Photo by Stephen Bowman
Photo by Chuck Bowman
Photo by Chuck Bowman


                           The Religion Network
                        Inspirational Quotes for the Day.



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HYPOCRISY:  Whenever humans aspire to rise above their mortalmindsets into their divine natures, sporadic failure
is inevitable. Thus, hypocrisy long has been a popular charge against the religious.

With the flap surrounding Mel Gibson's ugly drunken display and his ensuing attempts to apologize, religious hypocrisy is
back in the news.

I suppose we could all just stop reaching for God and so avoid the charge of hypocrisy, but where would  that leave us?

Recently I posed a question concerning religious hypocrisy  to three men who have spent lives devoted to their religions.
What follows is their respective responses. The question was:

Many who do not belong to a house of worship cite the 'hypocrisy' of religions as their
justification for rejecting religious affiliation. Inevitably such people cite as examples:
religious wars, corruption and sexual scandals. How do those of us who belong to an
organized religion respond to these charges?
Stanley A. Nelson, Ph.D, M.Div.
Dr. Nelson retired as Senior Professor of Theology from Golden Gate Seminary. Prior to that post, he held
numerous positions, including working for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board and serving as the pastor
of four Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Kansas and North Carolina. He also spent three sabbatical leaves at
Oxford University in England studying at Regent's Park College. He is an accomplished essayist and author.


Organized religion!  Early in ministry when I was yet pastoring a local church, and while facing numerous situations,
my frustration level was rising.  A wise person took me aside and told me, "There are a certain number of horse's
rear people per square foot in all institutions, and the church is no exception." I chose to accept this report as valid,
and years in religious institutional life, and living and serving on three different continents, have brought no
qualifications to the statement.

In institutional life there are times when an inversion of purposes happens.  In our democratic process, elections
are by politics, meaning chosen people will represent the
polis -- the people.  Then an inversion takes place. Those
elected to serve the people, instead begin benefiting themselves. This inversion is a betrayal of the public trust.  
This also happens in the church. The church is especially vulnerable when government and church begin to hold
hands and dance together.

But then, tell me, where would you like for hypocrites, needy people who are struggling with identity and with various
demons go?  Is not the church a good gathering place?  The church after all is for the sick, the weak, and the
struggling. Those who are healthy often feel no necessity to gather with us.  

But there is another question associated with this issue -- why are there in the fellowship of the churches so many
wholesome, responsible people who are good neighbors, workers in the community, supporters of neighborhood
projects, and feel a responsibility to a part of the redemptive work of God throughout the world? That question also
needs a response.

--Dr. Stan Nelson
Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark
Rabbi Goldmark has served as the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada since 1979.  Currently, he
serves as Executive Vice President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis.  Among many other positions
he served as President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California from 1997-1999. He is the Jewish Chaplain
for St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA.


There are many responses to the question of why a person should belong to a house of worship.  My late
colleague, Rabbi Richard Hertz of Detroit, wrote the following:

"The need for belonging to a congregation is not only sound religion but sound psychology as well.  To put your
best foot forward and give your best to the world, you must contribute yourself.  You must identify yourself and share
in the life of the community.  You get a sense of life's enrichment when you become part of something larger and
more important than your own social circle."

"All of us sense the need for greater resources than our own  Yet some people have said, 'Why bother joining a
Temple? I can be religious without it.  I can live the ten commandments and the golden rule in my home and in my
business.  I can think better alone than I can do in a crowd.  I can worship God in the hills or by the sea.  Why go to
services and listen to sermons when my religion is complete without needing that sort of thing.'"

"That may sound good, but does he really act that way?  How often does he actually go to a mountain top and think
of God, or pray when he goes fishing?  The chances are that God is worshipped more frequently in houses built in
His name and set aside for His worship than any place else.  One father said to his little girl, 'Come on, we can say
our prayers on the beach.'  The little girl replied, 'But we won't, will we?'"

"Rare is the person who can maintain his religious outlook without stimulus from those who share his values or
devotion  None of us lives a life of moral perfection.  None of us lives unto himself.  These days, anyone who
genuinely tries to live a life of moral values needs all the assistance he can get.  I know of no better place to get
the aid."

"The parasitic hypocrisy of the unaffiliated is most clearly revealed when, stripped of all pretense, he calls for the
rabbi in time of joy or sorrow.  Yet he ignores the institutions that make it possible for the rabbi to minister to his
people.  The unaffiliated person becomes a hitch-hiker. He depends upon others to carry the load."  

"Not everyone who is affiliated with a synagogue automatically becomes a religious person, but certainly no one
unsynagogued can expect to be a religious Jew.  He can be a secular Jew, a checkbook Jew, a kaddish Jew, a
delicatessen Jew, a gastronomic Jew, a frightened Jew, cardiac Jew, but never a religious Jew and to my mind
never a complete Jew."

"We need Jews who will stand up and be counted as such, who want their families to be a part
of the Jewish community and their children taught to feel part of an eternal people.  We need the spirit of those
Jews who will add to their commitment and their enthusiasm to the joy of being a Jew."

--Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark
Gregory Coiro, O.F.M. Cap.
Father Greg currently teaches theology and serves as Chaplain at St. Francis High School in La Canada, CA.
In 1994, Cardinal Roger Mahony appointed him Director of the L.A. Archdiocese's Media Relations Office.
He has appeared regularly on TV and radio, including on KABC Radio's  "Religion on the Line" and KCBS-TV's
"Today's Religion." He also hosted his own show,  "Clergy on Call" for KPLS radio.


Many times, people outside faith communities accuse believers of committing hypocrisy because we fail to live
up to the moral standards our faiths possess and profess.  They are absolutely correct, of course; we are

You see, there are only two types of people in this world: the hypocrites who belong to faith communities and the
hypocrites who don't!  Yes, we are all hypocrites in one way or another, a hypocrite being one who fails to live up
to what one believes to be good and just, right and true, all of the time.

The big difference is that those who belong to faith communities at least participate in a way of life that demands
that they face their failures and strive to do better.  Religious people believe themselves accountable to a Higher
Authority (just like in the Hebrew National Hot Dog commercials) who forgives them when they sincerely seek
His mercy with contrition and with a firm purpose of improving.

But to whom are the other hypocrites -- the non-religious -- accountable?  Themselves?  Each other?  The
changing, ephemeral trends of society?  The historical fact is that more sorrow, bloodshed, and death have
been heaped upon the world and its people by the non-religious hypocrites of the twentieth century, morally
accountable to no one, than by all the religious hypocrites who went before, combined!

We religious hypocrites have beliefs which call us to become better and nobler...we generally strive to answer
that call.  Can the non-religious hypocrites make the same claim?

--Gregory Coiro, O.F.M. Cap.

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    At the top of the Home Page:
    --Our real friends

    Midway down the page:
    --Relationships a sacred journey
    --Why we need companions
    --SPECIAL: Religious Hypocrisy-Answering the charges

    For Prayer Warriors who scroll down:
    --Friends are a joy!
    --Who's waiting for you?
    --You too?

          And the Last Word: Friendship with God
Photo by Stephen Bowman
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics,
and to endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden path
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
American poet, philosopher and author
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often
find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to
share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be
silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of giref
and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us
the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996)
Dutch Catholic priest and author
To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship.

Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Irish poet
When you lose sight of each other as sacred souls on a sacred
journey, then you cannot see the purpose, the reason, behind all

Your personal relationships are therefore holy ground.

From "Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue"
By Neale Donald Walsch
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1996
We need companions on the way and we need guides. We do not, in fact, hear much  we are told
when we first encounter it -- in either the spoken or written word -- because we are not there yet.
We can absorb so little at a time. We need companions and guides who repeat what we have heard,
perhaps many, many times, until the moment when we can finally hear it, when we need to hear it.
We also need companions and guides to
encourage us. Because it takes courage to live up to what
we hear, to do that to which we are called...None of us is meant to engage this process alone.

From "Engaging the World with Merton" by M. Basil Pennington OCSO
Paraclete Press, 2005
Photo by Stephen Bowman
Don't overlook the value of friendship. Don't neglect
your friends.

Friends are a joy. Adult friendships can be a good
place for us to learn to have fun and to appreciate
how much fun we can have with a friend.

Friends can be a comfort. Who knows us better, or
is more able to give us support than a good friend?
A friendship is a comfortable place to be ourselves.
Often, our choice of friends will reflect the issues
we're working on. Giving and receiving support will
help both people grow.

From "The Language of Letting Go" by Melodie Beattie
Hazeldon, 1990
Deepak Chopra wrote, "Whatever relationships you have attracted into your life
at any given time, are the relationships you need to be in at that time." When you
are ready to do a new thing, in a new way, you will do it, with new people. There
are people waiting for who you are becoming.

From "One Day My Soul Just Opened Up" by Iyanla Vanzant
Simon and Schuster, 1998
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Irish author
And now, the Last Word:
For prayer is nothing else than
being on terms of friendship with God.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Spanish mystic, writer and monastic reformer