Category Archives: Religion

The God Hunter

Short Fiction for Guests of the Wordfeeder
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preface… This is the second in a series that began with “Stranger on the Bus“. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to read it first. It’s about an exceptional individual living among us, seemingly one of us, but special in ways not even he fully appreciates, a stranger without knowledge of his origins, purpose or destiny, still finding his way.

What you or I believe isn’t important, only what happened. I’m only asking that you read the first two and others in the series with an open mind – because you have no choice, because, like everything I write, except for a few details, this is a true story.

This second installment begins a few months later, on a Friday evening in early October.
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Stranger On The Bus*

Sunday, May 22, 2011 (*From the song, “One of us,” by Eric Bazilian, originally released by Joan Osborne in March of 1995.)

“You’re late.” Shirley looked up from the charts she was reviewing, pretending to be the mean supervisor, watching her friend adjust the scrubs nurses wore in their section, and then use a scrunchy to wrap her shoulder length hair into a sloppy bun.

“Walter needed a quickie,” Denise giggled back, her arms up and hands still working on the back of her head, “which, thank goodness, turned out to take a little longer than he expected and I missed the early bus.”

“Go, Walter,” Shirley commented approvingly, her usual enthusiasm lost in what she was reading about the critically ill woman waiting for a room in the temporary patient area behind the glass walls across from their nurses’ station.

“What’s going on in there?”

“The patient is Emma Gold, 86. Medics brought her in an hour ago. It’s congestive heart failure she’s had for years. That’s her husband sitting in the chair next to her. I called her daughter. She and a brother are on their way over, but they’re an hour away.”

“She’s not going to make it, is she?” Denise could tell from the description of Mrs. Gold’s condition, but more by the way the flesh on the sides of her friend’s mouth lay heavy, without the slightest hint of optimism.
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Barack Obama: Right time, wrong candidate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yesterday in Philadelphia, Barack Obama delivered his speech about race and his relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright.   Some reviewers I’ve heard considered it to be on a par with Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.”  I seriously doubt it, and will be surprised if it is remembered or revered as long, by so many of all ethnic groups and nationalities.

As oratory goes, it wasn’t even one of the Senator’s best.  The introduction was stock Obama verbiage, the same emotional, historic prelude we’ve heard before.  (Am I the only one who keeps waiting for him to get to the point?)  That “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community,” suggests that Black churches and their memberships share similar views.  His comparison between Pastor Wright and the older white grandmother who raised Senator Obama was inappropriate.  The latter shared her personal fears and prejudices of two generations ago in private with her grandson – for whom she cared despite his bi-racial heritage.  The Pastor, on the other hand, shouted his prejudices from the pulpit of his church to teach his parishioners, impressionable children and budding politicians among them.

Over the past 20 years during which Pastor Wright has been his spiritual advisor, did Senator Obama become the voice of reason within his church, in opposition to the Pastor’s admittedly objectionable points of view?  Did he, at the very least, move his family membership from the Pastor’s church to another whose clergy offered points of view consistent with those which the Senator professes to be his own?  What conversations did he have with his two young children who were exposed to the Pastor’s preaching, week in, and week out, as they were growing up?

It’s not at all clear that the Senator who tolerated Pastor Wright’s rants can be expected to emphatically discourage those sentiments elsewhere in our country and in the world were he to be elected President.

I would have voted for Colin Powell for President, his Republican affiliation notwithstanding, without a moment’s hesitation.  I consider him an exceptional American, particularly well-suited, by virtue of his experience and intellect, for the office of President.  And I am certain there are other highly qualified African Americans, of both genders, that I and the electorate in general would enthusiastically support, and with whom we would entrust the management of our government, and the security of our country.  It may just turn out that Barack Obama isn’t one of them.  For all but a relatively few of us, this election has never been about race, or gender for that matter.

The Senator is emphatic about his rejection of Pastor’s Wright’s points of view, an assertion which I accept without question or skepticism, the timing and circumstances of his comments yesterday notwithstanding.  My problem with Barack Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin – a ridiculous notion that distracts from the truth of the matter, although the argument may have worked for his campaign, until now.  (See “Channeling JFK,” posted March 14.)  It’s his lack of experience, and the overwhelming sense I have that he’s all talk, however well-spoken, and too little substance.  To these two, I now add a third concern:  That he lacks of the strength of character to correct prejudice, stand up against ignorance, and dispel anger whenever and wherever he encounters it.

He repudiates, but is slow to distance.  He objects, but does not change.  He explains, and thinks that is enough.  So next Sunday, or the Sunday after the Inauguration, when the Obama family goes to church, and should Pastor Wright happen to be the guest speaker that day, does the Senator sit there once again, accepting by virtue of his silent example what the Pastor has to say?  Whatever your ethnicity, what would you want your President to do?


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Senator Obama’s Problem with Religion

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Senator Obama has been very careful to make sure people don’t think he’s a Muslim.  Heaven forbid.  I’m not a Muslim, by the way, and neither is he.  But so what if he was?  True, some of our country’s current enemies are followers of the Islamic faith – however distorted and ill-applied their understanding of its tenets.

The United States has had many enemies over the years, adversaries who have cost us far more than the terrorists of today have so far, and none of them were Muslims.  In all likelihood, there will be others in the near and distant future who will use violence to challenge our way of life, but who will be of different religions.  Are we not to the point where we understand that it is wrong, unfair, and fundamentally un-American to generalize the acts of these relatively few to the far greater numbers of people who may, incidentally, share their nationalities or religious beliefs?  I certainly hope so, and find it particularly immature of Senator Obama, who would be President and in charge of our foreign policy, to behave differently.

Maybe it’s just political.  (That’s not an excuse, just an observation.)  Maybe he’s concerned that many voters will think his being an American Muslim might affect his judgment, and imperil our country under his leadership.  (Can there never be a Jewish President for fear he or she will be bias in her handling of problems in the Middle East?)  Then he should say so in as many words.  He should demonstrate the leadership he is forever promising by telling us, in no uncertain terms from the pulpit at one of his famous rallies, that while many terrorists are Muslim, their religion is irrelevant. The problem, he should explain, is their personal beliefs –political and economic, as well as spiritual – which allow them to condone violence as an acceptable and perhaps even preferable tool for accomplishing their objectives.

Senator Obama is Christian, a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ for 20 years.  It is a church with a reputation for its ministry endorsing anti-Semitic beliefs, including those of Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.  According to a CBS News report, Senator Obama has characterized the prejudicial rants of former TUCC Pastor Jeremiah Wright as those of “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don’t agree with.”  (References to Senator Obama’s relationship to the Trinity United Church of Christ and Pastor Wright are from the CBS News report, “For the Record:  Barack Obama,” February 28, 2008, currently running on www.CBSNews.com.)

The thing is, Senator, he is not your uncle.  He was your Pastor, and spiritual mentor.  If you honestly found his preaching and advice to be unacceptable, you could have acted over the past 20 years to have him replaced, or affiliate you and your family with another church.  How would you feel if you were running against Mayor Michael Bloomberg or some other Jewish candidate who was a member of a Temple where the Rabbi professed prejudice against African Americans?  I’m pretty sure you’d be out there insisting that he resign his membership, and chiding him for having put up with it for the past 20 years, calling into question his qualifications to be President.

So, Senator Obama, let me get this straight – because this is the message I’m getting.  There’s something wrong with being a Muslim, and you can tolerate some anti-Semitism as long as the ones professing it are people you like.  And you want to be President of the United States?  Well, let me give you some advice in the form of a quote from another US President:

“We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

That was written by Thomas Jefferson, Section II from a draft “Bill to Establish Religious Freedom in Virginia,” 1779.  The italics are mine.  Jefferson, in Section III to this same bill, further asserted that freedom of religion was one “of the natural rights of mankind.”

It’s not just about the right to worship, is it?  It’s also about not being penalized for holding any particular religious belief, about appreciating the fact that people of different religious beliefs can share the same core principles of our democracy, and can be equally effective in the management of its government.  This may not be something every American accepts today.  If not, that’s a change you can help accomplish.  Before that, you’ve got to believe it yourself.