I remember the 1980’s AIDS scare. People were carrying spray cans of disinfectant spray in fear of contracting the AIDS virus. When a Florida pastor discovered that one of his families had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion, he announced it to his congregation and to the world. The family became outcast in their church and community. Throughout the world AIDS sufferers were the new lepers – to be avoided at all cost. Even though the medical community tried to educate the public, fear prevailed. Decades later this horrible disease still afflicts, but the apocalyptic pandemic never materialized.
Pope Francis has declared that Roman Catholics need to demonstrate joy in their liturgy. When discussing this with a Catholic brother he told me that “most of American Catholicism is shaped by Irish spirituality.” Likewise, most of American Protestantism is shaped by German spirituality. In other words, whether Protestant or Catholic, most of Christian spirituality in the United States is formed by European culture.
I recently attended a middle school football game. As I walked through the crowd I observed the diversity – black, brown, and white. The football teams reflected the same diversity. I watched as two little girls played together – one white, one black. It was evident that this was their first meeting. They looked each other in the face, touched each others’ hair, and hugged. This is my community.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a “Trekkie.” My childhood heroes were Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the crew of the Starship Enterprise – NCC 1701. The bold explorations of the crew of the Enterprise thrilled my young mind. I have suggested to my wife that the theme from Star Trek (Where No Man has Gone Before, Alexander Courage) should be played at my funeral as the pallbearers are carrying me out.