so I wanted to fit in. It was cool and I liked the traditions. When I joined the Air Force my dog tags said I was Catholic. By the time I was one year into my almost two years in Vietnam I was starting to like the Buddhist philosophy. It was based on the same principles as Christianity for the most part. My wife gave me the Buddha I have in my display.

If you asked me now what my spiritual beliefs are I would have to say they are a combination of science, and some of the doctrines I learned from Sunday school, catechism lessons, and what I have read about Eastern religions. I would say it is very complicated. Way too complicated to discuss in a post.

I have received blessings from Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims as well as well wishes from Atheists and Agnostics in my life time. While they may not have reflected my overall belief system I received them happily. I accept all people’s beliefs as long as those beliefs are not to harm, but rather to help. I guess you might say I am a Tolerant, and that is something the world and our country needs right now.

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