Monday, July 16, 2007

You! Sarek of Vulcan! How do YOU feel about organized religion?

Okay. First, my name’s not Sarek and second, I’m not from Vulcan.

But then there’s organized religion. It’s a fair question. I have links to sites like Padre Mickey’s Dance Party, run by an Episcopal priest, and FranIAm, run by an active Catholic layperson. I also link to Monkey Muck, who proudly shows his Blog Against Theocracy logo, and to Princess Sparkle Pony, who has the occasional nutty Christian label on her posts. New blog buddy Jess Wondrun went out of her way to mock Saint Clelia Barbieri this past week, and there’s also my sister Karla’s site Ars Dialectica, her effort to redefine her life after leaving the New Age Movement, where she used to be a popular author. (I’ve taken down the link because she doesn’t have time right now to make the changes she wants due to a new full time job. It’s has nothing to do with a bad family dynamic. Honest.)

Organized religion. My parents had no use for it. On the block where I grew up, we had religious families and non-religious families and when it came to dysfunctional, the religious families were steadily at the top of the league, year after year. It was a long time before I knew any religious people I had any respect for. It started with historical figures like Johann Sebastian Bach and Albert Schweitzer. Later, when I went to college and entered the workforce, I met a few more. But in general, I hung out with people who didn’t attend church and didn’t make a big fuss about it, what would now be called “secular progressives”.

In my late thirties, I was baptized into the Episcopal Church. I did this of my own volition, with the assistance of not yet Padre Mickey. I made a real effort for several years, but as I moved away from San Jose and joined another Episcopal church up in the East Bay, I drifted away. The Anglican Church is now being ripped apart by disagreements over the rights of gays to be clergy, and in some cases even the rights of gays to get communion. I’m not gay, as I have said before, but I saw this as a bad omen, one that wasn’t going to be solved anytime soon.

For the most part, I don’t judge people on their religion anymore. I can see there are people of good will inside and outside nearly any organization you can name. I do have a few exceptions. I see no good in the Unification Church. It’s run by a psychotic criminal, though I guess when you have enough money and power, claiming you are the messiah just makes you eccentric. From what I’ve seen of Scientology, it strikes me as completely bughouse crazy without the extenuating circumstance of being a remarkably ancient belief system. Also, their treatment of the ex-Scientologists is beyond creepy and verging towards criminal.

Rabbi Hillel, who taught about a century before Jesus showed up, has many famous sayings, some which show up quoted in the teachings of Jesus. Hillel’s version of The Golden Rule is “That which you find abhorrent, do to no other man.” Hillel’s version of the Great Commandment came as an answer to a question as to how to best sum up the Torah. “Love God and love what God has made. All the rest is commentary.”

Here’s my view as short and sweet as I can make it.

The heart of God is easy. Love God and love what God has made.

The mind of God is hard. That’s why we do mathematics.

And just to be clear, I'm Matty Boy of Earth. Not Sarek of Vulcan.


FranIAm said...

Matt - what a great post. And an awesome photo too!

Religion is such a tricky topic and while I am deeply into my own spirituality and love the community that I have found in my own church, I have no need to push it upon others.

Sadly religion is often the number one destination for trying to sweep insanity under the covers. This is no doubt why you saw the dynamic ratio of crazy family to religion so clearly on your street.

I was trying to explain to someone that it took me years to finally try sushi. No matter who took me where, I just wouldn't try it.

In 2001 I finally decided to have some and have loved it ever since. However, in that same year I ate sea urchin and hated it. So it is like religion to me. When people are ready they try it. If they like it they stay. If not they go. If they don't want to try it, then cool.

Its that simple to me. Do your own thing baby. Just do it in style, passion and with a great sense of humor.

As you do Matthew!
(p.s. - i am a math failure for the record.)

Blue Gal said...

Adding you to the blogroll, hon. And the great thing about Blog against Theocracy is it unites theists and atheists in supporting our constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state.