Supposedly -- at least according to Jesus -- the Great Commandment is a combination of "Yum": "You must love G-d with all of your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind"... and "Yuk": "And love others as you love yourself"... "Yum" is the average religion of the average person of faith: and it doesn't matter in the least which faith he might profess. Every believer finds a G-d he can be comfortable to yum with...
"Yum" saves. "Yum" feels good. "Yum" promises an eternity of more yum... My "Yum" has a Holy Book that I read. My "Yum" has teachers of yum to ensure that my yum is the correct yum... If only everyone had my "Yum"! Scum-buckets either don't know or they reject my "Yum". If they don't or won't change their minds, my "Yum" will banish them into a forever without yum... So, be assured that "Yum" is good!
Go ahead, admit if you dare, that Jesus was a preacher of not only "Yum", but also a hell-of-a-lot of "Yuk": all that "Whatever you do to the least person among you, you do the very same to me" stuff qualifies as yuk. "Yuk" is the co-equal part of the Great Commandment: "Love others as you love yourself"... Most religion finds it simply "Yucky" to hear anyone say, "Faith without works is dead!" So when "Yum" meets up with "Yuk" something has to give... And wouldn't you know it, but "Yuk" is nearly always the "one who walks away" from faith...
The comparison to a coin is valid: both sides, front and back, equal and necessary for the coin to exist. It is impossible to have a one-sided coin. And yet, perhaps the majority of religion, is the deliberate attempt to justify a big game of pretend: "it is possible to have a one-sided coin!" Yippie! "Jesus didn't really mean that stuff about feeding the hungry, being just, getting rid of wealth, or the Beatitudes! He was just speaking prophetically about how it's going to be in heaven!" Of course, this is equally true with Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, in fact, of every faith: there are always "prophets" and "teachers" who explain the necessity of "Yuk" away. Whew!
It's easy to convince ourselves that we truly do love "Love" (for G-d is Love). We adore. We pray. We volunteer. We sing in choir. We put money in the basket. We might even donate to "good" causes. And if a particular person doesn't look like a drug addict, we might give a buck to her as we walk by. In an emergency, we can be extraordinary, we can even be heroic. We are proficient in keeping "Yuk" tightly bound and shoved into a back-room closet. We might even forget that "Yuk" exists...
The "Yuk" problem of religion needs to be brought out into the open. I mean, seriously, what if Jesus wasn't a liar? What if he meant even half of what he said? What if "Woe to you rich" is really meant to be a building block of international economic systems? What if "How blessed are you peacemakers" actually meant that we are supposed to become practitioners of a radical nonviolence? What if "love your neighbor as you love yourself" truly meant that the dude pictured above is my brother-to-whom-I-must-cause-no-harm? What if that "brother-sister" stuff is supposed to include every opposite or difference possible in the world: like, Jew, Muslim, Immigrant, Black, Lesbian, Feminist, Democrat, Republican, Native, Straight, Farmer, Baptist, etc. etc.? The "Yuk" half of the religion "coin" means that we love Love by the practice of loving... and we take to heart the words of Dorothy Day, "You love God only as much as the person you love the least." It is right here, in the place where "Yuk" and "Yum" meet, that faith both begins and ends: this "no difference" is all the difference in the world.
[I once told all of this to "the fool on the hill". But he was both smart and crafty. He had some incredibly fine and sharp electric saws. He set about his self-appointed task of proving me wrong. He succeeded in sawing all of his coins in half... which doubled the number of his coins and reduced their value to nothing... Even so, he refused to concede my point, and continued to reject "Yuk" (actually, he turned right around and spent the rest of his days trying to convince me that "Yuk" was really just that, so, he said, I had better just "Yum")...]
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.