Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I Guess I'm a Duck

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing a story about the one and only chilihead that actually came into our booth at the Ste. Eustache Flea Market on Sunday, but I just had to put the following thoughts down on paper... So, if you're still patiently awaiting my chilihead story... you'll have to wait another day... Sorry; I never suggested I was organized. That's FTS' thing. ;)

Some days I get it driven home to me in the weirdest ways how very, very important being a Unitarian is to me.

I grew up in a home where a deep personal sense of theology and a relationship with the universe and how I fit into it, was more important than how I perceived who or what God is. I was taught to seek my own personal relationship with God and that I would find that relationship within my own experiences. Or at least that was the end result of what I was taught. I don't think it was because Dad or Mom are particularly Unitarians, per se, but I think it was the end result of my Dad trying to figure out what he is.

Prayer is how I talk to God and that is something so ultimately personal to me that I really don't understand the concept of public prayer. Why would anyone want to do that? In the new testament, Matthew 6:5 to be precise, it says "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." I'm not even a Christian and that passage makes sense to me. But that's me... Matthew 6:6 is even more telling and it reads: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Yeah, I know, those of you who know me really well are thinking "Who are you and what have you done with Tina?".

And now you want to know what happened to precipitate this blog, that's all weirdly religion-based and not at all about the hot pepper story I've been promising?

Well, I read a really well written blog today that technically was more about civil rights being unnecessarily protected for people who didn't deserve to have them protected, than it was about public prayer, but I was really riled internally as I read the bit that pertained to daily prayer in schools. My sensibilities reeled as I read that Tish, the blog-writer felt I was not sane because I didn't somehow believe that praying in school is a good thing. Well not ME personally, obviously, she has no idea who I am, but people who think like me. Why does not wanting to listen to someone's prayers in a public school setting cause such a personal affront to people? Do they not understand that maybe, just maybe, their religion isn't someone else's; isn't mine?

Well, for what it's worth, I'm perfectly sane.

I simply understand and acknowledge that not everyone in the world is a Christian or has a KJV Bible-based religion at the core of their being. How can I help but not acknowledge it. I'm a Unitarian. But I find it odd that Christians don't know that passage but get all riled up about how prayer in school is a good thing... Am I missing something?

Being a Unitarian, I live in a world of a multitude of religions. We are comprised of Jews and Muslims, Christians and Atheists, we have Wicce and Pagans and Sikhs and Catholics and Druids, well, you get the idea. We come from all walks of life and somehow manage to know and understand that we are all part of this great interwoven tapestry that makes up this world that we live in. And as interwoven Unitarians, we strive to learn and understand what makes each of us tick theologically, and we work to avoid stepping on each others' toes so that in essence; we all become a community blessed and more important than the sum total of each of our own comprehension (or lack thereof) of God.

When folks ask me what a Unitarian is, I like to joke that we're the ones who begin our prayers with "To whom it may concern".

But you know what I've come to learn and understand about Unitarianism above and beyond any other "true" religion that I've so far had the honour of examining?

As a Unitarian, I've never been asked to park my brain at the door. In fact, I've often been challenged and forced to use my brain in order to embrace my other fellow Unitarians.

And from what I understand of public prayer... it deliberately doesn't embrace anyone who isn't of that religion and deliberately, without a care, has the ability to affront the religious and theological sensibilities of those who aren't of that religion. And really, any Christian who says to me that they're all for public prayer in school, that there is nothing wrong with it... Well, let's just say that there is more than one oxymoron in the Bible and New Testament.

Separation of Church and State.

It's necessary.

Tomorrow... Hot peppers; I promise.


Laura said...

Hello Duck...er, Tina. :)
THAT was a very interesting post. I've never understood the Unitarian church was all about. Thanks for putting it into perspective!
it was good to see you at my blog, come on back anytime.
I'll be back to watch for more chiliposts!

Tisha from Texas said...

First off, thanks for coming by my blog! I appreciated your comment.
When I was growing up, we had a moment of silence,which was meant for a personal prayer. Now that can't even be performed for the sake of offending one person. Since public education in the US is taking a nosedive, many believe that one of the 'diving boards' was eliminating school prayer. I think there is a great deal of truth in that. I probably should have worded that portion better, so I wouldn't have offended you. BUT I am glad you stopped by.
Have a great week.

FTS said...

I commend you on your own well-written rebuttal, Tina. A healthy debate is always beneficial to both sides of an issue.

If I may...

The term "separation of church and state" does not appear in the U.S. consitution. The words "church", "state", or "separation" don't even appear in the First Ammendment. It reads: "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."

Thomas Jefferson made the comment about separating church and state in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in 1802. His intent was to soothe fears that the government would establish a national religion or tell people how to worship. That portion of his letter reads: "I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

The function of this was to protect the church FROM the state, to allow us the freedom to worship as choose -- or not. This all came about because England had established a national church, with no others allowed, and the Conventicle Act of 1665 dictated mandatory attendance, threatening violators with imprisonment.

The point of this is to give people freedom OF religion, not persecution due to it. I see nothing wrong with a moment of silence to allow children to pray if they choose to do so, nor do I see anything wrong with children who wish to pray during their own free time (lunch, recess, etc). All any student not wanting to participate has to do is move on along. Their own values are in no way compromised by the prayers of believers.

My apologies for such a long-winded response. This is obviously an issue in which we won't see eye-to-eye, but I do appreciate the way in which you constrained your commentary to the issue rather than making it personal. As you said, it's a good thing we live in countries where we can have opposing opinions.

Ref: http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html

Pepperfire said...

Hi guys, thanks for the comments. Feel welcome, any time.

FTS, thanks especially for the history lesson... I was always under the impression that separation of church and state was an amendment. I have to agree with you on the point that if a group of children (or anyone else for that matter) decides they're going to hold a prayer group during school activity and it is done as an Allied Youth, or 4H Club or even Girl Guides is done, and is not a required attendance function, then all the power to them, but the same free class time must be made to all prayer groups regardless of religious affiliation. And then, it's easy to say; if you don't like the prayer, don't attend the group. Here, when someone says "Daily Prayer", it always refers to the Our Father and the God Save the Queen prayers that were recited every morning at school before the National Anthem, Oh Canada, was played. They do neither of these three things anymore, but I wouldn't mind if they brought back the National Anthem; that's simply patriotism.

Tisha, I loved your blog, I really did... Anything that moves me to think, even if, especially if I disagree with it, is ok in my books! I have to admit, that had you said "a moment of silence" I have no concept of anyone having sensibilities going off, theosophically, religiously or otherwise and you're right, I probably wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to write this blog. :) But... I really meant what I said about the ACLU.

You made an interesting comment though... "many believe that one of the 'diving boards' was eliminating school prayer"... Since both my husband's brother and his wife are teachers in Minneapolis, I'd suggest that the "nose dives" are caused by increased poverty class in the general population and lack of funding at the school board level and neither of those factors have anything to do with the dearth of prayer.

Today... I promised to post about Chilies; so I will.

he man of arabia said...

Seperation of church and state means no turbin in the rcmp, cause its not part of the uniform. Of course, you would argue you have the religous freedom to wear one, trying to 'water down' a state law, which would show your own hypocracy regarding church and state not being mixed. Typical.
Now don't get too hot before you post Demon. ;)

Pepperfire said...

Arabia... Check the RCMP, the list of uniform pieces include the Turban. Live with it. :p

he man again said...

.....of course, since they allowed 4 feet 100 pound women in the force, now turbins, and, for sure they are gonna one day have the quota for every creed there is. You will love that one. LOL

prayers said...

Well Pepperfire interesting post. I was looking for Info on prayer and I came across your site and while I Guess I'm a Duck wasn't an exact match i was most interested to read what you had to say. I was looking for prayer infomation, I glad I came across your site I'll visit again sometime.