I have been thinking about how blessed I am to work at a university during these difficult times for our nation. I work with a diverse student body, and with faculty and staff who possess a wide range of theological opinions and beliefs. When presidential candidates and others say disparaging things about Muslims, I think of the students and staff with whom I work who are Muslim, and who have shown me nothing but love and respect. I think of our trans-gender students whenever I hear remarks or read opinions that are mean and fearful about the same. When I feel overwhelmed, sometimes, with rhetoric that seeks to claim just one true path of Christian belief, I think of the congregation that I serve, a congregation that is known for its welcoming and loving nature. I have the privilege of working at a place that respects me because I am open and welcoming to people of diverse spiritual, ethnic and sexual orientations. I get to lead a religions life program that means it when it says that all people are welcome, all people, into its midst. There is no greater joy, I think, than to be present when students of various religious beliefs gather to plan events that bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and love. These gatherings are not designed to carry on as if we all believe the same things, but, instead, to celebrate our diversity of beliefs. We are not afraid to admit that we believe that we can learn from one another, even though we have significant differences in our religious orientations. I have spent most of my adult life working leading religious life programs in academic communities. I cannot imagine anything more rewarding that I could have done with my life. I hope you find such a community, where it may surprise you just how much your own faith grows in positive ways when exposed to the faiths and beliefs of others.
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