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Changing the world
one mind at a time
Thoughts from my earlier bus ride today. 
11th-Dec-2008 06:42 pm
We'll start with the non theological portion.

Found out I can buy either the "Saviour (Vox)" mp3 on amazon for $0.99 or the entire Burning Empires digital CD for $8.99. Which beats paying $50-$150 for the actual CD used. Debating on which option to use... I really want the "Saviour" with lyrics, but IO seem to recall liking the whole CD the one tim I actually heard it. The question I have is "Does Amazon use DRM or other encryption methods that would prevent me from putting said songs on my mp3 player or burning them onto a mix tape?"

Now then.

I was thinking about a story my mom likes to tell on occasion from her early childhood. It seems one of the things she picked up in her early childhood Lutheran upbringing was the concept of praying for your enemies. Which, in 1941ish led her to pray "G-d, I want Hitler to win, but I want us to win better."

For me, one of the stories that has stuck with me over these long decades has been what I remember being one of the "lesser" parables. As I recall the tale, Jesus was talking about how people would seat themselves at important seats at a table, then be embarrassed when the host was forced to move them to less important places at the table. The overall moral was that we're better off setting ourselves at a lower place and letting the host move us up. Or better put, A little pride is good, but hubris leads to a smack down. A message I also picked up in the tale of Bellepheron, whom Zeus smacked down for trying to ride the Pegasus up the side of Olympus.

I think this is the root of desire to not boast when something good happens in my life. I sometimes think that when I cross the line into hubris or when I start taking things for granted, the universe smacks me down like a red-haired stepchild. Apartments, lovers, jobs... I've lost them all, usually when I stop appreciating them as the blessings they are. diffusedglow and I were talking in a similar vein earlier about the tradition of no contact between lovers for a week after menstruation, and understanding that removal of something so important increases our desire for it (although we both disagree with the whole no contact at all. If I were straight, I don't think I could get all that excited about sex during that period of time, however, no kissing or touching at all seems a bit extreme.)

This segues into my perusal of the newspaper message boards today after reading a few more of the "G-d" letters that showed up in the letters to the editor today. Since I think only one other person who occasionally reads me also reads the SNL, there's been an on-going debate about some fairly nasty letters one of the city attorneys has been writing about gay people and gay rights. I'm taking the middle path here, and agreeing with the folks who say his free speach is is own business as long as it doesn't affect how he performs his job. IE, he's free to be a close minded bigot as long as his views aren't affecting how he defends the city when issues involving gays pop up. I think it sets a bad precedent to fire someone just because they don't agree with you. I do, however believe he's a jackass for writing incendiary letters to a public forum; the last one with veiled threats of either a slander lawsuit or sending someone to hell being an argument against him being able to function in his position.

The problem is that the discussion turned into one on gay marriage with the usal for here battle lines drawn between the fundies and everyone else. I'll assume most everyone on here either has seen, read or has access to the Stewart vs Huckabee interview from The Daily Show, so I won't repost it here. But basically, it seems like much of the argument these days is one of semantics... Basically the more rational objectors to gay marriage aren't so much opposed to us gay folks getting the same privileges and such that marriage confers as much as they object to us faggots using the term marriage for it. Which while I don't agree with, I can get more into the spirit of compromise with than the folks who'd like to see me killed because of who I'm attracted to.

There was also a lot of conversation about the concept of G-d loving everyone and forgiveness of sins. Which it seems to boil down to whether or not homosexuality is a sin or not.

We'll come back to that here in a minute.

We'll start off by saying that my journey of faith has taken more than a few turns off the standard path over time. I spent much time reading the mystic books of other faiths in an attempt to better understand where other people are coming form, plus my own pagan and Jewish practices over the past 15 or so years.

However, the one commonality I see in ALL of my studies is Divine love. (Not the drag queen.) The 612 Judaic laws make sense for the period in which they are written, but I tend to agree with Reform thinking that after a few millennium, the laws are up for review.

I also have severe issues with the letters of Saul/Paul, who most of the fundies I know seem to emulate more than the Jesus they claim to worship. Seriously. Paul does a sudden conversion and his views do a 180 degree turn. This is one place I agree with mom in many ways. Faith is like a tree, it grows as you grow, needs nourishment to grow, and it branches off in unique was to get what it needs. All it may take to become a Christian (or a Muslim, for that matter) is a statement of faith (Jesus Christ is my saviour or There is not G-d but G-d, and Mohammad is his prophet), but it's where you go from there that matters most. Accepting something as the truth is to use the common slang like being Born Again. The problem I see is that so many people stop at that step. Yes, they go to church, yes, they read their professed faith's scripture, but they don't explore it, don't try to expand their understanding, don't let it grow. It's almost like those breeds of dogs who have been manipulated to such a point they exist only to live in a purse. Or more accuratly, slapping a coat of paint on a wall and saying it's good as-is.

Faith, while experienced as emotion most often, also has an intellectual component so many of us miss. The people who wrote down the stories of their tales and miracles intended us to read them and find our own meaning within them, think about them, find the ways the lessons apply to our own lives.

If G-d is a loving G-d, and I believe G-d is, its not so much the sins that matter as much as it is expressing G-d's love on his behalf. Even if homosexuality is a sin as so many people seem to believe, I find it hard to believe a loving G-d would condemn people for expressing a healthy love and experiencing the blessings that love between any two people can encompass.

For me, I feel that the only judging I can do is on myself. I, like everyone regardless of where their faith or lack thereof is, can take responsibility for my actions alone, or of people entrusted to me care, like a child or other dependent. It is up to me and me alone to decide how I can follow my morals and values to the best of my ability, and how I can best serve the Divine Power I follow. This is not to say I always succeed, nor does it suggest that the laws humanity has created for its own sake don't matter, it's me saying that when I screw up, I'm the one who has to take responsibility for my actions. While divine forgiveness is nice, I find forgiveness of the person hurt by my actions is much nicer.

Now, back on the subject of whether or not homosexuality is a sin, I said above and I'll repeat it here below. We are reflections of Divine love. I don't see how love is a sin. (Exception here would be things like pedophilia and bestiality, where consent is rather one sided. Can a child really be considered to understand eros? Can an animal either? Agape, and familial, yes. Beyond that, I honestly don't think so.)

I remember writing a rather long treatise a few years back on my thoughts on G-d creating us in G-d's image. To me, that suggest that G-d created us to create more, which we have done. In our image. Yes, G-d may inspire us, but it is we, G-d's creations that do the legwork, the sculpting, the composing, the writing, the creation of new things. (Of course, I have to giggle that the idea G-d inspired spreadsheets and tech manuals, but that is the logical conclusion I reach when I follow this thought far enough.)

I guess what this long and winding road is bringing me to is the idea condemning people because their faith doesn't coincide with what you believe is kind of silly. While I wish we could all just express love or at least respect for others even when they're being a jackass, I also realize that such an ideal is likely to remain just that for the time being. But it has to start somewhere.

So, with that, if you're reading this, know that I love you, even if I do think you're a jackass on occasion.
12th-Dec-2008 03:37 am (UTC)
*great big huggles*

Hells bells love...we're ALL a jackass from time to time. Important thing to remember is no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. Trick is to recognize those moments and correct ourselves before it gets out of hand.
12th-Dec-2008 03:41 am (UTC)
I agree with you. I'm also usually aware of when I've been a jackass:)

One of my favorite stories about my dad involves a faculty meeting he was running at Urbana University. After making a rather long winded speech to his minions and underlings, his best friend piped up with "Well, Harry, some of us un-pompous asses think a little differently about the matter."

I try to keep that in mind when I make long posts like this:)
12th-Dec-2008 04:37 am (UTC)
For the most part I agree with this post.

The one issue I have is in the first couple paragraphs. I just do not believe bad things happen to us because we "deserve" them by some kind of universal judgment.

I also have lost jobs and lovers, often that is because I was being a jackass. Often as well it is because the other person was being a jackass. And sometimes, it was just the right decision for the other party no matter how much it hurt me.
12th-Dec-2008 04:41 am (UTC)
I should probably go edit that down a bit. What I was really trying to say was something more along the lines of "I do things that have consequences. I can't blame every bad thing that happens to me on G-d, Fate, or any other universal force."

Or "Pride tends to be my downfall."

That better?:)
12th-Dec-2008 12:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

In my twenties I made my own study of comparative religion, reading the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, and an exposition of the teachings of Buddha. (Also, for some reason, Huxley's 'Brave New World'. I suppose I thought it represented the humanist view.)

At the time I decided they had three things in common: as the Bible puts it, 'God is Love', 'God is Life' and 'Know Thyself'. So I concluded that all the rest must be unnecessary frills – or in many cases excresences – devised by humankind.

Have you read 'Conversations with God' (by Neale Donald Walsh)? Makes a heap of sense to me.

12th-Dec-2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Haven't read it, but the library does have a copy that's now on my reserve list:)

I loved the Bhagvahd-Git or however you spell it. (My Sanskrit is no-existent.) In fact, it was from reading I first came across the idea of all Gods being aspects or masks that one G-d wears. Which is really an interesting thought to ponder at 16.
12th-Dec-2008 08:50 pm (UTC) - Question
Why do you spell God as G-d?
12th-Dec-2008 08:52 pm (UTC) - Re: Question
something I picked up studying Judaism. Since Hebrew has no vowels, many of the Jewish folks I hung out with left the vowel out when spelling G-d in English.

It's an affectation that's stuck with me.
12th-Dec-2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
The problem I see is that so many people stop at that step. Yes, they go to church, yes, they read their professed faith's scripture, but they don't explore it, don't try to expand their understanding, don't let it grow. It's almost like those breeds of dogs who have been manipulated to such a point they exist only to live in a purse. Or more accuratly, slapping a coat of paint on a wall and saying it's good as-is.

I LOVE how you put that and I couldn't agree more. I think a lot of people are really scared of religion for one reason or another, either that or they lack the confidence to think for themselves.

I think you'd make excellent clergy. You think very deeply and sincerely care about other.
13th-Dec-2008 06:47 am (UTC)

Thank you. It's been really recent that I've really gotten into the habit of tryong to express what I've been feeling inside. Probably due to some of the more upsetting things people post to the local newspaper...

It's really forced me to think and justify why I feel the way I do rather than just reacting.
13th-Dec-2008 03:38 am (UTC)
I have Burning Empires DLd if you want me to send it to you.
13th-Dec-2008 06:40 am (UTC)
I don't think I'd complain one bit:)
13th-Dec-2008 06:50 am (UTC)
Where should I send it? Someplace without file size limitations maybe? Does yahoo still have a file size limit?
13th-Dec-2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Very well put stuff here. I don't really have much to comment on it, but it's an interesting exploration you're making here, much of which I agree with on many levels.
14th-Dec-2008 06:36 am (UTC)
Like I was telling someone else, I think it took being confronted with stuff I don't really agrew with on a daily basis to get me off my duff and thinking again.

It's one thing hear about it on the news, and another to have people say it locally, I guess.
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