It’s been years since I’ve had a pj-day, and today was an ideal opportunity. I’ve been on my own this weekend – Misty and I in charge, as it were. (She thinks she is in charge.) Anyway, I am never very good in the mornings so was not surprised when I woke up too late for church. My cunning plan was to find a service on TV and have my breakfast in front of it whilst gently coming to. It was not to be. Instead I found myself slap bang in the middle of a debate about fundamentalism. The question was something like “Does fundamentalism endanger religion?”
What a lot of hot air, what a lot of quoting the bible, and the Torah and the Koran. Enough to bring on a state of indigestion. Intolerances followed thick and fast, peppered with phrases such as – “I do respect your right to differ,” but sadly including the inevitable, “You’re a sinner.”
What became clear is that fundamentalism, of whatever religion, leads to misogyny, lack of women’s rights, prejudice of all kinds and an inability to even consider that the other could ever have some right on their side. Homosexuality could not even be discussed coherently, nor could the hijab or forced marriages. None of this was the ideal accompaniment to breakfast so in the end I pressed the off button.
The sad thing is that somehow I felt tainted and the house felt soiled. Not even the gracious woman rabbi, the liberal Imam or the biblical scholar could come anywhere near bringing common sense to the discussion. And all of this had come into my home because I was searching for a shared experience of worship. Instead, I simply found a ragged experience of discord. Such debates over current theological differences are more and more prevalent as people seek to exercise their human rights in amongst religious practice. My own feeling is that talking about religion is not as helpful as it might be, simply because of lack of love and care and concern for the other.
It is clear that looking after one another and doing good is the fundamental principle. It matters that human beings seek justice for each other and work to alleviate poverty and violence wherever it exists. Thus I had my own sermon for a Sunday morning – painful though it was.
And what about worship? And Birthday Treats? Today it has been saying hello to the oyster catchers and playing throw the stick with Misty on our walk.