April 30, 2014

I Don't Get It

Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever had the experience of trying something with which you were unfamiliar because it was recommended to you by several people, only to discover you do not like it one bit? Of course you have! We've all had this experience. And as we realize we don't agree with all the recommendations, we shake our heads and wonder how so many people could be so wrong. We don't get it.

I feel like this happens to me fairly often, and it used to bother me. I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I didn't share everyone's enjoyment of whatever it was that was recommended so highly by so many. On occasion, I'll still have this thought. Sad but true. But most of the time, I simply conclude that I don't get it and move on. I don't usually dwell on why I don't get it. That would seem to be an impossible question to answer. It is enough to recognize that I don't get it and go on with my life.

I have heard people gush about how wonderful Neil Diamond is for years now, but I've somehow remained fairly unfamiliar with his work. Until recently, I would not have been able to name a single song he recorded. After a friend with whom I share similar tastes in music said that he and his wife saw Neil Diamond in concert and that they absolutely love his music, I admitted that I wasn't familiar with it. He told me of a "best of" compilation that I simply had to check out. "Give it a chance, and I know you will love it." I listened to it from beginning to end a few days ago, and I had two reactions:
  1. I recognized far more songs than I thought I would, and I had no idea that several of those that I was familiar with because other artists had recorded them were recorded by Neil Diamond.
  2. Whatever the appeal of Neil Diamond is, I don't get it.
Whatever you call this type of music (i.e., pop, adult contemporary, soft rock), it doesn't do much for me. I can't say I'd mind hearing it in the dentist's office, but it certainly isn't something I'd seek out.

Perhaps my friend will conclude that there is something wrong with me because I don't particularly care for Neil Diamond. He might be right. But I am sure that he will recognize that this is a fairly trivial matter on which we simply have different preferences. If only such a recognition would extend to matters of religion, the world would be a better place.

Having been raised in a liberal-to-moderate Protestant Christian denomination, grown up with several Catholic friends and a few conservative Protestants, read the Christian bible several times, attended church regularly for over a decade, taken a couple of classes in various aspects of Christianity in college, and read my share of apologetics, I feel that I am at least reasonably familiar with mainstream Christianity. I gave it much more than a passing try. And while I understand much of it, I don't get it. I can comprehend why it might appeal to some, but much like Neil Diamond, it holds no appeal for me.

Wouldn't it be great if the religious believers in our lives would treat our atheism in much the same way that my friends who love Neil Diamond will treat my lack of enthusiasm for him? They aren't going to try to convert me. They certainly aren't going to conclude that I am evil, morally corrupt, or anything of the sort. They won't share my opinion, but they will not condemn me for it either. They'll have no need to construct some sort of hell in which I will be doomed to suffer for eternity for committing the "sin" of not sharing their beliefs.

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