I recently had a conversation with a German neighbor. I asked her if she knew our nearby German friend. Not only did she know her, but they were both from Hamburg. I mentioned that our mutual friend’s father had been a well-known Lutheran pastor there. “Ach,” she replied. “My husband is a Lutheran too, but I’m a nothing.” “Hardly a nothing” I responded. “If there is any justice in the universe, we’ll be judged by our actions, not our memberships.”...
As for my memberships, I am the opposite of “a nothing.” I started life as a nominal Jew. Although prizing their ethnic identity, my parents were non-religious. As a result, I received virtually no Jewish religious instruction, and my bar mitzvah was a shame. The rabbi in effect did the ritual for me in exchange for my dad’s monetary gift to the temple. My real religious instruction came first from our African American housekeeper, Florine, who was a devout Methodist. More came from four years and two summers at an American Baptist boarding school. In the early 50s, we had daily chapel, Sunday worship, Sunday-night vespers, and a required religion class. Despite my occasional attendance at the Friday Night Shabbat services as both an undergraduate and grad student at Yale, Judaism never gained traction in my life. Instead, I attended Sunday worship services at Christ Church Episcopal or Yale’s Battell Chapel, affiliated with the Congregational Church. On marrying my first wife, a Lutheran from Germany, I began 37 years as a mainstream ELCA Lutheran. Then, following an inner prompting, I converted to Catholicism and remained a staunch member of that faith for seven years. When I moved from the liberal Catholic Diocese of Honolulu to the conservative Arch Diocese of Denver, however, I needed something more congenial and thus became Episcopalian.
But here’s the oddest thing. Besides being a Jew and a Christian, I am also a Muslim. In 1961 I joined an Islamically based moving-meditation practice called Subud. Besides doing the Ramadan Fast 40 times and reading the Koran through three or four times, in 2003 I actually said the Muslim Confession of Faith in Arabic in front of three adult Muslim men in the Muhammad II Mosque in Casablanca, and ipso facto I became a member of that faith. So. in retrospect I am an Abrahamic, holding important relationships with the three religions descended that patriarch: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three are based on obedience and surrender to the One God—Jehovah, God the Father, and Allah. All three incorporate Abraham’s willingness to leave his homeland and go to a place God would show him and later to sacrifice the son of his and Sarah’s old age, Isaac. (Fortunately, in the end he didn’t have to do it; the whole thing had just been a test.) So, I am excited at the prospect of soon meeting a Sephardic Jew from Mexico who was raised a Christian and who later became the leader of a Sufi (Muslim) lineage. For he too like me is a fellow Abrahamic.