Art, music, literature, and science are my religion, for they all tell me how to live, morally, spiritually, and in my relationships. They show me love for myself and for my fellowman. They preach to me so deeply and intimately. Some say that we humans have evolved to be religious because we know of death, and knowing, desire to explain it somehow, to understand it. Jan introduced me to God via music and the art of literature. She is not a musician nor is she an artist; she’s an avid reader. She plays Americanized Canasta with me on the first Thursday of every month, socially, with only a tiny bit of competiveness if she begins to win. She isn’t religious, per se, but she is observant, a scientist. She observed the young piano prodigy, how he or she, the youngest child that amazes us humans, moves their tiny fingers and hands across the keyboard creating and re-creating music. How the young prodigy learns music so easily that it baffles us, on the piano or a thousand other instruments. She then told me to consider those musical miracles, and I did, and I remembered god created miracles, those miracles. Likewise, I expanded my thinking, the young artist who can draw without training, and a thousand other miracles of human life, and evolutionary life. Consider the tuatara of the New Zealand fields, how it grows, how it grows? And yet, it has a Third Eye, what religion is that?
I was troubled by God and Christianity recently, and mad at Him, and that is how Jan came to explain her beliefs in god, manifest through the miracles of music, art, and literature. I remembered then my husband suggesting that I read “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers” when I was troubled another previous time at god, and I was filled with wonder as I read. Christopher Hitchen’s famous, or infamous if you’re a Bible-believing Christian or Jew or other Religion, book “God is Not Great” is my bible, for their god is not great. There are many gods of many religions that are not great. He is most often mean, jealous, and demanding. But the god of music, art, and literature, and Science, is beautiful. Sometimes loud, screamingly loud, but always deeply profound as She delves deep into my soul.
So we consider death, we humans. “We take those who are much closer to death than we are and sequester them in nursing homes,” wrote Andrew Sullivan recently in the online magazine “Intelligencer” (http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/andrew-sullivan-americas-new-religions.html), an article filled with absurdities, generalities, and banal bombast giving confirmation bias to his own religiosity. No, we don’t sequester our elderly. We carefully weigh all the awfulness of loneliness our mom or dad will have in a nursing home versus staying with us. We know how difficult it is to care for an aging parent, because our parent cared for us, wiped our little baby bums and changed our urine-soaked cloth diapers, as we have for our own kids, except we had Pampers instead of cloth (and dammit, those liberals are gonna ban that soon, too!). We don’t sequester them. My husband and his brothers found a home for their aging mother, and they will confess it was Providence herself that found that nursing home. She died while we were in New Zealand, January, 2019, and yet even sequestered and us so far away, we were deeply involved in her passing. Sullivan is the consummate Christian pessimist speaking when he says we sequester them to avoid thinking about death. There are those who are sequestered, and a few evil children, like Trump, who couldn’t begin to love their parents or their children enough to care for them themselves, who put their parents or elderly relatives in nursing homes for selfish purposes. But they are few, these evil ones. The rest of us Liberals, we know death and suffering right here and right now, as deep or deeper than the Christians.
Sullivan explains that his religion is a way of life that gives meaning. So, I suppose, my new way of life free of the religious cult I grew up in, is a religion. I hereby incorporate the Church of Liberalism. I not only have deep meaning in music, art, literature, and in living and enjoying life, including giving to others, sacrificing, serving, but I have taken up the cross of Liberalism, too, as both the theory and the practice of love. I feel sorry for Sullivan having to defend religion. It should stand on its own, and yet, today, religion fails and falls all on its own. I am reacting harshly at Sullivan, I realize, but I laughed out loud at this thought from Sullivan’s article. “They (us silly Liberals) are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.” Oh my! Where do I begin? Restraint of Christianity? Yes, such papal restraints, priestly sexual restraints—oops that formed its own double entendre—the wars, the wisdom of fighting wars, the wisdom of fighting each scientific discovery? That was the awfulness of Christianity. The culture? Okay, I will give in to that point. There is much of music and culture that helped form our modern understandings of art, literature, and music because of these historical religions. Primarily things like how to mix certain oil paints with linseed oil to make a certain color for painting Jesus on the Cross, and likewise, some musical linseed oil here or there. Small things these are from historical cultural Christianity. Christianity is dying because it didn’t work at giving deeper meaning to life. It answered nothing, not the questions of how or why nor the questions of how to love. And why? Because it did not focus on the here and now. And that is what liberalism is all about. Right here, right now, we have poverty and inequality, and it needs fixing. Not in Heaven, but now. Not by Christ’s Second Coming, but right now. Not by capitalism or Christianity, but by us Social Justice-seeking Liberals. I belong to the Church of Liberalism.
Oh, dear Brother Andrew Sullivan. Christianity is not the foundation of liberalism. Liberalism was built on the foundation of love, human love plain and simple. Love which mandates equality of races, equality of humans. And if Christianity had at least once held that human love, as perhaps it might’ve in that Bethlehem babe, then it quickly died, millennia ago, leaving nothing on which to build liberalism. My Sister Jan, she is the perfect practitioner of the church of Liberalism. “Canasta”, I yell to her, as I score one more book of American “Hand & Foot”, and then I lay down a card for Jan’s wife to pick up and win the game. We LGBTQ folk, queer as folk we are, are playing cards inside an old church, that once was Baptist, now a New Thought church that seems to be barely hanging on financially, and, by gum and by golly, I realize we’re building liberalism inside the physical foundation of Christianity, not quite the same as Sullivan had intimated in his essay. Yep, let’s keep the foundation of that little ol’ brown church in the vale. It’ll make a nice gathering place as we rally for President Kamala Harris.