Happy Fourth of July from HuffPost Religion! The celebration of the American Holy Day of Independence inspired our bloggers to reflect on the organic and ongoing way we should understand and interpret our sacred and secular texts; the spiritual possibility that America's pluralism allows, and to cherish the unique foundation of our country where religious inclusion is part of our sacred story.
Now if only these three words weren't in the Declaration of Independence.
But we all know that the 4th of July is mostly about food. Thich Nhat Hanh reminded us to savor our picnic with Buddhist lessons on mindful eating, while Rabbi Zamore connects our grilling to the sacred tables of the past. You are now all ordained 'high priest grillers.'
One of the most popular pieces of the week was about the new computer technology that differentiates various writers within what we know as the Bible. Yet figuring out what those Biblical voices had to say about gay marriage, God's gender, or human trafficking lit up the page for days.
The Hijab had a good week as both the Weightlifting Federation and Abercrombie and Fitch opened up to allow this form of religious expression. Meanwhile, Mormon leaders were told to stay out of politics and one Evangelical pondered the waning influence of Evangelicals. While some were grieving the walking back of Vatican II, the curent Pope put finger to iPad and tweeted his first message of salvation...yes, there is a video.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is meeting this Fourth of July weekend. ISNA's new President is the American Imam Mohammad Magid, whose daunting task includes helping navigate the Muslim community through Islamophobia while becoming more of an integral part of America's sacred story. As Jaweed Kaleem explains, this includes meetings with such unlikely characters as Donald Trump...HuffPost Religion wishes him Godspeed.
Continuing with Sacred Sounds, our very own Josh Fleet wrote a beautiful piece about a synagogue where a group of inspired musicians are joining sacred texts, poetry and sounds into words of wonder and songs of praise.
If you are looking for authentic Christianity, my two nominations of the week are Shane Claiborne, who moved us with his Two Minutes of Wisdom, and a beautiful piece on the faith of Rev. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers, that includes a lovely video of his widow. In case you missed it, I want to leave you with a couple paragraphs:
Perhaps the most widely noted example of Fred's seizing such a moment was his acceptance "speech" when receiving an Emmy for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1998. The bejeweled audience for this gala event was made up of the most successful and celebrated (and in some instances hard-nosed) luminaries in TV. When Fred was called to the stage and microphone to receive his award, he turned the moment into a gift for everyone in the auditorium.
He looked across the gathering and said, "All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are. Ten seconds of silence."
There was a ripple of puzzlement for an instant, so he raised his arm, conspicuously looked at his wristwatch, and said, "I'll watch the time."
The little titter of laughter faded quickly as members of the audience realized they were going to comply -- they wanted to comply -- with Fred's suggestion. Then the audience, one by one, closed their eyes and moved into a sudden, intimate encounter with some precious person who had breathed life into them -- who had enabled them to be present at such an exalted occasion as the Emmys -- and the emotions began flowing freely. In seconds, quiet weepings lurched into audible sobs, dampened eyes blinked fast and then spilled messy tears. A roomful of celebrities was deep in holy gratitude for having been loved enough to become, well, celebrities.
Fred lifted his eyes from his watch after a while and pronounced the benediction: "May God be with you." And he returned to his seat.
Happy 4th Everyone.