There is no such thing as coincidence.
If something happens, there is a reason. We often just do not see the connection
That has been true of this trip. Who would think that my posts about church art and architecture, my stomach flu, and a friend lauding the satirical musical The Book of Mormon, could lead to a personal epiphany?
While I was in Morelia, a friend asked me if I had heard the songs from The Book of Mormon. She thought I would enjoy it, knowing my love of satire. But, I hadn’t. Living in Melaque has cut my former cultural ties with current plays and musicals on Broadway.
For the past two weeks, I have been listening to the soundtrack. And she was correct. I have enjoyed its satire and humor. Even more, I have been touched by its reverential treatment of faith in action.
The musical is a send up of young Mormon missionaries in Africa. But it is far more than that. In skewing Mormonism, the writers make a point I have been hinting at in posts the last few weeks.
Most religious doctrine sounds silly when judged from the outside.
A couple of months ago, The American Spectator conducted a Heaven symposium on its pages with essays written by an atheist, an Anglican, and a rabbi. The question was whether Heaven exists.
Not surprisingly, I found the essay by the rabbi to be the most compelling in his assertion that being so heaven minded as to be no earthly good is not an exercise in faith. It is self-righteousness.
My favorite rabbi said something similar: “You are to love your neighbor as yourself.”
I received an email from a former co-worker in reaction to my post the road to perdition. He thanked me for the post because, like most Protestants, he said he seems to stumble when he comes to verses like “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
In reaction to the same post, Joanna at Writing from Merida shared her recent experience of rediscovering her faith while continuing to be skeptical of religious institutions.
On Wednesday, each of these threads came together. I was wandering around Pátzcuaro snapping a few shots when I ran into one of the men with whom I was supposed to have breakfast before my explosive digestion set in.
He asked if I wanted to see a project in which he was involved. It turned out to be the daily feeding of the poor and elderly that Shannon Casey has written about -- El Sagrario.
Shannon has described the program in depth. I will just say that it is exactly the type of work I have been seeking -- without really knowing I was seeking it. People interested in sharing with others with minimal support from either the church where the kitchen is located or from the governmental social agency.
There is probably little I can do while I am here, but I am going to do what I can. Those Salvation Army instincts are hard to keep down.
Let me part with this song from The Book of Mormon. If you look past the obvious mis-statements of theology and the thick layers of postmodern satire, you will hear a modern moral voice seeking ways to make the world a better place.
Or, in the words of the show’s creators: “An atheist’s love letter to religion.”
Note -- Somehow Mormons have managed to take all of this in good humor without killing ambassadors or burning buildings. There may be a lesson there.