28 June, DOMA, Dolan et al

In reaction to SCOTUS on DOMA and Prop 8, Cardinal Dolan, president of the NCCB said, “This is a tragic day for marriage and our nation”. Archbishop Cordileone said, “the future of our democracy is very, very worrisome”. They are company men, and so they have to say things like this. Perhaps they just don’t know any any other way. Their performances strike me as similar to the disciples in this weekend’s Gospel Story who wanted to call down fire upon the folks would wouldn’t treat them as they thought they should be treated. Jesus rebuke them. Hmmm  .  .

If we believe Jesus was serious when he said he would be with us until the end of time, and that the Spirit would teach us to observe everything Jesus taught us, and I do believe this very strongly, then we have to believe that everyone on all sides of these issues is in some way being guided by the Spirit. What we bring to the table is our human condition with all its gifts and limitations. The work of the Spirit is to bring together. The work of human limitations is to drive apart. If we believe the Spirit is involved, then how about we let the Spirit lead us to dialogue.

If any believe they alone have all the answers and so there is nothing they can learn from anybody, there is no possibility of dialogue. Honest and open dialogue means, among other things, respecting others, attributing good will to others, looking for truth in others, and a willingness to listen and learn. It does not mean watering down one’s own beliefs.

Either we believe we are all created in the image and likeness of God, or we don’t. None of us, any person or institution, gets to determine what is or is not a real image of God. For any person or institution to state that their way is the only way for everybody on anything seems to me vacuous and inane, not to mention arrogant. A fundamental basis of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus – an open relationship that leads us to accept Jesus however he comes to us, and doesn’t set conditions on how or in whom we will recognize or accept him. It is dangerous when any religious institution sets itself up as the only way to God, or states that obedience to its rules is more important than a person’s own relationship to God.

No tradition has the right to impose its will or viewpoints on anyone else. As the Jewish Council for Public Affairs said, “We live in a democratic society in which we are all free to express our opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions  .  .  .  No one group and no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic”.

It does not seem to me that there is much difference between the religious leaders of Jesus’ day demanding that he be punished by Rome for not following their religious rules, and the way some religious establishments in our own day are reacting to folks who don’t go along with them. Fortunately Washington didn’t react today as Rome did then. Perhaps managers might leave their fancy clothes, bling, and nice lifestyles and start moving among the folks to find out what life really is like for so many.

Just sayin  .  .  .