Just a Little Reminder: We Are What We Do


My Facebook life has gotten a little exciting. Pope Benedict XVI’s announced abdication has generated various comments and in my circles more than a little snark. I joined in a bit by posting the Onion article titled Resigning Pope No Longer Has Strength to Lead Church Backward. Additionally a member of my congregation who has been running for UU pope has in the wake of the upcoming vacancy expanded his job search and I endorsed his bid. This proved too much for one of my Facebook friends (we can defer a conversation on that unfortunate usage, rather than something more accurate if less warm and fuzzy such as acquaintance for another time) who cited my citation as an example of “liberal bigotry,” and then demanded I take down the endorsement of my parishioner and friend. I thought the kinder act for me was de-friending the aggrieved correspondent.

Among the various comments a Buddhist religious leader offered an extensive rebuke, a) for being cruel to the pope, and b) for being involved in politics.

Personally, if I do say so myself, I think I’ve been admirably reticent in expressing what I think of the current Roman pontiff. But, whether that’s so or not, I found myself thinking, once again, about that other point, a fairly common opinion that religion doesn’t belong in politics.

Me, I’m trying to think of what a religion might be worth if it isn’t about how we live our lives. And I have an opinion, pretty much worthless…

At least in a democracy or even our oligarchic republic, speaking up and being involved seems the price of admission.

And, to do that without being informed by our spirituality is pretty much the weirdest thing I can think of.

Here’s the bottom line: You are what you do. I am what I do.

A certain kindness is called for. Absolutely. And we need to be careful about getting self righteous along the way.

And real engagement is called for.

Look at your hands. They are the only hands God has.

Put ‘em to good use…

If you’re not sure what to do, here’s a nice list from the Christian tradition:

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Personally I think it needs some tightening, but the drift is right.

I would add two things.

First, a comment on this from another Christian, Dom Helder Camara, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

And second, I would add we have a deep responsibility to stand with those who are put on the outside through no good reason, in our time two of those obvious areas are women’s rights and justice for LGBT folk, for whom finally the scales are dropping from eyes and we’re seeing the ages of marginalization and oppression have been a cruel thing that needs to be stopped.

I think between these comments we find a pretty good rule of thumb for all of us who get it that we are what we do.

And, let’s be frank, there’s not much else to what we are than that what we do…

Thinking Fourth
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