can be a challenge when we don't know very much about another religion. Recently, our congregation had hoped to rent our facility to the tiny local Jewish community for one of their holiday gatherings but it turned out that several of their members refuse to attend anything in a church. (They have no facility of their own and must rent space for services and events.)
When we received the word that they were canceling their reservation, we were stunned and dismayed. Had we done anything to offend? Did they realize how much UUs have done over the years to be supportive of Jews? Did they know that we hardly even call our building a church, but rather a sanctuary, a meeting house? Why on earth would they choose not to rent from us?
So at the gym this morning, I asked H., who has been part of the local Jewish community to share her thoughts and she explained that there are Jews who, as a matter of religious principle, do not want to enter other religions' sacred spaces. It has more to do with principle and custom than with ancient wounds, there's nothing personal about it, and nothing we do is likely to change minds.
I realized as I thought more about this, this morning, that my own reaction was of intolerance for another's religious principle. I'm glad I had a chance to talk to H., for her calm explanation of a different religious way of life helped me see that my original reaction was a bit self-righteous and intolerant.
It's interesting to me that we are fine with religious principles that make sense to us, but when we encounter a principle that seems illogical, we are apt to assume the worst rather than the best. We struggle to make sense of ancient customs that don't fit our modern culture and are more likely to dismiss them rather than respect them.
I am learning gradually not to leap to conclusions without investigating further. I've re-learned that lesson today.