As we are firmly entrenched in the holiday season now, it’s time to start worrying about how you might offend your friends and family of different religions. So today we’ll get down and dirty discussing Our Community Relations and Interfaith Courtesy and Understanding.
That’s a HEAVY chapter title, y’all, and thus this post may be one of the heavier ones I do here. I think it’s pretty important however, and so does Amy V. She gets right down to it
“Courtesy is a superficial name for actions that can have a very important plane in the character building of a human being. Both children and adults should know about the often unthinking cruelty inherent in intolerance of other religions than their own. And how intolerance often stems from our primitive suspicion of anything that is different or not a part of our own experience.”
Y’all, she wrote that in 1952. Present day people, it’s seriously time to get it together.
She goes on to explain her belief that essentially, knowledge is power. If you can understand not only the differences but the similarities between different religions, everyone could be a hell of a lot happier.
“The key to comfortable community life is courtesy-true courtesy that respects the rights and feelings of all. Courtesy and friendly knowledge about your neighbor prevents tensions. As America grows we’ll need, more and more, to use courtesy in our community life.”
An aside: Amy V only addresses followers of the three major Western religions: Christians, Jews, and Muslims (though written here as Moslems, which was apparently the preferred spelling until the latter part of the 20th century https://writingexplained.org/moslem-vs-muslim-difference ) No mention of Atheists, Pagans, Eastern religions, etc. Just something to bear in mind.
Should a Christian Send a Christmas Card to a Jewish Friend?
Well, like so many things, that depends! Like, if your friend is super Orthodox, maybe not. But if they’re more into embracing Christmas as
“…the national, gift-giving holiday it has become”
Then totes! Just maybe don’t have a Nativity scene on it.
And a Christmas tree on it is apparently in super bad taste, as well. Because
“A Christmas tree can mean nothing to a Jew, and if it does not have a religious significance it is an affront to Christians.”
Aight then. Getting a little dicey up in here. Take a gander at the actual history of Christmas trees http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees and make a decision about all that for yourself.
Then just send all your friends a card with a picture of your dog on the front.
So What Can I Feed My Friends of Different Religious Persuasions?
No meat on Fridays for some Catholics, no shellfish for some Jews, no pork for some Moslems. Whatever is a good hostess to do???
Basically, just be considerate, yo, and don’t make it a big thing!
“When a special food must be served a guest…let it be done without drawing the table’s attention to the fact.”
You probably already know if your friend is observant of this sort of thing, so respectfully run it by them prior to your event, and go from there.
And do a bit of research, perhaps. Amy V tells a story of having an old friend, an Arab sheik, mind you, to a buffet dinner at her home. Someone, intending to be kind, handed him a plate containing both ham and turkey. Our pal the sheik was super polite, and didn’t say anything, but Amy V noticed him not eating, and figured out the sitch right away, and simply took the plate (not drawing attention, of course!) removed the offending ham, and returned the plate to him.
However, he still wouldn’t eat. She finally got what the problem was, though. She doesn’t go into how, if someone told her or she just deduced it for herself, but the entire plate was considered contaminated by the ham. So she got him a new plate with lots of turkey, and all was well.
This is not the only instance of “title dropping” in this chapter, btw. Amy V also makes sure we’re aware she knows a “Persian prince.” We get it, Amy V, you’re both woke and fancy.
Miscellaneous Religious Courtesies
There’s a whole bit about hats. If you’re in a house of worship other than your own, follow their customs. Pretty simple.
However, this bit confused me just a little
“Does a Protestant walking with a Catholic lift his hat, too, as he passes a Catholic church? He may if he wishes, but no one would expect it.”
I’m only confused in the sense that it’s apparently a lifting of the hat from the Catholic, and not crossing themselves, which I do know of, and was especially more prevalent back then. But, it all amounts to same, I suppose.
It would not occur to me to use “thee” or “ thou” when replying to a Quaker, and Amy V agrees that “you” would be more natural and thus correct.
When it comes to certain religious practices during a worship service, such as kneeling during a Mass, etc, just do what you can while being respectful, but not going against your own beliefs, essentially.
“It is not necessary to stretch courtesy to the point of offending one’s own conscience, yet one may stay within the form of the service on is attending, sufficiently to show respect for the traditions and rules of that particular house of worship…”
Common sense, really, I think.
There are whole other parts concerning holidays, ceremonies, and even clerical dress of various faiths, but it’s more of a primer, displaying similarities between them.
It’s a lot to go into, and nothing really to have fun with here, so I’ll leave that up to you to discover on your own! And a Happy Holidays!