Monday, November 08, 2004

“In a situation like this, unbearable is good”
-Tony Kushner

I’ve been thinking about religion a lot lately (see below). It’s hard not to - faith is at the center of our public discourse, whether we’d have it or no. The news is riddled with rhetoric about ‘evil doers,’ ‘morality’, and some nonsense about restricting marraige in order to form a ‘decent society.’ Fire and brimstone have become a part our everyday lexicon.

One of the many insults inherent in this national talk of morality is the co-option of Chrtistianity. I find myself wishing I were more actively religious, a better whole-er person who could stand up for religion as a means to a more deliberate, conscious and humane way of living. Or I wish I could be completely atheistic, able to scoff from a safe and cynical distance.

I grew up in a fairly religious household. Prayers were said at every meal and before bed, and church the centerpiece of our Sundays. Bible verses were quoted in conversation, and theology discussed at the dinner table. We even sang hymns on long car trips. And it was good. My religion - my funny little late-20th century mishmash of beliefs - is important to me. It’s part of who I am.

The faith I was raised in is more 'love thy neighbor' than 'smite the sinner'. My mother ran meal programs and distributed food to the working poor. Every year, my father and his fellow Quakers would stand silently in the town square, witnessing for peace. I can remember being sternly scolded on the way home from school one afternoon for jokingly referring to my unmarried aunt and her live-in boyfriend ‘living in sin.’ My mother pulled to the side of the road and turned to look at me. “It’s not a sin. They love each other. A sin is something that keeps you from loving.”

Damn straight.

Oh, and PS: for a glimpse of what I think the better sort of Christianity looks like, go click around over at 'Real Live Preacher'.

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