Season after Pentecost, 2023
Why go to church? 'Eucharist' means 'Thanksgiving'. We go to give public expression to our gratitude. In the vast mega-cities of the world, entirely constructed environments, congregations assemble to give witness to our generous God. In the bustling urban jungle, they offer places of praise and, more rarely, silence. Of course I can give praise in the privacy of my home – 'seven times a day I thank you' (Psalm 119.164) – but in justice to God and my neighbour I must make visible my gratitude. And we shall recognize the same impulse of gratitude in people of other faiths. In the Hasidic rabbis of the eighteenth century, such as the Baal Shem Tov, or the Sufi mystics like Rumi, one recognizes their gratitude as one's own. Belief in God the Creator overthrows religious division. We recognize a fellow thanker, even if their Eucharists take other forms.
Radcliffe, Timothy. Why Go To Church? London: Bloomsbury, 2008. Page 77
This is exactly why a predominantly Christian America should not be afraid of other religious voices in the public square. And in a world where too many are unjustifiably afraid of other religious expressions, the recent reticence shown by Duke University is reprehensible.
Please pair the above quote with "Unwavering Pluralism and the Beloved Community in the Face of Duke's Decision" by Omid Safi.
Religious folk must lead the way. If we truly believe in God, this should, as Radcliffe says, overcome religious division.
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