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I was praying earlier. It is something I do often. I am very comfortable with the prayers I grew up saying as a Catholic school girl so I often say them many times throughout the day. Today as I was praying the Apostles' Creed, the words, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty..." came from my lips and all of the sudden in my head, out of NOWHERE was a vision of Grandpa Simpson as God, long white hair, long white beard, white robe and all. I was totally blown away. First off you have to know that I do not watch "The Simpsons." Oh, I have seen an episode here and there as most people in the US have but it isn't something I ever "watched," so how in the name of all that is holy did I get this crazy vision of Grandpa Simpson as God inside my head while I was praying. I take it as a sign and not a good one. I mean really what good can come of having a vision like that while in prayer. I fear for my mortal soul.

While on the subject of religion...I have come to realize that I really do not understand the Protestant world one iota. My girlfriend Stephanie is Protestant and I ask her a lot of questions but I still come away confused. The one thing I understand for certain about Protestants is that they are not Catholic. Beyond that I am pretty much clueless. (I do know that Episcopalians have many things in common with Catholics, sort of but that is about as good as it gets.)

At Mt. St. Mary we learned a little about Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, a very little but a little. In fact, we learned more about these religions than we did about Protestants and I know we had more Protestant students at St. Mary's than we did students of any other faith. I think we had two Jewish girls in my class. I may have missed somebody so there might be 3 but I know for a fact there were several Protestants in my class, mostly Episcopalian but I am sure that there were other religions represented as well. As little as I know about Judaism...I think I have a better grasp there than I do about Protestantism. I have some concerns about that. It is not good that the bulk of my knowledge about Protestants is the aforementioned fact that they aren't Catholics.

Okay, I know that they add, "For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever amen" to the end of the Lord's Prayer, that they use grape juice instead of wine for communion, that they did not have services in Latin, that they aren't into Confession (and if any other churches engage in the sacrament of Confession see how ignorant I am) and that they could eat meat on Friday. Oh yes, they don't say the rosary either. It also seems that Protestants "for the most part" don't understand the veneration of Mary and the saints. So besides the fact that Protestants "aren't Catholic." These are some of the few meager things I know about Protestants. Heck, I didn't even know that members of the LDS church aren't considered Protestants until there was a comment made during the 2012 Presidential election that this was the first time that there wasn't a WASP on the ticket. Mitt Romney looks pretty WASP-y to me but then I learned that members of the LDS Church are not Protestants. Live and learn!

I have decided that I think too much and yet, it is in my quest for understanding the world around me that I realize I have so very much to learn which means I need to think even more so I can hopefully absorb some insights into the way the world is rapidly changing around us. Faith, Hope and Charity no longer seem to be the foundation that unites us and that concerns me for if we turn our backs on these three virtues then we as a people are lost.

Lest anyone misunderstand me...I understand and accept that not everyone embraces Faith, Hope and Charity as religious standards but I do believe that people of conscience have guideposts for their behavior whether rooted in religion or not. I do  not believe that religion is a necessity to sustain a just world in which members of communities treat each other with unconditional positive regard but I do believe that there has to be some type of standard as a bedrock for civilized behavior in our society. When I talk about concerns about people turning their backs on goodness, honor and decency or faith, hope and charity I do not mean that we must all follow a religious or spiritual path. I mean that we must embrace an attitude of concern, caring and compassion for each other for without same we are lost in the darkness that threatens to engulf us.

Thus I think, contemplate, pray, wonder, listen, read and search for commonalities that will unite rather than divide us for we are facing a tidal wave that is threatening our very existence unless we find ways to push against the treacherous shadow that is beginning to overwhelm us with every passing hour. United we stand...it is the only way we can survive. Life and love will always find a way but sometimes they need us to help them along. If we join hands and reach out one to another we will find the middle ground.

Ciao!

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ardeeeichelmann

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