An Idle Word: A Column
by BILL CUNNINGHAM
Before I begin my first blog, please bow your head for a moment and pray under whatever belief system you follow (and I do hope you follow one) that I won’t blow my first foray into the world of cyber journalism.
You may begin now.
See that didn’t hurt a bit and it at least helps me in thinking a couple of you might be thinking, “Gee, don’t let Cunningham blow it.”
No, I’m not trying to fire a shot across the bow of any fellow columnist and I’ve made it clear to “Charles Foster” Rollins that I’m not accepting his offer in order to become a contributing columnist in a “point/ counter point” venue.
I actually think the discussion of the role of prayer in public meetings is worth talking about. I even agree that the role of public prayer should not be to make any citizen feel ostracized. That is counter productive to the spirit that those of us who consider ourselves religious should have.
For the record, I am part of the 44 per cent of San Marcans cited by my fellow columnist as having a religious affiliation. In a world where many who practice religion choose to shop for the right one to fit their needs, I am what is described as a “cradle Episcopalian.” I entered this world as one and plan to exit it to the strains of the Anglican children’s hymn, “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
Despite that background, I am a devoted reader of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton (you can register for a weekly reflection by visiting www.mertoninstitute.org.) and the closest I’ve come to a spiritual guru is a good ol’ Nebraska Lutheran Pastor Lou Flessner.
Okay they’re all Christians and I’m missing the point about non-Christians feeling excluded
However, Merton actively engaged in dialogs with Asian spiritual leaders, finding common ground in belief systems with the Dalai Lama and others up to his accidental death—ironically at a conference in Bangkok to explore those very issues.
And Pastor Lou once responded to an unusual request from a Jew, who asked if it would be permissible to take communion, in the affirmative after reflecting about it for a few seconds and deciding, “It must be okay. Jesus did it.”
Those of us with belief systems must respect the beliefs or non-beliefs of others or we’re missing the point. I wouldn’t mind it a bit if our local bodies brought in a rabbi or a mullah or a Wiccan earth priestess.
In the world today, if anything can provide some hope—regardless of what belief it follows—we need to be tolerant of that practice. We don’t need to impose a belief system, agreed, but if practiced in the true spirit those belief systems were created, we shouldn’t be missing the opportunity for any help we can get.
Perhaps the happiest person I’ve ever known was a Zoroastrian, who firmly believed the simple dictum that good will triumph and always had a smile on his face about that knowledge. Maybe, I’ll give him a call and see if he can come down and give an invocation.
Well, for what was supposed to be a simple digression, before getting into the fear and trepidation of an old-style newspaper man (one who can actually read linotype) going into the blogosphere, this has certainly turned into a column. Maybe this blogging won’t be so scary after all.
My guidelines are simple enough. Much as I did with the much-missed Chautauquan almost a decade ago, I’m free to write about topics I choose (I promise this will be the last on religion) from public affairs to personal interests dear to my heart—the almost lost joy of real books and bookstores, the relevance of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, a few 10 best (and occasional 10 worst) lists and whatever else strikes my still-wandering fancy.
I promise not to plug my clients, ex-clients or potential clients. And I hope to keep things interesting, which shouldn’t be a problem in San Marcos.
Having gotten this one under my belt, next time might be an even better opportunity to reflect about this strange new world of journalism.
BILL CUNNINGHAM is a San Marcos public relations and policy consultant. He is a former chair of the Texas State University System board of regents and San Marcos city council member.Email | Print