Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where Have All The Christians Gone?

Someone sent me this joke and I saved it. I’m printing it as a topic for this week’s blog.

Squirrels had overrun three churches in town. After much prayer, the elders
of the first church determined that the animals were predestined to be there.
"Who are we to interfere with God's will?" they reasoned. Soon, the squirrels

The elders of the second church, deciding that they could not harm any of
God's creatures, humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free outside
of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.

It was only the third church that succeeded in keeping the pests away.
The elders baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the
church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.

I’m not exactly sure why I find this joke so funny, but I do. Last weekend CB and I were going kayaking near Port Angeles, Washington. It was a beautiful day. We passed a few churches along the way. All the parking lots were empty. At first I thought we were driving by too early. But later in the day as we were driving back, the same thing was true. Not a soul on church property. Now mind you, I wasn’t in church, but it annoyed me somehow that people weren’t doing their Christian duty.

“I guess they just aren’t that religious here,” I said to CB. “If we were back in Arizona these parking lots would be full.” Of course I don’t believe you need to be a church-goer to be a spiritual person. During our visit to Washington I’ve met some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. The drivers stop at the yellow lights and most of them wave for pedestrians to cross even if they are several yards from the curb. Somehow, though, this lack of church participation bothered me.

I realized that in spite of my best efforts, I still harbor some judgmental tendencies. I don’t want others to criticize my actions, but yet here I am a Buddhist with a Jewish background (affectionately known as a Boo Jew) and I wanted to know why all the Christians weren’t plopping their butts in the pews while I was off kayaking.

Of course I don’t want to be too harsh on myself either. The important thing is for me to recognize my faults and try to adopt a more loving and optimistic way to live. That is why I consistently have to remind myself to practice what I preach in my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. The first step in erasing negativity is to recognize the problem. The second is to replace negative behavior, speech or thoughts with a positive one. For instance, rather than judging the church-avoiding folks in Washington, I sent them a silent prayer. The third step is to smile in front of a mirror for one minute. This feels weird to me, but I do it. If nothing else, my cheesy grin makes me laugh. It breaks the grouchy spell and I’m less harsh in my judgments of others.

I don’t care who you are, there are going to be times when you act less than your best. It does no good to beat yourself up over it. Just make a conscious effort to change the behavior and be consistent about making the more desired action a part of your life.

That was my little lesson last weekend. “Judge not, yet ye be judged.” Oh, and the Christians in Washington are probably no better or worse than any where else. Once I returned home I realized that it was Saturday, not Sunday.

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