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Jan.28, 2009

Vol. 109, No. 7

Inviting the 'neighbors' over

In response to: Keeping the faith

As a retired former totemistic figure, the Princeton Tiger, I was amused to learn that the Princeton University Chapel would celebrate Diwali on Nov. 8.

Having been invited to preach by Dean Ernest Gordon on “The Politics of Religion,” a course I taught for several years in the sociology department at Sonoma State University in California, I had presumed that the Chapel, despite its overpowering medieval appearance, invites the unusual to rekindle the intellectual-inquiry component of religion, which we seldom perceive as “faith.” To those who view the Chapel as an escape — a “sanctuary” — from diversity and therefore “holy,” I think this perception demeans the living Body of Christ, and creates a more fixed and lesser image of Christianity.

Somehow, inviting the “neighbors” over to celebrate at our home has a much more Christian manifestation about it. What if we treated all persons as if they were Christian — and not make it a prerequisite that they become like us if they want to maintain the relationship? Instead, we avoid them because they are not like us. What kind of Samaritans do we think we are? I think the “good news” might get out if we reached out more and farther.

Stop hoarding love; express it — even if it means you’ll light someone else’s oil lamps. Lest we forget the silly maidens at the wedding feast who used up all their oil waiting and missed the big event. Happy Diwali, and keep smiling.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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