Monday, December 12, 2011

Donald Vish: I am the Religious Left

I confess: I am a member of the Religious Left. 


Because, according to the Wikipedia article discussing this loose association of Christian believers, I am a member of the Episcopal Church and devoted to the work or ideas of the poet William Blake, the anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, the architect and preacher of a consistent ethic of life,  Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, and the social reformer Leo Tolstoy. 

The Religious Left has a choir, a creed and a catechism.  

The choir has voices with different vocal ranges encompassing many notes, tones and timbres.  Its choral harmony comes from its creed: faith.  Its distinct melody comes from its catechism: justice. 

In its unity there is much diversity.  In my theology as a Christian leftist:

•    I embrace Cardinal Bernadin’s ‘consistent ethic of life’ that holds that issues such as abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, social justice and economic injustice all demand a consistent application of moral principles that value the sacredness of human life.   

•    I aspire to the Epistle of James that emphasizes good works and the gospel of Matthew that expands Luke’s list of blessings to include those who hunger for justice.

•    I subscribe to Montaigne’s philosophy of action and I hope to preach sermons that will pass Napoleon’s test:  what has he done!  

•    I borrow without collateral or entitlement the dictum of the Dalai Lama to say: My religion is kindness. 

I confess my personal religion thus far bears a relationship to Dante’s pagan Virgil.  I have earned the right to wear on my forehead the seven Ps: peccavi, peccavi, peccavi, peccavi, peccavi, peccavi, peccavi, I have sinned.

My name is Donald Vish, and I am the Religious Left.


  1. "I borrow without collateral or entitlement the dictum of the Dalai Lama to say: My religion is kindness."


  2. Don, beautifully written and lived.


  3. Don, I would be a great poet if I could put into words how moved I am by your writing. Beautiful. Thank you. Molly

  4. Mr. Vish - Cardinal Bernardin was a well known pedarast who's lover recieved a $3 million pay off from the Catholic Church before he died of Aids. This man had NO moral principles.

    William Blake gradually came to accept homosexuality as an integral part of human sexuality. As has the American "Christian" left...and today's left, mutilates God's creation, then seeks and recieves protection by the state:

    It cannot be said too often that liberalism serves as a substitute religion -- it is absolute heresy. American "kindness" is lukewarm.

    "So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Rev 3:16

    I guarantee you Cardinal Bernadin is in Hell.

  5. It is really tempting sometimes to just delete some of the more vile comments that pop up on the site from time to time, but I think it's important to keep garbage like the previous comment around for a sense of perspective.

    So thank you, Anonymous poster, for throwing the beauty of beliefs built on love and the longing for justice into such stark contrast with the repugnance of beliefs built on hatred and exclusion.

    Kudos to you for trying to support your bigotry with corroborating evidence. But a word to the wise, using a smear piece by a paranoid, gay-bashing conservative columnist who employs phrases like "the Homosexual Collective" and "the Chicago-Washington, D. C. Homosexual/Pederast Axis" doesn't do much to help your case.

    You're on the wrong side of history, friend, and as far as I'm concerned you're on the wrong side of the Good News too. Honoring the worth, dignity, and rights of LGBTQ persons doesn't 'mutilate' God's creation, but glorifies it in all it's wonder and complexity.

  6. If sodomy is not a sin, then you are correct. If sodomy is a sin, then you are gravely incorrect.

    The four sins that "cry to Heaven for vengence" appear in the Bible as follows: -
    Murder (Genesis 4:10)
    Homosexuality (Genesis 18:20)
    oppression of the poor/slavery (Exodus 2:23)
    Defrauding labourers of wages (James 5:4)

    God gives you free will, you can use your free will to turn your back on God's law if you choose. But the truth is the truth, and it is unchanging throughout doesn't matter what you perceive to be "the wrong side of history."

  7. p.s. Garrett - do your home work. Steven Cook was a Cincinnati seminarian who publicly accused Bernardin of sexual abuse. He got 3 million dollars before the poor guy died of aids. These facts have nothing to do with "paranoia" or "gay bashing" They are facts, much like the FACT that Bernardin's good friend and roomate settled out of court with nine men who came forward about their homosexual abuse in cases dating as far back as the 1950s.

    That's documented hisotry and If Cardinal Bernadine's side of history is the side you and and Mr. Vish want to be on....

  8. Well thanks for coming back, Anonymous!

    Let's do talk about facts for a moment. So your original claim against Cardinal Bernardin was that "Cardinal Bernardin was a well known pedarast who's lover recieved a $3 million pay off from the Catholic Church before he died of Aids. This man had NO moral principles." Then, the facts that you claim support this accusation are "Steven Cook was a Cincinnati seminarian who publicly accused Bernardin of sexual abuse. He got 3 million dollars before the poor guy died of aids."

    The thing is, the second set of facts does absolutely nothing to corroborate the first. Yes, Steven Cook named Cardinal Bernadine in his lawsuit after supposedly recovering memories of abuse during a session of therapeutic hypnosis, memories which he later claimed were not valid. And Cook did receive a settlement from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, but over his accusations of abuse against another priest, Ellis Harsham, after Bernardin had been dropped from the lawsuit. You're not wrong about Cook's accusations or his receipt of a settlement, but none of those facts confirm that Cardinal Bernardin was a "well known pedarast" or that Steven Cook was indeed his "lover."

    Such inferences might seem more plausible if one believed in some sort of shadowy, conspiratorial gay cabal (let's call it the "Homosexual Collective, for argument's sake) exercising their ungodly machinations on the Catholic Church in America, but that reads like a homophobic Dan Brown knock-off. (Here's a freebie: use the word 'Illuminaughty' somewhere in the title to earn bonus points).

    But all joking aside, I too believe in an unchanging, eternal Truth, at the heart of which lies God's perfect love. And I also believe that our own imperfect understanding of God's love grows and deepens over time. 150 years ago, religious conservatives used the Bible to justify slavery. 100 years ago, religious conservatives used the Bible to argue against women's suffrage. Did they have scripture to cite in support of their arguments? Absolutely. But as the arc of the moral universe bends slowly and inevitably toward justice, it traces for us the contours of God's love, which we would all do well to remember is infinitely deeper than our own.

  9. Garrett, thanks for continuing to stand up to this guy. Typically I think internet trolls don't deserve the time of day but it is important not to give hate the last word.

    Also, for the anonymous poster's homophobic Dan Brown re-writes I would like to submit the title "Angels and Divas: The Illuminaughty Saga" for consideration.

  10. Aaaaaaaaand that made my night. Thanks, Rebecca!