I just realized: this post must start out with what is, undoubtedly, a cliche:
I value diversity.
Now I recognize that using this cliche immediately brings my comments under suspicion. Just as comments that start with: "I have lots of friends who are..." and then continue with labels that designate a particular ethnicity, race or difference makes my left eyebrow arch, I know my use of the phrase will cause others to view me as suspect. But it's true. And I'll say it a lot.
I value diversity.
Especially religious diversity. I hold beliefs about spirituality that are dramatically different than the average American, I'd guess. I know they're incredibly different than the average West Virginian. I want my beliefs--which have, on occasion, caused significant problems in the relationship I have with my parents--to be accepted and respected for what they are. Mine. And for that to happen, I must accept and respect those beliefs that are different than mine. It took me a long time to recognize that.
But I learned to value diversity.
When I was a young kid--5, maybe, or 6--an elderly lady at the church I attended would become so enthused about the good news of Jesus that she would jump from her seat, sprint outside and run laps around the church. I always sat beside the single window on the right side of the small church, knowing I'd get a glimpse of the woman as she ran past, yelling "Praise Jesus" or something similar during each of her multiple laps. She worshipped in an extreme way, for sure, but I never viewed her as more or less pious than my grandfather, for example, who sat quietly on his pew and muttered a quiet "amen" only now and again. How one worships is an individual decision, and should be respected as such. We should be embracing our differences.
Particularly if one respects diversity.
My near lifelong perspective is one of the reasons I'm distraught over the story I read recently, about 11-year-old Madeline Neumann, of Wisconsin, who died from a highly treatable form of undiagnosed diabetes. Although ill for about a month, her parents chose to cure her through prayer rather than medicine.
If there is a god, please grant me the ability to remain respectful of diversity.
Believe if you will that the Earth is 6,000 years or so old, and that God made man and woman in his own image. That's not what I believe, but I respect and appreciate your faith.
Believe that societal morality can come only from God, and that those of us who don't believe are immoral--or worse, amoral--heathens. I don't buy that, but think what you will and let's live together as peacefully as possible.
Laugh at the theory of evolution, and talk about the concept of Intelligent Design to me all you want. I welcome the discussion, really, even though I think differently. It's a fun debate.
But have a sick kid and refuse her the basic medical care that will save her life?
I just can't respect that.
As much as I'd like to...