Sunday, August 28, 2011

2011.08.30 Goodnight Irene or Perfect Sunday, not Perfect Storm

I still think of going to church as an important part of my spiritual health. It’s part devotional duty and part inhaling the Holy in community through song, word and sacrament. So even though I’m retired and church-going is not a “job” I go.

That said, I don’t mind missing church for a good reason. Tropical storm Irene today was a good reason. Winds threatened, our porch door sailed open though locked, and our governor declared a state of emergency pleading with people to stay off the roads. It turned out to be not as bad as meteorology predicted. But who can really predict weather?

Yet, in New England at least, we love to talk about the weather. It’s as mysterious as Godde whose grace is even more unpredictable. The religiously sane among us don’t even try to predict Godde. Most clergy try anyway because we think it’s our job. It is, but who does any job perfectly?

So I wasn’t disappointed at all when, after careful discernment and checking news of parish cancellations, my husband decided to call the parish where he’d been contracted to fill in and crawled back into bed next to me this morning.

We slept till 10 a.m., made love, cooked a sumptuous brunch, read the Sunday papers with ease, had hunks of dark chocolate for brunch dessert, and remembered to thank Godde for this unpredicted Sabbath grace.

It was made even more beautiful to me when I read in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine an article by Linda Wertheimer about a middle school in Wellesley Massachusetts where they have an education unit on religion that includes trips to worship sites and services.

It’s controversial of course but students have benefited from knowing something about religion. Religion, like it or not, has been and will continue to be a major player in history, world politics, and many personal lives. But it’s a “spiritual lemon.” People fear its bitter power and want to make lemonade out of it instead of getting to know its zest.

My favorite quotes from young students: “They are not teaching you the religion, they’re teaching you about the religion . . . they’re trying to get you to learn.” And: Before the comparative religion class I didn’t realize that Christianity came out of Judaism.”

That’s good education. That’s good spirituality. That;’s good religion.

Maybe the best part of this “perfect” Sunday was seeing that religion can be a respectable curriculum item in public education. When religion is too isolated it is dangerously subject to fanaticism, exclusionary politics, idolatry, and yes, war.

Paradox: the more you know about other religions and their participants, the more you are able to appreciate and value your own even if you are an atheist.

Good night Irene, and thank you in the name of Peace and Love.