Did You Inherit Your Religion?

by: John Penberthy

One Saturday morning I was sipping my coffee and reading the newspaper when the doorbell rang. This was an unusual occurrence as we lived in a somewhat isolated log cabin in the mountains outside Denver. At the door stood two attractive college-age girls who wanted to talk to me about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.
Normally I would politely say, “No thanks” and return to my paper, but that morning I decided to engage with them. After hearing their initial pitch, I asked one of them, “Are your parents Jehovah’s Witnesses?”
“Our whole family is,” she replied.
“Do you think religion is an important thing for people to have in their lives?”
“Very,” she replied, and I agreed.
“How many other religions have you studied and investigated?”
“None.”
“Is a car an important thing in your life?” I asked.
“Well, yes, but not as important as religion.”
Again I agreed. “What kind of car do you drive?”
“A Toyota.”
“Is that what your parents drive?”
“No.”
“Why not?” I inquired.
“Because I like Toyotas better.” She was starting to get impatient but politely continued to humor me.
“How do you know?”
“Because I like the way my Toyota looks and drives, plus it was inexpensive and gets good gas mileage.”
I nodded toward my Toyota sitting in the driveway and agreed. “How did you know that about your car when you bought it?”
“I test drove different cars and talked to my friends about their cars.” she said, increasingly exasperated.
“So you checked out lots of different cars before deciding on your Toyota,” I gently summarized, “but your religion, which is much more important, you inherited from your parents without knowing anything about the alternatives?”
“Yeah,” she replied rather sheepishly, catching my drift.
“I’ll tell you what,” I said. “Spend the next five years investigating and studying the other great religions of the world and then if you still want to talk to me about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, we’ll talk.”
The girls, realizing they had a hopeless case on their hands, thanked me for my time and left.
The vast majority of people worldwide inherit their religion—one of the most important things in their lives—unquestioningly from their parents, without ever investigating the alternatives. Many are convinced it is the only way to God, believe that other religions are heresy, and some will fight and die for it. Did you inherit your religion?
John Penberthy is the author of To Bee or Not to Bee, A book for beings who feel there’s more to life than just making honey, an illustrated, inspirational allegory—fun yet deep—about the spiritual journey of a worker bee entrenched in the mindless tedium of life in a honeybee colony. Endorsements from Dan Millman, Stephen Levine and Ram Dass. See the unique and creative 60 second audio-visual flash Preview at http://ToBeeBook.com/preview.html

About The Author

John Penberthy was born with an insatiable curiosity which has made him an ardent student of Life and Spirit. He grew up in south Florida, earned an MBA and spent 12 years consulting for proposed real estate developments in the Rocky Mountain region. Subsequently John coordinated a vitamin A fortification (blindness prevention) project for Helen Keller International in Indonesia and managed the Cache River Bioreserve for The Nature Conservancy in southern Illinois. John’s striving to see the Divine in all things led him to write To Bee or Not to Bee, A book for beings who feel there’s more to life than just making honey. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and daughter.
jrpenberthy@comcast.net

This article was posted on August 24, 2005