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Category: religion

02/19/09 05:22 - ID#47813

My Take On Westboro

As most of you know, (e:Joshua) is a major Kerouac fan, so of course we've had a number of conversations about Kerouac, his religious journey, what he did, where he went - but most importantly to me WHY something like that is more than a series of anecdotes.

I have to admit I've been engrossed in Lonesome Traveler, especially the portion of it called Alone On A Mountaintop. In that story Jack takes a position as a Fire Watch on Desolation Peak in Washington state. This is also recreated in his novel Desolation Angels.

During the story Jack's thoughts wandered a little to his spirituality. There is an excerpt I want to share with you.

What strange sweet thoughts come to you in the mountain solitudes! --- One night I realized that when you give people understanding and encouragement a funny little meek childish look abashes their eyes, no matter what they've been doing they weren't sure it was right --- lambies all over the world.

For when you realize that God is Everything you know that you've got to love everything no matter how bad it is, in the ultimate sense it was neither good nor bad (consider the dust), it was just what was, that is, what was made to appear. --- Some kind of drama to teach something, some "despised substance of divinest show."

And I realized I didn't have to hide myself in desolation but could accept society for better or for worse, like a wife --- I saw that if it wasn't for the six senses, of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and thinking, the self of that, which is non-existent, there would be no phenomena to perceive at all, in fact no six senses or self. --- The fear of extinction is much worse than extinction (death) itself.

I probably had a similar revelation some years ago. I can't tell you how much I hate Westboro. I don't use that word a whole lot, and they haven't wronged me *personally* but I feel justified in hating them. Do they *really* know God or Jesus? I have my doubts. I've had arguments with hard core fundies before about some of their scriptural interpretation, such as God calling us to be judgmental of others.

What Jack realized, and I think many others who followed a different spiritual path will agree as well, is that the answer to hate isn't hate. After all, they make their money off of people reacting to their hate. They would love for me to knock someone's teeth out. So this is something I struggle with. Maybe the answer isn't to hate *them*, but to love gays to a much higher degree than they hate the gays. Or maybe the right answer is, as others have said, to ignore them completely and give them zero attention.

It seems like the best solutions are the ones that are the most difficult for us to execute. I just hope we can be better than them.

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Category: religion

03/11/08 09:56 - ID#43625

Answering Questions....

I'll bite. I am probably as honest about my negatives as my positives on here, and I don't mind answering some things honestly.

1. What pops into your mind when you hear the word "church?"

My childhood. Lessons in the classroom. Lots of pomp and ritual, which I enjoyed. Coffee and sweets. Singing in the choir. Playing my trumpet. Later getting paid to play at weddings and holidays.

2. Has anyone ever invited you to their church? What did you think when they asked you? Did you go? How did it feel? If you didn't go, why not?

Yes. I thought it was a pretty bold gesture, one that had to be respected and appreciated. No, I didn't go and so I can't tell you how it felt. I was pretty hungover that morning I do recall, so if I felt anything that morning it was regret.

But I do have to say that I guard the sovereignty of my relationship with God very intensely. I do not talk about it often, and I do not follow any particular doctrine. I don't even really believe in 100% of the Bible as fact rather than metaphorical teaching tools.

3. Have you ever had a sense of God or Jesus communicating with you? What was it like?

Back when I was deep in my funk, when I was, ahem, being treated, I thought about this stuff a lot, tried communicating, tried asking for help. Eventually I got desperate and asked some people for some prayers, a whole bunch of people, I thought screw it, couldn't hurt. That night I felt so freaking low. Even if I could describe it I wouldn't.

The next morning I woke up and I'm telling you, something was different. I got up, got some coffee, flipped open the news, read about the war and I felt empathy for people, something that hadn't happened for months. I realized that there is a lot in the world to give a damn about, starting with myself. It was like I was awake again.

And from then on things started happening. Two days later I got a new job. Later that month I had a girlfriend. Things have been very good, not perfect, but very good since then. I don't know whether it is coincidence, or I just snapped out of it, whether it was God communicating, or something else that is completely unknown, but it did lead to a lot of questions for me.

One answer that I got, from God or whoever, was that if you remain in isolation and do nothing you will never get any help. You make an effort first, you reach out, then you have a shot at getting what you need, and I don't see why God would be any different. You make the first step. Magic, voodoo or coincidence, I still call it a spiritual awakening, like a detox for the soul.

4. If you had one question you could ask God and knew you would get an answer, what would it be?

Things are really messed up down here, and I know you could find a way to do it, so why don't you directly intervene?

5. Would you like prayer for anything?

Just for the general well being of myself, my friends and family.
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Category: religion

01/28/08 10:25 - ID#43070

We Don't Hate You, Just Your Followers

Having a religious background is by no means a trump card in the debate over morals, but it also is not a liability or a mental defect. Of all the people I know who have been brought up in this tradition, not too many of them practice their faith anymore, yet they did not turn out to be rotten apples or people to be feared.

There are times when it is very hard for me to justify religious faith as a positive force in the world, because we see the signs all around us that it can be used as a tool for destruction. It is mystifying to me how one of the most effective methods of encouraging harmony, love and unity can also be one of the most destructive tools in our arsenal.

We are very good at creating tools of destruction and methods of segregation, but we are not very good at creating or sustaining social movements which encourage things like harmony, love, mutual respect or a sense of unity. Why does it have to be that way? Not to go all original sin on you, but I think it's because we are not built that way. We prove it all the time, religion or no religion.

So I think you fight bad ideas with good ideas. Hate with tolerance. Disrespect with respect. Follow the example of the best people we have known. Here, we fight the radical religious right with a better vision, provided by people motivated by justice, not by power. (e:Drew) and (e:Janelle) are very good examples of local people who seem to live this way.

If a child is curious and wants to learn more, I see no problem with satisfying her curiosity. I am by means no expert, but in my opinion Tony and Meg are doing this in a responsible way. Remember, she will eventually make her own mind about this stuff just like we did. It will either be very important to her, not very important to her, or used as a springboard for exploration.

Stifling the human mind, or putting a lock on it is probably the greatest sin I can think we can commit against each other. Let's not ever allow that to happen here, whether we are religious or not.
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Category: religion

01/28/06 01:41 - ID#23621

X person is so much smarter than Y!

My comment on (e:ejtower)'s latest post - by the way dude your new user pic is far superior to the earlier one.

Since people are commenting for me more than EJ, sadly, I will offer a second comment.

It was not my argument that achievements have been made FOR God, on God's behalf, or because of God. In no way did I ever imply it, either. The point was, Religion is not a hindrance to advancing as a people scientifically, intellectually, or otherwise. To state otherwise is patently false and ignores the totality of human existence.

(duhjay) - your "commentary" here is only a poorly veiled attempt at Christian bashing. You are the guy who defended media reports of the Indian caste system by saying "Well well well, the Christians are only helping because they want to convert people!" Very poor. Go back to sleep.

About war - I think simply saying "Well wars between people of different religion have been waged, therefore it's God's fault" is a horribly short sighted way of looking at things. It has always been, even up until today, about racial superiority and the acquisition of land and other resources. Not to mention, numerous wars (I would argue, the largest and deadliest wars of this centry as well) were/are waged with Religion having nothing to do with it. I'm not saying Religion is a non-factor - but instead saying it is only one component of a far more sinister and complex problem. Would any of you actually put forth the notion that if there were no Religion there would be no war? We do evil to each other based on every single possible way of dividing ourselves.

Saying God believers are fools, or using shaming, harassing, or humiliating language always makes me sad. Why? That is the language of Falwell. That is the language of Robertson. That is the language of the Imams and every other son of a bitch who thinks they are better than someone else for X, Y, or Z reason. It is exactly the same destructive force that has left us in ruin over and over again. Fundie atheists are no better than fundie religious types. My atheist father taught me this. The cycle continues.

I guess I'm the only person confident enough in my beliefs to not have to do that. Saying "I believe in God" has never hindered me in any way, and it never will, and there isn't an argument or any evidence to make it true. All anyone can do to me is a pathetic attempt to humiliate me, which only reveals the person as ignorant, hateful, and prejudiced.

There isn't anyone alive who can say with any matter of truth or authority God is real or not. That is a truly eye-rolling thing to consider. We shouldn't make the mistake of thinking we know more than we do - whether it is about God, about whether or not my wife is cheating on me, or whether the Yankees are going to win the World Series again. What are my lucky lottery numbers? You get the point. None of us will know for sure until we pass, and everyone would be a lot better of if it was left at that.

Anyway, that's about all I have to say on the topic of God, at least on estrip.
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