Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Is this a religious blog?

A friend asked me a while back if this was a religious blog. No, I told her, it wasn't. Not that I don't talk from time to time about things that people refer to as "religious," but religion (I'm a practising Roman Catholic, and already I'm feeling the need to explain what I mean by that) is no longer a very nice word, bringing to mind, inter alia, physical and sexual abuse of children, forcing of young women into polygamous relationships, frittering away of tithes on la dolce vita lifestyles, support of unjust wars, vilification and violence towards those with opposing views, etc. And that’s just the religious folks of my faith! There are warriors, oppressors of women and children, dealers out of arbitrary and extreme punishment in other religious traditions as well.

So religion is an increasingly fraught word, having less and less to do with reverence for and love of God, however one conceives of that Great Spirit.

Another thing about this ‘religion’ word is that it can be reductive, shrinking a way of life into mere ritual and observance. I’m all for rituals: morning cup of coffee as you read the paper, bedtime stories with your children, Friday evening movie with your friends, once-a week dinner with the extended family. Rituals are the stuff of our lives, investing them with rhythm, marking them by repeated affirmation of what is good, comforting, worthy of being cherished. So it’s fine if religious people worship once, or twice or three times, a week, offer daily prayers, perform regular acts of charity like feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned. I just find myself nowadays preferring to think of these things as decent, good, spiritual, rather than religious. Maybe it’s a phase, but it’s certainly where I am at, these days.

I want my spiritual life to be ongoing, unremitting, and pervasive – to be my whole life, not a small, separate piece of it. That’s my ideal, what I’m working towards. I want God to be part of all my business, a God I recognize as Jah, Elohim, Allah, the Almighty, the Great Spirit and Olodumare, if it comes to that. I hope the discernment of the Spirit informs what I write here, whether it’s a poem or a rant against whatever social, educational, ecological, or political issue is currently exercising me. Hope, I said, hope. I’m not a mystic, nor a great poet, not yet (right Geoff? Donna?), and this is a matter of striving, an essential part of which is conversation with the online community whose responses, corrections and information all contribute to the process of enlightenment.

At midday mass today, the priest spoke of the 'economics' of Jesus, He who ran the merchants out of the temple, accusing them of turning his Father’s house into a den of thieves. Economics, the priest explained, is a word whose roots refer to home management. (I looked it up: oikos "house" + nomos "managing.") Jesus’ economics conceived of all of us as part of his Father’s household. Judas put himself out of the household by becoming a thief, not only when he dipped into the community’s purse, but also by treating Jesus, a person in the household, as if He were mere chattel, when he sold Him to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. It was a fresh take on the old story, and relevant, and I thank the preacher (a new one, whose name I don't know) for it.

The wily young clergyman never made it explicit (I’ve always appreciated Jesus’ embracing serpentine wisdom) but I’m sure he was talking about sub-prime mortgages and CEOs who pocket millions, never mind that they have destroyed the lives of countless human beings, treating them not as people but as things, much as Judas did Jesus, and ruining the world’s economy into the bargain. Small wonder some people expect Jesus to land anytime now, bent on hustling the moneychangers and hawkers out of a temple that they have made a den of thieves with their carbon emissions, depleted ozone layer and acres of oceanic plastic soup!

So back to whether this is a religious blog or not. If religious means concerned with God and matters of the spirit, and the great commandments Love-God! and Love-your-neighbour-as-you-love-yourself! the answer is, I hope, yes. But if it's all that other stuff tied up in rules and regulations, license for the law-giving shepherds and blind obedience for the flock, well, no, I really don't think so.



Geoffrey Philp said...

Have a holy Easter, Pam.

clarabella said...

Geoff: Much thanks – for the amen and the Easter wishes. I am reading some poems this Easter... I expect to enjoy them! A happy Easter to you and yours. P&L pam

Rethabile said...

Happy Easter, Pam and Geoffrey. Pam, I'm gonna send you a request through FB's wall-to-wall, as I don't have your e-mail addy. Enjoy these days as you would any other.

clarabella said...

Hi Rethabile: Thanks so much for your Easter wishes. I wish you and yours a wonderful Easter, especially those two pikni! May spring warm you all and usher you into a year full of good things! My e-mail addy is Be in touch that way if you wish, whenever you wish! I'll still look for the fb request.

FSJL said...

Have a happy Easter.

clarabella said...

Thanks, FSJL: I hope you enjoyed the feast of spring, renewal, resurrection... 1Love

FSJL said...

All I will say is that I got the Friday off, and my wife didn't. She did have to put in some extra hours, however.

clarabella said...

FSJL: You got the day off, your wife didn't, AND she had to put in extra hours... I don't understand! she worked good Friday, plus?

FSJL said...

I work at an institution which grants Good Friday as a holiday. Her regular job doesn't. Plus she's a church musician, and thus has to play the organ on Good Friday.