The world would be a better place if its major religions could learn to laugh at themselves

One of my favorite episodes of the old situation comedy “Cheers” is the one in which the bartender Woody has a falling out with his wife Kelly when they discover that their religious roots are in different Lutheran synods.

Check it out here:


This episode came to mind when I heard a panel discussion on TV in the wake of the recent election of a new pope. One of the participants, making the point that religious differences sometimes are pretty silly, mentioned the so-called Great Schism of a thousand years ago in which the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church went their separate ways.

The panelist noted that one of the causes of the split was a difference of opinion on whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son or only from the Father.

Sorry. I just can’t help but liken such a disagreement to the proverbial debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If there’s a God in heaven, and if he has a sense of humor, he has to laugh at such doctrinal nit-picking.

Accordingly,  religionists of all stripes need to lighten up and laugh at their differences. They need to recognize a central fact that most of them seem not to understand: The world’s three great monotheistic religions — Christianity, Islam and Judaism — have one common root. They’re all Abrahamic. They all arose from a belief in the God of Abraham.

Instead of warring among one another, like Woody and Kelly, they should focus on their commonalities.

But, of course, there’s not much chance of that, is there?


1 Comment

  1. Sounds like you are going to love the Pope Francis.


    Other Jewish leaders welcomed the election of a pontiff seen as an ally when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Francis would be a “welcome guest in the Holy Land” while Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said the new pope “always had an open ear for our concerns.”

    “By choosing such an experienced man, someone who is known for his open-mindedness, the cardinals have sent an important signal to the world,” Lauder said. “I am sure that Pope Francis I will continue to be a man of dialogue, a man who is able to build bridges with other faiths.”

    Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, as he was known before he became pope, showed as Buenos Aires archbishop an inclination to expand interfaith outreach to Islam and Judaism, and made efforts to further close the nearly 1,000-year estrangement with the Orthodox churches.

    He was widely praised for his aid to Buenos Aires’ Jewish community following the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center that killed 85 people. Iran has been blamed for the attack, but denied any links. A joint Argentine-Iranian “truth commission” is studying the evidence.

    “We hope that his word and his example contribute to the achievement of harmony, brotherhood and peace among all peoples,” the Italian Rabbinical Assembly said, pledging to do its part to foster dialogue between Jews and Catholics “with mutual respect for their respective identities.”

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