Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 4th. 2017 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
February 10th. 2017 ...
Understanding the Unseen
Kitchen Magic and Memories
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
October 10th. 2016 ...
Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)
September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
The Evolution of Thought Forms
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Magic in Sentences
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Location: Our Places of Worship
Article ID: 14143
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,405
Times Read: 3,041
RSS Views: 14,409
Author: Stewart Bitkoff
Posted: August 29th. 2010
Times Viewed: 3,041
Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of God. -- Koran
Recently, there has been much discussion about building a mosque near ground zero; many people feel that its location dishonors and insults the memory of those who died in the 911 tragedy. Yet, people forget that innocent Muslims died in this event, Americans fought a revolution to enjoy religious freedom, and the real place of worship is inside us. On some levels, my take on this disagreement is that it may be about racial and religious stereotyping- not just proximity of a mosque. Let me tell you a story that helps explain why I feel this way.
Years ago, when I was working as a counselor in a YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) residential camp on the Finger Lakes, in upstate New York, I learned something about the location of places of worship. Now YMCA camps are open to all campers and staff alike from any religious background, but are Christian in orientation, with certain activities, and you have to understand this going in. There is no pressure of any kind to change your faith, but certain activities (saying Grace before meals, weekly Sunday Vespers) of camp life include these aspects.
Our camp was, and still is, located on beautiful Lake Keuka with one of the best waterfront programs for YMCA Camps in the country. The Chapel sits right up against the Lake and its interior is designed with an outdoor rustic flavor; the benches are made from trees cut in 1/2, the altar and the organ are both made primarily of rustic looking wood. The roof is the sky above and the floor is the dirt at your feet. As you sit in this natural outdoor cathedral, with the sun shinning and breeze blowing, breathing in the aroma of the Lake- you literally can feel God all about you.
Yet, because I was born Jewish and this was a Christian place of worship, at first, I had trouble feeling completely at ease. For you see, as a youngster I was taught, that to go into a Church of any sort was a sin and God would be 'really angry if I did this.' And Jewish history was filled with many examples were God got 'pissed off' and took care of business.
In the beginning, on Sunday mornings as a sat through the service filled with the name of Jesus, I fully expected to be hit by lightning. One particularly beautiful Sunday morning, I noticed a young camper crying during the service. His counselor was walking this youngster (maybe 10 years old) up to me; the counselor whispered, this young guy was Jewish, it really spooked him to sit through the church service and would I talk to him?
So, together this young guy and I went outside to talk. Together, we found a quiet place and sat down: I told the young fellow I was Jewish also. This seemed to surprise and help him. Also, it appeared to put him a little at ease; he said, "You know, I'm afraid to sit in the chapel. I'm afraid that God will get mad at me."
I said, "At first I was also afraid and had been working at the camp for 2 years. Each Sunday I had to sit through the service. During the service, what helped me and seemed OK with God was to replace, every time, they said the name Jesus with the name, God. This worked for me and I bet it would work for you."
The young fellow, looked at me, wiped the tears from his eyes and said, 'he would try it.' I offered to sit next to him during the rest of the service, but he declined and said he wanted to sit with his counselor and friends. So I followed him back into the chapel and watched him find his seat. At the end of the service, as he walked past me he smiled, and gave me a thumbs-up; the replacement technique worked.
Some 30 years later, the Camp was doing a fund raising telephone out reach, and the solicitor who called me introduced himself by saying, "I bet you don't remember me, but I was the little guy you helped through that Sunday service by sharing you were Jewish". I said, "Sure I remember that day", and we had a great talk about camp, and how, over the years, camp had become a regular part of this fellow's life as a counselor, fund raising, and now introducing his own children to camp activities.
Way back then, sitting in that glorious outdoor cathedral, taught me and at least one other fellow- that the real place of worship, no matter how finely built, was really inside us. By repeating the name of God, in our minds and hearts, we traveled past the troubling externals of the situation and made the situation work for us.
So when I hear reports on the television that people are concerned about the location of a mosque so near an important/sacred site for them, I know something else is at work. Perhaps, they are still deeply hurt and angry about by their loved ones passing, or perhaps someone is firing-up the flames of hatred and bigotry. Using 'the old scam of religion' to pull a power play and getting things their own way.
Never forget- America is the land of religious freedom and God lives in our minds and heart, not a church, synagogue or mosque. These are just buildings to help us gather together.
Many Americans, died to protect our religious freedoms . . . even those religions we don't understand or agree with.
Also by Dr. Bitkoff, A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment, Llewellyn, 2008 and Journey of Light: Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004. These books are available on Amazon.Com or from publisher.
To contact author go to: www.stewartbitkoff.com.
Location: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Author's Profile: To learn more about Stewart Bitkoff - Click HERE
Other Articles: Stewart Bitkoff has posted 32 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Stewart Bitkoff... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2017 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).