Friday, December 01, 2006

One... Body Human

Because I have had this “kettle of fish” simmering on the proverbial “back burner” of my mind for so long that it now occupies nearly all of the “burners” of my mental stove, I am going to serve it up lest it spill all over my personal attitudinal kitchen. As much as I try to avoid network news and discussions, the proliferation of rhetoric addressing the “situations” that boil in conflict today has made avoidance impossible. My major difficulty in acknowledging these problems is with the arrogance, disrespect, and sheer ignorance (coupled with a determined refusal to be informed) paraded by political leaders and religious pundits regurgitating their self-righteous nonsense at the expense of peoples affected by their stupidity who suffer hourly due to prevailing political choices. (I warned you that it has been simmering for a while.)

When these religio-political performers present their well rehearsed (but not so well reasoned out) views, there is a disattachment from reality that demands some clarification. To that end, I present some requisite definitions of terms that you and I have heard bandied about ad nauseum.

Sect: A group… forming a distinct unit within a larger group… by virtue of certain distinctions of belief or practice.
Sectarian: One characterized by bigoted adherence to a factional viewpoint.

Fundamental: Of or relating to the foundation or base; elementary.
Fundamentalist: One adhering to the practices of a usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.

Inasmuch as a sect is, by definition, something that is a part of something larger, it seems (to me) that the obvious extrapolation of reason is to discover the identity and nature of that ultimate “whole” that is the larger group. And, after years of consideration of the matter, (triggered into active life when the president of the Southern, Protestant, Christian sect [aka denomination] that ordained me as a deacon, declared in a much-publicized speech “God doesn’t hear the prayers of the Jews“. My “inner voice” immediately spoke up and said “I do not worship a Deity that is limited by some theological hearing impairment.“ And I began looking, asking, and listening.) I have reached my own personal conclusion that the larger whole is Humankind. All other subdivisions are but sectors of the Human Whole… or, if you will… The Body Human. And the intolerance of and bigotry between various members of this universal Body Human, is (by definition) an exercise in self-abasement. And these attitudes are, most certainly, not something of recent, regional, nor “modern” construction. (History will demonstrate that the USA was brought into being as a direct result of groups seeking refuge from just such pressures.)

In the year 58 (as nearly as can be determined) the apostle Paul, while in Corinth (completing a fund-raising drive for the benefit of the poor in Palestine) wrote a letter to the church in Rome. A portion of that letter deals with (in very elementary language) the attitudes that he wants the members of that church to understand as basic to their core values. Now, this was a goodly number of years ago… yet I can not help but hear the apostle addressing the very same attitudinal conflicts and challenges that we are living in the midst of today. So, I offer this portion of that letter to your consideration as we reflect, together, on the sectarian conflicts that affect every part of today’s globe (inclusive of our own neighborhoods.)

“For I say to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

For as we have many members in one physical body, and all members have not the same function:

So we, being many, are one body in belief, and individually one with each other.

(I will interrupt here to acknowledge that the apostle was addressing his intended audience which was the “body” of Christian believers in Rome. But it is my considered conviction that the Truth that the apostle translated into that group’s interest, is a Truth of far more universal applicability… for, I submit, no Truth is only true in the confines of a limited sample… it is validated when proven in unbounded application.) Paul continues…

Having then gifts differing (according to the circumstance that is given to us) let us exercise them accordingly: whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Or service, let us wait on our serving: or he who teaches, in his teaching;

Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with liberality; he that rules, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good.

Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; giving preference to one another in honor;

Not lagging behind in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving your God;

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; devoted in prayer;

Contributing to the needs of the saints; practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Be not wise in your own estimation.”

Now, am I missing something… or is there not an absence of ANY of this instruction coming from the pulpits, rostrums, or podiums of our political, social, national, religious, or global centers of influence? And are not those who fly the flag of Judeo/ Christian belief carrying, tucked firmly under their arm on their way to and from their worship exercises, the book that contains this letter. Therefore ignorance is not a viable excuse. What then gives us license to wag our collective finger toward the Balkans, the Middle East, the Far East, Europe (“old” or “new”), or any other point of geo-political-religious conflict while we carry an “instruction manual” that prescribes that all of us are of “one body”? Is our sectarian bigotry of some sort of acceptable variety as opposed to the unacceptable form that we condemn in others. For crying out loud people!… let’s get off of our “high horse” of what the apostle referred to as “haughty in mind”, “wise in our own estimation”, and embrace the completeness of our one body… whatever headdress it wears (be it of feathers, whalebone, scull cap, or turban)… or name it assigns its place of worship… or name by which it recognizes, respects, and worships our common Creator.

Within a smiling deference to Norah Ephram as she defined blogging as one’s expression of what they perceive as truth on the day of their blog’s posting and subject to the winds of change with each new day… I submit this… my Truth as seen today… for your consideration.

As I bid us all “Welcome to our One Body of Humanity.”

Definitions from: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright© 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Well thought out and extremely well presented. "The larger whole is Humankind" This phrase alone has stayed with me since I read this post a few days ago. Wonderful.

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