Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Give Me That Old-Timed Religion

as i was driving home the other day listening to the radio, an advertisement for a hospice care service came on.  i was struck by the phrase "care with a christian perspective."  i wondered, "what does that mean?  how would care from a christian perspective differ from care from a jewish or a buddhist perspective?  is care refused to non-christians?  are attempts made to convert non-christians receiving hospice care so that in those last days of life those being cared for can go to heaven?"  a "christian perspective" can mean so many things, and my experience is that it is often a very narrow perspective when an enterprise advertises their adherence to christianity.

a few days later, i read an ad for a hair salon in our local newspaper.  the ad touted the christian-based service the salon provides.  again, a warning light began flashing in my mind.  are christians more adept at styling hair than non-christians?  are muslim stylists less skillful or less honest than christian stylists?  should one avoid a hair stylist who's an atheist?

i remember many years ago when my wife had major surgery.  when an acquaintance learned who the surgeon was, she said, "you're so fortunate.  he's such a fine christian."  my wife and i both had the same reaction: what does his religion have to do with his skill as a surgeon.  the surgery was successful, and the surgeon was a kind person who provided excellent follow-up care after the surgery.  however, the woman in his office that took care of billing was anything but caring.  as we tried to work out a plan to pay for the care not covered by insurance, she was rude and insensitive to my wife during a time when my wife was dealing with a serious health crisis, suggesting that we were trying to avoid paying for the services provided because we were unable to pay the entire bill in one lump sum.  My wife left the doctor's office in tears, saying that the doctor might be a fine christian, but he didn't expect his staff to act as one would expect a christian to act.

the wearing of one's religion on one's sleeve, the use of one's religion to promote one's business, is an arrogant sort of self-promotion that suggests that somehow "my religion is superior to all others."  if it is necessary to advertise the "christian-ness" of one's business, i wonder whether the services provided are very good.  i know of nothing in any religion that causes one to be a better care-giver to those in the end stages of life, or a better hair stylist, or a better physician.

may we all let go of the idea that our religion somehow makes us better than others.  may we accept the fact that there are highly skilled service providers who are followers of other religions and of no religion.  may we ask first how proficient the service provider is, rather than questioning the person's religious beliefs.  may we turn from the arrogance of believing that being an adherent of this religion or that religion (or no religion) makes us better in any way that another.  shalom.

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