New Vistas

My ministerial class reads emails from some Religious Science ministers that I copied from our chatter group. The discussion is on New Vistas or what we believe about church and state issues.  My class concludes that there are an amazing variety of opinions and they all make valid points.  Next week my students will bring in their own position statement to class.

 

Certainly, issues of church and state are relevant and ministers in training need to be thinking about how they will guide themselves and their churches through the complexity of attitudes about social action.

 

Should they speak out about same sex marriage laws? Or should they stay quiet and do their prayer work?  Is it a New Thought minister’s place to talk about supporting the Occupy Wall Street groups? How about anti-war marches? What about contraception? Abortion? Migrant workers? Privacy and anti-terrorist measures? The list of issues is long.

 

While most of us in New Thought would agree about most of these issues, I know for a fact that we wouldn’t agree about all of them. But we do agree that we want our New Thought churches and centers to be open to people of varying opinions – don’t we?

 

Whether we are ministers or not, if we are citizens of the US, we are up to our necks in church and social action issues right now. We are aware of this, I’m certain. Last Monday, I posted a blog about women’s rights and how I didn’t think the “old boys” should push us backward. I got more favorable responses to that blog than any I’ve written so far.

 

I obviously hit a nerve. Since women have always been a big part of New Thought leaders and followers, I wasn’t surprised. It turns out that my blog was part of a bigger picture that is hitting a nerve all over the nation.

 

This week, the news is full of the question, “Where are the women?” Most women are against the proposed laws designed to whittle away women’s access to abortion and possibly contraception. These laws are in play for many reasons but at least partly because of religious convictions. We are, once again, dancing between our right to religious freedom of expression and our belief that religion has no place in government policy.

 

The United States was founded on the idea of separation of church and state, yet, our history is riddled with change based on religious meddling. I don’t like that fact when my side loses. I liked it just fine when my side won so it really comes back to consciousness of the individual and how it is formed.

 

Here’s something I know about consciousness. I believe in things that I know – mostly through personal experience. For example, I’m a woman so I really get women’s issues. I’ve had black and gay friends since I was very young and so I get most of their issues. I’ve never been a hunter so I don’t understand why anyone would want a nation with enough guns to start a revolution. And so it goes.

 

Church and State are obviously separate and obviously intertwined. Our country will continue to have opposing sides to any question and the majority will win in the long run. One thing that means tome is that we need to elect more minorities to the government at local, state and federa level. One thing that the election Pres. Obama is teaching us is that one guy isn’t enough.

 

Meanwhile, our country is based on the idea of individual liberty and I will continue to believe that everyone has a right to his or her voice.  Though I am pro-choice and I believe small families are a good idea, I would honestly hate to see anyone forced to use birth control or forced to abort at any stage in the pregnancy. I truly do believe in choice.

 

At the same time, I believe in social activism. We need more women, more ethnic minorities and more openly gay people in our government. Since most people find it easier to identify with issues they have personal experience with, it would make votes more representative and equal.

 

My state is blessed with three large cities. One has a Hispanic Mayor, one has a gay Mayor and one has a City Manager who is a straight white male. Our two Senators are women and right now, we are fortunate. I’d like us just to be normal. I look forward to the day when no one will even think to ask, “Where are the women?”

 

By the way, here’s my position paper. If Mitt Romney can say, “Corporations are people” then I can say, “Clergy are people”. Which puts me behind the eight ball because I don’t agree with most of the more traditional ministers who are actually speaking out. I do agree that they have the right but I would love to hear more opinions from New Thought clergy. I don’t want to fight but I do want a voice.

 

We need to grow for many reasons and one of them is that we would have a stronger public voice. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if New Thought were so large and powerful on a day to day level that we were routinely called to testify in State and National capital hearings? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could show people how to respect both sides and continue to love each other while we listened and then decided?

 

I understand that our primary way of getting things done is to pray for it. On the other hand, I have heard from the beginning, “Treat and move your feet.” I’d love to see us move our feet in the direction of social action.  Wasn’t it the Dali Lama who, speaking of the environment, said something like, “We should take care of the earth because it is where we live.”

 

Let’s not space out and ignore our activities here on Planet Earth. It’s where we live and we need to be part of the conversation about what happens.

 

Ask Yourself

Is the issue of church and state important to me?

Do I have anything to say about current events?

 

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8 Comments on “New Vistas”

  1. Susan Dexter says:

    I am a minister student in WIsconsin. I am interested in matters of both church and state.
    The actions of our Governor last year polarized our citizens and has divided our state. While I have my opinion about what I feel is just, others may not agree. Others at our church have differing opinions as well. I am happy to live in a nation that allows different voices.

    When I spoke at the hearing in Madison prior to general vote about allowing gay marriage, I felt empowered having a say before the people and law makers of the state. While the vote results were against gay marriage, I felt better having had my say.

    When I think about how each of us is affected, I remember the bigger picture that really, we are all one.

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi REv. Susan,
      It is wonderful to hear from you. I remember you well from out Wise Woman Weekends and training. I guess you know your governor is famous and I’m really glad he isn’t my governor. I do appreciate hearing your thoughtful reply and I definitely agree that one feels better for testifying even if the vote goes against you. I’m happy to know you were active at your state level.
      Love,
      Jane

  2. Jane Pool says:

    I have always been interested in government, especially at the municipal level where it is easiest for citizens to be heard. I keep up with what is really going on statewide and nationwide by listening to progressive radio stations on line. Mainstream media is controlled by big corporations and the news is overtly and covertly slanted to the conservative talking points. I just can’t stand to listen to it.
    I don’t have the energy at my age to get out and demonstrate but I do receive online petitions to congress on important liberal issues and gladly sign them and send what contributions I can afford to help. $5 or $10 or $25 is small potatoes but if there are enough of them it at least helps to give a chance of of being heard over the power of the billions of right wing propaganda
    I strongly believe in separation of church and state. Under G.W. Bush that was totally ignored to the point of monetarily supporting ultra conservative churches and actually punishing at least one Episcopal church that merely told its members to vote – no mention of who or what to vote for. Therefore I have to maintain my support of separation even though I would love for the whole world to hear about Science of Mind and its liberal ideas. To be true to the separation of church and state I have to not want Science of Mind to cross that line.
    As individuals, however, I think that on our own time and in places other than in church it behooves us to do as much as we are able physically and monetarily to support our own political beliefs no matter what they are – while respecting the beliefs of those who disagree with us. (Even when I think they are out of their minds!)

  3. Joe Niemiec says:

    I will actually be overjoyed when the day comes when you don’t even know what religion a politician participates in, whether a cult or a “main stream” religion. We can look at history and see what the good Methodist did to Hawaii culture or the good Christians that chased the Mormons 2/3s across the country. I want to know what a person stands for and feel secure they will vote that way. I also support a person whose perception changes to vote based on new facts put in front of them.

    Give me a person and/or even a voting base that is emerging and changing, has flexibility and then we will have a society moving forward with positive change. Education of both the electorate and voters is what is needed in today’s world. If someone is stuck in 1955 I’m sure they can find a place to be happy.

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Rev. Joe,
      It is always good to hear your intelligent viewpoint. I agree that we need an educated electorate and that a lot of historical nonsense has happened in the name of religion. Or in the name of fright of the “other”. I’m happy to leave people’s religion alone as long as they don’t try to make me a convert. This has been a great topic.
      Love,
      Jana

  4. Mari Saavedra says:

    Thank you Rev. Jane for open the never-will-end political and personal believes and opinions that sometimes create more division than necessary. I have not participated in any public hearings, although I am looking forward to it when the opportunity presents; but, like everyone else, I support causes on and off.
    I am learning to bring forth my voice in such a way that promotes closeness instead of separation (at least that is my intention). In a conversation, I try to be straightforward with my perspective, and listen to others’ with genuine curiosity (at times with dismay to what I hear). Most of all, I look forward to the opportunity to use my thoughts and words with the intention to narrow dawn the gap of separation, and to bring respect and tolerance, if not total love, despite the open disagreement one encounters sometimes. And yes, I agree, it feels empowering. Does this sound also like a declaration? Well, because it also is.


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