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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Too, Too Much


I must start this post with a fair warning – writing from a prompt can definitely take on a life of its own when you set hands to keyboard. My first thought today was I was going to write a shorter post than last Tuesday. It’s about the same. Also, I don’t often write about my religious views, although I’d imagine you can probably figure them out from my writing. I think religion is personal and everyone should practice their beliefs in the way that satisfies their own spiritual needs.

I don’t mean to offend, but if you are easily offended in discussions about religion, I won’t be offended if you don’t read my post.

Today's prompt:
What is there too much of in the world???

There is too much hate disguised as holy.

Let me tell a story from school. I went to Catholic school for the first 4 years of grade school. I had a lovely woman who I adored for my first grade teacher and I’d decided that I wanted to be a nun when I grew up because I wanted to be as wonderful a person as Sister Ann. After making that decision before first grade was over, I decided at only 6 years old that there was no better time than the present to start studying what I needed to know to be a good nun.

That summer is where I took off the blindfold that I really needed to keep on for my chosen vocation. But I was almost seven. What did I know about career planning?

Since I was learning all about the way Catholics worship in school, I wanted to know more about other religions. If I was going to be a kind and gentle nun, I had to understand and respect everyone’s religion. I went to Summer Bible School at the Baptist church around the corner from home and at the Lutheran church with my Aunt Judy, where she taught my age group. I found out that the lessons about Jesus and loving people were pretty much the same as I learned in school. They sang more at the Baptist church and they did more crafts at the Lutheran church. Maybe that was because my Aunt is a crafter and she was teaching my class, but I remembered that I did more crafts at Bible School at the Lutheran church. Still the messages were the same and the Bible the same and the love shared was the same. In fact, the only thing I really knew as different in other religions is that they said the prayer we said a little later as the last line of “Our Father.”

And so, I went to Summer Bible school every summer in between school years at Catholic School. I was still planning to be a nun and was enjoying the friends I’d made at Bible School, getting more involved with the youth group’s “Terrific Tuesdays” field trips with the Baptist Church. I still remember the hymns and songs we sang on the bus and hayrides. I was having fun, but I knew I was also learning important things to make me a good nun.

Well, my awakening was in fourth grade religion class. I was 9 years old now and planning more than ever to answer God’s calling for me. One day, in about the middle of the school year, we were discussing line by line what one of the prayers we say in church means. We got to a line that Sister Mary Ann told us meant that ”there is only one church, the Catholic church.” I remember, so clear in my mind what I said, what she answered and my reply. I remember being mad.

I raised my hand and asked, “What about the people at other churches, like Baptist?”

“God will forgive them.”


I kinda realized that day that I had a better chance of hoisting the Stanley Cup as the first woman in the NHL, my backup plan if the nun thing didn’t work out, than I did of being a good Catholic nun. My Mom tried to explain that Sister was mistaken, that catholic with a small c, like it is in the prayer, mean all Christians, not just Catholic Christians. Well, then I asked about the friend on my bowling team who was Jewish. She did her best to try to answer my questions in a way that wouldn’t lead to more questions and an angrier child.

As an adult, I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist with a Christian belief foundation. I’ve studied many religions and have a reference selection of many holy books, although the white padded-cover book with the gold lined pages that I keep in the bedroom is a Bible.

I believe in tolerance as my first religious conviction because I refuse to believe, even for a moment, that God is so limited that he only shares himself with any particular one group of people and everyone else is wrong. It’s that Bible that says with God all things are possible, He is all things to all people. Am I really qualified to add “except” to the text?

But a lot of “leaders” do just that. I’m not talking about extremists who use religion when they apparently don’t believe it to get people to bomb buildings with the promise of “virgins in the afterlife” for killing Americans or “a place in Heaven” for killing doctors at a clinic that does abortions, although that’s extreme hate thinly disguised as holy. I’m talking about religious prejudice. The belief that one religion is more right than another to the point of considering the other religions wrong. Whether you believe that you need to “stay away” from someone because they believe differently or just that they’ll “be forgiven” for not being you, isn’t that prejudice? Just like we hear about “gateway drugs,” prejudice a gateway belief for hate and too many times that prejudice starts in a church.


Marti said...

Your point is very well presented, and I do agree that to often religious intolerance is the basis of many other problems. My Bible says that God said whosoever.

Carla said...

Wow. We must be related. I came to that conclusion early as the only Catholic family on my mother's side that was full of ministers and not all the same religion. I too went through the 'but what about the others?'. Later, as an adult, I left one church that I really enjoyed when they asked how I felt about my Catholic parents not going to heaven since they weren't Christians. Organized religions scare me now. Too much of the 'exeptions' involved any more.

And it is showing up in the presidential election already. I remember when Kennedy was running and people said he would make everyone change their relegion - well that didn't happen and I remember thinking then, it was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard - I was only a child then. And now I'm hearing it again.
Oh sorry, I'm up on my soapbox again.

Edna B said...

As a child, my mother raised us as protestant, with the understanding that we were free to learn about other religions, visit other churches, study all religions and in the end we should choose the one that we were most comfortable with. The important thing was that we should have a faith. I went to Catholic church on Sunday morning with my friends, and then on to Sunday School at the First Presbytarian Church. After Sunday School, I sang in the choir upstairs in the "big church" during the service. I taught Sunday School as a teenager at the First Congreational Church. My friends come from all religious backgrounds. We all believe in our God and pray in our own way. We are all right and God loves all of us.

I could go on, but I won't. I heartily agree with what you are saying. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

fl_connie said...

Here! Here! Wonderful Tuesday message! ((Hugs))

Coloradolady said...

Oh. This is a pet peeve of mine. In fact, I have gotten into arguments on facebook over this very thing and had to hide my cousin from my profile. I have no tolerance for this at all. My mom is just like the people you describe and she gets hot when I don't agree with her and question what she says is "so" and she is the one that is wrong.

So many religions stand behind ignorance and hate in my opinion. They don't like anyone who is different and they are doomed as far as they are concerned. My kids went to Catholic school and you know as far as that, they never experienced any of that type of thing there. But when my daughter went to a Baptist High School...they said all Catholics were going to hell.....oh......I wanted to march up there and give them a piece of my mind....and I am not even Catholic....I could go on and on........