May holy angels dip their fingers in your soup.
DB - The Vagabond
I once read a play written by a Catholic priest turned playwright. In it was a conversation between two priests who had gone out for a drink together one evening. One of them says that with all the robes and other paraphernalia that they wear when they are up there in front of the congregation his favorite garment is his ordinary t-shirt because it shows that underneath he's just a regular slob like everybody else.
I knew an Episcopal priest who one Sunday morning took off all the various vestments he was wearing and threw them on the floor. Some of the people got up and left but the ones who remained he invited downstairs to sit around and share communion. Every Sunday after that a loyal congregation joined him for bread and wine at the table downstairs and they talked about things.
I have and I read from books on many different religious topics. I have three Bibles, also the Koran, the Zohar, Oahspe (what's that?), Lao Tzu, books on Buddhism, Hinduism, Martinism, (what's that?), Shintoism, Christian Science, New Age, Wicca, I've read Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Dalai Lama. and Moses Maimonides, studied Tarot and the I Ching, I have a Daily Missal, The Book of Mormon and The Book Of Common Prayer and I could go on.
So what do I think of religion? Two very important and related things.
First: give me religion that is willing to get its hands and face dirty, to turn over the rocks, to plow the fields, to peer into the corners and walk down the dark alleys. Prayer for those who need it, like sex, is never safe. Compassion in a vigorous, effective practice has a boomerang attached to it. Cowards may go to church but they don't belong in religion. The healing of the multiplying ills of the world is the task of religion and anything less is hypocrisy.
Second: I think, as do many of those I've read, that the destiny of mankind is to ultimately go beyond what it seems capable of. To achieve perfection. And the only road leading to that end is through spirituality, holiness and the overcoming of all binding limitations of the mortal world.
I think you can see how these two thoughts are related. The classic chalice of the Eucharistic sacrifice has a base, a stem and a cup. Starting from the lowest level of human life, right down to the t-shirt, benevolent energies must spread out to embrace the world in every place. and in every condition. No lines can be drawn. No exclusions can be made. From there the feeding and the healing must proceed, Healing not preaching. There may be time enough to talk after the soup is poured and drunk. If not, then not. Leave the doctrine behind, the work is not done.
With every spoonful of soup, with every bandaging of a wound, with every nail hammered into a dwelling place the religionist must never lose sight of the supreme goal: freedom from the bondage of limitation. loss, despair and ignorance, the attainment of celestial realities, the true perfection of spiritual life. No self-congratulations are in order. He must be brought, and bring all, up through the stem to the place where they are ready to receive the wine of wisdom, the gracious soup of peace and liberation from all harm, hazard, danger and mortality.
Am I ready for that kind of religion? I don't know. But I know I wouldn't settle for anything less. The proof is in the soup.