Religion compare and contrast, and Old Silvertooth

Maybe I could have been one of Gladys Knight’s Pips.


Chris, with whom I have been having an interesting dialogue on Facebook about human nature, wants to know:

What do you think about other religions? Is it just “different strokes for different folks,” or are some religions better than others, or a mix? Where do you think other religions belong in Christianity?

A lot of how I view other religions is based on the bias I have seen within Christianity, including by myself. When I was growing up, I wouldn’t say anything, but I thought those Catholics who had “dirt” on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday looked silly. As a bit of cosmic comeuppance, in my last two (Protestant) churches, we now apply ashes on our foreheads on the first day of Lent.

I recall the first time I was allowed to take Communion at a Roman Catholic Church, on some important anniversary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, back in the 1990s. Interestingly, some of my Protestant friends refused to take the Eucharist because of being denied for so long, which I thought was CRAZY; they let you in, you gotta walk through the door.

Did I ever tell you about the Coptic who told me I was going to hell because Protestants didn’t believe in literal transubstantiation?

So I have enough problem sorting out my own religion that the assessment of other faiths tends to be secondary considerations.

For instance, the Texas Republican platform condemns homosexuality and invokes God. People are boycotting Oreo cookies because the brand is “violating God’s law.” I disagree with these “thought” processes, of course, but it remains my struggle to find common ground with other Christians, first and foremost, if possible. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, Mohandas K. Gandhi said he’d consider becoming a Christian if he had ever met one.

All of that said, I’m also influenced greatly by the Baha’i faith, the religion of a former Significant Other. Basically, it said that many of the major religious leaders, such as Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, and Zoroaster, were part of a “progressive revelation”, with Christianity revealed for the city-state, Islam for the nation-state, and Baha’ism for the world-state. I never embraced it, but I accepted it as a way to respect other faiths.

Now from a purely comfort level, there seem to be far fewer jerks who claim to be Buddhists, for instance, than jerks purporting to be Christians or Muslims. And there are commonalities in many religions that suggest that at least PARTS of their doctrines are universal. Doesn’t everyone have some variation on the Golden Rule? I will admit, too, that I’m really not all that into proselytizing, at least by words.

When you fantasized about running away as a kid (I assume most people did), what did you fantasize about doing?

I liked watching or playing baseball. Or maybe I could have been one of Gladys Knight’s Pips.

If money were no issue – you were set for life, although you couldn’t just give it all away – what would you be doing?

I would get on trains and go to every Major League Baseball ballpark pretty much every season. I’d go see lots of live theater and a lot of movies in the colder part of the year, especially in New York City and in my region. I’d go visit friends. I’d read a lot more, write more. I’d love to have a companion with whom I could play racquetball wherever I went.

Steve writes:

Not sure if this is the appropriate post to put this on, but how did you chip your sister’s tooth?


When I was a kid, I was a bit of a loner, even in my own family structure. I liked to read in my tiny little room or play with my baseball cards. I played with my sisters, too, who were 16 months, and five years younger than I – mostly kickball or with their dolls – but I needed my own time.

The middle child sometimes would bug me. She knew about the parents’ “no hitting girls” rule, and she took advantage by poking me. I’d do my Garbo best: “I vant to be alone!” But eventually, I’d go chase her away.

On one of these occasions, when I was about 10 or 11, I was trying to catch her – wasn’t sure what I’d do if I did, since I couldn’t hit her – and I stepped on the back of her bathrobe. She went straight down, hit the floor, and started crying loudly. She had chipped one of her front top, permanent teeth.

Ultimately, the dental folks put some silver-gray epoxy on it. The specifics of it now escape me, but what was clear is that she had this discolored item right in the middle of her mouth for months. People would say to her, “Hi, yo, Silver!” or “Old Silvertooth.” She was mortified.

The good outcomes (for me) were these: I didn’t get in trouble, presumably because my narrative rang true to my parents; and my sister left me alone for quite a while. More bizarre to me is that my sister had, apparently for years, until I corrected her in the past few months, attributed her ugly silver tooth to actions taken by our baby sister rather than by me.

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