Minor Update and Unity
I’m still planning on doing a “seven cardinal virtues” post for academics, but it’s crunch mode here, and I’ve got two papers I need to get in before the end of the semester.
So another blog post here and this seminar about mind/body/spirit in music got me thinking about unity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great class, last few weeks aside. On the one hand, I want there to be some sort of unity. On the other, I know that there are some things we all are going to disagree upon.
For instance, there are some things I’m comfortable doing (learning about other religions, observing their practices), and there are others I’m not comfortable with (actually participating in something I don’t believe in). I feel I owe it to the other denomination or religion that I refrain from participating, when I can’t share their beliefs. For instance, I’d never take communion in a congregation where the presence of Christ was held to be only symbolic.
So one of the student presentations next week involves a participatory event based upon a philosophy and set of beliefs I don’t hold. I do respect those beliefs highly, but I, personally, can’t share it. (My other objections involve a tight work schedule and the fact that for me meditation–or contemplation as my tradition calls it–is a personal and solitary activity I can’t just do around other people. I really wasn’t kidding when I mentioned I’d rather have sex in public than meditate around people I don’t know.) There’s no problem with my being excused from it.
The past couple weeks in the class have made me realize how very different we all are, and wonder if unity is an ideal we can’t have here and now. If anything my study of other religions has taught me, it’s taught me that I have a home as a Roman Catholic. No matter how irate some of its members may make me, my culture, beliefs, and identity are as a Roman Catholic. This isn’t something I can put aside for the sake of half-baked “scholarship,” as in the case of the satanism presentation. While I do enjoy learning about other religions, I can’t put aside my Catholicity (is that a word?) and become something I’m not.
I’m feeling uneasy about the next class, even though I’m excused from it. I don’t think I’d have a problem, were things kept theoretical. But I think I’d be feeling the same, had the class gone to Mass on the day we were discussing some readings on the Eucharist. As an EM, I can’t refuse anyone communion (that’s the job of the ordinary minister in my diocese), but I would feel weird receiving communion among the majority of the class who couldn’t. Extrapolating my hypothetical class situation further to me acting as an EM during that hypothetical Mass, and knowing my diocese’s policy of extraordinary ministers of communion (me) not being able to refuse people, I’d hope that people who present themselves for communion are at least able to understand and accept by what we believe in the Eucharist. And I don’t know that the Spirit isn’t leading them there.
So going back to Lorna’s post, I think there’s a way out of all this:
Unity does not mean cloning. God forbid! The creator of the universe did not even create two snowflakes the same, so why we Christians would fall into the trap of thinking that being united means being the same I’ll never understand…That which is on our heart (not our mind) is what unites us – if we are willing.
Can we in this class come together from this? Or, rather, can I? Lord knows at the begining of the class I was willing for that kind of meeting of hearts Lorna discusses. I feel rather far from that now.