Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Losing My Religion

I clicked onto Yahoo today to see what is going on in the world and I saw one of their attention getting banners that said something about song lyrics that everyone gets wrong.  So I clicked on it just for fun to see what songs they were featuring and the lyrics that we all misunderstand.  They had chosen four songs that they thought lots of people did not understand the lyrics.  One was "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.  Supposedly, a lot of people think that they are singing, "watch her kick and scream"or something equally foolish as that.  Then they had a clip from the song, "Losing My Religion" by REM.  This time Yahoo said that people misunderstand the line that says, "That's me in the corner.  That's me in the spotlight..." thinking it referred to something someone may do in a corner that they should not do (which will be left unsaid...you can fill in that blank.)  I have to say that I never thought those were the lyrics.  I always thought that the funny little man hopping about in the video was saying the real lyrics--"That's me in the corner.  That's me in the spotlight losing my religion."

Now, those lyrics are stuck in my head and I keep singing them again and again.  "Losing My Religion" was a phrase I heard adults say when I was a child when they became frustrated or angry at me or another person, as in--"If you don't stop doing that, I am going to lose my religion."  Usually the result of said losing one's religion would be that the frustrated/angry person would act out in some unacceptable way because of the loss of the religion that they possessed.  Is it only religion that restrains people from acting unacceptably? My mother sometimes said that phase to me, along with a plea to God to "Give me grace, Lord, give me grace."  How funny that religion and faith get tied to coping with life in our culture and other ones.  Of course, faith is the subject in many films and books and songs that ponder the meaning of life.  So, I guess it is not as funny as it may seem.

Losing One's Religion is exactly what many have done because they have blamed religion for many of the world's problems.  I saw a remark posted on Facebook regarding hatred toward gay persons.  The remark said that preachers preach hate toward gay persons.  I took offense at the remark since I sometimes wear the hat marked "preacher" and I do not preach hatred toward any persons.  This person was making a blanket statement concerning his or her experience with persons of the cloth and the experience this one had obviously was connected to intolerance that some had preached toward or about gay persons.  I agree with the poster that some preachers do indeed preach hatred toward various persons but that preacher does not speak for all of us who wear that hat in life.

I belong to a denomination that preaches love toward all persons.  Persons of other religions, gay persons, persons of different skin colors, persons who do not speak English--all are welcome in the United Church of Christ, in which I serve and belong.  All of these and more are invited and welcome and urged to come and experience "extravagant welcome", as we like to say.  How sad that some have never experienced "religion" that truly attempts to follow the words and actions of the one whose life inspired the Christian movement-Jesus.  "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God...is this: to care for widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."  (James 1:27)

Caring for those who find themselves neglected or persecuted by the "world" is the business of the Church.  In the Early Church, those were widows and orphans, who resided on the bottom rung of society.  Today, those whose address is at the bottom are defined by persons who often look down upon them and relegate them to that position much like a modern cast society.  Whoever may feel they are at the bottom is in need of a friendly boost up by those who claim to be part of "religion", "church" or "Christianity."  Religion that is absent of love and caring and compassion is no religion at all.  It is simply an organization.  Religion is the human attempt to find God, and if you find God you will find all of those whom God loves.  No wonder some people lose their religion.  Who would want it if it is devoid of love?

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