How to Approach Touchy Subjects with Total Strangers

You have probably heard the common phrase “don’t talk about religion or politics with a stranger.” Often, the only defense given if you question this idea is “people get touchy.” But is that really that great of a reason? If people get touchy when talking about these issues, I don’t think the solution is to stop talking about the issues. The solution is to stop being touchy. Talking about our ideas with others leads to a better understanding of each other and keeps us from believing ridiculous fantasies. So, if you would like to climb over this barrier and begin casually approaching “touchy” subjects with strangers, here is a quick guide.

1. Sneak up to the topic from behind.

Don’t just come right out and say “so, what are your religious beliefs?” Try starting with “what church do you go to?” Once they answer that, you could ask follow-up questions like “do you agree with everything that they teach?” If you’re trying to talk about politics, try starting with “did you ever dream of becoming president someday?” Then you can lead the conversation to “which president do you think you’d be the most like?”

2. Don’t let your own beliefs become known.

This part is extremely important. People are more defensive if they think you disagree with them. At least at the beginning of the conversation, try to be coy and only ask them about their ideas or beliefs before presenting your own. Once you do present your opinions…

3. Be kind.

Always pivot back to kindness. Make it clear that you care about them on a personal level, even if you are total opposites when it comes to politics or religious things. Side note, if you don’t actually care about them, then you might not be the best candidate for influencing their beliefs.

It’s not complicated or hard. You just talk. You don’t have to convince anyone of anything. The main purpose of this exercise is simply to relax barriers and help people become comfortable talking about these issues. One more thing: knowing when and who to talk to  is often the hardest part, but don’t worry about it. The opportunities usually present themselves, you don’t need to go looking for it.

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4 Noble Truths Every Christian Should Know About Buddhism

In recent years (and even decades) Buddhism and other eastern philosophies have been encroaching upon the west. Surely, we have no need to fear it. It’s just more stupidity in the sea… adding a few gallons of water to the ocean won’t change things too much. But we need to be aware of it, especially now that people who used to embrace Christian philosophies come to accept Buddhist ideas (some without even realizing it). Here are a few quick facts every Christian should know about Buddhism.

#1: Buddhism has crept in to America’s culture.

Here are a few ideas you’ve probably heard before:

  • Follow your heart.
  • Don’t live in the past.
  • Save yourself.

First off, ‘follow your heart’ is a big Disney thing, but you might be surprised to hear that it’s a pretty Buddhist idea. And ‘don’t live in the past’? That’s huge in our culture. Obviously, we know we can’t save ourselves. Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life. We can only rely on Him. Not ourselves.

But what does this mean to us? Well, I suppose it’s just a reminder to ‘test every spirit.’ You can feel something to be true without it being biblical, and you never really know if you got something from a source that was true. Seek truth in the Word, and don’t depend on the world for your spiritual food. Satan is ready to poison you if you open your mouth.

#2: Buddhism’s teaching, as with most religions, is not 100% false.

Religions arise when people have ideas that seem to make sense. Therefore, religions are not always completely false. Here are a few ideas from Buddhism that illustrate this:

  • Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.
  • Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
  • Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

For the most part, I agree with these statements. But they’re all direct quotes from the Buddha. See what I mean? But here’s where…

#3: Buddhism falls short.

As with all religions, Buddhism just doesn’t cut it. Jesus said that when a man (or a woman) wants to follow him, he or she must give up their possessions and follow him. And, if he left it at that, Buddhism would fit fine. But he didn’t leave it at that. He goes on. He says that the kingdom of God and the things that he can give you are worth so much that you don’t need all those things that you held onto so dearly before. Buddhism says “be unattached,” Jesus says “be attached to me.” Or as He Himself said “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” Buddhism falls short. It is stupid and lacking when compared to the awesomeness of Jesus. But there’s one last thing you should know about Buddhism. (Note: I read about this on DesiringGod.com and found it to be really true, so I decided to steal it from them and put it here. Here’s the post.)

#4: Meditation is Buddhism’s crown jewel.

When I say meditation, I mean the common form of it that thousands of Americans practice, which is “focusing on your breath.” Not emptying your mind or using a mantra (which are common practices in Hindu and Buddhist traditions) but simply focusing on your breath. I am certainly not talking about biblical meditation, which I explain here.

This is one of the largest things Americans like about Buddhism: it carries with it the ancient tradition of meditation, something that’s very calming. And Americans need to calm down! And so, they turn to meditation. Here’s the interesting thing: prayer is very calming! Not only is it calming, but it’s also spiritualy helpful. Why don’t Americans know how awesome prayer is? Because they stopped praying. And that’s when Buddhism snuck in: when Americans stopped praying. Before, lots of Americans prayed. Now, very few have regular habits of prayer. So, if you’re tempted to try meditation, just pray! (Side note, the form of meditation that I have highlighted above doesn’t seem inherintly evil, and it does produce positive effects in the brain that are very observable. But… why take ideas from religion when we have the Bible? There is nothing new under the sun, and no power in religion that has not been given in Christ.) (Oh, and random bonus here: this article and this article both talk about scientific benefits of prayer.)

Please understand: I am not wise, I am not smart, I just know a few things that I want to share. So here they are. I’m a teenager, and you can use your own discretion when taking ideas from me. 🙂

If you feel like you have déjà vu: much of the thoughts in this post were published earlier, but I decided to take that post down and re-write it into something better. So here it is. I hope you found it informative.