...like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on
it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.
from Robert Heinlein The Notebooks of Lazarus Long
All of my ancestors were Quaker but in the westward expansion to Kansas and Oklahoma they outpaced the meetings.
They started their own sect called "Church of the First Born".
My great-grandfather preached to the multitudes on the bank of the Cimarron River the evening before the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1891.
The Federal troops had set up pontoon bridges the claimants were to rush across when they fired the starting gun.
My great-grandfather had a red mule and forded the Cimarron against the rules.
They yelled out "preacher you can't do that!" and he yelled back "Go to hell!" Seriously.
Anyway, the Church of the First Born didn't believe in doctors or medicine. How weird is that?
In 1937, when my great-grandmother wanted Social Security, she had to have a birth certificate.
The State of Oklahoma required her to be examined by a doctor. She said "Get in the car."
So much for tenaciously held religious beliefs.
My father was an unspoken pacifist. He served in China in the Signal Corps in World War II.
He didn't want me to go to Vietnam. My draft number was 303 and the war ended anyway.
My ancestors became Wesleyan Methodists because there were no Quakers on the prairie and I was raised that way.
When the Methodists became United Methodists, it was too orthodox.
I was in my teens and full of it in the sities and drifted away.
I took philosophy classes in college and of course I knew more than my elders.
I later discovered just like "there is no atheist in a foxhole", there is "no atheist with a sick child".
I made a truce with the "powers of the Universe" and later re-acknowledged some of the wisdom
of the Judeo-Christian teachings about love, tolerance, sharing, peace and acceptance.
Within the last year, I found myself sitting in a Quaker Meeting House.
I attend as a guest. I scrupulously sign the guest book and have no claim to membership.
If I behave myself, perhaps someday, I will be invited to join.
I pruned the honeysuckle from the Meeting House flowerbed on Palm Sunday.
My mother used to call me "Helpful Henry". I try.
Maybe I can slowly rebuild some limited understanding of the many things we can't know.
Or maybe I'll just say quiet thank-yous under my breath when I receive blessings.
When I was trimming the honeysuckle, I spilled my vial of Roundup.
An epithet slipped out quickly. Lightning didn't strike. Old habits die hard.
I hope you get points for trying. I derive comfort from searching.
Granted, self-serving, but see Heinlein's quote above.
In the sphere of conservative religious, whether it is Christian, Judaism or
Muslim, there seems to be two opposite poles.
In each branch of the sons of Abraham, there is a following that is tolerant, loving and inclusive.
Opposite that, in each branch, is a following that is intolerant, exclusive and more bitter than loving.
These latter versions seem to be more outspoken.
I don't think they represent the intent of their founders.
Of course, the practitioners of these intolerancies believe they are the only ones who are right.
From this springs Dominionism, Ultra-Orthodox Jewry and Radical Islam.
Not a palatable stew. Mixed together a poisonous brew.
Certainly no group that should have its hands on any levers of power.
As the Founding Fathers intended.
Separation of Church and State.
By the way, the above quote is out of context. The full quote as follows is:
"History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.
Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help.
But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it
and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it."
He also says:
"There is no conclusive evidence of life after death.
But there is no evidence of any sort against it.
Soon enough you will know."
"Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent."
(Perhaps this why Quakers have no clergy.)
The message here is that your religion is between you and your Maker in the
wee, small hours of the morning.
It is not the business of the State nor your neighbors.
If you wish to attend a church whether to socialize or show off your new dress, that is your business.
Fundamentally, it is a private matter. It is a requirement to respect the privacy of others as well.
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