My response to the conservative Christian day of prayer and fasting – Rick Perry’s “The Response” rally – will be to spend Saturday working and eating, because I think that the problems Perry and company want to turn over to their god for supernatural solutions are better addressed by human action.
There have been a number of prayer rallies around the nation named “The Call,” and now Rick Perry has put together “The Response,” all of which say they are modeled on an ancient example of petitioning the Judeo-Christian god for the renewal of the nation of Israel in a time of crisis. Perry’s message on the webpage of The Response says:
“Right now, America is in crisis…As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy. Some problems are beyond our power to solve … There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”
I think Perry is wrong: there are few problems to which we cannot find solutions, but if we spend our time asking for the divine to rescue us, we will not have the time and energy to find and implement those solutions. The difference between me and Perry is that I think I can make a difference with what I do here, in this world, now, in this time.
As a Pagan, I am called to engage in the world around me and to participate in it fully. I am called to live, to work, and to eat, relating to my environment and my companions. I am not called upon to absent myself or disengage, even from situations that I find frightening or dangerous, like the suggestion that “as a nation we must come together and call upon Jesus.” When a governor who might become a candidate for President explicitly allies himself with people who are willing to blame Shinto for the earthquake in Japan, who say that for Christians to be present at Muslim or Buddhist prayers would be “idolatry of the worst sort,” then I worry. But I do not retreat, and I do not withdraw.
I am called to be thankful for my freedoms, as Perry suggests, but not to his god. I am thankful that our system of government has recognized those freedoms as inherent in our human rights, and tries to live up to that declaration. My gratitude and joy in those freedoms means that my response is to protect those freedoms however I am able, especially by exercising them.
On Saturday, I will spend time on my knees. I will spend time on my knees tending my garden, to foster growth and provide herbs for my family’s meals. I will spend time on my knees meditating, to be grounded and centered, connected to that which matters most: my life, here and now, and what I do with it for myself, my communities, and my country.
I will spend time on my knees, and then I will get up and I will act, working to reduce and redress danger and injustice, to create and support life and love, wherever I can. When the opportunity presents itself, I will act politically to ensure that elected officials adhere to the First Amendment. I will act, because that is how I make hope, here and now, for freedom, especially freedom of religion.
Cross-posted at Hail Columbia.