I know things. At least I think I know or knew. I know things I do not care to share although I consider them important things to know. I know about the New Testament and I know about the first 5 books called the Torah/Pentateuch. I know about Buddhism and Islam and Hinduism. I know about good and evil and kindness and unkind. The list is endless of what I think I know. I know law, cars and handguns. I know heartache, joy, envy and admiration and more .
In a time far far away, I met Reverend Steve Swanson a Lutheran minister at the Resurrection Lutheran Church. His charity made me admire Christians. His willingness to support my efforts helping gang kids that were scorned and feared made me want to understand his kind better. I read the New Testament for the first time after I met Steve and Father Leslie an equally kind Episcopal priest.
The area of social services is filled with Christian organizations and people who give to those in need without regard for country of origin, race or religion.
So many kind and beautiful and loving people.
Today my experience with many Christians makes me wonder if I learned anything about Christianity. Their language is not of compassion and love but of anger and resentments. They post about the war on Christianity and Christmas. They say that the serious problems of today originate with a lack of their God in the government, and the schools and sexual freedom and socialism. Many freely post ugly memes about Muslims and Sharia law while hailing patriotism and military force.
It is not just a small group of religious persons I refer to. It is many I personally encounter and they seem more interested in getting me to take Jesus in my heart than saving people from abject poverty, hunger and violence. I am doing fine, worry about your Christian brothers and sisters from the south, clamoring for shelter
If I were ever to take Jesus into my heart, that moment passed when I left social services and Chicago and moved to the bible belt. Because today I am just an object tolerated and admired but not accepted and loved. (Most of my friends would surely dispute my characterization so please note these are my thoughts alone and not the opinions of management.)
I know nothing about a world where the environment and people are expendable. I always believed that entry to heaven was through good works not correct religion. All that I thought I know is in doubt.
Israel is not the Jewish homeland I thought it was. Religious Jews and Christians do not behave with the moral authority I once credited them with. My hate for Palestinians is long gone and my admiration for the Israeli military gone with it.
My father took me to the library every week since I was old enough to remember and made me read. I read hundreds of books as a child on many subjects. Tons of biographies and history. I went to school and sat in class bored but attentive. I passed every test ever given me including the law school admission test and the bar exams.
But despite tears spent in study and experience I am reduced to fighting for my intellectual and spiritual survivor with folks that have never said they needed to examine themselves in the course of growing up and getting right. They do not cite to me the Great Books as influences in their world views. I deeply admired the principles of the great civil rights leaders I read about especially Dr Martin Luther KIng Jr. I have never abandoned the idea of peace, love and understanding.
But the enthusiasm we shared in my younger days of saving people who had less than us is gone. There are no Dr. Kings or Rev Steve Swansons or Father Leslies. The churches of my youth like the University Church in Hyde Park seem like part of a fictional short story now.
I do not know you people who can argue for incarceration and walls. I do not know you who scoff at the destruction of wildlife and wilderness.
I am trained as a Buddhist teacher and could teach how to meditate and to incorporate a deep and abiding morality into everyday actions. I could teach techniques for self-liberation, developing compassion and freedom from craving. But, not much is more impenetrable than a closed mind.
“In the spiritual search doubt is beneficial, a closed mind is not. Doubt used wisely assists enlightenment; a closed mind assists ignorance.” Ian Gardner
If there is a God, I thank her for the Greta Thunberg, David Hogg and other young people that stand up for the quality of life, liberty and safety.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus Christ (No exceptions/no substitutions)
Not too late for redemption! If we dig in and let go of our fears of losing the United States to those people. You know them, the poor, smelly Hispanics coming here to take advantage of our wealth, education and generosity. I know they look different and speak a different language, but I know many of you will not park more than 100 steps in the supermarket parking lot in the heat. But you have bee told and it is true that many have braved conditions you would never ever submit to in order to become our neighbor. They walked and sometimes crawled through dirt, desert and water to slip under the barbed wires of the countries standing between them and us. And they will be so grateful that they will work harder and cheaper than anyone else you know. They will clean your toilets, wash your dishes, and care for your kids. They will work any shift at any job just to give their child good education.
Do not do it for them. Do it for you. For your country which will someday be Hispanic again. And you can take comfort knowing that you made sure your children and grandchildren are led by the Hispanic politicians who learned love and tolerance from us. The country will be led by well-educated, well-traveled Christians who will protect the air and water your grandchild will have.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson
Now it is time to plant the seeds that will surround our newcomers in the love and acceptance and tolerance that is the due of all who want and need what we have. And if the Muslim wants to obey Sharia Law, know that your Jewish Orthodox neighbor may still follow halakhah, Jewish Law. How can you demand adherence to your biblical tenets while ignoring mine? So if you believe the bible demands it then you should also live amongst those who will abide by it. Your neighborhood will deny gays marriage and abortion will be outlawed, in your neighborhood of fellow believes.
I will likely be found in a community of Buddhists, Christians and Jews, Gays and transgenders and many others who believe in live and let live. I will thoroughly enjoy the ethnic food selection and the multitude of languages and cultures on daily display.
In exchange for your cooperation, I will personally stop the war on Christmas including continue to get students a week off for Christmas. I will demand children be given the right to silently pray in school and that they continue to have Sunday off to go to church!
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
Martin Luther King, Jr.
In closing, I thought I knew much but I may know nothing.
Let us bow our heads and pray.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
God, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.