Unitarian Universalist Hysterical Society
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Reverence for Weird Things

This is a worship reading for Pi day, but it doesn’t mention Pi day in there anywhere, so you could use it any time, really. Also, you can serve Pi any time. It’s not just for March 14th.

I always wanted to be a Christian. My friend Carolyn went to church where if you were well behaved you got marshmallows and the love of Jesus, and if you were badly behaved you only got the love of Jesus. I wanted to go, but I was pretty sure that we weren't church people in my family because church families always started meals by telling Jesus about all the things they were grateful for. My family started meals by arguing about whose turn it was to do the dishes.

Also, my family celebrated Santa-Clause-Christmas instead of Jesus-Christmas, and I’m pretty sure if you believed in God you celebrated Jesus-Christmas.

And we believed in Evolution.  You had to believe either in God or Evolution.  That’s how it worked.  There were two big guys with white beards named Darwin and God.  If you chose the Darwin one, you believed about monkeys and the universe being really old, and if you chose the God one you believed about a garden called Eden and you said grace and went to church.

Eventually, I worked up the guts to ask my mom if there was a God. I found her in the kitchen (my mom, not God) and I asked her and she stopped what she was doing and stared into space really hard, like she was focussing on the question with her whole mind. She wasn’t—it turned out she was trying to convert the butter her recipe called for from grams to ounces. I asked her a second time, and she said she was baking and not to bother her with questions that have no answers and if I kept breaking her focus there would be no cake after supper. Then she said to go ask my dad because he loves pointless questions with no answer.

So I asked my dad, and he said that he didn't believe in God in the way Carolyn did, but that he wanted to show me something. He wrote on a piece of paper "e to the power of pi times I equals zero".

He said "To me, there are pieces of physics that look like God. We are part of something so huge, and so elegant, and it's a miracle that it exists. It's a miracle that we get to understand even the tiny sliver that we understand. It's a miracle that we get to be part of something so much larger than ourselves."

We think of science and religion as in opposition to each other. Whenever people talk like that, I think of my dad and the expression on his face as he looked at that incomprehensible set of squiggles on the page (I was about eight, and none of those symbols looked like any math I could recognize, except the zero).

Tell me a story about Reverence for Weird Things. Math, science, beautiful songs, little chores and routines that feel sacred... Whatever makes your face look the way my dad's did when he held up that weird and incomprehensible drawing that to him was the shadow of God, cast across the page so that parts of it could be seen by humans.

(This is a great reading to lead into a response time—the stories are fabulous. If you’re not a response time type group, just alter the ending to suit your purposes. This reading comes with full permission to use, edit, distribute etc and was written by Liz James)

Liz James