Sunday, January 25, 2009

the color wheel

with the data i've gained over the past few years in research, interviews, and experiences, it almost seems as if people and their experience of god is like a color wheel. not everyone's experience of god is the same. some people's experiences are the same, or at the least, very similar. they are in one "color". yet they also share similar shadings with the groups next to them. and so on and so forth until we get to the opposite side of the wheel. when seen in progression, it makes sense. starting at one point, and blending into the next, to create something that looks slightly different than the original, yet still retaining some of its original quality.

for example, christianity sharesa good deal with judaism and islam on the spectrum of beliefs. (contrary to popular apologetics) not to say they are identical, not at all. but they share many similar qualities that makes them similar yet not completely equal. the same can be said in the other direction with hinduism and its belief in the interconnectedness of all things. or budhism's emphasis on a permeating state of peace and overcoming the desires of the flesh. or how both hinduism and budhism share concepts of transcendance and overcoming the world.

but once you reach the opposite side of the wheel, however, you realize that the color of belief over there doesn't contain a single drop of your color. elements of colors you've rubbed shoulders with, to be sure, but not a drop of your actual "color". it can be easy to write people of those beliefs off as completely different than yourselves and therefore, wrong, but when you look with wider eyes, you see that they are not your opposite, but rather your compliment. you're not two separate entities or enemies.

for example, atheism. at first glance, it is completely an opposite belief from christianity. but when inspected closer, it is still someone who had a life changing moment. a moment in which they had an epiphanical realization that made sense to them. and somehow, in that internal transaction of mind, heart, and spirit, that person was freed to become a more engaged, compassionate, hard working person bent on living in this manner for the benefit of all humans. they have become born again.

and that, for me, is the defining moment. the thing that makes everyone on it a part of the wheel. a moment in which life becomes radically changed by a thought or belief that suddenly clicks into place, and a person's inner being changes, and they become a new person. it seems that although it takes many forms, at some level, those of all faiths seem to have had that "born again" experience. we're part of the same circle. we're all in this together whether it looks like it or not.

to be sure, there are several who claim to be a part of the color wheel, and lay claim to a certain "color" either because they have been exposed to it in culture and they wish to fit in. or they have been raised with it and "that's just the way it is." these people generally have not had the color wheel experience. what i am talking about are people who have come to a moment of reckoning in their lives in which they are honest about who they are at heart, and what they think at heart about this issue, and it changes them forever. not that they stop changing from this point on. but rather it is a first step down a completely different road of growth and learning.

Monday, January 12, 2009

rote: being like god

here is an old post from last year i never got around to finishing. i touched it up a little and decided to throw it out there...

i have heard it said my whole life that the "original sin" is that adam & eve wanted to be like god. in fact it is this same thing that we are told about that enigmatic character known as lucifer. that because they wanted to be like god, they were punished and to want to be like god is wrong and sinful. yet, how many times in the same building and from the same mouths are we told that jesus is god and we are to be like him. so which is the truth? is wanting to be like god a sin? is jesus really god? is it a sin to want to be like him, then? if so, why are we encouraged to do it? if not, why are we taught that the original sin is wanting to be like god?

aren't we supposed to be like god? shouldn't we desire to be like her? wouldn't this world be a much better place if we were all like god? if we are to be like christ, and jesus only did and said what the father showed and said, shouldn't we be trying to be like god? isn't that what god wants?

but the real crux of the problem comes for me in the form of this: the original commandment given to humans as recorded in the bible is to not "eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil." however, is this not what most legalistic religions (christianity, islam, judaism) have as their main diet? nothing but heaping helpings of the "knowledge of good and evil" day in and day out? cramming it in as fast as we can shovel it constantly craving and downing more and more and more and more?

i had a hunch a few years ago that what jesus' death accomplished for all of us was to return us to a "garden state" in which everything was okay again. the law was overcome and done away with. only two things remained. to love god with everything in our beings and treat others the way we wish to be treated. in this view, nothing is then "off limits" as we would think of classical explanations of "sin." rater, what needs to be off limits is asking whatn is evil and what is good. which only leads to judgement. which we are warned away from. paul even says this by telling the people of rome not to ask "who will acend or who will descend. but rather...the word of god is near you."

what would life be like without this knowledge? what would be open to our consciences? to be able to DO ANYTHING BUT eat of the "fruit of the knowledge of good and evil"? can you imagine it? having that kind of wide open boundless freedom?

so then is this a wise course of action (steady diet of the knowledge) when it is the thing that set god off in the first place and was the root of our disconnect with god? the very roots of our expulsion from the garden? should we continue shoveling it in? is it just too late to go back, or can we still livein this manner?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

roots: god hates us all

this is not for everyone. the music is loud, the lyrics highly offensive. if that's not your thing, consider yourself warned. but since it's so quiet around here, i thought i'd open the windows and crank up something nasty and loud.

it took me 26 years to work up the courage to listen to slayer. but as i began to delve deeper into the world of metal music, i realized that i needed to hear them sooner or later. this is a group that were pioneers in the "speed" metal genre, pushing themselves to play harder and faster with every album. in fact, i don't think the word "ballad" even exists in their vocabulary.

but this isn't really a history lesson. it more about this one song in particular. slayer have never backed down from dark, violent, or shocking lyrical content. they have always let it all hang out there. and when i heard them for the first time, i could see why they had garnered such a following with their music. they're really good at what they do. lyrically, it doesn't really grip me that much. i don't need to hail satan in order to separate myself from the church culture at large.

but there is one song of theirs that did capture my imagination. it is called "disciple."

the fascinating thing is that i understand. i grew up in a religious construct in which i could form a worldview like this. in fact, i think for many of us, this is exactly the sentiment that caused our "god-world-views" to crumble. slayer just went a different way with it than several of us. nevertheless, in this song, slayer loudly, definantly, yet confidently reject the false genie god of contemporary christianity (be it catholic or protestant) and share what the true underlying message that is communicated in most churches regardless of the language used.

we may hear all the time that "god is love", but when the attitudes and stories are shared and lived with for any genuine length of time, it becomes clear that the real message is indeed, "god hates us all."

any thoughts from anyone else?

2009: the year in preview

i know i can't predict the future. but these are some things i would like to see happen in the future. i know that i would like to continue talking about community, the different implications of the word, and the myriad of different ways that community can take shape in the world we find ourselves in today.

i would like to keep asking difficult questions about the bible and theology. there are still several things i've never heard sermons on, and i would like to look into them deeper, in community, if possible.

i would like to continue to contemplate the existential nature of our universe and deeper ways in which those thoughts shape the way i view and interact with the world.

i would like to continue to discuss "abilities" or "gifts" or "powers", i don't really know what to call them. i would like to continue experimenting with my own, as well as talking with others about theirs, so that we might learn how to use them, together, in ways that can make a positive impact in the world in which we live.

i would like to continue my "roots" series and talk about some more metal songs that make me think and why.

i would like to continue drinking coffee, hanging out in the Kitchen, sharing our lives with each other.

i would like to continue to learn how to be gracious to trolls. not that i expect them to listen or be changed, but because i don't want to become a hypocritical characature, commonly and loudly oblivious to the fact that i have become exactly what i hate in responding to people with a differing viewpoint from the norm in hostile and condescending manner. just because my point of view is different doesn't make the behavior any more acceptable. especially when it was that behavior in the first place that gave me a distaste for evangelicals. how can i expect to be better than that if i am displaying the same traits?

i would like to continue to complain about church less and less. it's easy to target the church and differences between us or perhaps even make fun of them for things they do, but i would rather just move on and focus on more positive things. we're different from each other. enough said.

i would like to continue to meet new people and travel to new "neighborhoods" here in (blog) where i don't know anyone.

but mostly i would like to continue to be myself. to continue to speak uncensored and be honest with everyone about who i am and what i think without fear.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2008: the year in review

in 2008 i posted a lot of crap. no. it's true. with rowyn learning how to walk and grab and run in rapid succession, less time was available to me to sit and post. so i just found lots of little things to keep people coming back for a brief while. things like comedy clips, songs, and short probing questions. but this was also a year of major transition for me. and as the posts came to me, the good stuff came through.

in january i was still racked with grief over my dad's death. but i was able to find another small amount of closure with my whole church-betrayal ordeal as god revealed that he did it to give me more street cred with the people i walk among. i mean, these metalheads and lesbians might hate church and church people, but they've never been kicked out of one!

february brought one of my favorite art posts in which i did an autobiography in album cover art. i also had a crazy conversation over at deconstructed christian that ended up spilling over into a series that lasted until the end of june. for me, this was a major turning point in my blogging as it was the first time i tried to be gracious to people who hold a more traditional viewpoint instead of being hostile as demeaning. it is also the first time i moved from asking questions and gathering data to sharing the things i believe in my heart that i have found since i started chasing the questions. if you have the time, it's worth a revisit to the posts and conversations.
velvet elvis 1
welcome to my abode
abode part deux
abode cubed
abode cuatropointone
abode denoument: enter the religion of rote

along the way during that stretch of time i stopped making new "posts" for a brief period and instead asked a series of varied questions for discussion. out of that time period, from one of the discussions, a game was birthed into (blog). apples 2 apples was born. (and it's still going!)

in july i gave you all some homework in the form of heart exercises. did anyone try it?

then, at the beginning of august a conversation started that, for me, is still going. most of those posts, however, i reposted a couple of months ago, so i won't overkill it here.

thanks to everyone who has been willing to engage over the past year. here's to another one and wherever it may lead...

Monday, January 05, 2009