The religion of literate librarians

MockingbirdAs part of the Ask Roger Anything process, Arthur is hankering for me to write about religion:

What’s one thing you just don’t “get” about non-believers?

The need, at least for some of them, to ascribe all the problems in of the world at the feet of religion. Taking the issue of same-sex marriage, in the US, you see that a majority of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and especially Jews are supportive.

Surely, horrific things have happened, and continue to take place, in the purported name of God/Allah. It’s just as certain that awful things happened in no deity’s name, and that decent, even wonderful, things take place through the works of people following their religious beliefs.

A corollary, I suppose, is the easy willingness to point to some group of purported Christians, and INSIST that they represent Christianity as a whole. The Ku Klux Klan claim to be Christian; it does not follow that the KKK represents Christianity. Nor do those folks out of Kansas, the Westboro Baptist Church represent my understanding of living a Christ-centered life.

I think it makes me irritable for the same reason that one black person’s flaws seem to be attributed to the whole race.

Just recently, through Daily Kos, I came across Faithful America, which says it “is the largest and fastest-growing online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice. Our members are sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus’ message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda. We’re organizing the faithful to challenge such extremism and renew the church’s prophetic role in building a more free and just society.”

What’s one thing you wish non-believers understood about your faith position (and what’s a better word for that—I’m drawing a blank…)?

darthreligionI don’t know what term you’re looking for. My theology? My belief system? Fred? I’m not humorless about my faith; I really liked Monty Python’s Life of Brian, BTW.

There is a degree of uncertainty not only for me but in lots of thinking people.

Listening to the families of the victims in Charleston, many said that their faith required them to forgive the presumed killer, but it wasn’t easy. Some folks were practically apologetic about not being at that point yet. It was a very relatable struggle.

For most of us, faith is a process. Most of the mainline churches have evolved on issues of race fairness, gender equality, gay rights, et al. If the source material hasn’t changed, it must be the Holy Spirit working in us.

An example: from 1939 to 1968, the Methodist Church, prior to becoming the United Methodist Church, had something called the Central Jurisdiction, which “formally established segregation as official church policy.” It would be unthinkable today.
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SamuraiFrog is curious to know:

What’s a misconception people tend to have about librarians?

That we’re humorless, that we all have buns in our hair, that all we do at work is read all day. (And when I worked at a comic book store, I didn’t read comics all day, either.)

One of the things I’ve noticed as president of the Friends of the Albany Public Library is that so much of the work involves providing Internet connections for those without them, assisting people who are seeking employment, and being a locale that provides a hub for the community.

The struggle for libraries nationally is that people who don’t use them seem to think they’re passe because “everyone” has e-readers. Well, most libraries have e-books.

What book have you owned the longest?

Play the Game: the Book of Sport, edited by Mitchell V. Charnley (1931). This was an anthology of sports stories from American Boy magazine from 1923 to 1931, stories which I read over and over. I have no idea how I got it, but I feel like I’ve always had it. The cover, BTW, is green.

This isn’t the oldest book I own though. That honor probably goes to a Methodist hymnal with an 1849 copyright date. In the mid-1980s, my girlfriend at the time bought it for me for the handsome sum of $2.50. It has a LOT of hymns by Charles Wesley, many more than in subsequent iterations, starting with O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing on the first page, and including Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today, plus a whole bunch with which I am not familiar.

Do you re-read books? Which ones?

Not so much this century. I’ve read the Bible all the way through, different iterations, in 1977-78, sometime in the 1980s, and 1996-97, but not since. I used to reread Matt Groening’s Life in Hell books, certain books about the Beatles. Now, I feel there are SO many books that I OWN that I haven’t read the FIRST time that rereading seems like a luxury.

This may be true: the only books I’ve reread that I wasn’t going to review are children’s books: Dr. Seuss, Sue Boynton. And not necessarily for the Daughter’s consumption, but for my own.
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New York Erratic muses:

Do you find different communication platforms cause you to think differently? For example, reading Facebook vs. talking a lot on the phone.

Here’s the difference between someone’s Facebook and someone’s blog: I’m more likely to read the latter. Of the 710 friends I have on Facebook, last I checked, there are fewer than ten for which I get notifications every time they post, and I’m related to most of them. So when they later say, “I wrote about that already on Facebook,” I shrug, because I didn’t probably see it. If I DID follow everyone closely, I’d have no life.

I HATE reading lengthy pieces on FB. This is probably a function of the font, which I’m told I can alter but haven’t had the inclination to figure it out. But it’s also true that I associate FB with short comments or links to other items. I tend not to link satire (except The Onion) on FB, because too many people think it’s true.

I much prefer email to texting because there’s less an expectation that I’ll reply instantly.

Here’s a bit of my library process: I’ve mentioned that I’m more likely than my fellow librarians, all of whom are at least a decade younger, to pick up the phone and call an agency, an association, etc. What I believe is that they all put up websites and seem to think that all the information that users will need is there. This is incorrect, as I’ve gotten plenty of useful info by actually finding, and speaking to, the right person. Sometimes, it’s just connecting our client with that appropriate contact that solves the issue.