I believe in the value of seeing things in PERSPERCTIVE.
I went to church twice on Sundays. As a young boy in California, I would get up early with my father and younger sister, polish my father’s shoes and attend early Mass at the large Roman Catholic Cathedral. It was made of stone and huge. We were always late and stood in the back. It was cold and dramatic as little light came through the tall narrow, but beautiful stained glass windows. This was in the 1950s and most of the service was in Latin, The English part was hard to understand as the priest was from Italy and had a heavy Italian accent. I did not understand most of the service but I knew it was very important.
Returning home my mother had breakfast ready and I had time to lie on the floor with the sun shinning through the window to read the Sunday funnies before getting ready to go to church with my mother. The Methodist church was made of wood, open, full of light and we sat about half way back as the minister addressed the congregation. We sang, the minister even told some jokes. No one ever told jokes in the Catholic service.
At a certain point in the service, the children were asked to leave the main part of the church and go to Sunday school, which my sister and I did. The adults had things that they needed to talk about. We kids usually worked on some project like making Paper Mache’ maps of Jerusalem. We also had a snack, which was a Cool-Aid without the sugar. It was bitter and I thought that this had to do with the suffering that we were learning about.
Over the weeks of attending these two services, I overheard the leader of each of these churches saying that the people who attended the other church across town were going to Hell, and that this was the only true church. I was a little puzzeled.
Well, I loved both my mother and father and could not see how both of these two churches could be right or wrong. Around this same time, my grandmother, who often in retirement would house sit for rather wealthy people, didn’t like to travel alone and would take me along on these trips. On Sunday we would always find a church to attend. I would ask my grandmother about this because we did not belong to these churches and she told me with great love that it did not matter where you worshiped as long as you gave thanks and worshiped.
My best friend at 11 years of age was Kent Takeda, a Japanese American, and he lived next to the Buddhist Temple.
All of these experiences gave me perspective and a larger view of the world. It has helped me as a teacher and artist and rather than confuse the situation it has helped me to understand the people around me.