I’ve returned to the beach this morning. Hearing the familiar sound of the waves and seeing my corner chair unoccupied helped me to feel that all is, once again, right with the world. If I could remove anything from this Starbucks experience and take it home, it would definitely be this chair. If I had one there I’d almost never leave. I can get better coffee and I can even get a better view, I’m really just here for the chair. Since I’ve last been here, B.S. (before surgery) it has become dark at the time I come by here. I don’t mind though since it gives me an extra shot to admire the holiday lights.
This morning was especially nice for light observance as I had just finished watching some “high minded” people protesting religion on the steps of the capitol building here in the great state of tolerance. Tolerance here only comes for those whose ideas are in line with those being perpetuated at the time. Right at this moment it came in the form of what I’ll lovingly refer to as “Scrooge nation”. It seems as if their holiday cheer comes in the form of protesting all origins of the holiday season. Allow me to clarify something right off…I’m not talking only of the holiday celebrated by my community o’ faith. I’m talking about the entire month which see’s major holiday observances for most of the worlds religions. They were not protesting Christmas, they were protesting religion. They are atheists, so called, who want to banish the observances of ALL religions. So we’re all in this together.
The image that is etched in my mind and won’t go away is their sign claiming that religion is myth…blah, blah, blah, and oppressive, blah, blah, blah, there are no angels, and demons, blah, blah, blah, and then that it creates “hard hearts”. What? I can tolerate all of their other opinions here in the land of tolerance, even though obviously I can be tolerated only if I believe what they believe or don’t believe or whatever. I’m having a really time with the hard heart part though. Most of what they complain against is fairly subjective and not really measurable. Hearts however, in my opinion, are the one thing that can be measured. You can actually see the practical implications of a “soft” heart.
In case you are not sure of what it looks like, here is how I think you can see it. You can see it in the trips made to the muck and mud of New Orleans to dig out and rebuild peoples lives. You can see it in flood relief. You can see it in trips to third world countries to provide shelter. You can see it in providing fresh water to a village in Africa, and a library to a school in the Philippines. You can see it in orphans adopted in foreign lands and families adopted right here in our community. You can see it in graffiti painted over and playgrounds cleaned up. You can see it in schools built and businesses supported. You can see it in a place for artists to gather and create and share. You can see it in little cuties dressed as the mythological shepherds and angels. And these are only a few hearts that I’ve seen that my religion has helped form in my community o faith alone. Now add to that, similar examples of hearts throughout the various faith communities just in my neighborhood. That’s like a grain of sand on an ocean beach.
Now don’t get me wrong, they certainly have a right to opinion and to proclaim it virtually wherever they wish, unless their opinion is regarding fire in a crowded movie theatre. What about an empty theatre?....never mind. I care about people though and I care enough about them to be concerned that they have so fixated themselves on whoever or whatever has given them this impression of religion that they risk being that which they abhor. They risk perpetuating myth and creating hard hearts. The “religious” people are certainly guilty of some of what they are accused of, but let’s be honest, no more so than other people. It’s not religion that kills, it is people. I know well meaning and cheerful atheists as well as those who make headlines. We are not so different as you might imagine. My hope for them this holiday season is not that they’ll find “religion”, but that they’ll find cheer in the holiday. Perhaps a visit from 3 ghosts might be helpful? …but then again, that might fall under the category of myth.