Sticking it to ’em

April 17, 2012 at 3:35 am (Community, Faith, Interfaith, Politics) (, , , )

God bless the whole world no exceptions

Possibly the best bumper sticker ever. Probably the driver of this car should take over the writing of this blog. And get a car wash.


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Freedom of Religion

September 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm (Faith, Interfaith, Politics) (, , )

I’d been holding off commenting about the controversy surrounding siting the proposed Islamic Center near the World Trade Center because frankly it’s been a busy summer and I haven’t felt educated enough to talk about it. And then there was the yahoo, I mean reverend pastor, in Florida who wants to make a name for himself by burning Korans, but I didn’t want to write about that until I’d read more than the headlines and heard more than the soundbytes.

But you know what, it’s shaping up to be a busy fall, and not having all the facts doesn’t seem to stop anyone else so I’m jumping in with my two cents.

Today is September 11. Nine years and three days ago I got married. Then nine years ago terrorists hijacked four planes crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. More than three thousand people lost their lives. Sam asked me this morning if we should take a moment of silence to honor those people and commemorate the event.

I said no.

And then I burst into tears. Here’s why: I don’t really want to build monuments or hold services or take a minute of silence. I want us to honor those people by being the best Americans we can possibly be. I want us to honor them by paying more than lip service to the idea of freedom of religion. I want us to make clear to the rest of the world, yes, but also to the millions of Muslims living in the United States that we don’t equate their religion with terrorism, that we don’t hold them responsible for what happened on 9/11 any more than I’m responsible for the Crusades or the Inquisition. Saying there can’t be an Islamic Center within a certain radius of the Twin Towers, burning Korans? That’s saying we hold Muslims, all Muslims, responsible for the actions of a small group of bad people. Listen, I’m sorry to tell you this, but bad people do bad things, there are bad people of every religion, and it shouldn’t reflect on the rest of us who are trying to raise our families, do our jobs and lead decent lives, whatever our religious beliefs.

So here’s how I’m commemorating September 11th: two birthday parties, two soccer games, homemade bread and corn chowder. And a prayer or of comfort for those who lost loved ones…and a fervent petition that we as Americans will make that ideal of religious freedom a reality.

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A constant struggle…

March 9, 2009 at 2:31 am (Community, Faith, Interfaith, Kids, Music)

In my family we have a Jew, a Catholic and the three little Jatholics. Sam, the Jew, is not currently very observant, but his Jewishness is an essential part of his identity. I, the Catholic, am very observant. The three little kids are too young to decide for themselves, but the oldest, at six, attends a Catholic parochial school. However, although we belong to it, that school’s parish is not where we primarily attend mass. Instead, I sing in the choir and cantor at the cathedral downtown, as opposed to the parish down the street. This is for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is the fabulous music at the cathedral.

However, as a Catholic mom, one of my primary responsibilities is to educate my children in my faith. Neither the three-year-old nor the baby currently get a lot out of Sunday mass, but the six-year-old is old enough to get something out of going, so my options are the following:

A. Stop singing downtown and go with the kid to the church down the street where she can attend the children’s liturgy.

B. Take the kid to mass downtown on Saturday evening and then go back myself to sing on Sunday morning.

C. Get my Jewish husband to take all three kids to the church down the street on Sunday morning while I’m at church downtown.

D.  Take the kid downtown with me on Sunday morning and get my dad, who has already been to church on Saturday evening, to watch her while we practice and then sit with her during mass.

E.  Go to church downtown by myself on Sunday and don’t worry about the kid’s religious education since she’s at a Catholic school.

Did I forget anything? The truth is that we’ve tried all of these options and there are positives and negatives of varying degrees to all of them.

A.  It’s a nice, involved community at our parish church. The place is packed, and there are tons of young families and kids. It feels really alive. Riley really loves the children’s liturgy and there’s a nursery that Henry and Lucy can play in. I like the pastor and the associate pastor too. However, the music is…it’s just not…I don’t want to be snooty. I mean, I am by nature pretty snooty, but…Here are concrete things I can say: the piano always sounds out of tune. The repertoire is really heavy on sort of 70s/80s church music, you know, the Glory and Praise songbook? It’s the kind of music that takes me right out of the liturgy instead of lifting me up… Plus, and maybe this is just me projecting, but I feel like there’s this de facto rule that families with young kids sit in the back…well, the problem with that is that young kids don’t pay attention to anything if they can’t see what’s going on. My kids are so much louder and more fidgety in the back of the church than in the front. The biggest negative here however is that I would hate, I mean hate to give up the choir at the cathedral. I have dear friends there, and I love making music with them.

B.  This is a great option, but difficult to put into practice. I love going to church with my whole family. I love going to my church with my whole family. However, I’ve never been a Saturday night church-goer. Church is for Sundays! and the weekends get so busy, it’s hard to make the commitment to go twice. Also, and this goes for the rest of the options too, I feel bad about not participating at our school’s church.

C.  Sam doesn’t mind taking the kids to church, but it’s a little weird, I think, if I’m not there. Plus, I feel like it really isn’t his job. And why do I get the benefit of really great liturgy while they don’t?

D.  This is what we’ve been doing the last few weeks. On the plus side, I think my daughter and my dad both get a lot out of the time they’re spending together. My dad has already been to mass, so he’s really able to concentrate on helping my daughter follow along and participate. While I’m not sitting with them, I do see them, and it makes my heart happy. Today as I passed by during communion, my daughter was fiddling with the pockets on my dad’s cargo pants, which cracked me up on several levels, of which the funniest to me was my dad wears cargo pants? Nevertheless, I feel a little guilty about it, like I’m shirking some responsibility. What can I say, I’m Catholic?

E.  This is not actually a realistic option. That was a test.

So yeah, D is where we’re at. I don’t think there is a perfect solution, but maybe I’m wrong. Have I missed any options?

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Jatholic Thoughts

February 27, 2009 at 6:11 am (Faith, Interfaith) (, , , )

Today is Friday, so if you’re Jewish, it’s the Sabbath.  (I guess it is for Seventh Day Adventists too, but I don’t know diddly about them).  Last Friday, we were at my sister-in-law’s place outside of Boston, so we ate Shabbat dinner with them.  And man, was it great…The food yes, but I’m not talking about the Chicken with 40 Garlic Cloves.*  I love the rituals of Shabbat…the candles, the blessings, the songs, the intellectual discussion of religion that seems to occur spontaneously and comfortably and naturally, the children’s involvement.  I just really love the Jewish rituals that are centered around the home.**  The Jewish meal is one example, but mezuzahs are another one.  They hold little pieces of scripture and are mounted to the wall, and you touch them upon exiting or entering the house.  OH! And the holidays!  The Passover Seder, Sukkot, making hamentaschen for Purim, playing dreidel at Hanukkah.  It’s really just a beautiful and rich faith tradition.

As I understand it, many of these rituals began with the diaspora.  I guess when you have to go underground and when you aren’t allowed to worship as a community for years and years and years, you do come up with some pretty nifty traditions.

What’s my point?  I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could pick and choose the elements you liked from different religions?  So for example, you might pick mass, and Jesus, but Shabbat and that other stuff, along with yoga, and say, meditation.  Boy, that’d give a new definition to cafeteria Catholic, wouldn’t it?  I guess one of the benefits of being in an interfaith marriage is I do get to have that.  Sort of.  But do I need to find a Hindu and a Buddhist husband to round out my perfect religion?  And then aren’t I really a fundamentalist Mormon in Bizarro world?  (I should know better than to watch back-to-back Big Love episodes…)  Anyway.

I’m signing off until Monday…happy end of February!


*Totally serious that this is the name of the recipe…which I know because my sister-in-law asked me to start the meal for her when she got held up in town…Also totally serious that it was freaking fantastic.

**I’m really trying not to have the subtext here be “as opposed to communal services” but that’s another post, I guess…

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