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First Night

April 18th, 2011

Passover has started. Normally met with an infinitely long before meal participatory service in which you tell the story of Pesach about fifteen different ways, discuss plagues, spill some wine/juice and eat too much.

Instead, I spent some time thinking about the current world and the issues of religious freedom.  In audio n the car, I am currently listening to Kenneth C Davis - America’s Hidden History.  With an excellent background provided in the numerous conflicts occurring in Europe from the 15th Century onward, Davis views the early history of exploration and conquest of the New World not from the sweetly painted fiction taught to school children but against the harsh realities of people and their belief systems. What might seem benign becomes rapidly apparent as intrinsically connected to the Protestant/Catholic – conflict in both England and on the Continent. The idea of the French-Indian Wars (the New World side of the European Seven Years War) being started by George Washington due to inexperience and stupidity is clear when viewed from the perspective of “religious freedom.”

The English founders of the New World were looking for freedom to practice their religion. Not for freedom for anyone else to practice theirs…… Which clearly explains the lack of Catholics, Jews and other strangers in the Massachusetts Bay Colonies and the later popularity of Maryland with non-Pilgrim/Puritan settlers.

The book is both interesting and entertaining. I have both paperback and CD and am willing to loan it to anyone who might be interested.

Fast forward to today. As I look back at the historical departure of the Jews from Egypt – I am struck by two things. The first is the stubbornness/refusal of the Jews  to assimilate. The second is that fact that they did not try to impose their beliefs on the Egyptians, rather choosing to leave. I look around the US – fundamentalists want legislate my personal morals. I just want to be left to do my own thing and not force my beliefs on them. There are plenty of faith groups who – while having “the answer for themselves” don’t see a need to restrict/regulate/denigrate those outside their own group. Then there are those who, from religious belief or fear, can only see that I am not part of their group and so am wrong.

Meanwhile, I just spent six months in Afghanistan, trying to support the idea of freedom and choice for many to whom it is completely irrelevant. Those who would have happily executed me as one more infidel and a risk to their belief system. Working along side some quite interesting fundamentalist Catholics and Christians who were very uncomfortable with my religion/belief system. I am not sure which poses more personal danger to me. Probably the later.

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  1. April 19th, 2011 at 18:55 | #1

    One good reason why my parents raised us in Maryland (and not Virginia). Why we moved our children to California. The more you’re around people different from your own family, the more you see people as the children of G_D that we all are.

    So often, people are surprised when I tell them that Maryland was settled by the Jews and Catholics who couldn’t find religious freedom in the other colonies. I remember being astonished when I found out that kids in other states didn’t necessarily get school off for Yom Kippur or Rosh Hoshana.

  2. Jan
    April 19th, 2011 at 19:43 | #2

    I always root for the Spanish Armada.

  3. Holly
    April 19th, 2011 at 19:44 | #3

    and it is really too bad that the Brits won. On the other hand – the Inquisition is not my idea of a good time.

  4. Angeluna
    April 19th, 2011 at 19:51 | #4

    Amen, Sister! I don’t understand it either, this need by some to judge the rest of the world wrong and in need of salvation.

  5. Valerie
    April 19th, 2011 at 20:15 | #5

    Thanks, Holly. Interesting read. I wish I could enjoy a little wine with you for Passover. Yes, religion can be a contentious issue and that’s too bad – it doesn’t have to be.

  6. Carmen
    April 19th, 2011 at 20:33 | #6

    I wish you a blessed and joyful Passover.

  7. Mary
    April 19th, 2011 at 20:34 | #7

    Do hope you have a wonderful cedar with your family. How super it must be to be together!!

    Your email today was troubling. It is such a waste to realize that religious intollerance is alive and prospering all over the world and it was sad to realize that your observation about those wearing the same uniform as you were so ignorant! I’ll never forget that there were people on my trip to Israel in 2000 who had not realized and once it was presented to them seemed reluctant to acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew. With stupidity like that, there seems to be little hope for peace between people.

  8. george
    April 19th, 2011 at 20:50 | #8

    To quote Jon Stewart`s Earth: “religion helped overcome man`s catastrophic tendency toward neigborliness and smoothed the way for millenia of wars–allowing millions of peaople to discover, first-hand, whether or not their religion was right about the whole “post-death non-oblivion thing. To sum up: Religion provided great comfort to a world torn apart…by religion.”

  9. Cat
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:08 | #9

    The “we and we alone are right” attitude of many people really gets up my nose – fundamentalist anything does not suit me. It is dangerous. It is why I am not a happy cat with organised religion.

  10. Helen
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:11 | #10

    How sad that man has screwed up the world in general in the name of religion…I don’t care what people believe / do as long as they allow others to do the same!

  11. Cheryl
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:11 | #11

    No Catholic who actually reads the Bible and pays attention to the Church’s teachings would ever be a threat to someone who is Jewish.

  12. Steven
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:24 | #12

    This is quite a pile of complexities for me to consider without any morning coffee.

    I’d love to borrow the CD for my next drive to Flagstaff.

    My personal Passover goal is freedom from clutter and things in our house that we do not need. Ho boy.

  13. Holly
    April 20th, 2011 at 21:25 | #13

    and I will get it into the mail to you this week!

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