Religion was one of the darkest places on this side of the chasm, and there were a plethora of unique boroughs. There was one that identified with the King’s Son. There was one that claimed He did not need a son. There was one that posited there were many kings, and one that taught that the kings were all dead. Added to these were labels at the entrance of other boroughs, which included: Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, Totalitarian and so forth.
Christian and his group came to the middle of the city, where there seemed to be something like Mars Hill. At this epicenter, ideas were being readily exchanged. Well, at least that is what it sounded like at first. As Christian and those following him got closer, they heard someone standing and talking to a group of people. “Liberty?” was the only word he uttered and he uttered it as a question, then he stepped down.
The group watched as another man stepped up. “You are making a false claim, sir!” he said about the man who uttered the one word. He shouted back from the crowd, “How do you mean?”
“Well,” responded the man on the podium, “You have argued that these great people here are not free! All of your points are biased toward your conservative outlook and you have been hateful and unintelligible in your treatment of this argument!”
Christian and his group entered the crowd and the man on the podium asked him what he thought.
Christian replied, “Well, sir, I must confess that I have only heard part of the conversation. I am not prepared to make any judgment on either side, yours or his. Why don’t you ask him to explain his thoughts?”
“I cannot ask him! He is wrong!” the man on the podium exclaimed as he pointed at the other.
“How do you know?” Christian asked right away.
“Just look at the argument he has made!”
Christian confessed, “All I heard was his utterance of the question concerning liberty.”
“Ah,” the elevated man raised his voice, “but he has insinuated so much more than that!”
“How can you know?” Christian probed further.
“Because I know him. His views are off and his conservativism blinds him to progress. He deserves to be challenged!”
Christian turned to the man who was being accused, “What are your thoughts?”
This man answered, “All I did was ask a question. I fear that I am not being understood and that too many presumptions are being made about me.”
“What sort of presumptions?” Christian asked.
“I guess the only one that matters is that this man claims to know exactly what I believe and where I stand on every issue without caring enough to ask. That is presumption isn’t it?”
Christian replied, “I guess it is. What will you do about it?”
“Nothing,” the man replied, “He is arguing against himself, not against what I have claimed, for I made no propositions; only uttered a single word.”
“Where do you live?” Encouragement spoke up.
The man laughed, “not in the borough that he has suggested.”
Encouragement stepped onto the podium, “Hear this thought!” He addressed the crowd, “The manual suggests that we ought to seek understanding, to be constantly renewed in our minds and not to conform ourselves to the pattern of this world. This man standing next to me seems to have made a grave mistake in not heeding these words within the manual. Instead he has made himself out to be a practitioner of the worst kind of religion: the kind that does not care for others and the kind where someone promotes his own well-being over the well-being of his neighbor. In this city, the manual might be the most ignored, but it is the most needed and its guidance more than necessary.”
The crowd listened intently. Some agreed. Some doubted. Those most steeped in religious dogma ignored and continued to taunt others trying to prove their own superiority rather than pursuing the thoughts in this city meaningfully.
The man on the podium came down and talked directly with Christian, “In which borough do you live?”
“I do not,” Christian responded, “My home is on the other side of the chasm, with the King.”
The man laughed, “But you have to have some home here.”
Christian responded, “I gave up the right to subscribe strictly to one borough or another the moment I took residency with the King. What is popular may or may not be correct. What people in the Conservative, Liberal, or even in the borough that bears the King’s name claim as right may or may not be. Because I have taken up residency with the King, I have the freedom to consider all that is said and to live faithfully according to the King’s manual. We have just seen how advantageous that may be for anyone who wants to pursue wisdom and thought on this side of the chasm.”
The man walked away, picked up his blue jacket, and continued toward his own borough.
Out of all the places Christian and those with him had been, Religion might turn out to be the most trying.