Thursday, May 19, 2005

Don’t it Make Ya Proud

My wife’s cousin is getting married this weekend and the location is a property that is outside on a hill which is difficult for foot traffic to negotiate. I asked why of all places this was chosen for the ceremony and reception. One of the reasons was that the bride and groom are not members of a church, so any church at which they inquired about having the ceremony said they had to be members. I said that was also true of most Jewish temples and synagogues—I didn’t know of any where you could get married without being a dues-paying member of the congregation. They won’t even let you in to the popular High Holiday services without a special separate, and usually costly, ticket. I understand everyone’s gotta make a living, but this tradition always seemed unseemly for a spiritual organization devoted to non-material heavenly worship.

I said the same thing to my wife about membership in organized religious facilities that I said the day Orthodox Jews threw stones at Reformed Jews who were praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, “Don’t it make ya proud?”

Bad joke. Right after our conversation, I stumbled onto a quote to balance any bad jokes and thoughts you may hear today about religion in politics and faith-based anti-filibusters etc—a quote that can reaffirm all of our pride to be members of the human race, and it comes from a cleric:

The way that I see Christianity is that its role is to enhance the life of every person. My basis of morality is this: does this action enhance life, or does it denigrate life? Does it build up or does it tear down? And if that's your basis, then you can't possibly be a sexist because sexism diminishes women. You can't possibly be homophobic because it diminishes homosexuals. You can't possibly be a racist because you can't tell people they are lesser because their skin is black. Or any of the other things that have discriminated against people.
This is from an interview on the web site with former Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong of Newark, N.J. The intelligence and rationality of Spong’s remarks make the entire interview worth reading. That’s no joke.

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