I just watched a video from Quakerspeak which really touched me because I’ve been thinking about this particular topic for a while now. I regularly attend weekly Eucharist at a community where there is an intentional effort to connect form and substance. Then this week I had a chat with a relative who wondered if I believed in God or had similar understanding of salvation that she had. I’m glad we had the discussion because it sent me scurrying back to my roots of belief which are much different that hers.
I’m a contemplative and a mystic. I find God or if you will a higher power not in reading the Bible, nor singing in the choir, not in evangelizing others but simply abiding in silence. I frequently visit Abbey of the Genesee and other quiet places including walks in parks and woodlands. My sister has been trying to get me to watch “The Chosen” which is a series about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I watched one episode and it really didn’t appeal to me. Some folks get a lot of intellectually knowing Jesus or knowing about him. I’m not one of them. My connection has always been mystical yet for most of my life and I had no way of knowing that or of expressing it. I try to live Matthew 25 and have for most of my life.
This winter and spring I’ve been reading and learning more about Quakers. I recently attended one of their meetings on Zoom. I enjoyed the silence. There were dozens of folks in that virtual meeting. This week’s news about a possible ban on abortions has left me feeling unsettled and betrayed by membership in a church that has a backward and overly simplistic view of the problem. They are the epitome form without substance. I try to love and respect all living beings. I try to avoid hitting animals when I’m driving. I don’t hunt. I believe in restorative justice. I believe in a woman’s right to chose but would pray that they choose life whenever possible. There must be a solution that respects not just the life of the fetus but the life of the mother and the ability of the society at large to take care of both mother and child.
There was a time when the Republican party bragged about getting government off your back. Regulations and regulation were the purview of the Democratic party which was assailed as the party of big government. Ronald Reagan once said, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.“ But those words could not be further from the Republican Party of today which seeks not to free the people but to shackle them with unnecessary regulation. The Republican party has become the party of theocrats who want to impose their particular morality on the rest of us.
They want to turn back the clock on women’s rights and in particular on the ability of women to choose whether to have an abortion or not. These malevolent theocrats want to impose their narrow interpretation of Christianity on a country that is increasingly diverse. The founding fathers made their first amendment to the United States Constitution “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
We the people are one union comprised on many diverse elements. E pluribus unum. In that plurality we have those who oppose abortion on religious grounds and those who don’t. The freedom of choice should not infringed. The religious views of certain Christians should not become the law of the land. Ironically it was many of these same people who feared the imposition of sharia law. The idea that life begins at conception is a narrow view. Some religious people believe that while others do not.
We have a long history of respecting religious liberty. This is no time to change. The views of certain evangelical Protestants and Catholics should not be imposed on the rest of us.
The possible overturn of Roe v Wade and the gradual erosion of individual liberties in the United States leaves me very concerned for the future of our country and our planet. Our land is on fire. The southwest and other parts of the country are becoming uninhabitable due to climate change which is not being addressed in any meaningful fashion. Today Justice Roberts said that the leak of the draft opinion of Justice Alito was a breach of trust. Doesn’t Justice Roberts realize that the Supreme Court’s possible move to ban abortion in the United States of America is also a breach of trust from one of our co-equal branches of government.
These old white men on the court are hardly representative of the citizens of the United States. They are a ruling minority appointed to life time terms on the court mostly by presidents who did not win the popular vote. They are an anachronism. They are out of step with a country where seventy percent of its citizens support a woman’s right to chose what she will do with her body. Imagine if men were held to the same standard.
They call themselves pro-life but really they’re just pro-birth. Once the child is born they don’t give a rats ass what happens to them. There isn’t mandated state supported prenatal care nor is there any help for mothers and children afterward. Many of the children are born into poverty or addiction. There is no thought of how the child was conceived nor the ability of the mother to bear the child. No exception for rape, incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage.
Tonight one of my conservative relatives attempted shame me into supporting this diabolical agenda by virtue of membership in the Catholic Church. It got me to thinking. Maybe I don’t belong in the Catholic Church. Maybe it really doesn’t reflect the values that are important to me. The majority of these conservative justices are Catholic. Maybe I’d be better off as an Episcopalian, a Quaker or maybe no church at all. I don’t have to belong to a church to find God or follow Jesus. Jesus said, “Follow me!” He didn’t say join this church or that church. The historical Jesus was Jewish and there is no mention of abortion in any of the Gospels because Jewish folks don’t believe that life begins at conception. They believe that ensoulment happens after a child is born.
The United States is not a theocracy. It’s founders were keen to make the first amendment to the Constitution about the separation of church and state. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” My religion is kindness and I believe that you have a right to worship as you chose but you do not have a right to insist that I believe as you do. I believe that the divine light is found in all sentient beings. That includes people, animals, trees, rocks, water, the blue sky and more.
The Archbishop of St. Louis has stooped to a new low in threatening Rudy Giuliani with “no communion,” because of his stance on abortion. That really doesn’t strike me as something Jesus would do. Communion for most Christians even nominal ones is a sacramental rite and it was never meant as a reward and or punishment. I guess this just goes to show that even bishops can do dumb things. I’m not a supporter of Mr. Giuliani either but I think it shows some real shortsighted thinking on the part of the church and the archbishop. If communion really is the body of Christ and I believe it is, doesn’t that hold some hope as a change agent in Mr. Giuliani’s life? I think it does. In the first Eucharist even Judas receives communion and I think that’s the standard that Jesus set.