Sunday, April 5, 2015

Your holy books & my holy books

I was in synagogue yesterday and got upset at one line of the prayer.

It's in "Aleinu," a hymn of praise I have always loved. The tune of it is so beautiful. The content is a call to action, to recognize the oneness and all-encompassing power of G-d.

But this line of the prayer -- not universally adopted -- takes a swipe at other religions. Says that they "bow down to nothingness."

I hate that line and the mindset of whoever wrote it.

Recently I heard a Muslim invoke "the Prophet, Blessed Be His Name." 

The reverence with which those words were spoken was palpable. And if I had occasion to protect a Qur'an, I would do so. Just as I would want someone else to protect a Torah.

Not because it's my belief. But because all symbols of spirituality are holy.

In synagogue I reflected that there are thousands of pages of prayer to say. But no human being can say all of them.

The holiness comes from the energy that we invest in saying whatever few. 

What G-d wants from us is to partner in sincerity. Not to lord power over us (pardon the pun) like an egotistical arrogant king. 

That way of thinking is a result of limited human understanding.

Today is a Christian holiday, Easter, and I feel myself aware of that. I feel respectful to my friends and colleagues who observe it. 

More than that...I feel extraordinarily grateful for the gifts that Christianity has brought to the world.

From Islam I learn about rigor, devotion and humility.

From Christianity I learn about forgiveness and faith.

From my own religion I learn...well pretty much all of the above, and more. It shapes who I am all the time.

We ought to treat the Torah, the New Testament, the Qur'an, and all other Scriptures with reverence.

We ought to open multi-cultural centers of faith. That include a home base for people who don't believe in organized religion, or any religion at all.

Hundreds of classes, thousands of sermons, millions of prayer groups, billions of meditation "moments" a year.

A presence online and offline.

A place for all people, all over the world.

What G-d wants, I truly believe, is for people to get together and take care of each other. Preferably with awe and reverence and respect - for the uniting force that created and re-creates us every second.

Putting other faiths down is wrong. No matter who does it and no matter what the reason.

We owe it to ourselves to strengthen one another in faith. And to understand that diversity is not about being religion-blind. 

Rather, diversity is about celebrating the full and complex identity that each and every person brings to the table.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and do not represent those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.