My first house was immaculate. I was so methodical it’s a wonder it didn’t make me sick. No dust bunnies. Clean and pressed clothes. Bills paid. Car oil changed. I could eat off the bathroom floor. I was a purist.
This devotion to purity carried over into my religious thinking and behavior as well. I read and recited the same pure religious words every day. I believed that these words were the approved words of God for speaking, reading, and praying.
But eventually I began to wonder about this entire concept. Are there really special words and special languages which makes a person more acceptable to God? Is there such a thing as a pure textual tradition which can be aspired to or returned to? When people claim this is the case, how do we know that they are capable of making decisions of which is pure and which is not?
Loving Others in the Dirt
My tendency for physical and spiritual purity was challenged the most when I volunteered at an orphanage in Thailand. While there, I used squat toilets. There was no toilet paper. There was no hot water. There often was no place to wash your hands. One quickly learns that certain standards of purity are not as necessary as we might think.