Whatever Gets You Through the Night…

I just wanted to pass on a nice article from the latest UUWorld.  Hold on, by William F. Schulz.  It reads a bit like corny self-help psychology, but the more I read, the more I realized the thoughts are on the money, and useful to people like me and mine.

So I am not suggesting for a moment that our pain is not real or that our fears are all in our heads. Evil is very real; misery can be acute; and sometimes it can overwhelm us. But the testimony of those who have experienced almost unimaginable personal agony and remained sane seems to be that placing what we value most at the center of our consciousness and trusting that we can survive is the best way to cope with a world gone mad.

Religion’s job is to sustain us in that practice. Indeed, I have come to believe that as long as our religious faith is generous-hearted, it matters far less what its content is—its metaphysics or theology, whether it trucks with God or disowns the concept, whether it postulates a hidden world or sticks stubbornly to this one—than whether it succeeds in getting us through the night. If, beyond that, it can convince us to feel embraced by that starry night, rather than to just feel afraid, so much the better. But at the core of whatever faith we choose needs to be the knowledge that at the end of all that botherization there generally lies some kind of angle of repose.

This is also what undergirds a religious commitment to justice. It is not that we can solve everybody else’s problems, but, if we can provide such things as equitable enforcement of laws, a self-sustaining planet, and a fair distribution of the earth’s abundance, those conditions will open up enough time and space that most people will then have the wherewithal to solve their own.

I couldn’t have said it better myself… even if I had managed to think of it that way on my own.

6 comments to Whatever Gets You Through the Night…

  • Buck

    “For his anger is but for a moment. His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

    Getting the mail and answering the phone always scares me more than staring into the night sky. Staring into the night sky always reminds me that this thing is a lot bigger than I am and that for the most part I am just along for the ride.

    And the closer you get to the end of the ride the more you realize what a short ride it is.

  • RW

    I must say, that last paragraph is a wonderful example of how some people have the talent to spin words in such a way that that they could make a reading of names from the phone book sound eloquent. I think I heard one TV character say “you could charm the ticks off a bloodhound”*. I mean, in short, it says (and correct me if I’m wrong) that it would be righteous if we maintained affirmative action, pushed for more global warming/climate legislation and further redistribution of wealth….but it does so in such a way that it makes is sound…..well, melancholic. Sorta like reading the words to a Steve Winwood song, what’s not to like?

    “A fair distribution of the earth’s abundance”? The ticks are literally falling off the bloodhound.

    I wish I were that good.


    * Then again, maybe it was from Blazing Saddles and it was “your mouth is prettier than a twenty dollar whore” Eh, I don’t recall which. :)

  • Hey… yeah… he was talking about religion instead of government so that does change the context some. I mean, if you applied Jesus’ words to government, Karl Marx look like Milton Friedman by comparison.

    I think there are plenty of conservatives of good will who believe that wealth and opportunity should be distributed fairly instead of unjustly (just not with government help), and that the environment should be taken care of (just so long as polluters aren’t regulated by the government, and as long as no one is asked to take climate science seriously). I expect even *you* would agree that fairness and a clean world to live in are things that would make the world a better place, wouldn’t you? And, if you don’t think that the government should play a role in bringing those things about, don’t you at least think the church should play a role? That religious people should see the accomplishment of those things as a mission?

  • RW

    Dude, that’s how I (try) to live my life. That’s how Jesus told me to live my life, loving my neighbor. If he’s truly talking about free will (the stuff about the laws being endorced raised my flag) then that’s how I wish everyone went about things. No matter what one’s religion is, treating each other as if they were our true ‘brother’ is what would make the world a better place. Lord knows I love my true brother.

    I’m guessing that by “fair distribution of the earth’s abundance” it means voluntarily giving away one’s means based on what one personally believes to be ‘fair’. I consider that ‘charity’, & since that wasn’t included, another flag was raised.

    Perhaps I was being overly cynical.

    I mean, if you applied Jesus’ words to government, Karl Marx look like Milton Friedman by comparison.

    Jesus didn’t force anyone to do anything (other than the money changers to leave the temple). Were our government to even pretend to adopt the principle of free will…..

    Egads, you had me even contemplating such a silly notion, if only for a nano second. :)

  • I’m guessing that by “fair distribution of the earth’s abundance” it means voluntarily giving away one’s means based on what one personally believes to be ‘fair’.

    In the context of religion… well, to me in the context of religion, it would mean striving toward a state of fairness through whatever means your conscience calls for. And, yes – that’s personal… So, if your conscience doesn’t permit or require a social compact enforced by law then you would not look at that option. You might look at personal charity. You might look at creating a voluntary community initiative. You might try using prayer. You might try handing out leaflets to people who are benefitting unfairly, explaining to them why you think they should change. For those conscience calls for government coercion overseas, it could include striving for a government that supports nation-building or dictator-toppling through military means. It doesn’t have to be entirely personal charity.

    For those of us whose conscience does permit or require a social contract enforced by law (as does mine and likely the author of this piece, if not for complete fairness then at least for something fairer than the current situation), then striving for that would be included as well.

  • UU World magazine is quoting your blog post in its upcoming “Blog Roundup” column. The magazine also produces an audio version, and we’d like to be sure the reader pronounces your pseudonym properly. Would you please email back how you would like “Smijer” pronounced? Thanks!

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