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Posts Tagged ‘truth’

I’m not sure where to start.

Obligatory: Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

Okay, with that out of the way…

This past week has been confusing, inspiring, lonely, emotional, raw and joyful. I started it with buying my first Tarot deck and today I cast and sat in my first circle. Ruminations on that to come.

I have been doing a lot of journaling, painting and reading. I read Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows and am working through Marian Green’s A Witch Alone, as well as Hafiz’s The Gift. I also picked up Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliot Friedman and so far find it informative and easy to understand.  I listened to numerous podcasts as I painted or as I wandered on my morning walks. I’ve worked with the Tarot deck. Friday I watched two documentaries that caused a kind of psychic schism, one that I’m still mulling over. Yesterday, I went to my home church group and left feeling torn, confused and sad. Today, as I said, I cast my first circle and now I feel…content. Whole. Peaceful.

So it’s been a quite a week.

What have I learned?

I have learned that I have serious reservations about Wicca as a religion, but not really any about witchcraft as a practice. I guess I’ve always had a solitary bent, and some of Wiccan structures/rites, especially traditional ones, are not for me. However, working with energy, revering nature, having a strict code of ethics, gathering knowledge of self, the earth and others, working with my inner self to ultimately help others—those are things that intrigue me. More than intrigue me, they call to me. Having a practice or a craft calls to me. It’s one reason I love yoga so much—it has so much to teach about how spirituality and personal evolution is about practice. It’s not about leaving your problems at a diety’s doorstep. It’s about taking daily action that ultimate adds up to something wonderful.

So Friday, as all of this was a blob in my mind, I watched two documentaries produced by Vanguard: Rape on the Reservation and Missionaries of Hate. The first showed stories of rape, sexual assault and battery against women on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The second showed the influence of American Evangelicals on the anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda.

The first one disturbed me, deeply, but as the second one started I knew it would be another matter. I have been struggling with the Christian label for a while, and with my association with a certain church. I knew that both were coming to an end, but as I’ve said many times—all of my friends and all of my community are within those two confines. I’ve been delaying really thinking about it and really taking action to free myself, decidedly, from those two things. The Missionaries of Hate documentary changed that when who should pop on the screen but Lou Engle. Lou Engle is an  American evangelical, prominent in the anti-abortion sector, who also runs a revival named ‘The Call’. He’s real into now-is-the-end-times and ‘family values’.

He is also someone who is highly venerated in my church. People adore this guy. And here he was, on the documentary at a rally in Uganda promoting ‘family values’. Of course, he has posted a backpedaling note on his website saying that he had no idea at the time that the anti-homosexuality bill included the death penalty for homosexuals—though he was there months after this became an international scandal, standing with key supporters of the bill and preaching about “trying to restrain an agenda that is trying to hurt families” (scroll to ~41 minutes).

And I just couldn’t take it.

And I know…I know….that’s not what all Christians believe. I know that a large majority of the Christianity community vehemently oppose people like him. And I know that the label is ‘meaningless’.

But is it?

Aren’t names powerful? Isn’t that why we chose to name our children based on the meaning of the name? And when the name begins to be weighed down with so much baggage when do you shed it? I know that some are proud to bear the title Christian, and they are people whom I love, deeply.

For me, though, that title is now a lie. My tacit association with HC is a lie. Do I love people there? Yes. Will this go over like a lead-fucking-balloon? Yes. When am I going to do it? I don’t know, yet. I need to write out specific reasons, with specific arguments. I tend to get flustered in situations like this, especially with lots of questions. I need to prepare, emotionally and spiritually, for the ramifications that this might bring. It sounds so dramatic, I know, but it really is a big, big, enormous change in my life.

So that realization, primarily, has left me feeling sunburned all over. I gave in to hermit like tendencies last week and this week seems to be headed into the same direction. I just want to write, and to journal, and to paint, and to consider. Truthfully, I’d like a SIGN. You know. One of those.

The closest to any SIGN I’ve had though are the quiet times in meditation, the peace I find on my morning walks, the insight I’ve gained since working with the Tarot. The complete calm I felt after I closed the circle today.

I don’t know what any of it is accomplishing, exactly. I’m sure in 15 years or so I’ll be able to tell you.

All I have though, is now, and now I feel…good. Still gun-shy. Still lonely. But comforted in some way, knowing that…there are things I do have. Like my husband. My cat. My books. My garden. The trees. The wind. The solitary blue heron that greets me every morning, observing the creek, way beyond his natural range. The rain that has intermittently spattered down on the hot concrete outside. It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to keep me going.

Edited: corrected the author of Who Wrote the Bible. It’s Richard Friedman, not Charles Friedman.

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As I wrote that last snippet I stood amid the refuse of a binge.  I’ll go all out and dirty for you (the food writer in me is ashamed—alas, this is a part of that disconnection): there were Oreo Cakesters, Reeses, cheddar popcorn, bean-n-cheese burritos. Not a huge binge, actually, they’ve been getting less “huge” and less frequent. But their pattern, their substance, is generally the same.

Under the refuse on my table sit these books: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Anam Cara (a book of ‘Celtic’ Spirituality), The Metamorphoses by Ovid and sits next to organic lemonade, organic Emergen-C and vegan multi-vitamins.

I realized in that moment something that…well, let’s just say the pebble just dropped in my still lake and the ripples haven’t yet begun. I am in that suspended moment of epiphany since I have never put this into words before.

I am…primarily…a disconnected person. Differentiated. Dual, but not in the ying-yang way, in the…my right and doesn’t know what my left hand is doing kind of way. I espouse values that I don’t apply. In fact, I say/want things for my self that are diametrically opposed to what I actually do.

I am American. I am a product of modern, technological, monotheistic, patriarchal, material, Western civilization.

I just offended myself by saying that…to myself. Part of me was deeply offended. How funny. But how true.

Even as I write this part of my brain/spirit/mind/whatever sighs and says, “thank God. She’s realized it. Now, time to act.” And part of me sighs and says, “Oh, Lord. Just let her get it out of her system so we don’t have to think about it.”

I can’t tell you which one is winning right now. Honestly they both sound good. The call to action, the call to change and then the call to…non-action, non-change…ultimately, nihilism, I guess. I am a creature of comfort. Of great comfort.

And in my love of great comfort (really, it must be emphasized how much I adore comfort/luxury/laziness!) is spawned on my great fear. Great, abiding, huge, yawning black hole of fear. And from that fear, shame.

Fear of: death, dying, loss, abandonment, CHANGE, damnation

And all that fear leads to shame…for only when we’re afraid of being judged, of being damned, of some ultimate consequence can we be shamed.  And when I’m shamed—I binge.

But also when I binge I am putting aside my spirit for the needs of my sickness (comprised of the fear and shame). I am directly feeding that gaping tear in my spirit/psyche. I am making it bigger, not actively healing it.

How does one become whole again? Where does it start? With what does it start?

In Christianity, it would start with me repenting and coming back to Jesus, Healer of all things. Part of me wants to do that…like an instinct.

But a larger part now wants to look, to discover, another way. Maybe it includes Jesus as the Divinity I turn to, maybe not.  I do respect Him as a healer and a truth teller.

Right now though I want to investigate…nature…I guess…as my model. That’s what draws me to panentheism (from Wikipedia: is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well).  When I was a child I felt so connected to ‘nature’, to the outdoors, to the environment and it’s causes. But as time has past, I grew up, got busy, became charismatic Christian and battled with myself and my true Spirit for years (see this post).

I have so many doubts and so many fears. And so many questions! About everything! About polytheism, panentheism, paganism, magic(k) and the properties of and theology behind, about Spirit, about nature, about skepticism and what we can and can’t know, about believing and trusting, fears of looking stupid/silly/gullible/idiotic…All of this, running in my head.

I know nothing. I am confused. I am disconnected, dual, differentiated and depending on the minute I do/do not care.

I need to go clean my house.

ETA: the first step is letting the shame out. Tonight I will tell my husband that I binged. I don’t always because I’m ashamed at my lack of control. I will also be telling him about the disconnection.

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From the notebook

This is what I wrote in my blogging notebook this morning:

@ 10:30 a.m., Einstein Brother’s

“I’m not feeling particularly inspired right now. I don’t want to forece it but I want to keep writing! I guess I don’t really know where to go at the moment. Where am I going?

I think through searching on the internet my mind has just been blown by the idea of Quaker Pagans–and the simple idea that ‘Jesus loves me/this I know/for the Bible tells me so’ and it being that simple. It can’t be that simple can it? Free from religion or dogma. Can it possibly, possibly be true? It’s a revelation to me, so simple, so unattached.

I can’t ignore who I am. I have to trust what I feel. I can’t be who other people, other institutions want me to be for convenience, for love or out of fear.

I want to divorce myself from my preconceived notions. I want knowledge. I want truth.

I believe (is this a preconceived notion–maybe, but it my gut it feels true) that there is Truth out there. Somewhere. That some things, some spirit, something is True. The essence of True. I have felt truth before—through prayer, meditation, walking outside, driving in the city. I want to search for it. And I don’t want to be constrained.

This is exciting for me. It is my step of Acceptance. This is who i am. I need to follow where this leads.

What does this require?

Time…obviously.

More quiet, more reflection, more knowledge. I wish I could tattoo on my wrist or some place visible but private: ‘Remember what you want—remember who you are—and take steps to walk it out’ or something to that effect.

Honesty, especially with my husband at this point. This is the junction where this decision is on solid ground. He needs to know the fork in the road that I have chosen. He is a good man, and I love him, and I know he will support me, but that doesn’t make me any less afraid to speak these things that have been private for so, so long. But that is marriage, that is the vow I took and I will honor it.”

That’s what I wrote. That’s all I have for the moment.

Feeling: happy, relaxed. 🙂

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You know, I really like this blog. I haven’t been able to update as much as I would like, but in the autumn life begins to slow down and become a bit more scheduled.

I love summer—how can anyone not? The freedom, the heat…(well, maybe not the heat so much…it’s too hot here)…the pool, snocones, cookouts, how daylight lingers into the evening.

Two weeks ago as I was walking to my car in the morning I felt it.

Autumn.

Just a whisp, a breath, of cool—very cool—air. For a moment I thought I imagined it but no—it came again. Sliding over my skin, promises of crisp mornings and luscious afternoons and pumpkins and hay and change and the coming death of the year.

Slowly, the shade has become cooler. The mornings are breezy, the afternoon’s dry instead of muggy and close. Autumn, my favorite season, is on its way.

One of the things that sets me apart from conventional, conservative evangelical Christianity (CCEC) is some sense of nature that I’ve always had. It sounds hokey—but I was, and am always aware of…the outside world. I’ve always been drawn outside as a storm is coming (even if I don’t know it). I feel  the seasons changing though my husband laughs and says, “Autumn? It was 105 degrees today.”

To Western, logic minded, nature-is-dead folks it sounds silly. To CCECs it’s silly and slightly dangerous. Nature is to be controlled and though they might make token statements about ‘steward’-ship, caring for the environment is all based in a Christian’s eschatology.  For most CCECs Jesus will eventually come back to restore all things, and meanwhile the world burns. That’s simplistic, of course but the gist of it.

It’s the same feeling that lead me away from the church before, that I tried to suppress during my evangelical years and that I still find unaccounted for. The evangelical voice in my head tells me that it’s silly and I give it too much weight. Sometimes that same little nattering voice tells me that it’s sinful, wrong and will lead me out of the faith and you know…on the path of hell/no relationship with Christ/God/whatever.

It sounds dramatic, but it brings up some good points about my spiritual life and life in general:

1. I let fear control waaaaaaaay too much of my life, even my thought processes

I was going to go on, but I think that summarizes it.

What am I supposed to do? Deny these feelings? Deny that I….while I believe that Jesus is a historical figure, and that his teachings are beautiful and difficult, and it makes sense to me that a Creator/Spirit would send an example of how we should live with overwhelming, sacrificial love…I’ve never felt that was all. I’ve always felt there was more.

I feel like a cat. I paw at the unfamiliar, circle and sniff it. However,  I can’t let go enough to pounce on it and sink my teeth in. I’m too afraid. Of what people will think…of what my husband will think, my family, my friends…I’m afraid of leaving my church.

I also vacillate on how much I care.  Some days it seems like nothing is more important than figuring this out and creating a place for myself. Other days I see it for what it is: foolish.

There is no box. I mean. There is, in a limited, dogmatic fashion. There is the box of CCEC beliefs. While not a box to some, it is a box to me. There is the box of I-Hate-Christians who are so blinded by their own bitterness (valid or not) that they can’t see into the deep beauty of the faith. There is the box of New-Ageism. Boxes of yoga. Boxes of our own fear.  Boxes of everything.  (Little boxes on the hillside…)

I confess: I like the box. It’s comfortable. I’m an introvert and I like crawling in with my book light, a cup of tea and an escapist novel, closing the flaps and chilling in my own little boxy world. It’s great. Comfortable. Comforting.

It’s not real, though. There’s a world outside the box. A world that is valid, that has something to say, that contains truth.

I think what I’m confirming, to myself, is that…I don’t (think) I believe there is only one way. How would that be possible? How can that be possible?

It makes me uncomfortable though. I don’t say this lightly, but I can’t deny that that is what I…feel…to be true. My feelings and instincts mean a lot to me.

I want someone to talk to. Someone—someone who questions. The only perspective I ever get is CCEC…it’s the community I’m in. And yoga, of course, but that’s different. We don’t really discuss religion and philosophy overmuch. Just in generalities.

Exhale.

It’s curious that Autumn always brings out the…discontent in me. It’s like that feeling pushes at me a little bit, whispers with the breeze: “listen to me, listen to me, listen to me; don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid; don’t be afraid.” I am afraid. But I think…I think I’ll start walking into that fear.
What’s there really to be afraid of?

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I like facts. I believe through facts you can find truth, though truth can transcend fact—what’s a fact anyway? But I digress. Another time, that one 🙂

I hate religious writing that is full of half-truth and misleading rhetoric, no matter what the faith of origin. Screaming polemics about the rising rate of crime and the coming antichrist? No, thank you.  Screes about the Church and how it’s the most GODAWFUL thing in the world? Um, whatever. This should tell you how I feel about Christopher Hitchens.

I don’t want to buy into anything and I feel like a lot of books about religion and spirituality are trying to sell me something. Everyone evangelizes something, but I don’t want religion (or non religion, for that case) sold to me. I guess, though, since it is a commodity (books, CDs, DVDs, tickets to event) it has to be sold the same way as McD’s or tennis shoes.

So how to go about getting facts? Facts and history are important. They inform our truth, otherwise we’d just believe blind lies. In a since, it isn’t important whether or not Christ actually lived…the story is so great, so true, that in the end it shouldn’t matter. But it does matter to me. I want to find out.

I think people with “faith” can be scared of facts and history. With Christians its whether or not Christ existed, Creation, biblical inerrancy. With pagans, especially Wiccans, its the idea that they (can be) “generational” from an ancient tradition of witches/goddess worshippers. Any evidence to the contrary is met with, at best, reluctance, and at worst, pure venom. And I completely understand. Whenever someone tries to present me with a contrary fact or argument to a deeply held belief I sometimes feel an almost primal anger.  These beliefs buttress who I am and how I behave. It’s beyond difficult to have to consider something else.  It means everything has to shift, in some way, to accommodate this new truth.

But it shouldn’t be that way. A true faith shouldn’t need facts to bolster it. A true faith shouldn’t rely on something that shatters at the slightest inerrancy. Likewise, though, I don’t think that faith should be built on rhetorical lies and half-truths.

So I’m starting, for now, with academic books.  It’s important to get a footing before I branch out too far. Histories and facts aren’t the path, but they can be useful lanterns.

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