Saturday, June 07, 2008

what a concept...

The reality, of course, is that any time people gather to deal with life, especially suffering and unfairness, the context is profoundly religious and political. This is where God will be found, "working the crowd" of victims and mercy-givers, helping people to connect despite a world bent on division, helping God's beloved to see the holiness of life and to venture outside self-interest. —Tom Ehrich

I think this is a piece of the puzzle that many who have no faith in God (and many who profess faith in God) overlook in their understanding of the human connection to the sacred. "Religion" cannot be a title that means the same thing to all people, just as "mother" does not mean the same thing. I am a mother by definition, both by choice and accident, and I raised two sons who have differing views of the world and differing understandings of who I am... as their mother, as a nun, and as a female human being. My own definition of mother doesn't match theirs, either of myself or of my own mother. So what?

So nothing. Just an observation. Communication seems to be the major bugaboo in every relationship, whether person-to-person, group interaction, or conversations with and/or about God. Listening is more key than speaking, and many of us just won't make the effort to listen. It's too exhausting. It's too annoying. It's too easy to stay in our heads with our own interpretations of the perceived reality. It's one reason the internet and blogging are so popular... you can stay in your head, or hit delete, or make anonymous comments that further your agenda without any fallout. The internet, by that definition, is not an especially sacred space. There are sites devoted to prayer, to religious discussion and learning, of course, but in the end it is still one person browsing and gleaning, utilizing or pooh-poohing. Still, it's a start.

The kind of interaction Tom describes is a whole lot messier. People coming together to join forces for a purpose... whether for social justice, feeding the hungry, bringing aid to natural disaster victims... or running in a race to raise awareness about a particular disease. The agendas are many but they are set aside for the time it takes to get the job done. What a concept. How come we can't apply that to more of our activities?

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