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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Game On ! ! !

When I was growing up, if one was described as religious that pretty much meant one thing—one was a Christian or maybe Jewish (which really was perceived as closely related and foundational to Christianity itself).  Now other religions are increasingly appearing across America, perhaps most notably Islam.  For the first time in my lifetime, there is an increasingly competitive religious environment in America.  This looming competition could hold in store various possibilities.  On the one hand it could take on a divisive character in which the religious seek to outdo one another in claiming to be sole representatives of truth and rectitude.  Continuing ideological dissention in time could produce a strident, divisive, and sanctimonious partisanship across which divide antagonism and resentment would fester and perhaps eventually lead to violence itself.  As prior to the Civil Rights movement race wars seemed to threaten America’s future, in this internecine climate religious wars would seem to lurk on the horizon.

My son George (named Nurideen meaning “enlightened” in Islam) gave me tremendous hope the other day.  He said so long as religious competition in America centered over efforts to provide caring service to improve the health and welfare of all, then the more competition the better—in this light the fact that the “game is on” is good news .  This is my hope for America—that religious diversity will motivate us to greater concerted efforts of beneficent service and generosity thus supplanting bitter dogmatism and dissention.  Religious tolerance would then not be an onerous task filled with anxiety, suspicion, and dread; but an actualization on a daily basis of shared goals and service.  This would underwrite respect and goodwill while encouraging trust and would testify to the profound impact of guaranteed rights and freedoms upon ameliorating human behavior.

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