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Finding My Religion- it was right here all along:) - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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Finding My Religion- it was right here all along:)
(Has anyone ever mashed up an REM song with one by Amanda Marshall at all, much less this obscurely? I doubt it;)

There's been an occasional theme here in the past year about me and the Big Guy- sometimes writing pieces overtly questioning the formal faith which I was led into, and which eventually I at times led others in and with, for almost all of my sentient life. In other writings, as in my most recent post here, I just poke at the celestial bear a bit.

In this year that is now almost, blessedly, over? Eleanor has found a completely new path to express her need for belief in something beyond the known and knowable.  I've mused, and explored, and given my lifetime home base of Methodism more chances than there are books in the Bible- eventually wandering outside and spending a few Sundays with another local church denomination that talks a good game of inclusiveness but still left me feeling like an outsider.

The closest I've come to the missing Feels is a rather poopy form of animism: joining friends and their dogs with me (sometimes us) and ours in a Sunday morning hour of conversation, nature appreciation, photography and joy from the pups that knows no doctrine or even dog-ma.  But that doesn't entirely satisfy my need to give back.  I've joined the official Friends of Ellicott Creek Bark Park for a modest annual membership, but these dogs are generally healthy, happy and well cared-for.

As the year winds down and I get to my last-minute tax planning, I both need and want to contribute to something that maybe fills the emotional place of an offering plate.  Whenever I have attended a church in the past year, I've contributed, but nowhere near (and with no pledge to confirm) what we've traditionally given. When I found both my attendance and contributions to be way lacking at this time last year, and again just now, I came to the same conclusion both times: donate to supporting the one thing I always have and always will believe in above all things: The Truth, as only true reporters can and do report it.

----

A year ago, this giving was directed out of a combination of good intentions and a broken heart. Friends of mine, of the never-really-met variety (though I remembered them both from Cornell-era media), awoke just before Christmas weekend to the darkest of tragedies. Their daughter/step-daughter, a recent journalism school graduate in her first "real" job, had perished in a car accident.  Within those short and unbelievably sad days, my friends, with the support of her father by birth (who I also vaguely remember from back in the day) and other media professionals, had established a scholarship fund through the New York Press Club to honor her memory and help pave the way for other young journalists to follow in those difficult shoes (you should see some of the heels;).

You can donate to it, too.  Late last year, I did. An amount that must have seemed like a lot but really only represented week after week after week of missed Sunday services, of broken hearts and closed doors in the place of my own lifelong faith.

I thought of donating again to that cause, and ultimately I did- to the same sentiment, but in a different place.

----

The Cornell Daily Sun is no longer Daily- at least not in the ink-and-paper sense that had carried it to Ithaca doorsteps and newsstands for over 130 years. The decision to cut back physical production- implemented this past May, 35 years after my graduation on its centennial Editorial Board- reflected the paper's need to find its way in an age where the paper-paper had passed its main audience by.  This followed earlier decisions, by The Sun and its nominal "competition" in the local daily news market, under which it was no longer "Ithaca's Only Morning Newspaper." The first blow was when Gannett put the Ithaca Journal (also a shadow of its former self) into morning distribution; even sadder was when The Sun became a free-pickup publication; the first media home of E.B. White and Kurt Vonnegut and Dick Schaap was now the same price as the Pennysaver.

But the need is as great as ever.  Universities are now the homes of bigger money, bigger influence and just as much controversy as when our reporters were there to keep the administration honest.  The house-organ Cornell Comical isn't about to go beyond the serious journalism level of press releases.  With assaults on the "lamestream media" and the rise of "fake news" hitting its pinnacle (nadir, actually) in the final months of 2016, young journalists are needed more than ever to learn as we learned- to question, to verify, then to write it out quickly, clearly and on deadline- and to keep the needs of the business department completely separate from their concerns.

The Sun and its charitable alumni organization are persistent but not nagging in their pointing out the paper's financial needs to us.  Not to pay the student journalists, duh (what do do you think we were, college athletes?), but for upgrading the technology to keep The Sun relevant in cyberspace, for maintaining and improving the building which now serves as its permanent home, and for making the paper's 130-plus years of history more accessible.

A letter from the non-profit Sun alumni group came in the fall, another just last week.  As I again struggled with my question of faith, and with which, if any, faith communities to support with my charitable dollars, it became clearer that the answer was in front of me in black and white- and read all over.  The Sun got my offering plate funds this year.  If you care to go there as well, here's the link.

And so, before I report on my most meaningful and memorable experiences of 2016, I offer #cheerstojordan. And to #kurt and #ebwhite and #yourCornellkidhere, who hopefully some day will be following in their footsteps up the hill back to campus after putting the paper to bed. As Vonnegut told us at the end of his 100th anniversary speech in my presence in 1981:

I am an atheist, as some of you may have gleaned from writings. But I have to tell you that, as I trudged up the hill so late at night and all alone, I knew that God Almighty approved of me.

Amen.
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