Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tension these days often within faiths

When I went on an interfaith trip to Israel earlier this year, I expected some sparks between members from the two congregations traveling together.

After all, one congregation was Jewish and one was Baptist.

Yes, Temple Beth El and Myers Park Baptist – the two houses of worship sponsoring the trip – share a liberal approach to politics and social justice.

But their theologies are different. You won’t hear “Jesus Christ” during Shabbat services at Temple Beth El. And on Sunday at Myers Park Baptist, you’ll hear that name over and over – in song, prayer and Scripture.

But, even though we went to Jewish sites and Christian sites, members of the two congregations bonded, agreed to disagree on theology and even discussed Jesus’ Judaism.

So no tension?

Not between them.

But there was some between the Reform Jews in Charlotte and the Orthodox Jews who make many of the rules in Israel.

And between the Baptists from Charlotte and the other Christians – mostly Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox – who run so many of the ancient churches in Israel.

At the Western Wall, Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El and a few other women from her congregation risked getting arrested by wearing a tallit, or prayer shawl. Orthodox Jews believe only men should wear a tallit, and most Orthodox do not think women should read from the Torah, especially in mixed company.

A court in Israel has since ruled that women should not be arrested for wearing a tallit or reading from the Torah at the Western Wall. But that hasn’t changed the Orthodox view.

And some of the Baptists from Charlotte were turned off by what they considered the grandiose images at, say, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There, Catholic pilgrims from Eastern Europe rubbed rosaries on an oiled slab of rock where some believe Jesus’ body was prepared for burial.

The group was scheduled to attend a Sunday service at a Baptist church in Jerusalem. But plans were changed when it was discovered that the church was Southern Baptist – much too conservative for the Myers Park Baptists and, they worried, much too interested in converting those from Temple Beth El to Christianity.

You don’t have to travel 5,000-plus miles to pick up on this intrafaith tension.

Several mainline faiths – Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist – have been fighting among themselves over whether to ordain and marry gays and lesbians.

Conservative Episcopalians have rebelled against their church’s liberal leaders by becoming Anglicans.

And liberal Catholics upset with their conservative leaders? Some of them have become Episcopalians.

--Tim Funk


Anonymous said...

I worked at an asylum and found many of the same idiosyncracies among the nutcases there...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anonymous (1) for making me laugh! So so true!!

Anonymous said...

This is 2013 and you people are still believing in ghosts and mythical stories? Come on folks! The Bible is just a story about space aliens who once controlled the path of man.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the good old village atheists are back. Always good fof a laugh or two!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the village atheist syndrome. The person above who claims that they worked at the asylum must have contracted it while working there.

Anonymous said...

Should this tension surprise anyone? Religious groups have been fighting between themselves for thousands of years. Not any different than if all the costumed geeks at a Comic Con convention fighting each other.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the liberal, oh-so tolerant members of Myers Park Baptist Church apparently were very intolerant and judgmental of the religious practices of the pilgrims from Eastern Europe. And I wonder if they are as condemning of black Southern Baptist churches here in Charlotte as they were of the Israeli Southern Baptists.

Anonymous said...

As an agnostic who grew away from the church as I grew up, allow me to note that the comments on the "grandiose images" are rather funny; after all, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are far older than any of the Protestant denominations. Ethiopic and Coptic Christianity are even older, and are equally "grandiose." It's unsurprising to see Southern Christians judging others, but a little historical perspective would help.

Anonymous said...

Hypocrisy at its best. Typical of some members of the publicity loving "elite" churches (and temple) in this town. Their "tolerance" matches that of The Observer.

David Gabrieli said...

Israel is right place to buy a Hebrew prayer shawl. From here you can get all variety of designs, and colors in different sizes at affordable prices.

Anonymous said...

I put all branches of christian faiths in the same bucket. The only difference is which passages of the bible each chooses to ignore and how much critical thinking you are prepared to suspend.