Consecutive Days Riding: 155 Consecutive Days Blogging: 139
Today’s Mileage: 4 Total Trip Mileage: 1061
As I ride the bike today I want to note that we will be visiting the first of several pilgrimage sites in the St. Augustine Florida area tomorrow. These include some of the earliest European fortifications in the New World, the Greek “Plymouth Rock” and a Catholic shrine.
I always start my morning by checking for blog comment s and facebook messages. I often find a series of requests and offers to join different groups and causes. I think one of the most significant aspects of this new social media is that it allows us to connect with a diverse group of people who we otherwise would have no possibility of meeting. I find it intriguing and exciting as I get messages from fellow spiritual pilgrims from around the world. One recent morning I had messages from an artist in Australia, a young man from Tunisian, a “healer” from Estonia, and was conducting an IM conversation with a college student from India.
At times like this I wish I were bilingual, as I have received messages in Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Danish and Russian. I could not understand their statements, but enjoyed the beautiful photos attached to the messages. Artwork, like nature, speaks a universal language. In our world community it is this growing connectedness of like minded, or at least open minded individuals which offers the most promise to finding solutions to the big problems that we all face as inhabitants of a shrinking world. Besides reaching out to individuals, I have joined a number of groups. I find this to be an invaluable way to connect with others who share common interests. I conducted a quick review this morning of the groups I have joined. They represent a somewhat diverse range of interests, although most are of a pluralist, spiritual nature committed to a growing worldwide interconnectedness. Many of them would fall under the heading of New Thought, Naturalistic or Eastern Thought. Several focus on healing and health and often combine artistic images that promote and convey the messages of balance and creativity. Of course there are several associated with Unitarian Universalism, my current religious affiliation.
This collection of groups would not be a surprise to my family, friends and students who have heard me readily express my spiritual and political views. There is one thing you won’t find in this collection of groups. You will not find organizations that take a narrow perspective, such as condemning Israel or Palestine while not acknowledging the joint responsibilities, or singling out a particular religion for criticism, such as Islam. You won’t find groups that argue for a continuation of the status quo, or that proclaim “Americanism” as God’s gift to the world.
Of course I would not seek out such groups and anyone who knows me would not invite me to join such a group. It is for this reason that I was surprised and a little shocked when I found an invitation to join a group entitled “Let’s Build a Church in Pakistan.” The group boasts over 50,000 members. As best I can tell the group is based in England and has postings that are sprinkled with obscenities. It is an “in your face, poke in the eye” attempt to throw fuel on the anti-Islamic sentiments. It attempts to stoke the dichotomous “we are right and you are wrong” flames of anger and hatred.
As a pluralist I believe that all people should have a right to build churches, temples, mosques and stone circles to practice their faith. I know this flies in the face of the rules in several countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia) where exclusionary regimes place severe restriction on such rights. I do not believe these regimes are correct.
I am proud of the US where people are free to build their houses of worship and practice their faith as they choose. But even in the USA these choices are at times confronted by narrow minded exclusionary forces. On my pilgrimage journey I have come across Hindu and Jain temples that were blocked by local governments from building in their communities, forcing them to relocate. This is not right!
I will join any group that embraces a goal of a world where every citizen has a right to worship. But before anyone points fingers at other countries they should first look in their own back yard. I am choosy about the groups I join. I review them to make sure they fit with my values and standards. I do not know who sent me this request, they obviously do not know me. They do not share my desire for world peace, my desire for a connected world community. I embrace everyone on my friends list with love, compassion, concern and respect. Please join me in this effort!
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