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Perhaps He knew what He was doing

Posted: Friday, October 27, 2000

Here in America, in our "one nation, under God," it is not easy being Godless. This country was formed by people seeking freedom to worship in their own way, and today we tolerate (in degrees) many faiths, but we're not very comfortable with people who do not worship at all.

In a culture of many faiths, common factors are a belief that there is something bigger and stronger than ourselves and some form of unavoidable accountability. Living together as we do in villages, cities and global communities, we need to trust each other to keep our word, pay our bills and not murder our neighbors in their sleep. Can someone who does not fear divine retribution be trusted?

There is more to the concern for the faithless than fear. A considerable part of many religions is sharing the good news perhaps the Godless simply don't know what they are missing. This is what drives people to set up informal churches on street corners and on your front porch. I tell you, the first time I opened my door at 6 a.m. to a pair of scrubbed young men in black suits, I nearly had an epiphany in my pajamas. Now I know much more about people and understand the drive of such visitors. I resist the urge to give them cookies and milk and simply ask them firmly to go away and not come back. Part of me feels sorry for them, but a bigger part admires them literally walking their talk.

Faith can be admirable and even enviable. History is filled with people who have endured or achieved incredible things which they attribute to their faith. Who wouldn't enjoy having divine strength to draw on in times of stress? Who would not hand off worry, fear, remorse and hopelessness if they could? Some of us honestly can't and are a total mess; others of us learn to handle our lives in other ways and are perfectly OK.

Here's the deal. It's the free will thing. We all have a unique brain that gets fed and educated throughout our lives. We have to do what makes sense to us. If we want to live with others of our kind, we have to follow some very basic rules. If we want to be loved by others of our kind, there are a few more rules. It's that simple. How we take care of the details and fill up our spare time is completely optional. Under the basic rules part is tolerance for how others manage to fit in.

If you feel people who adhere to religions are misguided, have some compassion and give them a break. They are doing their best and perhaps they see something you don't. If, on the other hand, you put your trust in God, can you trust the Godless? If you believe that God made us all, those with and without faith, perhaps you can believe He knew what He was doing.

Readers have suggested several names for Nita Nettleton's columns but it is not to late to enter the "name that column" contest, which offers a $25 gift certificate from Glacier Restaurant to the winner. E-mail suggestions to streed@juneauempire.com or fax them to 586-3028.



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