Friday, March 28, 2008

My Serenity Prayer

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...


Stanton said...


fishing guy said...

FG: I have to agree with your argument. It is wrong to let a child die because you think God should cure them rather then the doctors. I feel sorry for the poor souls if they get to ask God why their girl wasn't cured and he tells them the doctor was there to cure her.

Route 75 said...

If there is a god, please grant me the ability to remain respectful of diversity.

Best part of the post, man.

primalscreamx said...

That's a tough one.
Consider this alternative example... the parent who knows another parent with an autistic child who hears from many, many sources the reason there are so many children with autism is because of inoculations. The parent has an idea of how hard a life autism is and would never in a million years wish that on their own child.
Of course, there isn't absolutely proof that the inoculation thing is true. In fact, all the major scientific authorities say... nah... but it's what you believe. You've been convinced it's true.
Truth, real truth, is more elusive today than it ever has been. It is harder for anybody to make sense of what is the real thing and what is make believe.
That said... the parents in this particular case seem like a full bowl of fruitloops. From the story, it looks like there might be something else driving them in addition to some pseudo-religious experience.
It's sort of indicative of what can happen when you choose not to drink the kool-aid, but go home and mix your own.

The Film Geek said...

Thanks for the comments and thoughts on this.

Bill: I realize this is one of those things that is judged well after the fact. I mean, if she got better--or the kids in your example weren't harmed--it was a justified response. Ultimately, though, the life of a kid is a high stake to gamble on an intangible.

It is tough,and I want to remain respectful. After the fact it's hard to, though.

Spike Nesmith said...

Makes you wonder exactly what these people are expecting to happen, huh? The scrubbed hand of God himself, descending from the clouds, scalpel in hand, ready to fix all their problems with a clap of thunder and a throng of angels wiping his brow. It reminds me of a joke:

There's a flood. A huge flood. Bigger than the effects of katrina. So, the authorities are trying to evacuate people as quickly as possible. There's a guy - deeply religious - and he's waist deep in water when there comes a thump at the door.

"I'm here to help" says the guy at the door. But the dude shakes his head and says, "no! I believe my God will save me" and closes the door.

After a while, the waters are still rising and he's now upstairs in his house because the bottom floor is underwater. There's a knock on his bedroom window; it's a guy in a boat, holding out a life jacket.

"I'm here to help" says the guy at the window. But the dude shakes his head and says, "No! I believe my God will save me" and closes the window.

Soon, the waters have risen even more and the guy is on his roof. His shoes are already wet and the water is still rising. All of a sudden, a helicopter flies over and drops a ladder.

"I'm here to help" says the guy in the helicopter. But the dude shakes his head and says, "No! I believe my God will save me" and waves them off. So the guy eventually gets swept away by the water and drowns.

So, he's standing in heaven and he's face to face with God. Unsurprisingly, the guy's a little ticked off.

"Why didn't you save me?" he says.

"I sent a car, a boat and a bloody helicopter to help you, what else did you want me to do?" says God.


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