Dream of: 20 February 1997 "Mondoism"
I was piloting a small space ship which resembled the fighter craft used by the Rebel Alliance in the movie Star Wars. Although I was alone inside the ship, other people were in thousands of similar ships flying all around me. All our ships had been dispatched to form a barrier on the faraway eastern side of the solar system, which was about to be attacked. For a moment I thought we were being sent on an interstellar mission to protect the galaxy, instead of the solar system, but when I thought more about it, I realized we were only guarding the solar system.
All our space ships were supposed to disperse in space, to form a fence-like web, with the ships stationed ninety miles apart from each other. This barrier would be the line of defense for the solar system.
I continued flying until all the ships began separating from each other. When I finally lost visual sight of all the other ships, I flew ahead through the unrelieved blackness of space, concentrating on my mission.
Unexpectedly, I suddenly realized I was flying over a planet. I was close to the surface, which was mostly obscure, except for patches of bright red and yellow flames. The sight of the planet surprised me because I wasn't supposed to encounter any planets before reaching my assigned coordinates. It took me a few moments to realize that I had overshot, that I had passed the place where I should have stopped, and that I had ended up in the battle-zone. The patches of fire on the planet below were obviously a result of the war being waged on the planet.
I had no choice: I had to land on the planet and take my chances. I reasoned that landing on the planet might not be so bad. I seemed to recognize the planet and I thought some of my comrades had previously landed on this planet and been trapped there. Perhaps I could rescue them. In fact, it seemed that one man still marooned on the planet was my own brother. I remembered that he looked exactly like Michael J. Fox and I had the feeling I also looked somewhat like Fox. I also had the dim impression that my brother had been on a mission which had something to do with the movie Back to the Future, and that my rescuing him might be shown in a sequel to the movie.
After I landed on the planet and debarked my space ship, I began walking down a peaceful, residential street on a sunny day. I had begun a lively conversation about religion with several women (mostly in their 30s and 40s) who were walking along with me. All the women were devout Christians; indeed, it seemed as if everyone in the settlement avidly practiced Christianity.
This community was perched atop a lofty hill, from which descending to the bottom was difficult. The height of the hill presented a problem because my missing comrades were at the base of the hill, and I would have to descend the hill to reach them. Since I did not know the way to the bottom, I had hoped I would be able to enlist the aid of the women who were walking with me. Therefore, I tried to restrain myself as we talked about religion since I did not want to say anything abrasive which might anger them. It was, however, too late for that. I had already managed to blurt out that I did not believe in Christ, and in so doing I had already enraged and deeply offended all the women.
I realized that taking a combative stance on the subject of Christianity was unproductive. I had long known almost no good could be derived from arguing with Christians about their religion. Pointing out the error of their ways was pointless. Simply trying to get along was the best course of action with this kind of people. Sensing the quickest way to allay their concerns and pierce the heart of the matter, I affirmed, "I believe in God."
This statement, which was a true statement, was so disarming, I could instantly sense the women soften. This was exactly what I wanted. If we could find some common ground on which to communicate, perhaps our differences would seem less weighty. I went on to explain that I agreed with much of what the Bible said. I clarified, however, that I believed in a more "encompassing God." With a swoop of my hand, I outlined an arch in the air in front of us, as if the arch represented God. Then I traced lines in the air under the arch, and said, "Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mondoism." I was trying to show that I believed in a God which enveloped all these religions. When I said the word "Mondoism," however, I realized that no such religion existed. I had been trying to think of "Moslems" or "Islam" and I had become confused, but I didn't think it much mattered. I knew that these women, like most Christians, had little notion of the nature of other religions, and that they would probably think there was such a religion as "Mondoism."
As I elaborated, I asked the women what they would think when new worlds with living beings were discovered, worlds which had their own developed religions, worlds which had never heard of Christianity. Would that mean that all the people on those worlds, as well as all the people on earth who believed in religions other than Christianity, were lost? I tried to point out that it was much more likely that a God existed who was above all these man-made religions – and that was the God in which I believed.
At the same time, I was trying to delineate some similarities between what these women believed and what I believed, not wanting to antagonize them any more. I added, however, that "we part paths" when they started thinking of Christ as God. I was trying to think of a passage in the Bible which stated that Christ and God were the same, but I could only recall the words "he gave his only begotten son," which wasn't the passage for which I searching. I wanted to point out the extreme implausibility of believing that Christ and God were one. Since I could not think of the proper Bible verse, however, I did not pursue that point.
Instead I began explaining to the women that I did indeed believe in life after death. I related that I thought living a good life was important so that we would receive our "just reward" after death. As soon as I had said "just reward," I realized I had made a poor choice of words. It sounded as if I were saying that the only reason for being good in life was to receive a reward after death, and that was not exactly what I believed, and not exactly what I had wanted to say.
By now we had reached a point where the sidewalk gave way to a very steep, rocky path down the side of the hill. Suddenly a woman ran past me and started sliding down the path. I was immediately concerned because it looked as if she might injure herself. I hoped she had not slid down the hill on my behalf, to show me how dangerous the path was, but such did not seem to be the case. Although the women had ameliorated their attitude toward me, I could see that they were still suspicious of me and not inclined to help me. At most, I could hope that they would simply indicate the way to me.
My hope was somewhat realized, for they pointed to a paved road which also curved down the side of the hill. Unfortunately the road ended up quite a distance from where I wanted to go, whereas if I chose the steep, rocky path instead, I would come out at the bottom of the hill exactly where I needed to be. As I stood there trying to decide, a car passed by, stopped, and picked up two elderly black women who slid into the back seat. The car then headed on down the hill. There would have still been room for me in the car, but they had not stopped for me. I thought to myself, "They did not offer and I did not ask."
The only thing left to do was to decide which route – the rocky path or the paved road – to take down the hill. However, I needed to tend to one other matter first. While I had been walking with the women, I had been eating some vanilla custard from a cardboard cup. I had now finished and I needed to throw away the cup. I had also been using a metal spoon, which one of the women must have given me. I did not want to simply toss away the spoon, but the women had already dispersed and there was no one left to whom I could return the spoon. Perhaps I would just stick both the cup and spoon in my back pocket and head down the hill with them.
Now I needed to decide which route to take: the rocky path or the winding road.
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