Thursday, April 14, 2011

Radical Religion and the House

So Congressional leaders have gotten bullied into having hearings on the "Radicalization of U.S. Muslims" and the bully is, of course, one of their own.

Representative Peter King, who has proudly admitted supporting the IRA, convened these hearings out of "concern." FYI, Pete, I'm concerned you may not realize the IRA is a radical terrorist group, and they aren't hiding behind a cross. That these hearings are even taking place in a country that espouses freedom of religion is disturbing, but more so because of what is being left out of the hearings.

The hearings are focused solely on those Americans who are becoming radical Muslims. You don't have to look very hard to realize how fallacious this kind of process is when you live in the South-everywhere you turn there are all kinds of homegrown nut jobs espousing the name of Jesus Christ to sell their particular brand of hatred. How about the group of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church that protest funerals and decry all manner of individuals who don't practice their particular brand of "faith."

Who gets to define radical? In this season and this Congress it seems that Mr. King gets to set the bar but I'd like to let him in on a little secret. I'm a religious radical.

So's my husband, some of my neighbors, most of my family, and lots of my friends. If I had to guess I'd say there are millions of religious radicals in America, and most of them are Christian. I'm also raising my three children to be religious radicals who think for themselves, speak for the poor and forgotten, and defend the rights of others to practice their own faith tradition.

I'm Catholic. I was baptized Catholic (don't know the specifics, but I was told about it so there you go.) My family never went to a Catholic Church and over time I became a Protestant and attended youth group and summer camp throughout junior high and high school. I went to college Protestant and became Catholic the time I had a deep admiration for the campus priest and as the semesters passed and my attendance at the campus Mass' continued I realized that the liturgy felt like home to me and so I joined.

Now, to be fair I wandered away for a while in my twenties, but by the time I met and married my first husband I was firmly back in the church and worshipping in a Franciscan parish. Here's where the radical part comes in...I was pregnant with my first child when I got married in the Catholic Church. Not a little pregnant, a lot pregnant-there wasn't an empire waist dress around I didn't try on that autumn-but I didn't hide it and yep, I wore white. I also wore white when I remarried at age 41-9 years after the untimely death of my first husband. I wore white and I married a man who is also a Catholic convert (twice divorced) and he's pretty radical in many other ways.

At our first mass in our new parish in North Carolina the priest mentioned that he thought "The church could do more to reach out to divorced and single parent families," Bob and I looked at each other and smiled, we had found a home. I love my parish, but I do not agree with the larger Catholic Church and by many who describe themselves as Catholic I would most certainly be described as a radical. I believe married men and even women can competently serve as priests, and for that matter gay and lesbian ones could get the job done. I believe in contraception and gay marriage, and in some very unfortunate cases, abortion on demand.

I also believe in the sanctity of the cross, the eucharist, baptism, forgiveness, and life everlasting. I also believe there are many paths to God and that the Catholic Church doesn't own all of the spiritual real estate available.

If Congress is going to actually focus on something radical how about getting a federal budget passed maybe a week before it is actually due? Or how about figuring out a way to make sure our country never goes through another housing debacle? Want to get really radical-how about fully funding healthcare for all Americans-starting with prevention and treatment and see how much we could accomplish as country focused on the possibilities of radical change instead preying on the fears and myopia of an American public too involved in the every day goings on of Charlie Sheen to learn the difference between Islam and Buddhism.

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