Saturday, July 30, 2005

Come On

As promised, here is the excerpt from The Case for Faith that I mentioned. In the beginning of the book, the author, Lee Strobel, interviews the late Charles Templeton, a man who once preached with Billy Graham but eventually came to reject Christianity and embrace agnosticism.

"Was there one thing in particular that caused you to lose your faith in God?" I asked at the outset.

He thought for a moment. "It was a photograph in Life magazine," he said finally.

"Really?" I said. "A photograph? How so?"

He narrowed his eyes a bit and looked off to the side, as if he were viewing the photo afresh and reliving the moment. "It was a picture of a black woman in Northern Africa," he explained. "They were experiencing a devastating drought. And she was holding her dead baby in her arms and looking up to heaven with the most forlorn expression. I looked at it and I thought, 'Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?'"

As he emphasized the word rain, his bushy gray eyebrows shot up and his arms gestured toward heaven as if beckoning for a response.

"How could a loving God
do this to that woman?" he implored as he got more animated, moving to the edge of his chair. "Who runs the rain? I don't; you don't. He does - or that's what I thought. But when I saw that photograph, I immediately knew it is not possible for this to happen and for there to be a loving God. There was no way. Who else but a fiend could destroy a baby and virtually kill its mother with agony - when all that was needed was rain?"


But Templeton wasn't done. "My mind then went to the whole concept of hell. My goodness," he said, his voice infused with astonishment, "I couldn't hold someone's hand to a fire for a moment. Not an instant! How could a loving God, just because you don't obey him and do what he wants, torture you forever - not allowing you to die, but to continue in that pain for eternity? There is no criminal who would do this (14-15)!"

Friday, July 29, 2005

All Things New

I should take these religion tests every month. Every time I take them, I get a different result! I have been a reformed Jew and a liberal Protestant (remember?). This week I'm a liberal Quaker. It's interesting to note the runners up, though. Apparently I'm more of a Neo-Pagan than a Christian.

What's Your Spiritual Type?

Old-fashioned Seeker -- Happy with my religion but searching for the right expression of it

(That can't be right.)

What's Your Faith? Belief-O-Matic

1. Liberal Quakers (100%)
2. Unitarian Universalism (99%)
3. Reform Judaism (98%)
4. Neo-Pagan (92%)
5. Bahá'í Faith (90%)
6. New Age (88%)
7. Sikhism (86%)
8. Mahayana Buddhism (84%)
9. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (84%)
10. Jainism (80%)
11. Orthodox Judaism (78%)
12. Orthodox Quaker (76%)
13. Theravada Buddhism (73%)
14. New Thought (72%)
15. Hinduism (71%)
16. Islam (70%)
17. Scientology (63%)
18. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (52%)
19. Taoism (52%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (52%)
21. Secular Humanism (51%)
22. Seventh Day Adventist (49%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (44%)
24. Roman Catholic (44%)
25. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (42%)
26. Nontheist (32%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (32%)

• Belief in Deity
Diverse beliefs, from belief in a personal God as an incorporeal spirit to questioning belief in a personal God.

• Incarnations
Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Most believe we are all sons and daughters of God, with the main focus on experiencing and listening to God, the Light within, accessible to all.

• Origin of Universe and Life
Emphasis is placed on spiritual truths as revealed to each individual. Many believe that God created/controls all events/processes that modern scientists are uncovering about origins. Many believe in scientific accounts alone or don't profess to know.

• After Death
Few liberal Quakers believe in direct reward and punishment, heaven and hell, or second coming of Christ. The primary focus is nondogmatic: God is love, love is eternal, and our actions in life should reflect love for all of humanity.

• Why Evil?
Beliefs vary, as the focus is not on why, but how to eliminate wrongs, especially violence. Many believe that violence against another human is violence against God. Many Quakers believe that lack of awareness of God's divine Light within all may result in wrongdoing. Many believe that evil is simply an unfortunate part of human nature that we all must work to eliminate.

• Salvation
Beliefs are diverse, as dogma is de-emphasized. Most believe that all will be saved because God is good and forgiving, and the divine Light of God is available to all. Good works, especially social work and peace efforts, are viewed as integral to the salvation of humanity, regardless of belief or nonbelief in an afterlife.

• Undeserving Suffering
Liberal Quakers do not believe that Satan causes suffering. Some believe suffering is part of God's plan, will, or design, even if we don't immediately understand it. Some don't believe in any spiritual reasons for suffering. Quakers focus on reducing human suffering, especially that which is caused by social injustice or violence.

• Contemporary Issues
Views vary, some maintaining that abortion violates Quaker commitment to nonviolence, but some view the right to choose abortion as an aspect of equal rights for women and/or as a personal matter between the woman and God. The American Friends Service Committee (an independent Quaker organization with participants of many faiths, which provides international programs for economic and social justice, peace, humanitarian aid) supports the woman’s right to choose abortion according to her own conscience.

Ooh! My Soul

Last night I discovered yet another kindred spirit. They just keep popping up everywhere.

Fellow #5 and I got into a conversation in a noisy, crowded bar about God. She asked about my family situation, I told her that my world is still basically falling apart, and she asked if I'm religious. I said, "I'm f---ed up religious," in my typically eloquent fashion, and we started talking about being angry at God and the whole idea of a God who cares about what goes on down here not making sense to us. Just then, the entertainer who was singing and playing guitar performed his rendition of my new theme song, R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion. I swear he did.

Late last night, I spoke to Mentor. He IMed me to ask my opinion on some church-ey stuff. Why he still does is beyond me. I kept reminding him that I'm not the person to ask but he said I was the perfect person to ask. He wanted to know my responses and thoughts on things, so I had to answer as the old me, the eighteen-year-old one who was once in his class explaining to the room why women can and should be pastors. He asked me to describe my ideal church so I tried to remember what I used to look for. It actually filled me with a touch (a touch) of wistful longing. When I was done describing it, he said that it was wonderful and asked, "What if you found a church like that?" I stiffened and replied, "I'm not looking for those things anymore."

Naturally that didn't end the discussion, only opened it up to include the why's and how's of my current experience. He broke out into the free will argument (my favorite) but that is no longer compelling for me. Then he said that he understood how horrible my father's accident was, but... I interrupted and let him know that it is no longer about that. It's not.

Anyway, we are meeting for coffee next week, so this discussion will resume. Oddly enough, next week is full of plans with people who are concerned about my soul. I appreciate the concern but I don't think anyone can help me. Besides, if help is defined by getting me back into the whole church deal, then I'm not sure I want to be helped.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Am Not Alone

What I love most about Dena is how she says exactly what's on her mind. Read this. Go on, read it. It has to do with what I've been blogging about.

Take My Hand

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Happy Half-Nekkid Thursday, folks :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Don't Think Twice, It's Alright

I was talking to a homeless man this morning; let's call him Bobby. (I don't think it would be nice to call him Homeless Man in my typical nickname fashion.) Bobby had a dog, as well as a wife who appeared a few minutes into our conversation. He told me his grim tale: how he worked as a welder for 23 years but has been sitting on that sidewalk for the past eight. He is desperately trying to get Social Security, welfare, or whatever he can. He has cancer, and swears that he doesn't drink or do drugs. After all these years, a well-to-do passerby has finally offered to use her legal expertise to help him out.

Now, mind you, I took all this at face value. This is what he told me and I believed him. I have no way of knowing whether or not it is true. But, it could be. It certainly could be. And that is frightening.

This is what causes me to run my mouth about priorities. Why gay marriage is so evil that the religious right must focus all their time and energy on preventing its legalization is beyond me. Let people go hungry, that's no biggie, but God forbid Jack benefits from Joe's insurance. That's what will really cause God to wreak His vengeance upon us as a nation. *Slaps head* Oh, it makes me sick. I can name several issues that are, in my opinion, much more significant, and if there is a loving God who cares about what's going on down here, He might care about them too. Bobby being hungry is one of them.

Yeah, yeah, I'll get off the soapbox now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Don't Say You Love Me

Last night Fellow Seeker and I had another one of our Heresy at Starbucks episodes. We sat there, he with his hot chocolate and me with my frappuccino, discussing our current spiritual state. I brought up the fact that he and I seem to have accepted the possibility of going to hell, and he immediately agreed. You see, in the religious tradition that we have come from, you will most likely go to hell for leading the lives we lead. We don't go to church, pray, or read the Bible regularly, we have so many doubts about Christianity, we drink occasionally, he's gay... I mean, we're just asking for it. He reminded me of how his grandmother feels about us in order to support this argument.

It seems like we have come to terms with this. F.S. said, "At least we tried." A pretty simple conclusion, I know, but I completely understand what he meant. We have tried and tried and tried to figure it out, but we keep coming up empty. Can it really be our fault, then? I told him that now that I have finally detached and am looking at Christianity objectively, so much of it seems to me to be people scrambling for explanations.

I never thought that I would be "okay" with going to hell. Part of me doesn't believe that it exists because I don't really believe that God (who supposedly loves us) would send people there. Part of me still believes it exists and, in the back of my mind, considers the possibility that I will go there if I don't clean up my act, so to speak. A while ago, F.S. said something really profound to me. He asked, "How does God have the audacity to send people to hell when He knows how hard it is to be human?"

I also spoke to F.S. about my recent feelings on God's love. I don't believe God loves us the way that people say He does. I really don't. This technically goes hand in hand with what I wrote about in my last post, about how He allows suffering. It doesn't make sense to me. F.S. is constantly on the same page with me. The second those words left my mouth, his facial expressions concurred. He nodded and nodded, and when I said "I don't think God really loves us that much..." he shook his head as if to say, "He doesn't," indicating that I just caught on to what he already knew.

Now, before Future Priest flips out on me, I am not saying that God doesn't love me, or you, or humanity in general. I am only saying that it appears that way. Certainly feels that way too. Charles Templeton talked about this when Lee Strobel interviewed him for The Case for Faith. I will quote from it later when I have the book in front of me.

Monday, July 25, 2005

One More Try

Being angry at God - Mentor once told me that this is permissible. At the time, I was in denial. I swore that I wasn't angry at God. Maybe I was still clinging to the idea that I wasn't allowed to be. But in hindsight, I see that I have been angry at God for a long time.


I just finished reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. At one point in the book, a character writes a letter to God. He accuses God of having abandoned people (specifically, young girls), and he plainly states, "You forgot, Lord. You forgot how and when to be God (181)."

That is why I'm mad at God. I got mad at Him when I saw a movie about the Holocaust on T.V. the other day. I got mad at him last week when I heard someone speak about the Rwandan genocide trials. Yes, I know that people did those things and not God, but as I told Future Priest yesterday, if you were watching a violent crime being committed and you had all the power in the world to stop it but didn't, could you honestly tell me that you loved the victim? I would think you were a hateful person with no concern for anyone but yourself. F.P. brought up the issue of free will, but honestly, I think that the free will argument is just a nice way to say that God's hands are tied on the issue, and how can an omnipotent Being's hands be tied?

Talking to F.P. did make me feel a lot better. I didn't expect it to, not because he isn't a good friend and spiritual person (he is), but because I am so cynical. He urged me to start praying again. I said that I was angry at God and he said to tell Him that. So I did. Last night, I prayed for a long time, just letting everything spill out right in God's face. Surprisingly, it was less angry than it had been in my mind. But it was still very honest and raw, and there were a lot of tears involved. I ended by saying, "I don't know how to forgive You."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hey Hey, My My

Your Blogging Type is Zany and Charming
You're a popular blogger with a flair for getting attention.
But you're not all fluff - in fact, you're far from it.
Your blog is full of interesting ideas and fun finds.
You're a fascinating person, and it shows through on your blog.

We Didn't Start The Fire

I went to a drag show on Friday night. Fellow Seeker has been begging me to go with him for as long as I have known him, and I finally gave in. So there we were - F.S., Skeptic, Boyfriend and me - at 2:00 a.m. in a gay club. It was Lesbian Night, so while there were straight people and gay men, it was mostly lesbians. It was like the Sodom and Gomorrah of the 21st century.

The show was very entertaining and we had a lot of fun. As I traveled home, I thought about the experience in terms of Christianity and everything that I have been taught about homosexuality. After thinking it over, I can't help but wonder: What is the big deal? What is the big deal if a man wants to have sex with a man? What is the big deal if two consenting adults want to have sex although they're not married? Why does God care about our sex lives? I can see why God would care if we lie or cheat or steal or murder, because those actions harm other people. But what is the big deal with the personal stuff? For example, I compared the gay club to Sodom and Gomorrah because I have always been taught that homosexuality was the reason for the demise of those cities. So, do the people I saw on Friday night deserve to be devoured by fire? By the God who arguably created them that way?

I spoke to F.S. on the phone today and he was telling me that he has come to the realization that the whole Hate-The-Sin-Love-The-Sinner thing is a bunch of B.S. He doesn't believe that people who profess to love sinners in spite of their sins really do. I added that it is worse for gay people, because it is not a sin like getting drunk on the weekend or something. It is not just an action, it is who they are. How do you hate who they are without hating them?

I also spoke to Sister today about prayer. I was asking her if she prays, how often, and why. Sister is quite an interesting character. I have been living with her for nineteen years and I still don't completely understand her. For example, you will never hear her mention God. Never. She doesn't go to church or read the Bible. But the second I break out into my blasphemous questioning, she gets angry at me. She told me today that she prays twice a day. I asked her why and she said, "You have to." I pressed her to explain further, and she said that she has been doing it since she was young. But I doubt that it is only a habit and nothing more, otherwise she wouldn't have said that she has to.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

From Me To You

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Joining in for Half-Nekkid Thursday. Hee hee hee. Andi is a bad influence on me.

Don't Speak

Mother and I were listening to R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion in the car this morning. I commented on what a great song it is, and she agreed but added, "But the music video is pretty bad." She didn't mean bad as in not of good quality, she meant bad as in it goes with the theme of the song. I replied, "Well, that's how a lot of people feel." She said, "Yeah, but it should be about man-made religion and not about God." I asked "What's the difference?" She did a pretty good job of suppressing the look of horror on her face and calmly answered, "There's a difference." I didn't press the issue.

I am trying not to push my family too far. My parents already think that I have fallen from grace but I think they've accepted that it is not a top priority right now, and don't worry much about it. I could be wrong, but that's what I think. I used to get into heated debates with Mother, and I didn't just let things go out of respect for what she believes. Wrong? Maybe. I don't do that anymore. I don't want to upset her or make her worry about my soul, so I just throw in a few key points before shutting up. Another example of this was when Mother and I were visiting my godparents. Godmother was talking about a lesbian couple who had raised a daughter, and they allegedly pushed her into becoming a lesbian by influencing her to choose a girlfriend as an adolescent. Firstly, I don't know how true that is because I wasn't there... she could have just been a lesbian. Secondly, Godmother said that the girl probably thought homosexuality was normal because she was raised with it. I interjected, "But what about all the gay people who were raised by straight parents?" She thought about it and said, "You're right. I don't know." And I let it go. I love Godmother dearly and I am not here to bust through the logic of others. That's not the point of discourse. To me, the point is to gain a better understanding of things. But I have to wonder, am I (or they) gaining a better understanding when I stifle myself out of respect? It limits the conversation quite a bit.

Sometimes I feel like Hickey in The Iceman Cometh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

That Means A Lot

I have just been looking over my old entries and a couple of them - particulary the May ones in which I discuss prayer - have got me thinking.

You know, I stopped praying. I can't remember exactly when but I stopped altogether. The other day I e-mailed the Traveler, who is engaged in a rigorous training program for her new career, and sympathetically told her that my prayers are with her. She replied, "Oh wait, so you're back to praying?" I was quite amused by this, and jokingly replied that her comment hurt me even though it was completely justified. I posed the question, "It's an expression, is it not?" She wrote back to thank me for my "prayers."

I remember that about a year ago when I asked Mentor to pray for me about something, his response was that it was funny that I all of a sudden believed in God when I needed something. I was terribly hurt by that comment, and when I reminded him that he knew very well that I believed in God and was only having problems with my spirituality, he said that it had been a joke and that he was sorry if it was an insensitive one. I wonder if he was right, though. Obviously prayer is about using God, no one can convince me differently. The whole religious experience is about using God. Using Him to get to heaven, or to have a nice spiritual experience, or to find fulfillment, or whatever.

I no longer pray for my father to get better. I no longer pray for safety or against apocalyptic dreams. I no longer pray for the people in my life even though I love them with all my heart. I don't see the point because I no longer believe my prayers will be answered. And if you know me at all, you will realize the weight of this, how unbelievably significant it is that I am not praying. And how sad it is.

A Beautiful Friendship

Buon giorno readers. I am in a good mood for a change so I will B.S. and tell some fun stories and actually post something that is not depressing :)

Things are going great with New Boyfriend. He gets along well with Fellow Seeker. The other day, the three of us hung out for a while, and it was so much fun. Fellow Seeker is incredibly entertaining - he talks a lot (in a good way!) and he makes us laugh so much. He is also very inquisitive, which is good payback for New Boyfriend because he is always asking me questions. N.B. is from India so F.S. asked him a lot of questions about it. He asked, "Is it true that if a cow wanders into traffic, everyone just stops because cows are sacred?" N.B. replied, "Well, yes, cows are sacred, but that's not why everyone stops. Everyone stops because there's a gigantic cow in the middle of traffic." :) N.B. said that F.S. and I probably know more about Hinduism than he does, though I highly doubt it. As I have stated, he is not religious, but he doesn't mind my fanatical obsession with spirituality. Last night we walked past a Baptist church and he noticed me eyeing it and asked if I was scouting out a future exploration. I'm glad that he's willing to go to the Hindu temple with me also, because I am nervous in houses of worship where I don't know the customs.

That night, F.S. told N.B. the story of how we first met. It's a quaint little story and I don't think I've ever mentioned it here. Over a year ago, I think it was in April... I had just met Devout, and we were sitting on the steps in a park, just talking. I met her because of our common love of literature, but ironically enough, after we began talking we realized that we both attended the same Christian college for a time. Anyway, we were sitting there when F.S. showed up. He went to the same college and was friends with Devout. She introduced us and they began talking as I sat and listened. When F.S. tells the story, he says that he was trying to determine what type of Christian I was - conservative or otherwise. He talked to Devout about something he had done during a recent drinking escapade, and I chimed in, "Oh, when I'm drunk, I like to lead sing-alongs." His eyes lit up with excitement as he realized that not only was I a liberal Christian, but a fairly bad one at that. A kindred spirit :) He was carrying with him a colossal book of Plato and at one point he asked me if I had ever read Plato. I opened my purse and pulled out The Dialogues of Plato, which I just happened to be reading at the time. It was so bizarre. The rest is history. Yesterday N.B. and I were talking and he asked if F.S. and I ever fight. I thought about it and said no, we have never fought. Not once. Then I realized how amazing that is. F.S. is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met, and I am so blessed to have him in my life. We just get along so well. He likes to say that if I were a man, he would date me. Funny, funny guy :)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

No Remorse

Fellow Seeker went to a Unitarian church this morning. I wasn't able to go with him, but I made him call me as soon as the service finished to give me a full report. He told me yesterday that he was looking forward to going because it's not a Christian church. I said, "Goodness, I feel the same way! I have such a distaste for those lately, and I don't know why." He said that at the same time, the Unitarian church has a somewhat Christian foundation, which is true. Today he reported that they had a cross there, but there was no mention made of Jesus. There were no Bibles, either. The lyrics to the hymns were all about universal principles such as love and friendship. The pastor said that Eve was the first secular humanist because she wanted knowledge, and despite the fact that people say that secular humanism will destroy this country, it is really our only hope because it emphasizes human responsibility. Interesting stuff. I want to go with him next time. I told him, "This sounds like our church!"

I was having brunch with Mother today, and I mentioned a Bible verse that she quotes a lot: 1 Timothy 4:2, which talks about people "whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." I said, "You know that verse about consciences being seared? I feel like that has happened to me a little." Before I got a chance to elaborate on why, she said, "Yeah, completely." I raised my eyebrows but ignored it and went on to use a specific example. I have always been the type of person to feel very guilty about things and avoid confrontation. Recently, however, I spoke up to someone who did something to hurt me, and I feel that my conscience has been altered because I don't regret it. Normally I would worry about hurting the person and ignore my own feelings, but I am not like that as much anymore (obviously I still care about people's feelings, just no longer place them over my own all the time). Mother said, "Well, of course, you got fed up with it." Then I asked, "What did you mean when you agreed about my conscience? About religion?" She said, "Yeah, about everything. It's like everything that you once believed in... you don't care about it anymore."

Friday, July 15, 2005

In Joy and Sorrow

Last night New Boyfriend met Fellow Seeker, Skeptic, Veteran Seeker, and company. It was great :) Everyone got along swimmingly, and F.S. said to me while we were alone, "He's so cool!" It is quite hard to get F.S.'s approval on a guy because he thinks no one is good enough for me. (He and Skeptic detested Ex.) It was so nice and made me so happy.

Now, the rest of this entry is going to be dark. I have been thinking dark thoughts lately and want to sort them out, so here I go.

I have been thinking a lot about joy and sorrow. Particularly in my own life. I think it's horribly depressing that we can never truly be happy in life. My Christian upbringing tells me that this is because we are sinful and separated from God and all that. My life experience tells me that this is because we don't live in a perfect world, and even if other people don't hurt you, circumstances will. There is no way around it. I think that this is why so many people need to believe in an afterlife. How could this be all there is? Ever reaching out for fulfillment while it eludes us?

I rage against God or the sky or whatever's out there like a child throwing a tantrum. It's not fair! No matter how hard I try, I will never truly be happy. Something will come along and take it away from me.

That's why I have a problem with all those religious demands - don't drink, don't curse, don't have sex - because what if this life is all there is? Shouldn't you try to get as much happiness as possible? I'm not saying to let things rule your life, or become addicted, or whatever. I just think about what it's like to be seriously into church and denying yourself everything under the sun except prayer, and... I don't know. Isn't that a waste if what you think happens when you die really doesn't?

Monday, July 04, 2005


Yesterday I spent the day with Fellow Seeker. We had lunch and then saw Skeptic for a while. Afterwards, we planned to go to church but wound up going to our bar instead because, as we see it, going to a bar is more relaxing than going to church. A very close friend of mine, the Traveler, called me while we were there. When I told her where I was, she laughed and said, "Every time I call you, you're in a bar. Is there something you want to tell me?" I said, "Hey, I have a lot on my mind!" In reality, we only had one drink with F.S.'s coworker. We discussed politics, religion, the suspension of disbelief in literature, and tornadoes. F.S. has a habit of saying "Shame the devil" and when he did, his co-worker told us about the Tom Waits quote, "There ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk." So now when he says "Shame the devil" I correct him and say, "Shame the drunken God." Yet I get offended when someone says I'm going to hell. I have problems.

Mother always wants me to be careful what I say and how I joke because it could be considered blasphemy. I know I should have more respect. I don't because:

a) I'm not positive about the specifics, so how do I have ultimate respect for something / Someone I don't understand at all? I wish this deity would help me out a bit. You see me struggling!

b) As I've said in previous posts, I'm on my way to becoming the opposite of how I used to be. Skeptic told me yesterday, "Yeah, it's inevitable that when you go through certain things, you become a little hardened." I definitely see that and other people are starting to see it as well. I don't want to let it get too far, but I can't say that I'm very interested in putting the brakes on, either. I think I cared about things too much before, and I was way too nice. It came back to haunt me. I don't want to be like that anymore.

Mother has said to me that my generation is so disrespectful compared to hers (and she is not an old mother by any means). I think that she's right. Not to make a generalization or anything - of course it's not true for everyone - but I think it's worth thinking about. Maybe our generation is fed up with double-talk, hypocrisy, and being lied to, and doesn't feel compelled to show respect. I think that the older generations felt that it was a duty of theirs to show it, whether they really felt it or not. I'm not so sure about us.

Another thing that I have been worrying about is how social conditioning affects spirituality. For example, F.S. said yesterday that you can't have a democracy combined with religion. Religion tells you all the things you can and cannot do, while a democracy is supposed to be about freedom. He was saying this while we talked about the government not letting gays marry and how religion is the strong force behind this. Now, I'm not going to say that my generation is like this (because I have no proof of that), but I will say that I personally have been wondering why I should have to refrain from doing certain things just because the Bible says to. I wonder why I should be told what to do at all. I'm willing to accept "Don't kill" because I wouldn't want to anyway, but when it comes to things I want to do, I resent commands. I'm sure part of this stems from being raised in America, land of the free, at the particular time in which I am living. People in other countries, or in previous time periods, may have / have had an easier time obeying commands because of their social conditioning. So whenever I have a problem with religion, is it because there is a flaw in religion, or is my problem only relative? Shouldn't religion be applicable to everyone, everywhere, if it is true? But how could it be? The whole concept of eternal truth is really starting to not make sense to me. Things change, people change, the world changes. How could anything be eternally true for us all?

Or maybe I am just a prideful, disrespectful, disobedient person. It's possible. My issue is, I will be obedient if there is logic to the command. If someone gives me a good reason why I should listen to them, I will. I don't have a chronic case of disobedience. However, there are many things in the Bible and in religion that are not explained, or are explained poorly, and I have a hard time doing things just because "the Bible says so." No one has proven to me that the Bible is God's Word, and I will only live once. What if I get to my death bed regretting that I lived a somewhat ascetic life because I thought something was true and wasn't? If I did it out of fear of retribution alone? I was listening to that Smile Empty Soul song, "Silhouettes," in the car the other day, and it completely speaks to how being brought up with religion ingrained in us can limit us:

Silhouettes above the cradle hold me down
They won't let me go the wrong way
My mother taught me all the fables, told me how
In the end all the sinners have to pay

But...I don't wanna live like my mother
I don't wanna let fear rule my life
And I don't wanna live like my father
I don't wanna give up before I die

When I have kids
I won't put any chains on their wrists, I won't
I'll tell them this
There's nothing in this world that you can't be if you want it enough

Friday, July 01, 2005

Blank Sheet of Paper

I just finished watching my new favorite show, 30 Days. For those of you who haven't seen it, it was created by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who did Super Size Me. He conducts experiments for thirty days, and they are fascinating. So far I have seen one in which he and his fiancee try to survive on minimum wage for a month, as well as the one I just watched about a Christian guy from West Virginia who lives with a Muslim family in a predominantly Muslim community for a month. It was fairly predictable: the guy goes in with stereotypical expectations but realizes that he was wrong about certain things. But it was still very good to watch. I think it's going to be shown again a couple of times this week, and you should try to catch it if you can.

I got my Killing the Buddha in the mail and am just loving it. Almost done and will be rereading it, probably right away, so that I can highlight the best parts. No temple today because I am home sick. I called in sick because I had a legitimate reason - woke up this morning with bad stomach pains - but I am fast approaching burn-out. Every day after work I have something to do or attend or work on. I don't get home until night, and I don't get to rest very much on weekends. Maybe over the July 4th weekend I will hide in my room and work on my memoirs.

Yes, I am writing my memoirs, and I am aware of how strange it is to be doing that at 21 years old. It just sort of happened. During my last trip, I wrote a few pages about the night of Father's accident. I really only did that for the sake of doing it; it was such a vivid night and I thought I should capture that before I forget how it felt (as if I ever will). After I did that, I started writing short accounts of other things. I haven't even brought up spirituality in them yet. That will be huge.

By the way, isn't this blog a cyber-memoir? So maybe it's not such a strange idea after all.