So, I Guess That Was 2011?

December 31, 2011 - 2 Responses

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And so it is done. Whoop-dee-freakin’ doo.

Long year that blurred by in about three seconds. For me at least. A year of construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction. One of learning about myself, who I really am and what I really want, and don’t want. One of appreciating others in my life and coming into healthier relationships.

I spent all of Christmas weekend in a hospital room helping look after my Dad. He’s still in there this New Year’s Eve. Please send healing energy his way. If you don’t believe in that sort of thing, think positively about him or something.

But anyway, I learned that life can be hard. But it’s a hell of a lot easier for me than many, many others in this world. I learned that we all, all earth-bound beings, are in this together. We all have our life challenges, character flaws, and blessings and beauty. We can choose to share this life with each other or insulate ourselves from each other. There are good times for each of those actions. And we should listen to our selves.

That thing, that stuff, that web that seems to connect us seems to have some intelligence or wisdom or something. From my experience, it speaks to me through me, and through others, including people and other-than-peoples. I’ve been learning to listen a little better, through the joy and pain. It all has something beneficial to say. Maybe not always pleasant, but beneficial.

Anyway, that’s about it.

Cheers.

*image source here

Can We Come Together?

December 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

R.I.P., Christopher Hitchens, April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011

(Image from his last article, featured in Vanity Fair)

Believers and nonbelievers both have at least one thing in common: We all feel there’s something broken, something wrong with the world. We may disagree on what that brokenness is, but bickering over that makes no difference in changing or helping what is really broken. It just makes us feel better about our own position.

There are brilliant minds, pure hearts, and strong hands in every camp.

It’s high time we agnostics, atheists and believers work together to address the very real brokenness that is, for instance, poverty and hunger throughout the world.

That is all.

The Sacredness of Wants

November 30, 2011 - 4 Responses

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I’m learning the sacredness of stating my wants. Not wants as in what I want my life to be, like purpose…and also not wants as in the stuff I think I want. But those things in between the conceptual and the material. Things like relationships and past times and conversations. And also the importance of honing in on what I don’t want.

For example, I really don’t like talking or writing about religion anymore. I’d much rather be wandering in the woods or sloshing in tidepools. I still enjoy occasionally sharing my story or listening to others’. People’s beliefs are precious to them, and what works for them may or may not work for me. But I’m learning that it’s okay for me not to obsess over being right about religion. And it’s okay for me to want to spend my time elsewhere.

Instead of assuming that having wants is selfish, I’m learning that it’s healthy, for myself and others. We all have our personal world. Our own little bubbles that we want to look and feel a certain way. But we do not live in a vacuum. Our bubbles bounce into and stick to each other. We need to hear each others’ stories to help write our own. We depend on each other. But we should not be codependent. Big difference.

My sense of wholeness should not depend on the information I gather from others, but from something that’s beyond all of us. I’m not sure what that is, but it’s something that, while beyond us, also connects all of us and resides deep inside each of us. It informs me of what comes most naturally to me, my individuality, etc. And to operate in that natural individuality that makes me whole, I need and therefore want certain things. But wants can get confused. For example, I may think I want money but I really want the freedom that money can buy.

To prevent the confusion requires absolute honesty with myself, and in turn honesty with others. Clearly stating what I want or don’t want eliminates the need for me to manipulate others. And as I grow older, my focus is getting clearer on what I want. And when I allow myself to be honest, it actually helps others.

So wants, in their truest form, are not selfish. They are essential. And even the process of uncovering what our deepest wants really are, instead of feeling ashamed of them, is sacred.

* image source here

How Much Should You Pay a Child Slave for Halloween Candy?

October 31, 2011 - Leave a Response

image source here

I know, that’s a tough question, with the tight economy and all. I think we should just let the free market decide.

But now that I have your attention, let’s turn to more important matters:

Kim Kardashian Files for Divorce After 72 Days.

Which U.S. Presidential Candidates Use Twitter the Most?

BTW, How Did Rick Perry Do on His College Grades?

I’m just kidding. Here are the really important things we should be thinking about these days:

Which is better: Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation?

Should one be baptized in the name of Jesus alone or in all three persons of the Christian God.

Is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also the God of Ishmael? And is the God of Abel also the God of Cain? Or is the God of Arab-Israelis NOT the God of [Jewish] Israelis?

Is Christianity a religion or a relationship?

Who has the best story: 90 Minutes in Heaven or 23 Minutes in Hell?

So those were the important questions. Now if you still want to know about how, over the past few days, many of us just enabled the continued enslavement of an innocent African child, along with the one we’re sponsoring through World Vision, read this: Child Slaves Made Your Halloween Candy. Stop Buying It. And here’s a vid that talks more about that.

Okay, carry on with your more important things. I just wanted to bring a little levity to your day. 😉

In case you didn’t catch any of my dry sarcasm, here’s my point: I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty about not buying fair-trade chocolate over the stuff that can easily be found at any store. I’m just trying to make people feel guilty about making religion (or theology) more important than the people religion says it’s trying to save. And yes, we must acknowledge that there are religious organizations that are leading the way in trying to bring freedom to these captives, which is great. Also, I realize some of you may notice that this topic pops up around Halloween, Easter, Valentines Day, etc. But anyway, hopefully you get my point.

I’m also trying to help people acknowledge the tragedy of our choices in media consumption. When media can be so helpful in spreading the word about injustices around the world, what makes us so addicted to primarily using its capabilities for passive entertainment?

Anyway, sorry for my crankiness. That’s my soapbox for the month.

 

The Controversial New Post

September 13, 2011 - One Response

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This is the part where I write an apparently shocking statement, preferably about God or religion. And this is the part where I try to explain how it’s really not all that shocking unless you’re really narrow-minded.

At about this time, I begin to experience a bit of writer’s remorse about what I just wrote, or the image I posted at the top of the page, and start to back-peddle so as not to totally alienate any or all potential audiences. And then I wrestle with thoughts of how one must risk alienating one audience in order to appeal to another, because that’s just how writing goes.

And here, well, this is where I get honest. I really try to do that, but I have a habit of endlessly questioning my motives, and want to make sure I’m not just being “honest” just so you’ll perceive me as more “authentic” than someone else you could be reading. You may think a habit of examining motives is honorable, but for me it borders on compulsion. So maybe that sort of trumps the whole honorable thing. Not sure who determines that.

Anyway, I was going to complete a post I started months ago about the origins of the pledge of allegiance to the Bible, which I grew up reciting in my Christian school, along with the pledge of allegiance to both the American and Christian flags.

I was going to call out how the guy who wrote the Bible pledge  included it in his creation of the original manual for Vacation Bible Schools for the Southern Baptists, back  in the 1920s. I would point out how he dedicated his words specifically to the “…white children of the South,” and mentioned how proud Southern Baptists are of their pure “Anglo-Saxon blood.” And that he explained in his preface how white children’s souls were going downhill, but that the spiritual conditions are “far worse among the negro children.”

I would say how I was shocked but not surprised to see for my own eyes actual proof of how racism mingled with religion, proving yet again the pattern of hypocrisy in Christendom. And I could state how some little children may have been, through no choice of their own, indoctrinated into that hypocrisy. Left to carry on the “honorable” traditions of those forebears who protected the purity of the Chosen culture that pledged allegiance to God’s Holy Word.

While all that may be true, of course, it makes no difference.

It makes no difference if I can regularly display proof after proof of the problems with religion. It makes no difference if the religious can provide proof after proof of the problems with doubt and disbelief. It makes no difference if any of us can justify our angst toward the other.

It makes no difference because it does not make us different.

Religious scholar Dallas Willard — a Southern Baptist, by the way — once wrote that, “We talk about leading a different kind of life, but we also have ready explanations for not being really different.” I’ll take inspiration from wherever I can get it, and that rings true for me.

Through the last several years, I’ve been learning that, for me, “being really different” does not happen through me trying to change others. Like I’ve repeated before, in the words of St. Michael, it starts with the Man in the Mirror. While we can inspire others toward positive change, we cannot change others. We can only change ourselves.

I don’t think I always need to be changing. Often, we interpret the need for change as saying that we are not good enough as we are. I am, as a person, good just as I am, but I think I can be better in certain situations, in my interactions with others, for example. Or trying to be less selfish as a husband. Or not wringing my dog’s neck when he pees on the carpet. That does not mean I must perpetually see myself as “almost there.” It just means that growth is usually good.

At this point in time, growth, for me, is in learning to be more true to myself. Learning who I really am, deep inside. Learning what I really want out of life, not what I think I should want. And for me that means making my own pledge of allegiance. Not to just another philosophy or system, and not even to some goal. Rather, it means constantly being honest with myself and others. Because when I’m not honest, I’m not at peace. With that in mind, I think my pledge could be best summed up in the words of the Temper Trap song, “Fader,” which mentions in one line:

“…I pledge myself allegiance to a better night’s sleep at home.”

So in the midst of all the provocative writing or imagery, the “authenticity,” the personality, the branding, the voice…whatever… in between the lines, my aim in the words I offer to you here — at least in this post — is to simply help me sleep better. To be more at peace. And that’s my wish for you.

Not attention-getting controversy. Not point-proving. Not trying to change others. Not fashionable philosophy. But honesty, and peace.

* Original image credit/link here.