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The Tentacle


February 2, 2006

Holy Name and Society

Norman M. Covert

"I'm shocked, shocked," said the chief police inspector, when he walked into Rick's Place in Casablanca, "to see that gambling is taking place in here . round up the usual suspects!"

"I'm shocked, shocked," usual suspect City Alderman Donna Kuzemchak-Ramsburg seems to have told a news reporter, reporting her dismay upon hearing Alderman Paul Smith utter those terrible words - "Jesus Christ" - in the City Hall meeting room two weeks ago.

How horrible (tongue in cheek) of Mr. Smith to conjure up two words that have so many people running scared. Jesus Christ, whose birth we just celebrated with pious shopping sprees, joyous music and wonderful proclamations from the pulpits of the city that is famous for its Clustered Spires and at a location on West CHURCH Street.

Jesus Christ, whose birth, crucifixion, death and ultimate resurrection is the foundation of the Christian religion. It is a name that is universally revered and also universally feared by those whose own beliefs differ. It is a name of The One we Christians believe is the Son of God and the long-awaited Messiah.

You may have your own set of beliefs and I can respect that - and do. However, don't mess with "My Guy."

There was a time in Maryland when the great crusade saw Christian Protestants fighting to maintain equal stature with the dominant Roman Catholics then overseeing Lord Calvert's domain. Never mind about the Indians, they were heathens anyway, if you believe the newspapers.

Here we are at peace supposedly among the Christians in Maryland. The blocks surrounding City Hall boast of Episcopalians, Reformed Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, United Methodists, Brethrens, Quakers, some Unities, Hebrew Reformed, some agnostics, bar flies and self actualization types. All but a couple still claim "My Guy" as their route to paradise.

We would opine that one who is least offended by the name of "My Guy" is Rabbi Morris Kosman. He's smarter than most and is secure in his faith. His family has more rabbis than most and I hope he puts in a good word for me. "My Guy" was Jewish, you know, when he walked on water, and offered a solution for the Middle East.

Just from her public appearances, one would gather that Miz Ramsburg keeps her own counsel on religion. We have no idea if she attends any church, but we certainly know that publicly she eschews anything to do with faith or religion.

Both she and her fellow alderman, Marcia Hall, rejected any notion of taking their oath of office - again - with hand on The Bible. That is their option and they chose it. If they have faith in a "higher power" that is between them and their "higher power."

It was four years ago that then-Alderman David G. Lenhart offered a proposal that each meeting of the mayor and board be opened with a prayer. The motion was carried 3-2 with Aldermen Joe Baldi, Bill Hall and Mr. Lenhart assenting; Miz Ramsburg and Miz M. Hall, dissenting.

Thus, a variety of prayers have been offered over the four years. The striking differences included bona fide prayers to "God" and variations of that moniker to simple inspirational readings - all good!

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), an education organization, proclaims that each Scout should pledge on his honor to do his duty to "God and Country." This unsettled lots of folks - God being first -- in the atmosphere of the past 50 years of liberal dominance. However, the BSA didn't back down. It counsels each Scout to pledge his duty to "God" as he perceives him to be.

Even at Scout events you will hear the more circumspect leaders offer prayer in the neutral sense, but no one should be offended by the mere calling the name of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago, the Rotary Club of Frederick became a front page item when this writer, as president, responded to a complaint from a member, who objected when the Rotarian offering the luncheon prayer uttered that Name.

Consensus was that it seemed okay to utter other forms of the name of the "Higher Power" except Jesus Christ.

Ignoring what a reporter splashed on the front page, we forged ahead with a committee of Rotarian/religious leaders. They recommended - and it was approved - that if one is asked to offer prayer, he or she could use the name "Jesus Christ" if it was their custom to do so. Likewise it was okay for those of other faiths to pray in the tradition they espouse.

Unfortunately the flap scared off lots of Christians, who offer the luncheon blessing without mentioning the name "Jesus Christ." It somehow keeps peace in the family, although Christians are probably the overwhelming majority of members.

We just don't ripple the waters, praying ". in Your Name. Amen." We know what we mean, but it's still a bit "chicken" to do that. We are taught to pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

How often do we hear good citizens use that name in a less than devout context. It just rolls off the tongue. You bump your head and there is "J.C.!" Shame on those blasphemers for upsetting the non-Christians. Next time, use the name of some other deity like . no, don't go there!

Anyway, Miz R. and Miz H., you need to start worrying about important things like the water agreement with the county, and city services, not the prayer, which is already on the agenda.

Unlike the past four years, you ladies need to get with the program and like Rick said to the chief inspector as they walked off into the fog, "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship." - Amen.



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