Fantastic Beliefs

Anyone interested in the history of religions will inevitably become familiar with all manner of truly fantastic stories and beliefs.  Whether we are talking about the soul flights and death duels of shamans, the avatars and exploits of Vishnu, or the appearance of Moroni and golden tablets of Joseph Smith, all religious traditions have their share of stories that strike outsiders as simply bizarre.

For those of us who grow up and live in a Christian milieu, familiarity can sometimes dampen this sense of strangeness; thus, it is sometimes refreshing to hear portions of the story re-characterized by outsiders.  Here is one such re-casting:

I have always considered Scientology’s stories to be particularly absurd, especially the whole thetan thing, but when I read about invisible evil forces in the soul and cosmic cannibalism, I cannot say the stories are much different from one another.

Although the story above may make perfect sense to many within a particular tradition, it strikes many others as perfectly bizarre.  This definitely was the case with many Native Americans, who upon first hearing such stories from missionaries, considered them to be completely nuts.

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