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Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
7:42 am - What think you?

Pope compares gay & trans folk as an evil on the scale of global environmental destruction.

Does he have a few points?

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Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
5:10 am - does anyone still read this

just wondering.

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Sunday, August 31st, 2008
4:04 pm - Neuro-Theology

This is a great vid: The Physiology of Religious Belief - How The Brain Works. Basically they look at temporal lobe sensitivity and how it relates to perceived religious experience.

current mood: excited

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Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
11:33 pm - welcome dusty_death

Nice to have you with us!

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
5:10 pm - Book Recommendation: Deliver Us From Evil

I was glancing through my library today and rediscovered an excellent book. James Newton Poling is the Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling at Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary. His Deliver Us From Evil: Resisting Racial and Gender Oppression addresses the nature of evil and emphasizes the need for communities of resistance.

Here's an excerpt:

Evil has a personal dimension. In situations if interpersonal violence, for example, someone decides to cause physical harm to another, and someone is inured. Even in situations usually understood as impersonal evil, someone's life and health is always at stake. ...

Evil has a social dimension. By social dimension I mean the economic, institutional, and ideological forces that create the likelihood that various forms of evil will occur. Violent parents are able to injure their children because societies grant parental authoirty. All power is socially constructed and its use and abuse is a social event. ...

Evil has a religious dimension. Every personal and social event is embedded in religious horizons of meaning and value. In fact, the very concepts of good and evil make religious value judgments about ultimate reality. When they struggle against evil, resistance communities appeal to a religious worldview. Religious evil occurs whenever the theology and/or practices of religious groups are used to destroy bodies and spirits. Religious evil is the most dangerous kind of evil, because it obscures the possibility of a transcendent reality to which communities of resistance appeal.

(x-post: xiananarchist)

current mood: pensive

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Tuesday, January 1st, 2008
9:36 am - I've yelled and screamed

and cussed God out.

And you know what? He understood.

Jay Bakker

I miss having Jay in Atlanta.

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2007
5:43 pm

 Thanks to all of you who sent happy thoughts, well wishes and prayers for my dad.  He lost his battle with cancer on Saturday evening.  Will update more when I arrive home, love to all.

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Friday, October 5th, 2007
9:44 am


My heart is heavy today, I just learned that they are sending my dad home from the hospital to die, there isn’t anything else they can do.  He is being set up with Hospice and going home.  Please pray for he and my step-mom as he moves from this life to the next.  Please also pray that I can figure out the finances to be with them before it is too late.  Thanks for always being there.




current mood: sad

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Saturday, September 29th, 2007
6:34 pm - Remember When?


This goes out to the "old guard" from XGN.

current mood: nostalgic

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Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
6:38 pm - Privacy warning - LJ is datamining your diary

If you haven't heard by now LJ is automatically enrolling you in a datamining project. To opt out of this invasion of privacy go here &follow the 2-step instructions. http://copperbadge.livejournal.com/1422598.html

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Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
1:30 pm - Playful Spirituality

JazzyPants bought me the Watchmen graphic novel for Christmas.  It's a total of 12 issues, and at the end of each issue there is a pertinent quote.  At the end of issue 9, the snippet comes from Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

 "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being."

Spirituality and the meaning-making process are intimately connected in people like myself.  Of course, there are those atheists who argue that "spirituality" is not necessary to a meaningful life.  This is their position, and inasmuch as it works for them I respect it.  But for me, spirituality is not superfluous to my own sense of what it means to live a meaningful existence.  Indeed, my spirituality drives my perception of meaning.

As I have mentioned before, I believe that "meaning" is what happens when human beings participate in a "story."  We all have stories by which we live.  If I might simplify this concept ad absurdum for the sake of time and clarity, I would say that sometimes the dominant story arc by which we live is dominated by a "slogan."  Some of us hold to a life story governed by a "dog-eat-dog" plot.  As a result, the "get them before they get you" approach to life leads to abuse and other paths of violence.  Perhaps for others, the "what goes around, comes around" story leads to a life of trying to do the "right thing" in order to reap a reward.  I think you've probably got the idea.

Somehow, I think "religious" storylines have a special element: the desire to be "holy."  What is holiness?  Well, it depends on who you talk to.  And the answer a person gives is dependent upon the story by which he or she lives. 

One form of spirituality out there (often falling under the categories of "evangelicalism," "neo-evangelicalism," or "fundamentalism") is what I call at the moment "holiness orientation."  In this approach, the human calling is to attain a state of life that stands above the "normal" human condition.  It carries with is a sense of morality that denies certain aspects of life as "base" (to use archaic language), and thus to be avoided (I tend to use the slogan "sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll" to symbolically sum them up).  I've actually been in conversations in which people told me that they believed that going to movies or masturbation were sins.  People who follow this path are primarily concerned about living a "holy" life that is "pleasing" to God.  For those who follow this path, it is quite meaningful.  As they participate in this story that is the quest for holiness, the sacrifices they make are well worth it.  They do not see it as an oppressive path, but a liberating one that enables them to live a divine life.   

At least that's what they tell people outwardly.  This is where much of the problem lies.  Often, I find that inside they carry a significant amount of anger and discontent.  It is as if they live in a form of spiritual denial.  They wish they could engage in life as do the heathens and lesser sanctified around them (for example, not feeling guilty about masturbation or pre-marital sex), but for them that is the price of living a "good life" (and a hefty price it is for them).  According to their story, this is their way of crucifying the self in order to be raised in Christ's spirit.  Thus, their painful sacrifices are vindicated, and they "kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being."

Meaning is a tricky thing.  Meaning isn't a cognitive assessment ("What does it all mean?").  Rather, meaning is a form of experience. It is what happens when we feel like we are participating in something larger than ourselves (a larger story if you will).  And the quest for a meaningful life is what drives humanity into action.  The problem is that too often the actions of humanity are destructive.  People blow themselves up and take others with them because to them it is a meaningful act (they are participating in a larger story).  People use power to oppress and exclude others from power because it is a meaningful way of being for them (they too are participating in a larger story).  So, people finding meaning in life isn't always a good thing.

After I read the quote by Jung, it sent me spiraling onto a tangent.  Perhaps to understand my tangent, it would help to offer a sense of how I operate.

I have a strong deconstructionist bent, and theologically I could probably best be labeled an "a/theist" (see the work of Mark C. Taylor, Erring to get an idea of what that means).  A/theologians like myself live in the "/" in the descriptor.  On the one hand, we are not "theists" who view God in a traditional way as a Being "out there," or even the Ground of Being.  On the other hand, we're not atheists who deny that there is something "more" beyond the limit of our experience.  We live in the betwixt-n-between of the two.  So, for me, when I talk about God, I don't talk about God within categories of "existence," even avoiding describing God as both the power of Being and Non-Being.  Instead, I like to talk about God as being beyond categories of existence; I like to say that God neither "is" nor "is not." So, I guess there's a certain amount of "weirdness" to the way I think (or so I'm told).  And that weirdness informs what I'm about to write.  (You're thinking "Finally," aren't you?)

In my own mind, Jung's comment somehow led me to the question: "Is there really a difference between playing on the surface of life and dancing in it's depths?"  For those familiar with deconstructionist philosophy, they will see the play on words here.  Therein, "differance" is a term used to describe the betwixt-n-between of two poles (such as subjectivity and objectivity, text and author, or text and reader).  It is the place where two things encounter each other, play together, and in the process lose their separate identities into one another. 

For a deconstructionist, the fun of encountering the text is the fun of encounter.  An encounter happens when we bring who we are to the table, and then that somehow mingles with the text in an exciting and creative way that breaks open new possibilities of seeing myself and the world.  So, when I engage a text seriously, I also do so playfully, because ultimately I know I’ll never have all of THE answers.  I can only come up with “my” answers, which results in running and dancing among the white space on the page. 

And so it is with the “texts” of experience that flows from a spiritual life.  Perhaps, spirituality when it is at its most serious is most playful.  I wonder the extent to which a “playfulness orientation” really can dovetail well into a “holiness orientation.”  All I can say is that I’ve never really seen it done.  The near obsession to have a “right belief” or engage in a “right behavior” seems to overshadow the sense of liberation that comes with playfulness. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe that “playfulness” is a good excuse for the type of “irresponsibility” that unleashes a form of destruction in this world.  Playing at the expense of others is probably more about an ego-consumed quest for personal dominance than a manifestation of an authentic spirituality.

So, when I think of the Jung quote, the image that comes to mind is one of carrying a candle and exploring an old, haunted-looking house.  Through hallways, into rooms, across creaky floors, and up dusty stairs.  There’s a certain excitement in it all.  I feel somehow, momentarily fulfilled.  It’s the sense that my whole world just opened up in unimaginable ways, and I’m right where I’m supposed to be despite being skittish about taking the next step.  That’s the experience of meaning.  For me, play and meaning are irrevocably intertwined.

Not so for everyone.  Sometimes humans do terrible things because they find it to be meaningful (does ignorance justify the label of innocence?).  From what I have seen, there may be a possible (not necessarily probable) correlation between a person’s buy in to a “holiness orientation” and a tendency toward other-destructive behavior.  Texts I’ve read regarding “abusive” or “destructive” religion seem to say the same thing.  If so, maybe the best redemptive message those on that path can hear is “lighten up.”  (I’ve seen that happen too!  And the results are amazing!)

There’s a popular response to biblical literalism that says, “I don’t take the Bible literally, because I take it seriously.”  That’s a good one.  Wish I had coined it.

Unfortunately, the one I really wanted to coin, Nike preemptively stole.  It’s my response to the “holiness oriented”: “Life is short. Play hard.”

(X-Posted; xiananarchist, emmaus_crew)

current mood: busy

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Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
9:08 pm - Cash & Denver


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Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
12:16 am - The Lord's Prayer in Native American sign language


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Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
5:29 pm - Faith/Not-Faith


“It’s a matter of faith.” “According to my faith,….” “My faith is wavering.” “I’ve lost my faith.” 

The word of the day is “faith.”  It’s not a word that is used consistently.  We might talk about losing faith in the government, having faith in humanity, or to identify one’s religious faith.  It’s a good word.  But it is also grossly misunderstood, especially when in reference to religion and spirituality.

So far, it seems that the evangelical community has dictated how this word is to be used.  Most common usage equates “faith” with “belief.”  The degree to which one has faith is revealed in the extent to which one buys into the party line.  Was Mary really a virgin?  Well, it’s a matter of faith.  Is the Bible truthful?  Well, it’s a matter of faith.  Did Jesus really raise from the dead?  Well, it’s a matter of faith.  If one wants to have a “Christian” faith, then one’s Christian-ness is wed to the extent to which that person believes the supposed “tenets of the faith.” 

A significant amount of the reaction against Christianity flows from a rejection of these tenets as unthinking and meaningless in today’s society.  What I find interesting in this rejection is the complete assent to the evangelical community to define the terms of the debate.  When I talk with people who reject Christianity and I ask what faith is, the dominant answer still equates faith with belief.  They cannot be Christian because they don’t buy the intellectual crap that the church is selling. 

As a religion that equates faith with belief, Christianity becomes charged as being an arrogant form of ignorance.  Not only that, we now see a movement emerging that indicts such religion by atheists such as Sam Harris (The End of Faith), who argues that certain unreasoned beliefs are not just silly, but “intrinsically dangerous.” (44)  “Throughout this book, I am criticizing faith in its ordinary, scriptural sense—as belief in, and life-orientation toward, certain historical and metaphysical propositions. (64-65)  Ideologies drive people.  And some ideologies clearly drive people to destroy others and the world we live in.  When dangerous ideologies are wed to the absolute justification of a divine mission and embraced by power, the potential for evil becomes more imminent.

Equating faith and belief is not the only way that faith can be understood.  Paul Tillich (The Dynamics of Faith) takes an existentialist approach.  Personally, I don’t see myself as an existentialist, but I think this approach articulates best what “faith” really is.  According to Tillich, faith is the bond of trust that ties us to our Ultimate Concern.  This Ultimate Concern doesn’t have to be “God.”  It can be regional (nationalism/patriotism), ideological (democracy), material (money), relational (family), or something else.  One’s Ultimate Concern is really the orienting power over one’s life.  Inasmuch as we promote and pursue our Ultimate Concern, we are acting faithfully, or to put it another way we are living out our faith.  Significantly, Harris doesn’t seem to have a beef with those who take this existentialist  approach, as “My argument, after all, is aimed at the majority of the faithful in every religious tradition, not at Tillich’s blameless parish of one.” (65)

Since I’m focusing on religious faith, the Ultimate Concern I now refer to is commonly known as “God.”  In religious faith, God (or the Divine, or whatever other religious language one might use) is the orienting power over the lives of the faithful.  For the spiritual, there is depth to this world beyond the limits of our mundane experience that bears Ultimate Significance for existence.  The spiritual quest is to connect more fully with that divine Depth (which Tillich likes to refer to as our Ground of Being).  As we become more in touch with the Power of Being, we become more than we already are.  We are transformed.  As we grow, the false barriers that we have erected to separate and protect ourselves from others and the world we live in begin to fall, and we find that we have become more concerned with not only our own wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of others.  In short, as we are more and more apprehended by the Power of Being, we find we naturally participate more positively in the being of all existence.  This positive, life-giving transformation is the fruit of our connection to the Divine, or the mark of faith. 

Note that the way that I just described faith does not equate faith with belief.  This is not to say that there is no connection.  Our beliefs reflect our understanding of our faith experience.  It is the way that we talk about the relationship between the Ultimate and ourselves.  But we must be careful not to confuse the language we use to express our faith with faith itself.  Indeed, sometimes there is a disconnect between the language that is passed on to people and the faith that they manifest in day to day life. 

Let’s look for a moment at the importance of distinguishing belief and faith with an example: the story of the virgin birth.  According to the basic storyline, God impregnated the Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Jesus.  Simple enough.  And the “faith=belief” (or what I will now call the “dogmatic”) approach takes us in a completely different direction than the “faith=trust” (or what I will now call the “spiritual”) approach. 

The dogmatic approach looks at the story and turns it into an important belief, without which one is seen as less faithful.  The approach to faith here is one of “comprehension.”  The authoritative text of Christianity is the Bible.  The faithful comprehend the teachings of the text.  When the authoritative texts are at odds with other sources of information, it is a test of faith.  In this case, basic biology points out the physical impossibility of a “virgin birth,” and the response is to say that one should just accept the dogma as a matter of faith.  As long as one continues to give assent to the dogma of the “miracle,” one can still remain a Christian.  And as long as one wants to remain a Christian, one must be willing to give authoritative assent to the “tenets of the faith,” despite evidence to the contrary.

The spiritual approach is vastly different.  Because faith is understood as our relational bond of trust with our Ground of Being, spirituality takes a holistic angle.  As a result, it moves beyond asking what the story says to what the story means.  Intellectually, it asks about the makeup of the original story.  This story is a narrative written by a first-century community to articulate the significance of Jesus for their context.  The spiritual approach listens to the biblical scholars who point out that the narrative of Jesus virgin birth rivaled the imperialistic narrative that lauded the virgin birth of Augustus as a sign of divine favor upon Rome.  In short, the story of the virgin birth is a myth, not an historical event.  Jesus was not born of a virgin (a biological impossibility), but through human conception like every other human who ever lived.  Yet, the rejection of the historicity of the event does not vitiate the story.  Its significance (social, political, and religious protest against injustice) remains.  This significance speaks, and draws the attentive into the divine reality known as the Kingdom of God.  Those who hearken are transformed into heralds, agents of a new way of being in the world that bears an indictment against oppression and dehumanization by the powerful.  Because it is a way of being rather than simple acceptance of a belief system, it carries a very real risk.  Inasmuch as we embark upon the path of other-centered, justice-oriented, and self-giving love, we find we are compelled to sacrifice our own wellbeing for the wellbeing of others.  But in doing so, we find more fully the joy of being human.

When we talk about “religion,” we’re talking about the structure (beliefs and practices) a particular religious community gives to its orientation around primary symbols (for Christians, it’s Jesus).  When we’re talking about “spirituality,” we’re talking about the personal, transformative participation of a seeker who is orienting his or her life toward God.  Just like belief and faith, religion and spirituality are not the same.  It is possible to be religious but not spiritual (one who buys in to a belief system but does not manifest transformation into a more healthy human being).  And it is possible to be spiritual but not religious (one who manifests transformation into a more healthy human being, but does not buy into a belief system).  The former illustrates the active danger of equating belief with faith.

Let’s look once again at the dogmatic approach to the virgin birth.  “Faith” says it must be accepted as a miracle.  A rational approach says that it is impossible.  In order to accept the virgin birth as “a matter of faith,” one must first be willing to turn off one’s own brain.  One must be willing to stop thinking critically.  One must accept without serious questioning “just because.”  Humans have brains.  Humans are meant to use their brains.  To require or even expect people to turn off their brains does active damage to them and their human development.  It takes minimal brainpower to recognize that human biology (like evolution) is a fact.  First-century people did not make babies without doing the humpty.  Indeed, once a person even begins to turn on his or her brain, the assertion that the virgin birth could even be possible becomes a ridiculous belief, perhaps even worthy of laughter when the belief is spouted off by a supposedly healthy adult.

It is important to note that healthy spirituality leads to healthy human development.  Whenever religion does damage to human development, it cannot be considered authentically spiritual.  Moreover, inasmuch as it claims divine approval for itself, it deserves the label "demonic."  This is why i stand with those like atheist Sam Harris who decry certain types of religion as a dangerous force in this world.  and I stand with him not in spite of my Christian faith, but because of it.

(X-posted:xiananarchist, emmaus_crew)

current mood: blah

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Sunday, July 22nd, 2007
8:50 am - Statement from Jay

Passed along from Revolution ATL...

After fighting cancer for eleven years, my mother passed away on July 20 at 4AM. She had a very peaceful death and is no longer in pain. To grant her wish she was cremated today and her ashes were buried at a private ceremony. The service was performed by my good friend Randy McCain of Open Door Community Church in Sherwood, AR.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers and support over the years - it has helped me more than you will ever know. Please continue to pray for her husband Roe as well as the rest of my family.

A public ceremony is currently being planned - an update will be sent once the details are finalized along with where to send flowers. I ask that all press would please allow me to grieve privately at this time. Thank you.

Jay Bakker

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12:08 am - Blessings, Tammy Faye.  You will be missed.


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Friday, July 6th, 2007
2:06 am - The Importance of Religious Diversity, Part 4

So, to me, the different religious traditions that I have encountered seem to have different emphases that do not negate, but enhance one another. Admittedly, I have discussed a short list of options out there, and they are not the sum of my experience. But these are the most influential. My Christian identity flows from being touched by the Spirit of Christ with its call to become a passionate herald of the Kingdom of God. Buddhism reminds me to be attentive to myself and others during that mission, never forgetting that the Ground is the Ground of all, that I find myself in others. My passionate quest for justice always runs the risk of becoming another form of injustice inasmuch as I forget the call to compassion in my ways. Taoism reminds me of my finite limitations and the danger of losing sight of God as I try to comprehend and articulate my experience. It reminds me that my human experience is what is meant for me, complete with a shadow side that is an important and valued part of who I am and who I am becoming. Hinduism reminds me that whenever I encounter another, I find God. When I encounter God, I need to “greet” God, or be open to a relationship with God through that other. Neo-paganism reveals for me the magically diverse and participatory nature of the universe of which I am a part. It reminds me of how important the universe is, and the need to care for it as we care for ourselves. 
It is true that there is a lot of overlap in the religions. People may argue that everything that I’ve found in the other religions I’ve looked into can be found in Christianity. Perhaps this is true. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I find them in Christianity because the other religions have told me they should be there, so I read them into my faith. I can’t say for sure, though such truths have certainly become part of my particular understanding Christianity. Regardless, it is important to note that I come to these realizations not by saying, “oh, well, those other religions are really saying the same thing my path says.” Indeed, if I were to say that neo-paganism says the same thing as Christianity, I might forget that the call to justice includes a call to eco-justice. Or, to take another angle, if I were a Taoist who said that the incomprehensible God of Judeo-Christianity was just another way to talk about the Tao, I might forget that injustice is part of the way of thing does not excuse it. These realizations come to me through my respect for religious diversity. Dismissing diversity runs us dangerously close to dismissing unique voice. And dismissing voice is a surefire way to turn a deaf ear to divine Wisdom. 
 I love the religions of this world. They are magnificent in their own right. But how much more enthralling would they be in authentic , non-reductionist dialogue with one another.   Perhaps the sound would not be unlike a heavenly choir. Each one sings, but does not strive toward the same note. Indeed, if we valued uniqueness of voice, we would not allow such monotony. Sure, if we all sang with the same voice and hit the same notes at the same time, it would ring loudly. But would it be as beautiful? When I say that I love the religions around me, I say that I love them as I understand them in their uniqueness.
 And still, I am a self-identifying Christian. According to a “traditional” Christian voice, that identification is surely open to critique. I admittedly deviate from the norm. And perhaps the critics are right, but I obviously do not believe it. And it’s not only traditional Christians who question my Christianness, but also those from other paths. Surely, they wonder, why in the world with my perspective as it is would I even want to be a Christian. 
 Very simply, I do so because that is my sense of call. It’s hard to explain really. It comes down to the feeling of being led to participate particularly in the Spirit of Christ. I feel led to promote the kind of love that I find embodied in the crucifixion: an all-consuming, other-centered, justice-oriented, self-giving love. For me, the image of the crucifixion is the most revealing icon through which I gaze into the heart of God. This is not to say that it has to be the most revealing for others. Indeed, if others find their primary source of revelation elsewhere, I can respect that. And to them I say, please, come sit at the table with me. Let us break bread. We have wondrous truths to share and discuss. 

(X-Posted: xiananarchistemmaus_crew

current mood: working

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2:01 am - The Importance of Religious Diversity, Part 3

As I come out of my experience of encounter with other religious traditions and their various truth claims, it seems to me that different religions may very well have differing callings in our world. There are many things in our world of great importance. However, too often we like to hear the sound of our voices and pursue our own agendas to the detriment of those around us. Perhaps if we listen, we can hear from the Depths a cry to notice that there are agendas out there that are just as significant as our own. Perhaps, the purpose (if there is such a thing) of the various religious traditions is to give unique voice to those different-yet-related agendas. 
 The following is my reflection on what seems to me to be the unique significance of some of the religious traditions I have encountered. Due to space, it must be brief, and there’s much that I just don’t touch on to keep it from becoming a book. Thus, I recognize the abundance of missing elements. But I think the descriptions highlight the idea well enough.
 I will speak of Christianity first. This is my (primary?) perspective. When I look at the person and works of Jesus of Nazareth, I find most prominent a prophetic concern for justice. This is the voice of the “God of the Hebrews” who sides with the powerless against the powerful, the marginalized against the exclusivists, the oppressed against the oppressor. This is the God who denounces peace for peace’s sake (the “let’s all hold hands, sing kumbaya, and pretend there aren’t any problems” approach). Rather, this is a God who claims that the only divine peace (the “Kingdom of God”) is a peace founded on justice. True peace cannot come before justice; justice comes first, then peace. So for me, it seems that the ultimate concern for Christianity (and Judaism, remembering that Christianity began as a Jewish sect) is that we speak up and act out in such a way that we stand in solidarity with the “little people” in life. 
 My favorite part of Buddhism is its self-emptying into the other through the Ground of our Being. The world is full of suffering, and there is a reason for that. Suffering human beings follow their own desires and agendas. These desires and agendas drive us apart. This leads to more suffering. But as we recognize this and find our “center,” our Ground of Being, then we find the Ground of All Being. Once we have touched the Ultimate Ground, we discover that the Ultimate Ground is the Ground of All. Our perspective on life changes. I find myself in the other. We are impermanent. As we learn to respect the Ultimacy of the Ground of All, we learn to respect and have compassion for all that is grounded. Inasmuch as we live into and out from our Ground, we flow with compassion. Buddhism teaches me how to move into and live from the still eye of the storm of life. It teaches me the importance of self-awareness and other-identification. 
 Taoism became an interest of mine in my early 20s. It taught me a couple of key things. It spoke most to me about the inability to speak about the unspeakable Tao. The Tao is beyond our conception. We have to be very careful not to “categorize” the Tao. We have to be very careful not to mold the Tao into our own image, for the moment we do so we lose sight of the Tao. And the Tao is present and found in the Way of things. Not just the positive stuff of life, but the negative stuff too. As a human being participating in the Tao, I am made of both light and shadow. My task is not to overcome and rid myself of my shadow, but rather to embrace it and bring it into harmony with the rest of me. The result of this is my “natural” approach to spirituality. I don’t think in terms of “sin” like a traditional Christian. I certainly don’t “beat myself up” like many for things that other Christians might find shameful. Part of the beauty that is me is found dancing in my shadow. Part of the beauty of that which is Beyond is that it is...well, beyond. My mere words may point to and celebrate it, but they can never encapsulate it. And I wouldn’t want it otherwise. 
 When I think of Hinduism, I think of the greeting “Namaste” (“I greet the god in you”). In Hinduism, the universe is the body of God. No matter what is gazed upon, it is a manifestation of the Divine. The order in the universe is a direct result of that connection. So, when I’m dealing with another person, I’m not just dealing with that person, I’m dealing with God. As I treat others, so I treat God. This tempers my desire to close off to others. As I seek to encounter divine truth more fully, I find I have to listen for the voice of God as it comes through the lips of others. I hear the heartbeat of God through their joys and sorrows.
 Neo-paganisim is not generally classified as a “major world religion.” It distresses me that it is dismissed so easily. Its perspective on the magical nature of the universe is exciting (and now with quantum physics on the rise, potentially scientifically verifiable). It has taught me that my place in this world may be unique as a human, but nature has its own way and will not be so easily dominated. Indeed, the domination of nature is not my place. Rather, I am called to participate in it. When I participate in it fully, I do so not just with my actions, but also my intent. Often my intent helps to shape the reality that unfolds before me. I do not act “on” the world in which I live, as If it were a mere object waiting to be shaped by my hands. Instead, the world is as much a subject acting with me as I act with it. Perhaps it’s not unlike dancing to music, with the music drawing out the dance and the dance revealing more fully the magnificence of the song. Also, neo-paganism draws out the importance of diversity. While we can talk about the Divine as a singular reality, it doesn’t mean we have to close the door to recognizing diversity within the reality of the Divine itself. So, as I operate as a participatory agent in a magical and diverse universe, it certainly changes the way I approach the tasks of life. 

(X-Posted: xiananarchist, emmaus_crew)

current mood: working

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Sunday, July 1st, 2007
5:15 pm - Any interest in this? Attention ATLANTA!

If there was a once a month gathering at a LGBT -affirming- church, would you be interested in going?

The leadership is very open with their belief that homosexuality is nota sin. Too many churches remain close-lipped about this, or openlydiscourage different sexualities. Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans people ofall ages, especially those who look or feel different from themainstream, are often left out or have to keep quiet about our day today struggles.

So there is a new interest in reaching out to the alternativecommunity. Some things are being planned: food, live music, movies,group discussions, and maybe even a game of basketball in an indoorcourt.. All this would take place in the church, which is located inmidtown.

Please let me know if this interests you at all. thanks.

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10:35 am - Crying as guilt

Is anyone reading this familiar with reparitive therapy? Do they believe that crying (by sinning perverts) is an expression of guilt over their sins? I need to know this, soon.. thanks.

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