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Discussion 3 to Ask the Patriarch 187
Graces to please everyone

by: JT

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Thank you for the information Ron. I should have mentioned when I posted that particular grace that Woodsworth was an ordained Christian minister. And yet he chose to give, on appropriate occasions, an essentially secular grace.

For the past three years, I've been irregularly attending monthly luncheon meetings of the local branch of my college alumni association. The branch has a chaplain - a retired minister, perhaps 80 or so years old, who is also an alumnus - and at every meeting, he is called upon to say grace.

He does it with style, apparently speaking off the cuff, addressing current issues which he thinks would interest us, and not once in three years have I heard him mention God or Jesus. The closest he comes to mentioning religion is the occasional reference to being called to officiate over a ceremony involving one of the other alumni. He, knowing the audience consists of those with a variety of faiths and lack of faith, keeps the sectarian details out of his words. Thanks are said "for what we are about to receive," but the thanks are never directed at any of the supernatural entities. It's possible that some of the believers in the group don't even notice what he's doing. And I do appreciate the way this minister handles it.

As Woodsworth showed, and as my alumni association chaplain shows, it is possible to say a grace that does not offend followers of other religious persuasions. With a little subtlety, it slips by unnoticed. And we can do the same if we are prepared to make the effort.

Q & A 187

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