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Sunday, March 23, 2008

AN APOLOGY TO FORMER PARISHIONERS

So let me get this straight. If any of the members of my UU congregations in the past (I’m not in the ministry anymore) decide in the future to run for the President of the United States, what I said in my sermons might destroy their chances of being elected. If I said, “God Damn the Easter Bunny!” they might be blamed for that sentiment on my part (Why didn’t they simply stand up and walk out? Or at least cancel their pledge??) and since the Easter Bunny is a cherished part of the culture, which encourages little children to believe that rabbits lay eggs, then anyone who stayed in such a congregation hates little children and is intent on destroying their illusions.

Or if I took on, say, the big Easter orgy described in today’s newspaper wherein hundreds of kids and parents swarm all over a local ranch in hopes of finding Easter eggs with prizes inside or even stuffed animals dropped (with parachutes -- no stuffed animals are hurt in the making of this celebration) from bright green airplanes. If I said “salvation by greed” may be accepted by the government of the United States of America (particularly the President who encourages shopping as a way of opposing terrorism) but that I found it not just anti-religious but also demonic, then anyone who was in church that day will have it held against them when it comes time to run for office. The Chamber of Commerce would see to it that they were not elected. Not me -- them.

Of course, the UU way of evading the whole problem of the Crucifixion at Easter (torture is something we just can’t face and neither do we want a lot of naked men hanging around our children) is to define it as a Symbol of the Seasons celebrated in many cultures in many ways. Except we won’t mention that the Paschal Lamb was a blood sacrifice on the altars of the founders of Christianity, since it can be the centerpiece of a nice family meal, eaten out so that Mom won’t have to get all stressed in the kitchen. (Stress is bad for Moms.) And getting up early for a Sunrise Service is also stressful and stress (as well as lack of sleep) might give you diabetes, so better to sleep in. No one knows the words to the songs anymore anyway, so song sheets would have to be provided (which is bad for the forests), and it’s impossible to find high school kids to play the triumphal trumpet parts because they aren’t allowed to learn sacred music in school these days.

Let’s go back to that torture part. This crucifixion stuff is worse than water-boarding. All that blood! OUR God is a sweet old man who would never allow such things to happen, much less to his own Son. Too bad those Iraqis have such a cruel God. Where did He come from anyway? Surely not from around here! As for resurrection, probably Jesus only revived because Doctors Without Borders or maybe some military doctors used miracle drugs and American technology (supported by our tax money and willingness to underwrite medical research) to heal him. Who ever heard of anyone being buried in a cave anyway? If he’d been in a proper steel coffin, no doubts could have been raised.

But I’ve been thinking about this whole thing of discouraging politicians by preaching things that the congregation doesn’t necessarily believe but that the general public, as interpreted by the media and political opponents, would find reprehensible. I could start with the truth -- no politicians want everyone to know what’s really going on, where the bodies are buried, so to speak. Keep the skeletons in the closet. At least in there they won’t be phoning high-priced call girls or using public lavatory cubicles to tap out messages. (Of course, who knows what they did to become skeletons in the first place.)

To make sure my parishioners could keep their presidential options open, I could encourage tithing instead of taxing, insist that people who didn’t meet my standards should be denied the right to vote and that if they caught terrible diseases, it was their own fault. Why didn’t they stay home and mind their own business? Come to that, why didn’t they stay in their own country? Must we build walls everywhere? Don’t they realize how much that costs? These sentiments probably wouldn’t endanger anyone’s ability to win an election, and if one of my parishioners were elected President of the United States, think of the opportunities that would open for ME!

I could be photographed kneeling with the President in the Oval Office, praying for peace before sending off the next wave of National Guardsmen to the Middle East for third tours. It would be especially striking if we were both women, like Golda Meir. Of course, we’d have better hair. Then there are all those chances to be photographed shaking the hand of the President at the end of Sunday Services -- you know, me in my preaching gown framed by the massive carved doors of the church.

Too bad I’m out of the ministry. Don’t imagine that I was thrown out. UU’s don’t do that. We’re very tolerant, which is why we’re all so successful. Of course, most of us are very liberal as well, so we don’t criticize or call anyone a heretic or defrock clergy. However, we do use the scripture of parliamentary procedure called “Robert’s Rules of Order” which says that anyone not in sympathy with the purposes of the meeting may be excluded. We encourage them to pay their pledge anyway. And we still count them as members every year when the congregational numbers have to be sent in to Boston. We don’t “fence the communion” -- though we might do a bit of shunning at the best social events by not remembering to tell them where the parties are held or when.

But really -- I’m not criticizing my old friends. I just have other things to do. If in the future some of them have my sermon content and style held against them, I’m sorry. Maybe they aren’t really presidential material anyway. I mean, the media knows best, right? Er, I mean, correct?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Religion makes poor bedfellows with politics and even poorer with government. Cop Car

prairie mary said...

If you mean institutional religion, politics and government, I will agree, though "poor" might not always apply. They often contradict and struggle against each other -- sometimes as a valuable "separation of powers."

But as systems of thought I think they are far too separated and would benefit from far more entanglement.

Prairie Mary

Anonymous said...

Mary, I don't really know how to conduct a dialogue on the subject of Government and Religion. As an Agnostic, I find your brand of religion (judging from your postings, of course) to be non-offensive, if not downright desireable. Were we in physical proximity I whole-heartendly believe that we could be great friends and debaters.

However, the adherents many of the established religions give me a queasy feeling. As I feel that they deny me a place in the world, it would be downright impossible for us to be friends. Cordial, perhaps, but not friends.

Bottom line: I respect and consider what you write (why else would I continue to read your postings? *smile*); but, I would encourage more entanglement between government and ethical systems rather than between government and religion--system or establishment.
CC
P.S. I really, really appreciate your deeply thoughtful postings!

prairie mary said...

Every good conjurer will tell you to watch his right hand carefully -- while you're doing that, his left hand is the one that makes the trick happen. I'm beginning to understand that all this commotion about separation of church and state, to the point of arguing over whether girls can wear headscarves to class, is a distraction. We do NOT want a theocracy and we know it. (Though George W. fails to understand it.) But our real threat is an unholy coalition of commerce and state. The only ethic is make-a-profit, the laws are skewed to reinforce that. Some call it fascism. We may need divine intervention to break it up. I do not fear the church as much as I fear the corporation.

Prairie Mary