Things of Faith, Man and the Search for Universal Truth

My faith journey has come a long way.

From a theological perspective, I was raised in the Judaea Christian traditions within various denominations. Through the years I have been taught by the church, inspired, motivated, fooled, disillusioned, angry, resentful, ashamed of, and even restored.

Regardless of my personal experiences with dogma and the organization of religion my faith in the Supreme has never diminished. My belief system is simple and complicated, spiritual and natural, scientific and unexplained.

I could never subscribe to the atheist belief that there is no Supreme Being. To me atheistic thinking dismisses a serious explanation for the origin for life. In other words, I haven’t seen evidence of any life form without their first being life to reproduce itself after its kind. Even if creationism from a religious perspective is not a viable option, just a look at the sun, moon and the stars, all of the living creatures, the way the cycles of the earth rotates, lives, nurtures, replenishes and sustain itself with its inhabitants; I find it illogical that all of that which we behold and witness is without thought, planning and design. In this way I don’t judge the concept of atheism. What I can say is that I don’t get it.

galaxy-1

As much as I like Bill Mahr and admire his political satire, I think he sounds like a fool when he arrogantly dismisses any possibility of a higher power. His brain is so creative, that he can actually talk himself out of acknowledging his own lack of having anything to do with it. He depends on air he breathes to live, and yet it does not keep him alive. Think about it. Oxygen is all around those dying every day. At some point everyone will take in their last breath. And all the oxygen on the earth can’t give you another breath once that last one has been exhaled. With all the riches, wealth and resources in the world one cannot give him more life. Nor does anyone have the power to ask and receive it initially at the beginning of a natural life.

A study of the massive sophistication and depth of DNA alone should prompt one to believe that this world, this universe, even our humanity was intentional. This is why I believe the atheist argument comes up horribly short. There is just too much genius around us that we had nothing to do with to call it all random.

What Mahr and I share along with others who believe as he does however, is the disdain for those seeking to validate and promote ‘God’ only as they see Him in such a fashion that it boxes his breadth and scope down to moral, theological and geo-political bents. I too scoff at the limitations and lack of critical thinking skills people subject themselves to in order to follow a bunch of laws and standards written by mortal, flawed, and often agenda driven men. I can resonate with his frustration of people who refuse to observe and work through critical issues with a reality based point of view as opposed to choosing to hide head-in-sand and quote scripture so as to eliminate the need of such deeper or even more simplistic considerations.

I get it. But that doesn’t answer the questions of life, the potential and capabilities of the human mind and body, the spirit world, and the universe. The fact that in the wild a lion and a deer will drink from the same water brook and if the lion is not hungry, not only will he not so much as bother the deer, but that the deer instinctively knows it. Man, in all of his ingenuity, intellect, skill and passion have only learned and understood so much of it. He certainly hasn’t been able to define it.

My basic understanding of myself, my surroundings, my instincts, makes me curious, and awestruck on the subject of the Supreme Being. Though I have identified my beliefs through Christian lenses most of my life, I have studied various religions and beliefs among men. Lessons from Christianity as well as other faiths have helped me greatly. Still I’ve rejected many pieces of doctrines. Through it all here I stand; still seeking, still desiring, and still stretching to find the source of my own significance.

black-jesus

As of now I don’t really claim any specific religion. Though if you pushed me, I would still lean towards a very loose and selective portion of Christianity. Not for any special reason. This is simply the environment I was brought up in and therefore most familiar with. It’s second nature. I love gospel music and can often find myself blissfully swept away in its messages of worship, submission and hope. One of my mentors the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a Christian man who lived the most dedicated and faithful life I have ever seen in a human. Yet I admire and respect the life of Malcolm X especially after he split from The Nation of Islam and went in a direction that he believed was more beneficial to his perspective of the way he saw his Creator. Am I to say that Shuttlesworth knew God because he called him Jesus or that Malcolm’s aligning himself with Allah did not? There is hardly no religious sect that does not have within it members who believe and have evidence that their prayers have been answered. There are unexplained ‘miracles’ happening everyday regardless of faith type. Thing begs to question, “Does the Supreme have an exclusive name?” Only religious people think so. Or is He so awesome and self-assured that He is not hung up on and limited by that kind of thing? – Man actually giving Him a name that will sum Him up. Even as I write this I only say ‘Him’ as a reference point. I don’t know that The Supreme has a gender.

This proves that the biggest hindrance to understanding The Supreme is defining the revelation of His presence and purpose solely through a religious bent.

I have learned to settle in and take what I believe one step at a time; one lesson at a time; one experience at a time. And with those I focus on that which I am comfortable with. Which are a basic set of principles that I live by. (At least try to live by most of the time.)

Faith

Faith is first just an acknowledgment and recognition of a centralized presence. I don’t believe He/She/It needs to be called Jesus or any other religious or secular name. I believe in this Power that is so brilliant beyond measure, beautiful, and peaceful. The Universe has been created in such a way that it would take perhaps a million lifetimes just to scratch the surface of what is really going on out there. Names are too limited to describe The Ultimate. That is about as far as I am willing to take it as of now.

Do I believe this Universal entity cares about what happens to me personally? Yes. This is because I don’t believe all of this is by chance. If I’m correct then there has to be a purpose. Anyone who is aware of his purpose cares about fulfilling that purpose. With that I am able to give thanks and blessings many times per day to The Supreme for all that I am blessed to behold.  Sometimes, I even submit a few prayer request along the way.

Personal Purpose/Destiny

This is a tough one. Because most people either believe that they have a specific purpose on earth that a higher power has in mind or they don’t. Others believe we make our own decisions no matter what. I fall in the middle of both world views. For example, none of us had anything to do with us being here. That includes when we were born, where we were born, or to what family. We couldn’t decide what color we were going to be, whether male or female, and so forth. There are so many things that were not in our original control.

And yet as the species on earth we call mankind, we have the ability to create, build, reproduce, expand, grow, and it goes on and on. Our decisions shape the direction of not only our lives, but those around us as well as those who come after us. Decisions made by only a few throughout history have led to generational worldwide rewards and consequences.

With this I believe that many, but not every aspect of my life has been fully intentional. I am thankful for my time, my space, and my opportunity to do whatever it is I am supposed to do. I am abundantly grateful for everyday believing that my universe is saying something to me and beckoning me to respond for my own benefit, and the benefit of others. I believe that if enough of us do that, we will experience even greater awakenings, recognition, and access to this Universe.

            Islam7

Morals

Morals are a very subjective from person to person. I believe that morals must come from within, not just what is taught within a society to preserve order; though order is necessary. Some people are comfortable with doing things and living by certain principals that others are not. My morals are a combination of what I have been taught as a youth, as well as what I have grown to understand as an adult. Since I am still growing, segments and pieces of my moral code are still being refined. What has remained consistent is to live by a standard in which my conscious remains clear of guilt and that my life is one of freedom and not bondage. I believe that many of the unhappy, unsatisfied and destructive people on earth are ones whom live against their own conscious. I can’t speak for those whom seem not to have a conscious at all. Still I have to live by my own. I desire that my life continues to project that which is less harmful but more liberating to me as well as my environment.

Who is The Supreme Being/God?

I absolutely don’t know the answer to that. I believe that God is spirit as I am though much greater. I don’t believe God is fixated by what we call he/she/it like most organized religions i.e. Christianity, (Jehovah, Christ) Islam (Allah) and so forth. I believe that mankind has had various reasons for wanting to segregate God into something they are comfortable with. Certainly having a book such as the bible for instance, makes following God or expressing faith more focused. For now I choose experiencing and receiving whatever it is I may learn and absorb whether it be from a religious context or not. My trust is that The Supreme knows how to get a message to me when it’s time. And that I will receive it as long as I stay open. I’m not afraid to fail at this. I embrace all of the possibilities and resources imaginable at this point.

Organized Religion

In spite of my critique, I am not down on organized religion as a whole. I believe that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Zen, and many others has served millions well over the centuries. Organized religious morality has influenced many peaceful societies as most of them promote treating one another in a loving and civilized way. Most promote growth and spirituality. Most promote submission to a higher authority and less self-seeking. Most emphasize sacrifice and giving towards something much bigger than the individual person who claims its faith.

Most have had their downfalls as well. So many wars, forms of oppression, and crimes against humanity result from religious beliefs and zeal. This is not only true of Christianity and Islam. Human sacrifices for instance took place long before Columbus set foot on the shores of the Americas. Nobody’s hands are clean. There has been and continues to be both good and bad.

            Tian Tan Buddha

Afterlife

Since I don’t believe that our lives are our bodies, I don’t believe that life ceases without the body. I believe our bodies are Earth suits. With them we move about upon the land or the sea. The earth is our bodily home. We live here for a time and season. It is here that we eat, sleep, love, share, learn etc… Perhaps our earthly time is training for something else that has nothing to do with our bodies. I just don’t know. And I don’t know that anyone really does.

I know many people whom I trust said a relative who have died or have been released from their natural bodies visited them in a spiritual form. Perhaps those who are ‘dead’, in body, help watch over us who remain. Perhaps there are differing dimensions that continue in cycles past our earthly lives. I don’t have a clue!

But I’m OK with that right now. For now I want to concern myself with the form of life I am experiencing now. And I will have to let the other work itself out. It’s definitely outside of my pay grade. If I can make this one count for something good, then I trust things will work out in the end… well, if there is one.

In Faith, Me

 

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Suicide, Is It Ever a Viable Option?

Suicide:  Let’s talk about it.  I know someone who recently had a suicide in their family.  As the family started to put the pieces together, they learned that the young man had elaborately planned his demise.  This in spite of the fact that his secret was revealed prior to the day of decision and help was offered. 

So I have a few questions as it relates to this:

Is suicide ever a viable option for the hopeless?   What would you say to someone who told you he/she was contemplating suicide?  Would you try to convince them not to go through it?  If so what would you say?  Would you use bible scriptures or call the authorities? 

Have you ever thought about or considered suicide?  I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve been there.  I have strongly considered it before and planned it as well.  I consider it a miracle that I am here today. 

Have you ever thought about it or planned it?  Will you share?

From what I see, the stories of these kids who have killed themselves because of bullying have been sensationalized.  But several folks young and old end their lives daily and we hear nothing of it.

 Suicide is real and it’s here in a serious way.  So let’s talk about it!

Guilty Pleasures, Or Simptoms of a Workaholic

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2

Most of us understand that these economic times are challenging for most of America.  Far too many of us are looking for work and not able to find it.  As of now I am blessed not to have that problem.  I am employed by three different companies in addition to being an independent contractor myself.   As of now, having work to do is not a problem for me.  (knock on wood)

As a matter of fact to the contrary, I have been working in abundance and even more than what normal people do.  The two days I was off in February were the two days that I purposed to be off for my birthday.  Otherwise its been non stop.  Part of my business is seasonal so I have to grab many of the opportunities afforded me while they last.  Yet despite the lack of rest and constant running, the payoff is an attempt to try to get ahead, have savings and at least some sort of options for fun.  Then there are the occasional unexpected and expensive  items such as having to get a car repair.  I have all sorts of good reasons to justify getting my hustle on. 

And yet equally true is that I find on a day like today, an evening when I am actually off and purposed to rest and chill out for the evening to catch up on the rest that I have neglected, I find that very difficult to do.  On my way in from the office I stopped at the bank to make a deposit, and then to the store to pick up dinner.  I wanted to maybe get on the computer, or hop on the couch to watch some TV, (something simple and mindless as a matter of fact) enjoy dinner and chill out.  I wasn’t supposed to clean the kitchen or take out the trash.  Not supposed to wipe things down or police the area.  I’m tired for godsakes!  My mind is weary and my body is holding on for deal life.  But for some reason I find it hard to settle down and take advantage of the rest while I can.

It’s called being a workaholic.  And workaholics tend to feel guilty for having time off.  We feel unproductive when we aren’t accomplishing anything.  I got it bad.  When I was off for my birthday weekend, I was so tired for most of it I didn’t get to enjoy it quite as much as I should have.  I fell asleep early and was tired often.  At least then because I looked forward to it I purposed my heart to rest and relax.  I did for the most part.  Though I still ended up doing a bunch or errands.   After all, when your off work there lies the opportunity to do the things you never get to do when work is constantly calling such as pick up the items I dropped off at the cleaners a month ago or washing clothes before I run out of clean underwear.

Sigh.  I know that rest and relaxation are a part of having a balanced life.  I should embrace the restful times and take full advantage of the breaks I get.  I’ll work on it.  Been through this before.  Whenever my schedule gets this busy, there is an adjustment period where it takes me a while to get used to actually sitting still when I get a break.

In the meantime, I can’t allow guilt and the difficult times of America to NOT allow me to enjoy the blessings in life.  I’ve had hard times before and know in my heart I am thankful.  If I don’t enjoy my rest, I will be no less guilty of a lack of faith in God and His provisions.

Of Love and Relationship Roles ~ A Running Debate

Ok let’s talk.  I want to have a serious discussion about relational roles of a man and a woman.   This discussion comes on the heels of both a radio program I listened to recently, as well as a running debate I’ve had with a good friend of mine who happens to be  a very progressive and liberal thinking woman.  This is a person I deeply respect.  A great thinker.  But every time this subject comes up, it’s battle stations ready! 

Now before I pose the questions let me put down the ground rules so we can eliminate side arguments and certain defensive posturing.

1) In the relationship scenario – we are using as an example a good man and woman who are loving,  responsible, and respectful.  No need to say, “Well if he is a dog hell naw I ain’t submitting to him.” 

2) The author of this post truly honors and respects the worth of a woman.  Her contributions cannot be counted, and her abilities are almost limitless.   There is no sexism involved that says a woman cannot do such and such.

3) These are general principles and should be taken that way.  No need for extreme rebuttals on particular words and phrases.  Please take the theme in perspective and give the author the benefit of the doubt.  You may comment on the lines drawn in the sand areas.  There are only one or two at most.

On to the discussion of the day:

As progressive of a thinker as I am, I still hold to some old fashioned values of chivalry.  For instance I believe a man’s first priority towards his woman is to protect her.  That could be interpreted physically, mentally or whatever.  If a burglar were to enter the premises,  I would not ask my woman to “go check on that.”  She can be a combat expert in karate, M16s and explosives – doesn’t matter.  I don’t think it’s her “role” to protect me in that situation.  (Now if we are all fighting in some Bonnie and Clyde circumstance in public, that may be a different thing.  I believe in opening doors and pulling out chairs in a restaurant.  I believe a man should also love and cherish his woman.  He should listen to her and do all he can to understand her as she develops and changes.  I believe he should provide leadership and vision – providing a specific direction regarding the goals of the family etc.  Does this mean that the woman is not providing ideas, feedback etc.?  Of course not.  In this day and age especially, the 21st Century woman is more versed in the general affairs of society than ever before.  Her voice is vital and her contributions priceless.   In the idea situation, the woman will compliment her man by having gifts and talents that he does not possess to add to the value of the relationship.  He will do the same for her.

I believe a man’s purpose is to provide for his woman.  Not that she can’t make money.  She may even make more money than he does.  He should not be intimidated by her career or her goals in the marketplace.  He should support them.  At the same time he should be looking to provide for the day to day needs.   Depending on the lifestyle a family wants to live, nowadays it takes two incomes combined to make it happen.  Still it should be his goal to better himself to the point of being responsible just in case she can’t produce for whatever reason, i.e. childbirth, sickness etc.  This to me would be idea.

In terms of functioning day to day – couples should work together to make the household go round.  Take advantage of one another’s talents and gifts to make things as smooth as possible.  For instance, whichever person is good with organization may be the one to physically pay the bills.  If she loves yard work, perhaps she will cut the grass or rake leaves.  Just as well he may decorate the house if he has a visual perspective for decor.   The roles for day to day ops, should not be delegated merely by gender.

Here is where it gets sticky in the aforementioned debate.  I believe that a man should be the leader in the household and in the direction of the relationship.  If he is smart, he will recognize the strength and wisdom of his woman and receive her input as vital.  If he is leading in a direction that she does not approve of, he could be an emperor with no clothes.   Men have blind-spots and his woman should be a partner of ideas of valued discussions.  Still he is responsible for the safety and welfare of the family.  Both man and woman should be “equal partners” in terms of value, but do not foster equal roles within the structure.  Everyone is happy when they can agree, but if the couple don’t agree and a decision needs to be made he should make it after careful consideration.  Being “the man” to me merely means being responsible for the overall direction and course of the relationship and the family structure.  If it fails its on him unless he did all he could and his woman simply rebelled or decided not to follow his leadership.  Again this is assuming both parties are totally committed to the success of the relationship and family.

Furthermore, in my opinion a discerning woman will realize that her brilliance is never undermined when she accepts these precepts.  As a matter of fact, any man will tell you if his woman is not happy, the whole house is not happy. Any leading that he does she has to “let” him do anyway.  She can in her wisdom and love build him up to be the greatest leader he can be, or she can tear him down and attempt to make mincemeat out of him.  Like it or not, James Brown said it best.  “This is a man’s world.  (directional functioning) But it wouldn’t be nothing, without a woman, boy or girl.”  I’ve long had a saying, that God’s great equalizer to a male dominated society is a woman.  Because I don’t care how much a man accomplishes, his greatest desire after his purpose it to be loved, needed, appreciated, and respected by his woman.  Period.  So she is invaluable – and as I said women today especially are more skilled, sharp and able than ever before – and have carried men for a long time, especially black men in the midst of the struggle we have faced within society post slavery, Jim Crow, self identity crisis etc.  What a woman has to do and what a woman should be doing to me are two different things. 

The benefits of the progressive woman are obvious.  The advances have come hard fought and well earned.  Our society is still not progressive enough in my view in appreciating, protecting, and valuing women.  But the downside is this competitive paradigm for a power struggle.  Equal partners in terms of input and value does not mean equal parts of functionality.  I believe most women accept and even embrace the theory.  The problem becomes an issue of trust because of a negative track record with immature, ignorant, (ignorant in the derogotory as well as the without knowledge sense) and selfish men.  (Of which I have been in my day)

My friend thinks this is a sexist way of thinking.  That equal partners means equal everything.  There are two chiefs and no one is more in charge or responsible than the other. 

So chime in on this discussion.   What do ya’ll think??  Are my Fred Flintstone ideas merely prehistoric?  Is the old school way the best way? 

Please respond with love and intelligence as I have presented it with such.

Temptation

The subject of temptation is a fascinating one to me.  As people we are always tempted with something.  Normally when the word temptation is used it has to do with a form of the forbidden.  For instance if I commit to fasting for a certain amount of time, during that period I will at some point be tempted to eat.  I may be on day 3 of a 10 day fast for instance, and all of a sudden it’s free pizza day at work.  I can smell it, my stomach is grumbling and my body is craving the cheese and sauce.  Now what?

First let’s first define temptation.  I didn’t search the dictionary, but for the sake of this post, we will define temptation as: a desire to do or partake in something that is at least temporarily forbidden.  (I.e. food when fasting)  It is the compromise of the highest form of original intention, infecting personal character and integrity.  The core of these temptations stem from three areas: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  No temptation will exist without at least one of these at play.  Examples:

Lust of the flesh – You know you got a lady or a man – yet you feel tempted to flirt or allow yourself to be flirted with by that attractive person you see at the mall. 

Lust of the eyes – While at the same mall you see that outfit that you think is hot.  But you know you don’t need that outfit.  Furthermore, if you spend that money, you will put yourself behind the 8 ball and it will cost you more than the price of the outfit later.

Pride of Life – Driving from the mall a car cuts you off as you turn to approach the exit.  You know the best thing to do is turn the page and be thankful there was no accident.  Walk away.  But something inside says you should give that fool a piece of your mind. 

These are just some general examples.  We are constantly bombarded with temptations through life’s experiences as we just covered.  We are also tempted through media and advertisement.  Even the way your local grocery store shelves its products is a way to tempt you to spend more money on the most expensive products.

I am learning that what we do with temptation is what makes or breaks us in daily life.  Do we face temptation head on or do we slide backwards into its cunning and deceptive ways?  Recognizing temptation is the first key.  So often we are bombarded with images and situations, I’m not sure we realize how much we face on the day to day. 

The best way to deal with temptation is to confront it head on.  By that I mean we shouldn’t play ourselves into acting like we aren’t tempted when we really are.  If you are tempted to do something, just admit it.  Its not a sign of weakness but of strength to face the facts of self evaluation.  How many times have we put ourselves in bad situations because we were in denial about what was going on inside our hearts?  Only to find later we are filled with regrets of personal failings.  Once we face the reality of what is tempting us, next decide what to do about it.  If we take immediate action, we are far more likely to overcome that temptation.  If we allow the imagination to fester and permeate our psyche, we are more likely to fall into said temptation.  Excuse me for putting it this way, but temptation is a subtle mother-fucker!  And you can’t be pussying around with it either!  It has to be handled and dealt with head on or it will get you caught up with the quickness. 

For each person it’s important to know what it is you really want out of life.  What is the level of happiness you want to achieve?  What kind of house do you want to live in?  How healthy would you like to be and what kind of body do you want to have?  What kind of relationships do you want with your significant other, family and friends?  What kind of impact would you like to make in this life?  What do you need to do to make that impact?  What tenancies and weaknesses do you have that would prevent you from living your best life.  How far are you willing to go to maximize your potential and live your best life?  Answer these questions and you are on your way to living life in a real way. 

There is no shame in being tempted.  Jesus himself was tempted.  It will be an ongoing happening for the rest of our lives.  The man/woman of the highest level of integrity will recognize self tendencies and take appropriate action in order to ensure that life is lived with the greatest amount of freedom without the constant weight of consequences from bad decisions.  If our eyes are wide open to who we are and what is before us, we can use temptation and our success/failings as a barometer to measure personal growth.  The thing about temptation is this – being tempted never made anyone do anything they didn’t want to do.  No matter what temptations we face in life, we always retain the final rights of choice.  To not recognize temptation sets us up to merely fall over and over again into cycles of failure.  Understanding and self- knowing will help us make the right choices that we are willing to live with. 

Whatever you do with temptation is up to you.  Just keep your eyes open and take responsibility for what happens.

Self Brain Washing To Freedom

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Lately I have been experiencing some transition in my life.  Part of that is changing the way I have been thinking all of these years.  By this I mean from thinking through a mostly negative lense concerning my own self worth, my contributions to the universe and the potential for personal satisfaction.  This is no easy task as I have tried to do so in various ways throughout life such as through faith, reading, etc.  I remember watching “The Secret” and being so excited as they spoke of The Law of Attraction.  But these among others never really stuck.  Somehow trials, troubles and circumstances would take me right back to where I was before.  Sometimes I would just assume give up on it all. 

Well I am back at it again – but this time it seems different.  It seems as if my creator is speaking to my heart personally and that I am learning from within.  And with these words it seems as if information has been coming to me a mile a minute.  I hope that this is as real as it seems to me – real revolution from within. 

With that said I plan to document some of the things I am learning in this blog.  The purpose is not to preach or teach to anyone – but to pen these things as a reminder for myself.  At the same time if someone can benifit from these personal but not necessarily new revelations then thats great.   Stay tuned….

Grace & Peace