The 2-in-1 Ice cream approach to religious plurality

Dr. Mike Ghouse   June 24, 2016   Comments Off on The 2-in-1 Ice cream approach to religious plurality

Don’t know the source of the article, but it is a good one.  For years, I have been talking about Apple Pie and Peach cobbler. Good to see this example

Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism

By Su Niye

Have you heard of the“2-in-1” ice cream? It was one of my favourites when I was a child! In those days, perhaps it was available in just one restaurant in the city where I grew up. My parents took us there often, and after a heavy Sunday lunch, we’d sometimes have “2-in-1” for dessert.

“2-in-1” consisted of two different sorts of ice cream in a single rectangle-shaped slab. Half the slab was ice cream of a particular colour and flavour (say, strawberry) and the other half, of another colour and flavour (vanilla, generally). And if you mixed bits of the two, you came up with a third colour of ice cream, which was equally, if not more, tasty! Now, I know it may not sound anything special these days, but at the time that I am talking about—which was, if I remember correctly, well before our city got its first black-and-white television set—“2-in-1” was enough of a rare treat for us children to get excited about.
“2-in-1” is an apt metaphor for the way in which I now relate to the fact of religious plurality. It wasn’t always this way, though. Over the years, I have had the good fortune of being exposed to many religions. On the way, I went through various phases, during which I identified with and sought to follow (albeit in a partial and only semi-serious way) various religions, one after another. In this period, relating to a particular religion was for me something like sticking to just one part of a “2-in-1” ice-cream—to just the strawberry bit or to the vanilla bit. It was as if you chose the strawberry bit, you had to limit yourself to just that, and that it was impossible to have even a lick of the vanilla as well. I believed that if you chose to follow a particular religion, you had to confine yourself to it, and that it was not possible, acceptable or the done thing to adopt a practice or belief associated with another religion, no matter how sensible or otherwise appealing it might seem. You had to be, as it were, either a vanilla or strawberry person. You couldn’t enjoy both. The different religions, I mistakenly imagined, were mutually exclusive.

These days though—and it’s been quite a while now—I no longer feel the need to confine myself to or identify myself with just one religion. Why stick to just strawberry when I can enjoy vanilla as well? Now, I don’t mean to say that following just one religion is a bad thing. Not at all! It can definitely be very satisfying and fulfilling and truly meaningful for many people who do so. But, at the same time, there are many others—and if I am not mistaken, they represent a growing proportion of the world’s population—who are open to the idea of benefitting from different religions and ways of life—of savouring the entire “2-in-1” ice cream as it were, rather than just confining themselves to the strawberry or the vanilla bit.

They choose not to identify themselves with just one particular religion, at the same time as they identify with all of them. Willingly learning from the good things they see in different religions—for the source of all genuine good is the one God—they tell us that it’s fine for some people to choose to restrict themselves to just strawberry or vanilla and that others can discover that a blend of two or more flavours can be at least as equally delicious!