Simple stuff for the Sabbath

Having been raised a Southern Baptist and married to a Catholic woman, I have been exposed a great deal to two different types of Christian sects. Further, my best friend growing up was Catholic, another good friend was a member of the Church of Christ, I had a Jewish roommate in college, and I have spoken in front of other church and interfaith groups to advocate for working homeless families. These churches include Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Universalist.

With this context, I offer a plea to ministers, Rabbis and imams, to keep it simple. Too often, the message gets overcomplicated and even taken out of context. Too often, the message has too many herbs and spices thrown in that ruin the mission. Here are a few simple thoughts or stuff for this Sabbath, recognizing my Jewish friends will have to wait a little less than six more days.

  • Treat others like you want to be treated. There are no caveats to the word “others.” Full stop.
  • Take care of those folks that Jesus fellow called the “least of these.” He also noted in so doing, we honor Him, which is a nice “pay it forward” suggestion.
  • Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, which almost every human simply cannot do, but the thought is nice. It goes hand in hand with that Golden rule noted above, but my suggestion is to walk away or diplomatically pushback for yourself or others who get slighted.
  • Always remember, the religious books were primarily written, interpreted and translated by “imperfect men” even if divinely inspired. So, we should remember, these imperfect men wrote in the context of the times, with knowledge of the science of the times.

While this last point may seem out of place, I mention it because it behooves the religious leader to update the references to today’s times. Medical and scientific advancements are truly a miracle in their own right, but compared to when these religious texts were written, would look God-inspired. Plus, while women played a key role in keeping families faithful, the rights of women have advanced to equal footing with men in many societies. To continue to diminish women using religious texts is not only wrong, it is economically suppressive to a community.

That is all I have to say on this Sabbath. These are my opinions, so they are not the gospel truth. I would love to hear yours.

14 thoughts on “Simple stuff for the Sabbath

  1. This “ we should remember, these imperfect men wrote in the context of the times, with knowledge of the science of the times.
    While this last point may seem out of place, I mention it because it behooves the religious leader to update the references to today’s times.”. Wonderful post and this is what I feel is most relevant to life and religion.

    • Thanks Holly. I appreciate that. I actually have strong feelings about those religious sects who do not want modern medicine to intervene and would rather pray for the cure. How do they know how God will deliver his miracle – it may be through the capable hands and brain of an experienced surgeon? Keith

      • Thanks Holly. I view those who pretend to know how God will deliver his miracle cure as more arrogant than closed minded. To deny medical treatment to a minor is poor stewardship, in my view, and endangers the minor’s life. It reminds me of the joke that God did not answer the prayers to win the lottery, when the clouds part and God says “It would help if you buy a ticket.” Keith

  2. Thank you, Keith, for lovely Sunday message. True for sure. I was raised solidly old-school Lutheran since the old countries of Norway and Finland. Today? There are lots of kinds of Lutheran. Still, the main message is the same – thank you.

  3. A very relevant message. One other thing I’d add is that we too are imperfect people, (hopefully) going with the science and other information of our time, and as such, hopefully we can approach the messages we have about a God/higher power with humility and recognition that we may not be 100% correct.

    • Brendan, so true. Technology and science may improve, but humans will always be imperfect. So, we must always appreciate that we have biases and faults. To me, keeping messages simple, whether one is religious or not, will help them seep in to more folks. The Golden rule makes sense whether one is religious or not. Keith

  4. True and profound words Keith. The bishop of our Catholic diocese is a clever, friendly man and a great organiser but when it comes to his homilies (sermons) his lapses into the more liturgical and academic details of the gospels tend to have you lost or wandering off into other realms of religious thought.
    On the matter of the ‘words’ of the Bible I find that the more rampant of Atheists and the Christian extreme fundamentalists share the same viewpoint that they will insist of taking the Old Testament literally. If you try and explain the steps . 1. Oral tradition told with poetical allegories. 2. Transcribed into a formal language (first changes to fit the rules of grammar). 3. Translated into Greek (second changes as the writers struggle with the text) 4. Translated into Latin (same thing). 5. In our case translated into English- (how many versions of the Bible are there in said language?). Thus picking little bits out of context to suit the argument does not carry weight. Point this out and the Atheists tend to go off on tangents while the extreme Fundamentalists take the ‘This is God’s plan’ argument suggesting God intended everything to be written in English in the first place (but you must not read the Catholic version because that is the word of Satan- or the Anti-Christ).
    Study, meditation, and pondering on context of the times are vital and even then you can get into big internal fights; such as the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges. (unless it’s a warning about making stupid statements I just don’t buy it and even then I’m saying ‘God intervene in this’- so call me a heretic already!)

    • Roger, well said. A couple of thoughts. The Catholic mass used to be told in Latin, a dead language that no one understood. That may have been the singular most inane idea by a religion. Preach in language no one knows. It could have been Klingon for that matter.

      There is an old saying if you ever want to create an atheist, have them read the bible. If one must read the bible, he or she would do better in starting with the new testament, maybe with a little Psalms thrown in. Your examples of translations are very relevant. To me, the overarching themes are more important, because the bible or any religious text should not be taken as word for word true. And, a Pew survey said about 45% of Christians believe that to be the case as well. Keith

      • Latin is still around of course for law, science and such. And it has its supporters over here for being taught in schools…must be a European things. And there is the Latin Mass Society here in the UK (at least) who want the Mass said only in Latin….but they have other agenda too. It’s a good way to start a heated discussion amongst UK Catholics.
        It is worrying that only 45% believe that to be the case. The fact that there are a large number of theologians should be a hint that taking an English translation word for word as the be all and end all is not the answer.

      • Roger, my primary argument against the use of Latin are the words become rote, not understood. Your point about translation is some languages have words that do not have counterparts in other languages. One of the things lost on many is the four gospels were written in different languages by authors of different skill sets, so there are inconsistencies between these four books. Keith

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