Thursday, September 16, 2010

10 minutes until court starts

I was thinking as I walked into the Justice Center a few minutes ago that I am glad I have this job as an Assistant Public Defender. It is a good thing to have some work to do that you know how to do, and then to go do it. Having work gives a certain grounding to life. I think it has something to do with the inner need to do something, to create something, to accomplish something that needs doing.

When we "work," it brings a certain sanity and sense into life.

I feel deeply sorry for those who cannot find any work in this world. That is a very depressing thing to face. I guess there is always some work that needs doing, but I am talking about those who can't find a job that will pay them and help them support themselves and others dependent upon them. That is another deep inner drive: to support oneself and those who are dependent on you.

Work. Well, I am looking forward to being off from work for two weeks next month, but I am still grateful to have some work worth doing and that I know how to do. I am not always this grateful about work, but I think I am a little "clearer-headed and hearted" today than usual.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Loyalty to Religion, Loyalty to God and Loyalty to Humanity

A person whose primary allegiance in life is to his or her religion may be the greatest enemy of both God and humanity. Of course, it is hard to tell when loyalty to religion overcomes loyalty to God and loyalty to humanity. One clear way to tell if someone is really more loyal to God than to his religion is if that person's loyalty to God carries with it a deep concern for humanity. Where one easily gives up concern for the life of other humans in the name of his or her religion, then I start wondering whether that religion is false (i.e., not loyal to God).

Jesus of Nazareth revealed the undisoluble unity between love for God and love for people. In the First Letter of John in the New Testament it is written: "If anyone says he loves God whom he cannot see, but does not love his neighbor whom he can see, then that one is a liar." Jesus' teaching expressed the heart of Jewish faith, and this core of Judaism has been witnessed to in the Jewish community for centuries. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself."

But, as with Judaism in the days of Jesus, so also with Christianity in the days following Jesus' days in Judea, the core of faith so often gets overcome with the secondary matters of religion. As Jesus said: "you tithe mint, dill and cumin, but neglect the weightier matters of the law: justice, love, and mercy." And, once religion loses its core, it can become a very ugly force in life.

Religion has always had the tendency to lead to division and condemnation among human beings, even where human beings seem to have risen to a high level or morality as the Pharisees had in Jesus' time. We see this tendency of the Catholic Church in the middle ages as well as the Puritans of New England in the early days of the American Colonies. But, religion has also shown a remarkable power to bring reconciliation between groups that had previously been divided (e.g., the Jews and Gentiles in Paul's early church groups).