I am a Vietnam veteran against war.

But what's really been on my mind for the last six or seven years is how our current administration has hijacked Christian faith and turned it into a weapon for bullying while simultaneously accusing the rest of us of lacking Christianity. The examples are so classic in the Bible, I'd be amazed if the issue of parallels has not come up in print.

I consider myself a Christian-based Unitarian Quaker. My mother attempted to raise me as a Catholic while my father, coming from American Baptist upbringing, found humor in the ceremonial practices, such as communion and confession. And although I attended Unitarian churches over the years and have read about and compared other faiths, I still find a safe haven in the Bible; even while it is sometimes used to help persuade populations to enter into war, or to convince inexperienced and innocent people that Jesus hates homosexuals and women who get abortions. I believe I share the feelings of many when I say that there was a period recently when I almost felt hesitant to admit that I am Christian for fear that I would be misunderstood and grouped with those who exclude.

So when I decided to gather some musician friends, and my wife and younger son, to record an all old-time gospel CD, one of my main motivations was to give the rest of us permission to enjoy and practice our faith without feeling aligned with right-wing conservatives. The Halfway Ground contains songs I've collected over the years during our travels throughout those hidden pockets of America where music, as an integral part of daily life, weaves an emotional thread through work and play, commitment and faith, endurance and hope, struggle and peace. The Halfway Ground is where the hereafter is ever-present in conversation and song, and greener pastures are a simple assurance.

We've named the band Jerimoth Hill as an indication that we want people of good faith to know we have a higher place on which to gather and share our promise to accept all people who otherwise feel dispossessed. Moreover, Jerimoth Hill, although the highest point in Rhode Island, is not very high at all, a mere 812 feet. But that's sufficient for me -- just high enough to get a fresh perspective.



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