Yesterday, I took lunch with a few close family members at a favorite New Mexico restaurant in a small town just north of Santa Fe. As we stepped into the courtyard, I noted with a slight feeling of aversion a sculpted figure of religious piety, some ‘saintly’ monk no doubt. My hostility changed abruptly, when I recognized the figure of Francis of Assisi. I then felt free to admire the art work, the artist, the historical figure, and the religious sentiment — especially the love of nature and the animals.

I didn’t comment on any of this at the time, but, in retrospect, I have pondered my initial disdain for this religious symbology. Although never religiously inclined myself, I have always admired men and women who devote their lives to religious contemplation, to helping others, and to the ideals of compassion and morality. People like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and indeed St. Francis, but also friends and family who take on social roles of spiritual leadership and pastoral care.

So why was I at first so repulsed to see this bronzed representation of conventional piety: the robes and the folded hands? The reason is very simple: the crisis of moral authority within many religious institutions stemming from child sexual abuse. On top of that, I am repulsed when I see some of these same religious leaders (who have for years covered up such scandals) acting so quickly to condemn the gay men and women who seek to come together in love and commitment.

Is change finally in the air? After these thousands of years since the Christian version of sharia law was promulgated in the book of Leviticus? I think so.

John, Ragini, Christine and Shu said thanks.

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David Wade Chambers

Born in Oklahoma: 30 years in US. 6 years in Canada, 40 years in Australia. Academic field: history and philosophy of science. Currently, teach indigenous studies online at Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Brandon University (Manitoba). Come visit our B&B on Australia's Great Ocean Road. Mate's Rates for Hi community! (

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