Apr 21, 2014

Against my initial intention, I'll go random. Again.

I thought my new approach to this particular blog would be chronological, relating the journey I've been on for the last few years in regards especially to matters of faith. Instead, I find myself wanting to post random things, thoughts, issues, making this more a "situational" blogging. So be it, I guess.

One situation I want to blog about is something that's been happening to a friend of mine in the last few weeks. My friend, I'll call him A, and his family, used to go to the same church I used to go to, which is also the same place where we met friend B and his family. We all lived in the same town up until recently. In the past year or so, A moved to another city here in the US and B moved abroad, quite far. In the last few years A has become an atheist (hence the move away from the Bible belt) and B has become a missionary (hence the move abroad)
Previous to their move and even when attending the same church, the friendship between A and B was not particularly deep. Acquaintances would describe their relationship better, and they didn't have any contact in the last few years they lived in the same town.
Let's get to these last weeks. B's wife has started messaging A through her husband's facebook account (A has B among his fb friends, but not B's wife) A doesn't recall ever having a conversation with B's wife (I'll call her BW from now on, if need be) in real life, but she started messaging him practically on a daily basis, and telling him that God loves him, that he shouldn't harden his heart to God and stuff like that. Constantly messaging him about such stuff. A has told her his position, he's even been willing to have a conversation, but BW is not into conversation as much as into repeating over and over how much God loves him and so forth, which drove A to say more than once, "Stop messaging me". Her response? "I can't. God told me to reach out to you and put on my heart to pray for you and your family". First, I'd like to say I'm very thankful that God decided to put him on her heart and not me.. But on a more serious note, I find all this quite disturbing, besides rude and disrespectful. It just blows my mind to think that she really believes this could have a positive effect on him. Doesn't she realize how counterproductive it is to be so insistent?
I mentioned this situation to someone, saying, "Does this seem normal to you?" "No, it's not normal. She feels led by God". That stumped me. I had the clear impression his response implied she had some kind of justification.
Let's talk about it.
First of all, I previously said BW was insistent. That's an understatement. It'd be more correct to define it stalking. If her messages had any other content it would be considered stalking. But since it's religious, and more particularly christian, it's considered, what? a divine calling, therefore ok? I have the feeling that if it was a Muslim bombarding a Christian with messages about Allah, the approach would have been quite different, and it most certainly would have not been justified, quite the contrary; it probably would have been used to demonstrate how Muslims are out to destabilize America or something to that effect, by trying to convert everybody to Islam.
Then, let's analyze a bit this "feeling led by God/God told me" issue. This particular thing makes me think of a couple of things. One is, how do we distinguish between God speaking to someone and just plain hearing voices. We do have professionals who medicate or institutionalize people because they are delusional and hear voices. So, why and how do we make a distinction between those and those who claim God spoke to them. The other thing is the content of God's speaking. You presume that if God spoke to you you should just obey and do it. So, since God (by christian definition) is sovereign and his ways are not ours, he could ask you anything. I have to wonder, therefore, if God asked BW to come back to the States and kill A, would she do it? Or if God asked her to kill her children, would she do it?
It's scary to think that there are people who would actually do it, or at the very least consider it (I know for a fact that some people say they *would*) But there are some people who say they wouldn't because they say God would never ask such thing. Yeah, that same God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever who ordered the killing of practically everything under the sun at some point or another, and for whatever reason (including a guy who happened to touch the ark of the covenant to prevent it from tipping over) For some people is unthinkable that God would ask to go kill someone and they'll jump hoops to justify when the Bible explicitly says of God actually doing such things. Why? why do they dismiss those things they'd consider facts recorded in the Bible? Because their own moral compass prevents them from doing such immoral things.

I'll close with something that I've seen in my life. One of the reasons I believed in God was that I had this idea of a benevolent God that was present and cared about us. That was one of the reasons that drew me close to him. The funny thing is that it's also one of the reasons that made me walk away from him. I realized that when I was thinking of god as a benevolent being, I was actually applying my ideas of what is good to him. I picked and chose what I wanted to believe about him, justifying, rationalizing, and doing a lot of mental gymnastics to dismiss all those Bible verses that were pretty obviously going against what I thought god and good should be. When I realized that, I realized that I basically was using my already in place morals to define and choose what is good and what not. God was just falling into place according to my beliefs. In essence my morals superseded god's. And I also realized that I was not the only one doing that. It seems to me that there are as many flavors of god and Christianity as there are heads in this world. Consider, for example, the over 40,000 christian denominations.
For a religion that claims to have an absolute truth, there sure are a ton of differing truths in it!

Apr 8, 2014

This little blog of mine.

I see many blogs that have a lot of success because they are focused on basically very practical things that ultimately we all are either using or doing. I think most of them are awesome and informative. Some are written by friends of mine and share lots of fun ideas that go from recipes to gardening, to art, and so forth.
I wish I were that creative. I feel I'd have a positive impact on people and would share something of some usefulness and value. But I'm not that person. I'm not hands-on, I'm not creative, I am not a great cook, and I don't have brilliant, innovative ideas on how to raise kids.
What I like and I end up writing about is usually "head" stuff. My head stuff. Mind over matter, if you will. I write about how I live my daily experiences, what I think about stuff, and how I process things.

So, I see this particular blog going in the direction of delving into the slow and fundamental changes I've been through in the last 5-8 years. It's gonna be a way to explore once again my beliefs (or lack thereof), what has changed and why, expose this new me like I haven't done before (a sort of coming out, if you will), and put into words what has been so far mostly a formless conglomerate of thoughts and emotions.

Welcome to my new, but just as crazy as before, world. Maybe?

Mar 31, 2014

My peeps.

I am fascinated by people, all sorts of people.
I have friends who are passionate about nature, food, art, gardening, knitting, sewing..
Me? I am fascinated by people.

When I was a young teenager I was quite reserved. I was not necessarily shy, but I was not outgoing, and would feel quite uncomfortable and embarrassed approaching strangers, for any reason. One day, when I was fourteen or fifteen, a young lady we didn't know approached my mom in a public place, only to tell her how much she liked her haircut. It's not like that was a big deal, I know that, but at the time it was a big deal to me. I realized I wanted to be that girl. I realized it was beautiful to just connect to another human being in a positive way, even if it was only for a compliment. What happened next, in the subsequent 3-4 years, sealed the deal for me. My mom got sick, and eventually died. And that changed everything for me.
My priorities changed and what was important up until then moved to the back burner. Good results in school didn't appeal to me anymore. What was unquestionably important was connecting with people. And what was only a desire a few years before, became my new me. I became that girl that is not embarrassed to approach someone on the street and tell them I like their hair.
Not being afraid of connecting with people has rewarded me with irreplaceable friends. Friends, and several of them, who have been by my side, through my pretty and through my ugly, for decades.
Not all connections have been that good, some have been weird, and some have been short lived, but they all have contributed to my current me. They created me. And keep on creating me.

Social media (facebook in particular) has increased my fascination with people.. and it has also made me realize that there are a ton of weirdos out there. At the same time, I have been enriched by the interaction with most, if not all, my facebook friends, of which some are in-real-life friends, some are just virtual friends, and some were virtual friends who turned into in-real-life friends. And that interaction is continually evolving, with people always coming into my life. Just yesterday I had a very nice conversation with a lady I have met (although not in person) through my facebook contacts. It was very interesting talking to her and finding some significant common ground. Our background, culture, experiences, life altogether have been immensely different, and - still - our lives touched at a time when we were able to connect and understand something very primal of each other. Maybe it's just a generational or a gender related thing, because I've noticed this happening more than I would have expected around me, and that would be worth a whole post of its own. Either way, every time I do connect with someone it amazes me, and I find it absolutely beautiful.
Yesterday's conversation kept popping into my head at different times during the day, so much so that it made me want to write about virtual and non-virtual friends on my blog.

So, here I am.

I don't look for lessons in every single aspect of my life, I just try to live it to the best of my ability. But if I could pass on a bit of, let's say, wisdom, it would be,

Keep an eye, an ear, and a heart open to people who cross your path, you won't regret it, even if they end up having a negative impact in your life. Even then, you can learn something about you, what you want and don't want, and who You ultimately want to be.

Yes, I firmly believe that others make you who you are.

Aug 13, 2012


‎"A great number of people live quite easily without a coherent rational philosophy of life at all. They prefer to accept a great deal of mystery and even absurdity. Yet people have values and frequently choose to treat each other with more respect than the religious zealots."

~ Marlene Winell

Jun 22, 2012

Tell me the truth, what do you think about this?

The other day...
(side note: for a mom "The other day" can mean anywhere from two days ago to two years ago..)

I was saying.. the other day I was talking with my friend C. and somehow we got to a point in the conversation in which we were talking about religion (go figure!) She said something to the effect of, "I guess in a way I am still religious. I still want what religion is looking for: peace, love, acceptance, unity"
To that, my immediate thought and answer was, "Isn't it interesting how the very things that religion seeks become unattainable inside of it?"

Let me expand just a bit.

Like I've said before here, I've shed many things from my "previous life", and I've found a peace I didn't have then.
Peace and religion have become and are mutually exclusive.
The search for Truth and the experiencing of Peace cannot coexist.
Actually it's not the search for Truth as much as the perceived notion to have found it.
At least in christian circles, having found (absolute) Truth, means having found what God wants, what pleases him. Therefore anything outside of that is automatically "wrong", and you either correct wrong or you avoid it.
Division ensues.
We see it all the time.
In the christian Macroworld we see it in all the various denominations that exist. Or in church splits inside a denomination/congregation. All because someone thinks they have a better truth.
In its Microworld, we see it in how people treat each other (I bet you all had some example of this  pop into your mind as soon as I wrote this) and we see it in all the guilt that constantly accompanies most Christians, some more evident than others (think of all those who re-commit their lives to Christ, over and over and over again)
And Truth, instead of setting people free, imprisons. And where there is a prison, there is a wall separating.

Truth in this case tramples Love.

Even telling truth often in Christianity is thought of as more important than Love, in every case.
You don't think so?
Let's use an example. Hypothetical, but not so much.
Years ago I was attending a conference and the topic did revolve around the topic of lying as being a sin. Always.
Someone asked a hypothetical question that sounded something like this:
"World War II, you're hiding some Jews in your basement. Nazis knock on your door and ask you if there are any Jews in your home. What do you do? do you tell the truth?"
The speaker's answer (a prominent Christian in our community),
"God will not put me in that situation".
There hasn't been such a situation ever? Or is that a situation reserved for non-believers? Otherwise a Christian would have to tell the truth, right..?
And again, truth tramples love and respect for life. Whether it's big T truth or small t truth, it doesn't really matter, in the end.
(I hate to admit that at the time I believed that answer)

Well, maybe this truth thing, as important as it may be, is overrated.

I'm starting to believe that *my* truth is love.
And I'm ok if you disagree. I can live with that.

Can you?

Feb 7, 2012

The usual ramblings.

As I've said before, my beliefs have dramatically changed in the last few years. Sometimes it's easier to define what I don't believe (anymore) than what I do believe.

Warning: Opening a Can of Worms.

I don't believe anymore that the Bible is "inspired" (in the sense of divinely "dictated") nor infallible. Fallible people chose the books that were supposed to be part of the Bible (with some disagreement there, too, among different denominations!) and the fallible defined them as infallible and inspired. How does that work?
The next point would be, do I however still consider it a good book?
Define "good". Some parts to me, are beyond boring and utterly useless. A waste of time. They have no impact whatsoever on my life. They are n/a (non-applicable). Some other parts are absolutely beautiful and even helpful. So (as I said in my previous post) I pick and choose what can touch me in some way. I think that's true with many other books too, though.
Everybody picks and chooses. And most of the time a double standard is applied. For example those "christians" who strongly oppose Islam on the basis that the Koran is a violent book (therefore the religion is violent) ignore, or rationalize, the extreme violence found in the Bible. "But, we don't follow those teachings anymore!" Good for you. But, why don't you allow the muslims to say the same when they say they are peaceful? And please don't bring up terrorism and such, because christians have had their fair share of that! (although, I would agree that the islamic extremism is still more widespread that the christian extremism, but that's not the point here)
Or what about homosexuality? The Bible defines it as an "abomination", which is really what most anti-gay christians hang on to. The Bible also says that eating shrimp is an "abomination".. but I don't see groups of christians doing sit-ins in front of seafood restaurants.
Should we jump to the New Testament? How about 1 Corinthians? Women should not cut their hair. That's a cultural thing of their time. Women should be silent in church. That's across the board applicable to all time. ...Seriously??
I used to be able to do some pretty awesome mental gymnastics to justify, explain away, believe some of this stuff and now I'm just.. How in the world did I do that??????
As Walt Whitman said:

Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.

Q: Do you place your soul above everything else (=God)?
A: Don't you?

Here's another good one: I don't believe in hell. Definitely not in an eternal hell as punishment for what we've done in this world. If there is a God and if he is just like christians claim him to be, how can ETERNAL be a fair and just punishment for VERY SHORT LIFE in view of eternity? We have no chance. I'm not gonna get deep into this. I understand a very good book that explains all this is Hope Beyond Hell. There is also an online free version if you're inclined to read it, but you don't want to buy it.

Another - to me - mental exercise has been about Free Will. Everybody says that it was the love of God that gave us free will, because he didn't want robots. And we don't want to be robots, right? Well.. first of all, we would have never known. So that last question is just not applicable. But, let's say he wanted to show his love by giving us free will. How is it though, that he punishes for exercising it? (and the punishment, see previous point, is eternal) How is that better or more loving than creating robots? And, really, do some people have a choice? If I were born in a communist dictatorship or in an islamic country there is a good chance I wouldn't even have the option of exercising my free will to "accept Christ" because indoctrinated into another belief. That's fair?

All this said, I can't shake the fact that in the end I believe there is something/someone bigger than us. I can't explain otherwise why we are capable of thinking beyond us. I can't explain why we would even consider a God. It seems to me that would go against evolution. From an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn't make sense that we'd delve into matters that ultimately don't contribute to the survival. We could be animals and not being aware of any of this, trying to just survive and help the species survive (our offspring) and our life would be much easier and smoother.

However, this "God" (not even sure how to define it, for fear of having some labels that don't belong to me anymore applied to my thought) I just don't think resembles the God I've been spoon fed and I've self-brainwashed myself into believing all these years.
I think God is "hidden" in life and love, at every level, more than we ever realized.

Life is my religion. :)

Jan 20, 2012

Created or creator?

I used to say that "they" (which basically meant anybody who didn't have the same idea of God as me) created God in their own image.

Now, I do not understand that statement anymore.

I mean, we all create God in our own image. Every time someone uses a Scripture to describe God, he creates God in his own image. And that is because he uses his own MIND, INTERPRETATION, CULTURAL BACKGROUND, EDUCATION, EXPOSURE TO EXTERNAL INFLUENCE, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND HISTORY, UPBRINGING to create in his head an idea of who or what God is, was, and wants. Often discarding other passages that might contradict such idea (christians are really good at mental gymnastics and/or picking and choosing)

Yes. I do create God in my own image. And so do you. I have no problem with that anymore.
And if He's God, He'll understand and tolerate.
Even love, maybe. :)

(because if I'm destined to pick and choose, I'll choose a God who loves, over anything else, every time)