RELIGION? Y-A-A-W-W-N. MAYBE LATER
An actress says she's given up her Mormon religion because she got "too lazy" to practice it. Sound like someone missed way too many Good Friday sermons.
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THE ROLE OF POLITICS IN CONGREGATIONAL LIFE
Perhaps regular readers of this blog and my column are tired of me urging people to attend funerals, but I attended another one a few days ago and discovered yet another good reason to go to them.
This one was for a wonderful man in my church who was 85 years old at his death. He was a banker with as much moral integrity as I've ever known in anyone. He was active in many ways in our congregation as well as in the community in many civic and charitable endeavors.
I won't say he was a close friend, but I liked him and he liked me and now and then we'd have more than a passing conversation.
But in the nearly 30 years that I knew him, I don't think either of us had ever discussed politics in any depth with each other. So it was with some surprise that one of the people who eulogized this man at his funeral mentioned the time he said that so-and-so would be good for the position (a position that, as I recall, may have been son-in-law) "as long as he's not a Democrat."
Everyone laughed, knowing that the man had said it in a humorous way, and yet this man felt a rather deep connection to the Republican Party. So it wasn't meant entirely as a joke.
As a result of the comment, I began to think about my congregation in political terms, and I found it quite difficult to do. Oh, for sure there are some people who would identify themselves as liberal Democrats and there are some who would call themselves conservative Republicans -- and my guess is the former have been increasing in number in recent years while the latter have been dwindling at least a little. But that's just a guess.
The reality is that we don't spend a lot of time as a congregation delving into partisan politics. Rather, we spend time figuring out how to be faithful to the gospel, how to be useful to our society, how to make a difference for good in the lives of people with many needs and how to integrate whatever our political beliefs are into our call to love God and love our neighbor.
Which means the man whose funeral I attended and I could be partners in many ways even if we might have political disgreements (no, I'm not announcing I'm a Democrat; rather, as a journalist, I'm politically independent and non-partisan, but I do hold personal political opinions).
So going to his funeral gave me another reason to appreciate being a member of a congregation in which a wide variety of people can coexist -- and not just coexist but actually engage in ministry together that essentially has nothing to do with any partisan political positions.
Isn't that how people of faith are meant to work together?
P.S.: And if you missed my extra column in yesterday's paper about the Obama-Wright controversy, click here.
To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow will use the "Bodies Revealed" exhibit in Kansas City as an occasion to talk about the Christian idea of the resurrection of the body and its connection to Easter.)
Today's religious holidays: Good Friday (Christianity); Purim (Judaism); Norous (Zoroastrianism New Year); Naw Ruz (Baha'i New Year); Magha Puja (Buddhism)