After my dad’s death earlier this year, my wife and I have started taking my mom out to dinner once a week. We did not do this much when my dad was alive, so for the first time in 30 years, I’m getting to know my mom socially again. We visit the places where my wife and I love to eat and then spend time talking over a good meal. It’s interesting. I’m not much of a talker, nor am I very social, so dinner conversations with friends are a new experience for me. I enjoy it.
We dined at an Islamic restaurant Friday night. Instead of asking about Islam, my mom asked about Mormons. Specifically, she asked if I thought Mormonism is a cult. I told her no. That Mormons beliefs are just as valid as any other religions. That Mormons are new and therefore a threat to mainstream Protestants and Catholics. That their version of truth builds upon the story of Jesus in a way other religions find offensive. My mom knows I’m an atheist and understood that I was saying all religions were equally valid (and invalid), and that none could claim to own divine “truth”.
We talked about cults and cult like behavior. It was new ground for a dinner conversation. My wife and I don’t talk religion much, nor do I engage my sons on the topic. There is too much love in my family to dwell on divisive issues like faith. The conversation with my an exchange of information, there was no divisiveness. It was like teaching. Good times – I don’t think the conversation would have been possible six months ago.