After the early service yesterday someone handed me a New Yorker cartoon that showed people filing out of church holding up signs in the shape of baseball gloves on which is painted # 1. The man in the white collar holds one of the signs and has a huge grin and has both arms raised like the football official announcing a touchdown. There’s a couple walking together with happy faces and she says to him, “It’s true – we totally have the best religion.”
It’s amusing, to be sure, but like all good humor it touches a sensitive nerve. I was reminded of the Sunday morning some years ago when Arnold Diaz, of television’s ‘shame on you’ program, came up to me after the service and said, “Well, you did it…my wife said you would do it…” I asked, “What did I do?” He said, “You said that Unitarianism is the best religion!” Clearly he was saying his famous mantra: “Shame on you!”
I thought about it for a split second, hoping he didn’t have his camera crew with him, and said, “Yes, I suppose I did suggest that.” Then I smiled and said, “I guess I got carried away this morning.” His face turned from chagrined to genuine grin and we shook hands.
Touching another nearby nerve, last Saturday the NY Times printed a letter to the editor from a lifelong Catholic woman who paid tribute to the nuns that the hierarchy of the church is trying to silence. She wrote:
“I am a lifelong Catholic, 80-plus years, and will die a Catholic. But I will not be silent in my support of the tireless work and dedication of the wonderful nuns who serve the poor and the helpless, the sick and infirm, the children and elderly, who even go to jail for the cause of protesting the evil of war and nuclear threats to humanity and the world.
“I will speak out loudly in protest at the Vatican document’s citing of nuns for, as your article says, focusing ‘too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping ‘silent’on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“How can there ever be too much focus on poverty and economic injustice? And how can the Vatican justly rebuke women busy selflessly carrying out Christ’s work caring for the least of our brethren for being silent on abortion and homosexuality, while for decades bishops were silent about grave sins against the innocent in their care?”
She concludes: “Herewith is my tribute to the thousands of nuns who deserve our respect and admiration. I am having shirts made up for my Catholic and non-Catholic friends and family to wear that state, ‘I’m with her!” Patricia Burns, Edgewater, NJ.
I’ll keep my eye out for one of those shirts! Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s visit with Dr. Marvin Josaitis, whose memoir, Breaking Silence, I read with appreciation. Marv chronicles the story of his pilgrimage to Catholic priest and back again. It’s about the inner journey from believing ‘we are # 1,’to the realization that we’re all # 1. We’ll gather in the Meeting House at 4 p.m. and listen to his story, see how it connects with our own, and have some discussion.
Finally, I hope you’ll respond to the annual canvass by giving generously. Thanks!