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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


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Re: Spiritual but not religious

  • Subject: Re: Spiritual but not religious
  • From: Louie Crew <>
  • Date: Sat, 01 May 2010 08:48:12 -0400

In the summer of 1970 I went for a job interview.  If hired, I would become
a director of independent study for one of many groups of American
undergraduates studying abroad during the next year.

Applicants from the Southeast met at the airport in Birmingham, Alabama at a
gate not in use at that hour.   A representative of the hiring organization
gave us his name and told us to sit quietly until all arrived.  When all
had, he gave us a written note which, as best I can  remember, said,

"You are at a restaurant where you have been hosted by your friend, an
Indian who has spent four years on your campus.   He has told you, 'While I
have found much that I value in my four years here, with reluctance I must
say that I found most American's woefully ignorant of India and of most
other parts of the world for that matter, and most have manifested no
curiosity.   They seem narrowly and uncritically focused on themselves.' At
this point, your host was summoned to the telephone.  He said that he is
looking forward to hearing your response when he returns."

The exercise readily revealed which of the job applicants would be clear
failures in an assignment that required cultural sensitivity.  Some were
furious with the Indian for misrepresenting Americans and said the group
should insist to him that he just did not know the right ones.

After listening to us, our potential employer asked, "Now who is willing to
be the Indian as we continue this exercise?"

The hiring organization repeated that process with applicants in various
other parts of the country.   When those of us hired met for our training in
August, I was not surprised to find that most of us had also volunteered to
be the Indian.

It is interesting to use the lens of empathy to read the responses here to
the initial prompt:

> What is your usual response with someone who says they are "spiritual
> but not religious?"

Some have used that question to judge those who might say they are
'spiritual but not religious.'      Others have responded to the question as
an invitation to empathy and sensitive conversation....

The woman at the well gave a similar challenge to Jesus:

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers
worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must
worship is in Jerusalem."  (John 4:19)

Jesus' response to her is so heretical that one might have a hard time
getting through a Commission on Ministry espousing it in contemporary terms,
but note that Jesus' first missionary success was in Samaria.


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
http://queereye4lectionary.blogspot.com/  Queer Eye for the Lectionary

    We make his love too narrow
    By false limits of our own
    And we magnify his strictness
    With zeal he will not own.

         -- Frederick William Faber