My post yesterday regarding a church in Texas trying to distribute a Bible in every home by Easter sure did generate some discussion! Some on topic, some not, some a tad vitriolic and some thoughtful…
And I came away from it all, seeing that if I put up a post discussing what I see as misdeeds by a church or institution, that it is incumbent on me to remember to keep the feelings of all Blenders in mind- to make sure that all feel welcome and equally deserving of respect. That I make sure not to use a “broad brush approach”.
In my mind, that IS the case- but certainly many of my past comments and posts have not reflected that. So it was a fair criticism; hence this follow-up post.
And because I am sometimes a bit of a bonehead, I’m gonna double-down on the discussion and go there again. But- because I’m also a bit of a wonk, I gotta stick with my football theme, by showing the best damned Hail Mary throw EVER.
Hopefully I can have the same luck as Doug Flutie in getting my message across… head on down field below the fold and see if I’ve got a receiver open in the end zone!Okay, here’s my religious background, such as it is.
While I’ve read the Bible off and on from childhood into adulthood, I have (much to my mom’s chagrin) remained an atheist. And frankly, until a few years ago, had no idea how much my personal lack of belief was a source of annoyance or scorn by many Americans.
Hey, I wasn’t hurting anyone and very happy in my own skin- live and let live. So I blindly assumed that others were the same way…
That’s not to say I haven’t know people for whom their faith is a daily presence or guiding force; of course I have. One aunt is a very devout Christian (she’s pretty quiet and mousy; I don’t know her well but she sends me nice notes once or twice a year) and another a devout Chicago-raised Irish Catholic school raised gal named Mary Kathleen who makes fantastic butter cookies, loves gross-out horror movies and has the biggest heart in the world.
So I went along through my childhood with my dad fishing with his brothers and buddies on Sundays- Mom saw it as her responsibility to pop the Bible in our hands and have us read it.
That was fine- until the day at age 9 when she challenged me “to have faith the size of a mustard seed”. She had this little glass bubble pendant with a tiny mustard seed inside (gave it to me a few years ago, in fact- I have it in my jewelry box as a reminder of the inexplicable nature of human beings and their ability to believe so many different things) and for the life of me, I couldn’t wrap my head around how something I could physically touch could possibly equate with an idea.
It was as if she asked me to measure out a gallon of mist and fog; my brain couldn’t grasp it.
Flash forward a decade- I met a gal in college who was determined that God had sent her into my path to show me the way. I liked her well enough and we got along quite well, but again, I couldn’t get past her notion that according to the Bible, Jesus and God were so pure that a newborn baby was a sinner by comparison.
“Piss on THIS”, I said inwardly to myself- and I made a conscious decision to ignore organized religion.
Fast forward a few more years- and here I am, working in a large Catholic hospital in downtown Baltimore. LOVE the job, love the people- easily my favorite job EVER. And one day, I met a nun there (she was a patient), who was just fantastic- told me the funniest stories about some of the other Sisters. When I told her that she was NOT what I expected a nun to be, she said something that stuck: “I may be a nun, but same as the rest of them, we are first and foremost HUMAN.”
What a love she was…
Okay, so fast forward again. I’m now a wife, a mom, living a quiet little rural life of privilege and utterly blinded to it. I become, through a long series of events, made aware of my privilege and get involved here on the Blend as a commenter. Then, to my shock and still amazement, a barista. Been almost a year and I still can’t get over this… utterly love this gig and just about every day, I learn something new.
Well, more recently during last year’s No On 1 campaign here in Maine, I learned that what Burnsey/R K Wright was upset about yesterday was, in my case, exactly right.
That I was judging harshly or at least viewing with a skeptical eye, painting with a broad brush if you will, all people of faith to be haters.
For all of my work on the No On 1 campaign and other initiatives/efforts that went along with that, one of the largest personal changes that I came away with was a new found understanding and respect for people of faith, including gay Christians- one of the most compelling speakers I listened to in October was a straight married Christian minister here in Maine, who is personally very committed to publicly supporting LGBT rights. He faces discrimination and pariah status among his colleagues and congregation- but he’s out there, working to change minds, one at a time.
When I listened to him, it was if a switch was turned on in my head- this quiet, unassuming man just plain-out made sense.
I saw very clearly that I had been guilty for years of dismissing people and their views, based not on their individual words or deeds, but because of their belief system and what I ASSUMED.
And of course, we all know what happens when one assumes…
I quietly made a personal vow to look at the individual, not the institution. But I never made that a public statement, nor have I helped others understand that we can’t DO that!
That was wrong. And I apologize.
Something else of importance hit me today:
That there has to be a common ground of mutual respect for all within the faith spectrum… especially if we want to expand beyond faith to discussions affecting other aspects of life.
I am also blaming this- enlightenment? I dunno- on a friend who recently decided to try her hand at ministry. She is going to drag me, kicking and screaming, into reasonableness whether or not I wanna go…
And because she is as big a football fan as I am- yet chickened OUT of getting the congregation where she was the guest preacher today to stand up and sing this as a hymn!– I am closing with the following clip: