Religion isn’t about believing things. It’s ethical alchemy. It’s about behaving in a way that changes you, that gives you intimations of holiness and sacredness.
Welcome to the month of August and to our monthly theme of World Religions.
Our speakers this month will share from the faith traditions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The service I lead on the final Sunday of the month will focus on the intersection of these three faiths and on our relationship to religion(s).
Karen Armstrong writes: “Religious people often prefer to be right rather than compassionate. Often, they don’t want to give up their egotism. They want their religion to endorse their ego, their identity.” This is what we see so much of in the public square today. Egocentricity has created a worldview that paints individuals as one of two possibilities: Us. Or Them. This mentality has led to an exponential increase in crimes motivated by prejudice, and the tragedies and traumas that result from such thinking are far reaching.
A part of each of us may want to turn our heads, avert our eyes, and ignore the atrocities happening all around us. Meanwhile, the occupant of the Oval Office fans the flames of division, like a master puppeteer animating an army of golems to perpetuate racism and ethnocentrism. Individuals whose “politically incorrect” views were once squelched, at least publicly, are overtly and proudly proclaiming their intolerance of “the other.”
As Unitarian Universalists, we know that there are no “others,” and our commitment to cultivating justice and valuing diversity must be stronger than ever. Many of you have written or called your leaders in government regarding the detention camps where asylum seekers and immigrants are being held. Consider writing or calling them again. Share your concerns, your fears, your outrage, and your heartbreak.
Remind them that this is not a partisan issue; it is a human rights issue. Remind them of their own sense of worth and dignity. Speak truth to power, naming the fact that if our leaders in each branch of government do not hold themselves and the occupant of the office of POTUS accountable, they are complicit in what will be remembered as a dark chapter in the history of the nation. In fact, as our legislators, they are not just complicit in the narrative; they are the authors of it–just as we are the authors of our own stories. May our religion continue to change us in ways that lead to our shared story being one of justice-seeking, equality-promoting, compassion-filled transformation.
Walk in Love,
~Rev. Mary Frances