And the subject was “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…

And the subject was “Battle Hymn of the Republic”…

Months ago, my Unitarian Universalist minister asked a bunch of us to provide meaningful songs on which she could base sermons throughout the year. Mine, as it happens, was the subject of today’s service.

I chose (off the top of my head) the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A few weeks ago, she followed up with a request that I provide some words to explain why the song had such meaning for me. I thought about her question for days, coming close to the answer and then getting distracted. I went online and searched for a copy of the book I remembered, to no avail.

This morning, after a bad dream in which someone told me my father had died (he’s been gone since 2010), I woke up around 6 and proceeded to diddle around some more, trying to figure out how to approach the subject.

See, when I was a kid, I didn’t understand the meaning of pacifism. I knew the tune and it made me happy that I could read the song’s lyrics and put the music to the words, because I fail at reading music on a regular basis. Music for the musically illiterate, that’s what the Battle Hymn was to me as a kid.

Now, though, it’s got a different meaning.

Here’s the full text of the song. Somehow, the third verse had disappeared from the reproduced version for the service which I discovered when I got there. I added an introductory paragraph to the verse, just before the service started, because I had included it in my words and removing the reference took away from my point.

The original:

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)

Here, then, is what I wrote and delivered to my congregation (more or less):

Good morning.

If I could have stolen one book out of the library where I first attended Elementary school, it would have been a small, brown hardcover book of music and lyrics, tucked away on the shelves in the dark recesses toward the back of the room.

I don’t think anyone else ever checked the book out, but I did, repeatedly, because of this one song.

Honestly, I wish I had my hands on the book. I’d show you the illustration of grapes, the multiple verses.

The tune was easy to plunk out on my mother’s piano, even if I couldn’t read the music.

For a kid who was raised without religion, the flowery, grand language of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” spoke to me in a way no other song did. But I don’t remember why.

I remember all the other things…The smell of the library and that book, at least a couple of decades older than I was at the time (and that’s a solid 40 years ago, now), the location of the shelves, searching for the book, finding it and opening to the song again and again.

Nowadays, I think more about Julia Ward Howe’s words and what they did to galvanize a nation in righteous pursuit of freedom at the price of almost 213 thousand lives. It makes me sad to think such bloodshed was necessary. How easily the words of a supposed peacemaker who entreated his followers back then to beat their swords into plowshares could be used to encourage his more modern followers

to do precisely the opposite in that pursuit.

[Not in the song we just sang, but in the original, these words appear:]

“I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”

We do so many things in the name of righteousness, for the sake of freedom or economy, and we sacrifice so many lives to protect these things, I have to wonder: Is there a better way?

I wish I had answers. I have none. Only the memories of a small brown book with lyrics that nobody checked out of the library except me.

As I post this, the sky has gone a fiery shade of pink, which I find oddly fitting.

Why the Moon Matters to Me

Why the Moon Matters to Me

On August 18th of this year, I presented my first-ever sermon, at my Unitarian Universalist congregation. The seeds for the service were stewing for the better part of a year before I forced myself to sit down and put the pieces together.  Continue reading “Why the Moon Matters to Me”

Attempting to see the forest…

Attempting to see the forest…

Last weekend I attended a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Dinner. It’s an annual event held by congregations across the country, as a chance to get to know people from the congregation and to share entertainment, conversation and good food.

During the conversation at dinner, the subject of race came up. The conversation drifted to discussing how we can get past the foundations of race without sounding racist which put me in mind of the documentary Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey. The DVD is available through PBS, but some enterprising YouTuber put the show up in a series of episodes with Spanish subtitles.

If you haven’t watched this documentary, stop reading right now and go watch it. Seriously. I’ll wait.

Done? Good.

Welcome back.

For me, the theories and research became a game-changer for my views not just on race but on cultural differences. So I surprised myself by saying that while we can say there’s no differences genetically between us white folks, and our African, Asian, Arab and European brethren, there’s a danger in carrying the conversation too far, because it’s easy to conflate racial stereotyping and cultural choice and with the myth of gender choice.

We don’t choose the color of our skin, the shape of our eyes, who we find attractive or how our bodies function. Moreover, our brains are designed to sort everything we encounter into select boxes. Our cultural training gives us the context for deciding what to do with those boxes once we’ve done the sorting.

But there’s a trap, and until I read these articles today, I didn’t have a way to articulate what that trap was because I am so fundamentally American in my belief structure that I can’t see the forest for the trees, or the rest of the world for my own borders. I suspect I’m not alone.

We Aren’t the World: Joe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics—and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture.

I have had more than a passing interest in anthropology over the course of my life.  In fact, before I became a theatre major, I was going to be an anthropology major. I’m drawn to the research and understanding of human behavior and how it affects societies.

Coming from an areligious background, I find it more than a little strange to be committed to attending services weekly, and more than a little strange when I visit services in other religions, because I have no tools to work with, no existing framework on which to hang my belief system. It is nearly impossible for me to attend any service, UU or otherwise, without observing the ritual from the outside. UU congregations are by far the most welcoming because there is an overriding desire to incorporate the principles by which we live, which transcend virtually all other religions.

From the Unitarian Universalist Association’s web page (http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/index.shtml), this is a summary of the UU Principles:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

There is a social aspect to UU faith that attracts me, coupled with a completely different way of worshiping that includes and encourages laughter, discussion, meditation, two-way communication and sharing in ways I haven’t found with other religious groups except, perhaps, the Quakers.

But that’s not all.

Shortly after encountering the first article, I saw this one.

False beliefs persist, even after instant online corrections

When I read these two admittedly scholarly research papers, it was easy for me to find them connected, because they both address our perceptions of reality based on empirical evidence we seldom collect outside our own safe spheres of reference.

In other words, they both tell us we can’t see the forest for the trees.

I have made a career of putting information out and correcting inaccurate information when I’ve found evidence that suggests the contrary, but in the end, we can never truly know reality if we don’t have the truth as it exists, not as we perceive it. It is impossible for us to view information without the filters we have built by being part of our society. Changing those filters takes work. There are too many times when people view that work as unnecessary, even bothersome.

Witness, for example, Richard Nixon’s fall.

Yeah, okay. I’m dating myself. If you’re not of a certain age, you won’t have the tools you need to understand where I’m headed with this, but bear with me for a moment.

Until David Frost caught Nixon on tape saying he, as President, was above the law, there was still a question about whether he had done anything illegal. Gerald Ford’s pardon was insufficient to take away the stain of the acts which forced Nixon to resign. To this day we will never truly know what happened and how it came to be because a good deal of the motive behind Nixon’s activities were buried with him.

Nixon’s legacy, that we can never truly trust the elected officials in charge of our country, persists to this day in the form of Birthers who would rather discuss President Obama’s birth certificate and legitimate claim to the Presidency than look at the country as a whole and try to find a way to fix the problems we have now, thanks to more lies from corporate entities that are more concerned with the bottom line and CEO salaries than with the lives of the people they serve.

We got here because we believe our way is the right way to live. We support those who have their own best interests in mind because they have told us to believe they are doing the things they do for us.

But what if we’re wrong? What if they’ve lied?

The French Revolution came about because the people got sick of starving to death and took it on themselves to reduce the long-standing ruling class to severed heads. The present-day American aristocracy has done its level best to deflect violence away from the true source of trouble, incarcerating anyone who seems interested in taking them down. Our government is no longer of, by and for the People, unless those people are the rich ruling class. The rest of us are here to make sure the American Aristocracy maintains their hold on the upper class.

We are almost 50 years away from landing our people, Americans, on the moon. We are fighting to keep North Korea and Iran from gaining the bomb because we have no control over their activities. We know our borders are insecure and we have done our best to lock them down, only to reduce our country to panic-stricken sheep who believe everything our politicians say, because they must be right.

Our children are starving automatons designed to follow the herd, not to innovate or be creative. And if they don’t tow the religious line, they are also incarcerated, if they don’t fall prey to random shooting violence, drugs or worse.

We spend our time watching fairy tales on TV, or modern-day gladiators in an electronic Colosseum. In the end, whatever we do will be too little too late.

And all because we think we know what’s best for the rest of the world. Because we are Americans.

When the revolution comes, it won’t be televised. I just wonder when it’s going to start.

On the 25th Annual National Coming Out Day…

On the 25th Annual National Coming Out Day…

On the 25th Annual National Coming Out Day

As a Unitarian Universalist, I am proud to be a member of a Welcoming Congregation. I am a Straight Ally and I support Marriage Equality and the affirmation of rights for all people, regardless of, well, anything that might be considered a reason to discriminate.

On the subject of Easter and some of the things I’ve heard…

On the subject of Easter and some of the things I’ve heard…

It’s been a long time since I waxed philosophical. I guess Spring brings it out of me.

First, before I get to the discussion, I want to repost the UU Principles, because I’m going to come back to them in a bit. If you don’t read them now, you might want to go back and read them after you read the rest.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to just say I was UU and get on with it.

Now, here’s what I experienced on Sunday:

I attended two services last Sunday. The first (to which we arrived late because it’s hard to drag small children out of warm beds at 8am) was held outdoors at the home of two of our members. It was cold (near freezing) but there was a bonfire and the sun was gloriously up in a clear, blue sky.

The service was led by both our current minister and our minister emeritus. There was an altar with a chalice which may or may not have stayed lit. The first part had to do with the darkness and light, with the spring and its relationship to our various religious sources. The second had to do with the renewal and rebirth that comes in Spring. An interesting parallel was drawn in the death of Jesus, the symbolic shutting out of the light into darkness (winter) and the subsequent ressurection (spring). This becomes important in the second service, but I’ll get there shortly.

There were additional rituals involved: In the first part, we each took a pen and paper and wrote down the things that weighted us down, and then tossed the paper in the fire to lift the weight of our own stones. You can probably guess what my paper said.

The second part involved taking a small bit of dirt and planting seeds in it, as a sign of renewal. (With my brown thumb these days, I have little hope that the plants will actually thrive, but it was a good thought at least.)

Many of the ancient gods and goddesses were thanked for bringing back the light and then we all went in, got warm and had breakfast.

In an hour and a half we were in the sanctuary, going through the usual rituals of service. Some of the traditions we keep each year (Easter bonnets, new clothes…) come from rites going back millenia.

Then there was the sermon. And in it I put together another piece of the puzzle that, for me, helps to explain what was being taught in 1BC and how it’s transmogrified over time to today’s view.

Rev. S. started the discussion by reading several passages from the bible: The passage about Peter and the denial, and about Judas and his suicide. And then, she moved on to Simon Paul and she shared that some believe he created Easter. That caught my attention.

I know that early Christian leaders often took existing “pagan” rituals and incorporated them as Christian holidays so that those who were not already Christian could relate in some way to the new faith. But somehow I had thought that Easter was somehow different. I don’t know why. The equinoxes certainly have their places in historic religions, though not as high on the list as the solstices. Still, with eggs and rabbits and chicks as universal symbols of Easter, it’s pretty obvious that the whole ancient fertility ritual was incorporated to make a connection to the ressurection of Jesus. I get that.

But what I hadn’t gotten until Sunday was that there was a question about the actual corporeal “rising of Christ” that makes Easter Sunday such a big deal. I didn’t realize how many Christians didn’t believe in the literalness of that event.

Ok, so for me (agnostic that I am), egg dyeing and chocolate are far more synonomous with Easter than anything to do with celebrating the rising of Jesus, but that’s because it’s another pagan ritual and, frankly, it’s fun. But I really hadn’t given it so much thought until this year.

Why is it the belief of so many that Jesus walked on earth again and why do people cling to this as a sign of hope in this sometimes bleak world? I just didn’t get it. Sure, there are ghosts. I do believe in that. But ghosts don’t come back in that traditional sense.

So… Here’s what I heard last Sunday.

What Jesus was teaching was mainly the same seven principles UUs believe. These concepts, presented at a time when Jews were kept under the thumbs of the Romans, were detrimental to the Roman priests because without the attention of the populace, their temples would fall and they would lose their hold on the people as a result (and all that nifty income in the form of tribute to the gods). No priest could safely preach that god could be found inside each person – there would be no reason to go to the temple and pay to be saved.

As I understand it, his basic teaching was that you could find the kingdom of heaven within yourself and to mistreat others was to mistreat yourself. People have misinterpreted what Jesus was saying: “If you believe what I believe, you’ll get there, too.” Instead they heard “Only through me.” Believe in Jesus and you’d be saved. It should have been “Believe in what Jesus is saying and you’ll save yourself.”

So, here we are, with the Romans seeing the following Jesus brought with him to Jerusalem for the Passover Seder, and they saw a threat to their cozy existence living off of believers of the gods.

Interestingly, earlier that week I watched a history channel program on “Machines of the Gods” which made the priest’s role that much clearer to me, so when I was listening to the sermon, I had these images of how the priests ensured people would come (and pay) to be protected.

The 13 desciples (including Judas, at least for a while) believed what Jesus did. Whether Judas did what he did because he stopped believing or believed so strongly that he was willing to martyr himself to forward the cause is really irrelevant. Peter stopped believing and was repentant after Jesus was gone, but only after denying he knew the man as predicted. Paul still believed but couldn’t figure out how Jesus’ death could be reconciled with the concepts Jesus taught.

And then, it struck Paul: He didn’t need the physical Jesus there in order to keep believing what he’d been taught. He still had faith in the teaching, though the teacher was gone.

How often do we hear that even though someone has died, that person is still with you?

Got me, hook, line and sinker. I got it.

And I find it terribly interesting that in the face of what Jesus was trying to teach, the medieval Christian priests took a page from the book the Romans wrote hundreds of years earlier, and suddenly people were paying them to be saved, only through miracles and by coming to the church to pray (and by renouncing everything else in the bargain).

So that leaves me with something else: I am donating money to my church because we do things and because upkeep is expensive. What I pay for in exchange is given in part to maintain the building, in part to pay my minister’s salary, in part for charity to other members (as needed), in part to build for activities we partake in as a group. I don’t pay because I fear that if I don’t, I won’t get to heaven.

For us it’s all about community and not about being saved. Perhaps that’s why we’re so much more interested in making sure our planet is protected. We aren’t all convinced that the place we’re going to is better than this one and that we need to be better about caring for ourselves and our future here, rather than treading water until we go to paradise.

Now I know not every Christian feels that way. I know plenty of people who listen to the message and don’t necessarily idolize or even deify the man. But I can’t help wondering what kind of people would pay so much to belong to a church and call themselves Christian, then turn around and throw in the trash bags full of perfectly good clothing and toys because, after all, they have no further use for the objects. (Collected the bags in my car, from a Curb Alert on Freecycle, because I couldn’t stand the thought that these things could go to a dump.)

Maybe if we spent a little less time thinking about where we’re going in the end, and spent a little more time thinking about where we are right now and what it’s going to be like in the coming years, we wouldn’t be pouring our money into a useless war that only benefits the very few with their money invested in oil.

After all, who would Jesus bomb?

Happy Spring!

I just got this in email from another list I’m on…

I just got this in email from another list I’m on…

Snopes debunked this junk in 2006 here: https://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

DID YOU KNOW?

As you walk up the steps to the building which houses the U.S. Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a carving of the world’s law givers. Each figure is facing toward the middle figure, who is seated and facing forward….it is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!

DID YOU KNOW?
As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on the lower portion of each door.

DID YOU KNOW?
As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the wall above where the Supreme Court judges sit. It is a display of the Ten Commandments.

DID YOU KNOW?
There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal Buildings and Monuments in Washington, DC.

DID YOU KNOW?
James Madison, the fourth president, known as “The Father of Our Constitution” made the following statement: “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

DID YOU KNOW?
Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists [sic] but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

DID YOU KNOW?
Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777.

DID YOU KNOW?
Fifty-two of the 55 founders of the Constitution were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies.

DID YOU KNOW?
Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law .. an oligarchy … the rule of few over many.

DID YOU KNOW?
The very first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, said: “Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.” How, then, have we gotten to the point that everything we have done for 220 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional?

Thank you so much Jerry

*HOW COULD 50 STATES BE WRONG?
Somewhere along the way, the Federal Courts and the Supreme Court have misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution. How could fifty States be wrong?

THIS IS VERY INTERESTING! Be sure to read the last two paragraphs. America’s founders did not intend for there to be a separation of God and state, as shown by the fact that all 50 states acknowledge God in their state constitutions:

Alabama 1901, Preamble.
We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution …

Alaska 1956, Preamble.
We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.

Arizona 1911, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution…

Arkansas 1874, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government…

California 1879, Preamble.
We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom.

Colorado 1876, Preamble.
We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe.

Connecticut 1818, Preamble.
The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy…

Delaware 1897, Preamble.
Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping [sic] and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences …

Florida 1885, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty … establish this
Constitution…

Georgia 1777, Preamble.
We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution…

Hawaii 1959, Preamble.
We, the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance establish this Constitution.

Idaho 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings ..

Illinois 1870, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.

Indiana 1851, Preamble.
We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to chose our form of government.

Iowa 1857, Preamble.
We, the People of the State of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings .. establish this Constitution

Kansas 1859, Preamble.
We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges … establish this Constitution.

Kentucky 1891, Preamble.
We, the people of the Commonwealth of grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties…

Louisiana 1921, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.

Maine 1820, Preamble.
We the People of Maine .. acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler! of the Universe in affording us an opportunity … and imploring His aid and direction.

Maryland 1776, Preamble.
We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty…

Massachusetts 1780, Preamble.
We…the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe … in the course of His Providence, an opportunity .and [sic] devoutly imploring His direction …

Michigan 1908, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom … establish this Constitution

Minnesota, 1857, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings

Mississippi 1890, Preamble. We, the people of Mississippi in convention
assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.

Missouri 1845, Preamble.
We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness .. establish this Constitution ..

Montana 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty. establish this Constitution

Nebraska 1875, Preamble.
We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom .. establish this Constitution ..

Nevada 1864, Preamble.
We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom establish this Constitution …

New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V.
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

New Jersey 1844, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors ..

New Mexico 1911, Preamble.
We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of Liberty

New York 1846, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.

North Carolina 1868, Preamble.
We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those.

North Dakota 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain…

Ohio 1852, Preamble.
We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common ..

Oklahoma 1907, Preamble.
Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty .. establish this ..

Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I. Section 2.
All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences..

Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble.
We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance. .

Rhode Island 1842, Preamble.
We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing

South Carolina, 1778, Preamble.
We, the people of he State of South
Carolina. grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

South Dakota 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of South Dakota , grateful to Almighty God for our civil! and religious liberties .. establish this

Tennessee 1796, Art. XI.III.
That all men have a natural and indefensible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience…

Texas 1845, Preamble.
We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.

Utah 1896, Preamble.
Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution ..

Vermont 1777, Preamble.
Whereas all government ought to … enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man .

Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI
.. Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator .. can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other ..

Washington 1889, Preamble.
We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution …

West Virginia 1872, Preamble.
Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia . reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ..

Wisconsin 1848, Preamble.
We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility …

Wyoming 1890, Preamble.
We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties .. establish this Constitution …

After reviewing acknowledgments of God from all 50 state constitutions, one is faced with the prospect that maybe, just maybe, the ACLU and the out-of-control federal courts are wrong!

My response to the individual who posted this message to the list went like this:

And since when, precisely, did the word GOD become the sole possession of Christians?

Provide references, please. Inquiring minds want to know.

Regards,

me

This same list is responsible for promulgating some of the more heinous urban legends in the search for truth. When pointed out that Snopes.com had debunked nearly all (but perhaps one) of the urban legends in question, I was told that even if the messages were wrong, it was still good to circulate them, because they showed people cared about other people.

For pity’s sake, when did the circulation of lies become acceptable as a means for showing you care???

And I thought I was done ranting for the week.

Holy ****.

It truly saddens me that in all this time, so many people have so little understanding of the Religious Freedom part of this country’s founding. Why is it so easy to turn back and determine that the sole religion to which the founding fathers referred was Christian, and that all others may be excluded based on the religious upbringings of the founding fathers themselves?

We could argue the point for days that it’s because that’s what they were when the documents were written. I am no Atheist, but I still know the difference between a reference to God and a reference to Jesus Christ, and they are NOT the same thing. There are plenty of representatives of the Christian faith (in many denominations, not just Baptist), who would happily argue otherwise.

I could also argue that much of what has been said recently (as recently as yesterday) could be construed as fodder for neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis. It’s what keeps the KKK in business, and what makes it so very hard for folks to see a shared purpose to the organized government we call the United States of America.

What scares me most is that we aren’t all that far from the last Civil War, and the damage that could be done in the next could be considerably worse. And I don’t think it would take much to push some of these very public, governmentally sanctioned religious zealots over the edge.

I can hope for a little more moderation in the elections to come, but with our political swing so high to the right at the moment, it’s hard to imagine there will be a lot of change over the next two and a half years.

The best I can do right now, is be that voice in the wilderness. Maybe enough folks will hear me and be convinced. I can only hope…

I feel I should point out that believing that Jesus Christ is God is, more or less, the definition of Christianity. So try not to be too hard on those who want to argue that point. The problem is the way they do it.

And if you’ll indulge me for just a moment, here’s a little something from my faith tradition: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.”

There’s another one I prefer: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Sadly, there are too many people in this world who worship a vengeful God, rather than a loving one. And for whom “An eye for an eye” is the watch phrase and excuse for so many actions.

For me, the Bible is not a guiding document to be taken in literal form. I can understand that some people feel that it is, and my only objection is in being forced to agree with that opinion. I simply can’t. Not the Old Testament (which is all I am supposed to believe), or the New.

I am so Unitarian in approach and belief, that I should be a paying member of our local congregation. That I haven’t followed up yet to visit and see what they do and how they feel is more a tribute to the sheer amount of stuff we have going on here during the weekend.

A time is coming, though, when I will decide it’s time to go for a visit. They aren’t that far away, and it would be a good thing for my daughter, who has many more questions than I can answer.

So, I am not averse to the experience. I simply object to being forced to agree with it or “suffer the consequences.”

Theme: Elation by Kaira.