Sometimes people who are outside of faith communities wonder what they're missing. Well, there are many possible answers to that question, including an opportunity to wrestle with life's hard questions in a theological context.
But I was reminded of another answer this past Sunday when Cory, our congregation's choir director, got up before our worship service and announced that she has accepted a music teaching position at a college in New England.
You could hear some immediate "ohs" of disappointment, followed quickly by applause of congratulations.
While she has been working on her doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, Cory has been our choir director for most of three years. Her energy and creativity have been reflected in the boundary-breaking music our choir has offered as its part of our worship.
So we're sad to see her leave. But we're glad for this next chapter in her life.
And the combination of "ohs" and applause spoke to me again of what healthy faith communities do: They love and support their members. They cry when their members cry and they cheers when there is something to celebrate -- as we did recently when our youth director and her husband, after a long wait, adopted a baby.
I'm not suggesting that people outside of churches, synagogues, temples or mosques can't and don't find ways of creating a caring community. Some no doubt do. But in faith communities, caring for each other is high on our agenda. It's not just what we do, it's who we are.
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THE PROBLEM WITH DAWKINS
Does aggressive atheist Richard Dawkins help or hurt the cause of atheism? As this NPR writer suggests, he does atheism no favors by his willingness to belittle people of faith. There's a good, lively conversation to be had between atheists and people of faith. But as in any interfaith dialogue, that requires at minimum that one side respect the other. Dawkins lacks that respect of others and, thus, disqualifies himself from serious conversation with religious adherents.
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P.S.: From time to time here on the blog I've written about the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially as it relates to the question of whether people of faith are participating in it or working against it. Today I want to link you to a collection of 20 videos that feature various speakers trying to unpack the meaning of the OWS movement just as a way of helping you and me try to make better sense of this phenomenon.