THE FOUNDERS' VIEW OF RELIGION?
The judge in the recent "Intelligent Design" case in Pennsylvania was the Dickinson College graduation speaker this past weekend and had some thoughts about religion and the Founding Fathers. Do they match up with your thoughts about this? At first glance, his description of religion seems to me like a pretty narrow view.
* * *
IT'S THE PEOPLE, NOT THE HARDWARE
Yes, of course congregations in any religious tradition require what I like to think of as the hardware of faith, which might be a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, along with all of the other material things that help to define the group.
But, in the end, congregations are not the hardware but the software, which is to say the people. And the time to remember that is when congregations celebrate special dates, such as anniversaries of their founding.
St. James Catholic Church of Kansas City (the picture here shows the interior before 1965), a central city congregation at 3909 Harrison St., is observing the 100th anniversary of its founding this year. And part of the celebration has been publication of a small book: St. James Catholic Church: Centennial Stories, 1906-2006. The lovely thing about this -- from which all of us can learn -- is not just the gorgeous watercolor painting of the church by parishioner Bob Ferron but the fact that it is simply packed with memories by people associated with the church.
The book almost literally sings of the church's humanity.
Some brief statements are quite simple: "When I first came to St. James," said Becky Nelson, a current parishioner, "I was looking for a personal relationship with God, but what I didn't expect was this huge communal relationship with God."
Some are very brief but quite specific: "I remember Ione Sheffield dancing at Culture of Peace, cane in hand," said Dave Cozad.
And there's even a little in-house humor: "(Msgr. John W.) Keyes kekpt us all out of jail," Paul Lillig writes of the founding pastor, who served until 1950.
Well, the thing to remember is that in any faith community, it's the people who are crucial -- even more than the buildings or the clergy or the time of worship. And the new St. James book has captured that.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.