July 13, 2011 / by Tom Ehrich

One final word about last weekend’s dental drama. Now that intense pain is gone, it’s difficult to remember why life was so caught up in pain management. They say we can’t remember pain, but I sure hope we can remember the experience of being rendered semi-functional by pain.

For that experience is happening all around us, in some lives for years on end. In fact, pain might be one experience we have most in common. That suggests we approach each other without a shield of cheerfulness, but with ear and heart open to anything, especially expression of pain.

If we can’t make room for each other’s pain, how can we be trusted with anything?

View across the Central Park Reservoir to the East Side


Q: With the globalization of the world along with exposure to other cultures and religions, do you believe that religion as often practiced in the U.S. and other cultures with its lack of acceptance (often hate) of other religions and other ways of life is more a negative than a positive in functioning in the 21st century?

A: Any religion that tries to build its franchise by declaring itself right and all other religions wrong will tend to become destructive. It will unleash powerful passions, encourage rejection of neighbors, discourage collaboration among people of faith, and make God small, merely a partisan on the small turf of their right-opinion.

This is nothing new. Religious wars almost destroyed Europe, unsettled the American colonies, and are preventing modernity and sanity from reaching many parts of the world. No mob is as vengeful and self-righteous as a religious mob.

I doubt that God takes any delight when supposedly faithful people draw lines, declare hatreds, turn Scriptures into weapons and intolerance into acceptable public policy. We were made for better than this.