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.
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.
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.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “The religion of literate librarians”

  1. Where to start, where to start… Well, I completely agree that religion per se is not an enemy of, well, anyone, really. I may have done a blog post about that very topic. However, you said, “It’s just as certain that awful things happened in no deity’s name”, and if you mean private actions, that’s probably true, but government-sponsored actions have not been done, as near as I can tell, without some sort of religious imprimatur (the officially atheist Soviet Union did awful things, but not AS an atheist government; religious-based governments have done far more icky things).

    On the other hand, Life of Brian is one of my favourite films, so there’s that. But, I can’t even imagine “forgiving” anyone who murdered a loved one. I don’t think I could, probably ever. Could you?

    About SamuraiFrog’s question, didn’t you used to have a subtitle to your blog about information without the bun or something?

    I’ve honestly never heard anyone say that they don’t read long(ish) Facebook posts because of the font, but this fascinates me (of course—I produce publications for a living!). Is it posts more than a couple lines, or is it just when you have to click “See More”? That’s probably a work-related question, actually…

  2. By Awful things., it could mean some sick, twisted guy who prey on children. Not done in the name of God or gods. But if you want to talk state-sponsored, where would you put Mao’s Long March on the religious spectrum.

    Re: forgiveness: I would hope so. I hope I never have to test the theory.

    No, my Times Union newspaper blog is Information Without the Bun. I’ve been a bad blogger there.

    See more is USUALLY a bad sign. Or maybe it’s that I’m ADHD

  3. I’m sure if you would just take down the bun and remove your glasses, you’d be beautiful, Roger!

    Interesting answers to the religious questions… I grew up with a church as a regular part of my life. I was raised Lutheran, but I was also a bullied and abused kid, and that made me not trust people. A lot of kids who bullied me were also very active in my church, and that made me feel as though religion were hollow. And I think bad experiences like that are part of what lead people to insist that bad examples of Christians speak for Christianity as a whole. Because when I see someone saying that marriage equality is an abomination, I remember the guy who lectured me that I could never have any morality because I didn’t embrace Jesus. I remember the condescension of some bullies and I prickle at the whole framework.

    It took me a long time to grow out of that attitude, until I started seeing people I loved and respected attacked simply for believing or being active in their churches, people who would never say some of the things others have. I got tired of some of those staunch online atheists who were simply bullying people because of the actions of a few. For the record, I have friends active in other religions whom I also love and respect. I’ve learned that, even if I don’t share someone’s beliefs, I can respect a person’s life more than I can an organization. So while there are some Christians that anger me by using their beliefs as a weapon, I did mature out of this idea that all Christians represent a uniformity.

    I have no idea if this makes sense. I’m a little high on anxiety meds.

  4. “I did mature out of this idea that all Christians represent a uniformity.” That’s really true. I also got exhausted by the argument that the Christian left LET the Christian right co-opt the message. I needn’t go too deep into this, except that FOX News has been far more successful in the past couple decades than any left-wing equivalent, that conservative talk radio has annihilated those attempts to respond from the liberal wing, etc. There have ALWAYS been non-conservative voivces in Christianity, but it’s only been relatively recently that the MSM believed that, judging by their election coverage last decade.

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