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Lori Casey BSN MDiv., BCC-PCHAC
Mary and I have been posting but our posts are not showing up. I think we have been continuing to post in our original posting place. I want to comment on chapter 4 and respond to your questions on chapter 5 and 7
Ever since I was in seminary, I have marked the margins of a book with a “Q” for a “quotable quote.” I have Qs all over chapter 4. It is remarkable to read that after a visit to the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, the imam’s closing remarks to the students was, “not that you become Muslim, but that you become the best Christian, the best Jew, the best person you can be.” This was somewhat echoed again in Chapter 5, when the Rabbi turns away convert wannabes 3 times to ensure their perseverance/commitment. In my faith tradition, the Great Commission and verses such as John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:21-25; would consider anything less than offering the “plan of salvation” as moral and spiritual failure. When BBT tells Karen Blixen’s story of the young man observing the “ways and habits” of both the Christian and Muslim faith as a way of choosing, I was moved to tears. For years ago I belonged to a Sunday school class that was very progressive- and I worked as a nurse with a rigid Southern Baptist nurse who I love to this day. (She was genuinely concerned for my soul because I was Methodist). My progressive Sunday School class was more concerned with demonstrating love for all people. They were the first to give money to anyone in need. My nurse friend voiced her faith, claiming Romans 10:9-10. She was neither tolerant or gracious to people she considered “lost.” I struggled for a while with that dichotomy- what really pleases God: people who live out their faith by loving others- even those who the Bible says have no place in heaven or is it those who verbalize their faith without demonstrating love except for the exclusive reason of winning souls. I found solace in the character, nature and work of Christ and 1st Corinthians 13: clanging bells vs. love. I want to embrace God as so gracious, so loving, and so merciful that if I wish others to be the best that their faith tradition calls them to be would not be seen by God as a failure in my ordination vows.
I really liked chapter 5 on Judaism. Keeping kosher is a commitment. When I think of all the times I eat chicken and gravy (made with milk/butter), have ice cream for dessert or eat a steak and a baked potato with butter/sour cream, I realize if this were my commitment (as a means of honoring God), it would mean a total conviction to cook and eat in a different way . The closest I remotely come is to not drink wine in a restaurant in my zip code to avoid offending anyone who has the expectation that clergy should not drink alcohol. While being aware of the kosher food laws, I didn’t realize how many foods were marked by kosher symbols. Also, when I googled more information on this, I didn’t realize various States/Countries have differing kosher package symbols- based on the endorsing agency as well as listing the Rabbi’s name to which Kosher food preparation is ensured. A neighbor (and good friend) is a member of a Reformed Jewish congregation and his wife calls herself a “non-practicing Christian.” One of their three adult children practices Judaism. They do not observe the food laws, as I have asked when having them over for dinner. One of the many things they do observe, that I have found very moving, is a Passover Seder meal that includes responsive readings. We have been invited several times along with their Rabbi, friends, and family. We each are given a copy of the readings to participate. It is meaningful. Our friends say the meaning of the holiday is “freedom, love, forgiveness.” I believe this is what we do when we celebrate an open communion table, welcome to all because it is Jesus’ table and Jesus invites all to come-
BBT’s stories about relating her faith either using a “language of contempt” or to refrain from a language of “triumphalism” took me by surprise. I never even thought of how some hymns or scripture must sound to people of other faith traditions. And yet, again, my upbringing in the church was to show through triumphant bible verses, hymns, etc… that Christian faith is the belief system that pleases God and is rewarded.
I will finish this post later tonight but don’t want to lose what I have typed now.