Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day of rest, day of perspective

It's Sunday, and I'm taking a day of rest. My kids have colds and I want to be sure that they're well enough to go to school tomorrow (thus the trials and tribulations of the working mother without backup daycare). I like to think of Sundays as a day of stepping back, a day to reflect. Sundays for me are typically a church-going day, but I think that religion has given itself a bad name. In fact, I'm generally hesitant to talk about religion much these days, as a pre-emptive strike against confrontational conversations for which I don't have the energy nowadays.

When we lived in Chicago we went to Fourth Presbyterian Church, led by Rev. John Buchanan. I think what Buchanan does best is that, on the day of rest, he provides perspective. And I think one important thing he does is provide perspective on religion -- and the fact that we can all get so caught up in the technicalities of our own religions that we miss the big picture. Too often, our viewpoints stir up animosity, hatred and violence -- the very things that religion was brought in to mitigate. From Buchanan:

Jesus taught about and revealed a God who is big enough: a God bigger than human religions, bigger than religious laws and traditions, bigger even than the most sophisticated and sublime descriptions and theologies and creeds. Jesus revealed a God who is so passionately for all people, a God whose love simply knows no boundaries, certainly not the boundaries religion itself has created...

So you and I who claim his name are invited to the great adventure of living in that love and extending that love into all the world, to all people, near and far; people like us and people who are radically different; other Christians with whom we may disagree on many issues, maybe all issues; other Christians, Jews, Muslims; people of other faiths and no faith—all of them, each of them a precious child of God, each loved and treasured forever by their creator.

You can read the rest of Rev. Buchanan's message here. But I like that perspective. Given that there are so many theologans (even within Christianity) that spend their lifetimes reading and interpreting Scripture who can't seem to agree, I find no reason to claim that what I believe is the be-all, end-all -- in fact, I think that the concept of God is bigger than all of us, and we certainly don't have enough data to be making any exclusionary assertions -- and certainly no basis to go around killing other people with different beliefs.

I like this way of thinking. I wish more people would adopt it, and that by the time my kids are adults people will really be able, spiritually, to focus on what's important, rather than use religion as a tool to dominate or antagonize others.

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