Recently religion has been coming up in conversation alot. Specifically Christians and it's interesting because there are almost no Christians in Asia as far as I can tell so they all have very interesting opinions and ideas about it since they have no direct experience.
For example most of the people I've talked to are really not aware that there are hundreds of variations of Christians and that they actually believe different things.
I really wish I could find some kind of chart of the differences. Which ones believe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one being and which ones believe they are 3 separate beings united in goal. Which ones believe in original sin. Which ones have rituals. Which ones believe in tithes. Which ones believe the Bible is the word of God vs just a humanly falible report of the word of God or even less, a report of people's dealings with God and not actually his "word". Which ones believe in scripture outside of the Bible. Which one believe in heaven and hell. Which ones believe most people will go to hell. Which ones believe priests can be married. Which ones believe in a pre−life (as in life in heaven or some other place before being born).
I'm sure there are lots of intersting differences.
Catholics, Episcopalian, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, 7th Day Advacists, Born Agains, etc, etc. I only have direct experience with Mormons since I was one for 6 years and I have indirect info about Catholics though I don't know how reliable it is.
Even my friend Anne from Finland had different ideas because she says Finland is 95% Lutheran so her ideas of what *Christians* believe were really only what Lutherans believe.
Note: I'm defining Christians as religions that believe in Jesus as an agent/son/part of God. Many Christian religions define Christians as people in their religion and nobody else.
One thing I learned coming to Asia or at least Japan in particular, something I think all Americans need to learn, is that you do not need Christian Religion in order to have morals.
Growing up in the U.S. where Christianism as had such a huge influence I think most people take for granted many many things like the idea that many people try to be good because if they are not they will go to hell. Or because God says to be *good* and lays down the rules.
I know lots of people that would even go so far as to believe the without God in the Christian sense people would have no morals at all. But, coming to Asia where I have yet to meet a *Christian* the morals generally seem even stronger than in Christian parts of the world.
Another example, people get along just fine without believing there's some entity in heaven that loves them.