Religion, Ignorance the Problem, not Faith!

I was watching CBS Sunday morning last week (one of my favorite TV programs) and this particular segment on organized religion caught my attention.

Sometimes, I’m amazed at how many times we don’t think things through as a nation, as a people.  As advanced and thirsty for knowledge as we can be in other areas such as technology and science, we seem to be willingly prehistoric, simple and horribly less evolved when it comes to the subject of faith and religion than any other.

This all tends to create a major cluster-fu#! of ideologies.

Take this shirt for instance. (pictured below) After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, pictures like these flooded
Facebook and other social media timelines.  Let’s break down the dialogue and see if it jives with anything more than an ideological and political smokescreen:

dear-god-you-are-not-allowed-on-t-shirts

Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?

Signed a concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in schools.

God

This sort of message comes from the perspective of some Christians.  It’s directly related to the Supreme Court’s Ruling in 1962 via the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that made it illegal for the government to endorse religious practices in public schools. Since that decision the cries have been frequently ongoing from the conservative right lamenting that this law is somehow an affront to God.

The two scenarios are as follows:

1) That this law literally takes God’s divine presence out of public schools.

2) That tragedies are God’s punishment to the law.

Let’s examine scenario #1: This is the message of the t-shirt.  When I grew up in church I was taught that God was omnipotent.  That God’s presence is everywhere in the earth and the universe for that matter.  I was taught that the presence of God dwells not in buildings, but in the hearts of man. (Acts 7:48, Ephesians 3:17)

When I was in school, I prayed all the time.  I prayed to pass a test that I studied hard for, (or didn’t).  I prayed at lunchtime before consuming some of the worst foods that could be served to children.  My faith in the Divine was always within me.  There was no law that could ever legislate that away.  And so it is today.  If one honestly believes God to be all powerful, then to say God could literally be limited in some way by government is ridiculous.  It’s impossible, illogical and totally antithetical to any form of sound teaching.  I mean either God is or is not who those who follow God say God is.  And if God is, then how in the hell can one keep God out of schools or any other place for that matter.

Banning public school endorsed religious expressions actually does more to protect students of faith.  Seeing that not all Christian sects share the same specifics, how are children who aren’t raised Christian supposed to function healthily in a hostile Christian environment.  Are Muslims or Hindu’s going to get to pray their way too without ridicule?  (Well all know the answer to that!) And what about those whose parents don’t subscribe to prayer at all?

How can one expect to learn math and English if there is constant fighting about Muhammad vs. Jesus?  Since we obviously can’t play fair and respect anyone else’s views, as far as the classroom goes I’d rather keep faith expressions where they belong, in the privacy of hearts, and minds.

dobson

The latest example of the 2nd scenario comes from James Dobson who said that the shooting was a result of God’s judgment or revenge against the nation for allowing gay marriage and abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this kind of rhetoric.  It bastardizes the hurt of the families in Connecticut.  Dobson is doing what others like Pat Robertson have done for decades.  Blaming high profile crimes and natural disasters on God’s so called hate of ‘fags’ and a nation that has turned it’s proverbial back on God.  Its ignorant and blasphemous!  These false “profits” (yes I spelled it correctly) are in effect blaming God for evil; for slaying adults and children as some sort of payback.  Dobson is making himself out as God’s henchman.  Like a gangster movie where the muscle comes to extort the local business owner.  “The boss says if you don’t pay him his cut, well, I hope you have fire insurance.”

This is part of the reason why there are so many of the so called nones in the nation today as illustrated in the CBS piece.  People have grown tired and irritated of religious zealots with these hair brained ideas about who and what God is.  To these idiots, God is a finger waging children slaying gladiator out to uphold all things politically conservative.  These same ‘profits of rage’ never speak of hunger, poverty, racism, classism, racial injustices, cheating and lying preachers as reasons for ‘god’s punishment.’

If their theologies were true of God’s punishment of America, there wouldn’t be a nation on earth that doesn’t proclaim to be a Christian one in existence today.  Their God would have already destroyed them.  That would include Israel in that they don’t believe Jesus is The Messiah.

mafia

Religion: The Enemy of Faith

These religious wars have always been around and will always be.  Unfortunately faith and relationship with The Divine has gotten a bad name.

I have faith in The Divine.  I believe that I am an extension of The Divine.  I believe I have been created, that I have a purpose in this life and what I do, and how I relate to others who were created by The Divine matters.

My mother is a great woman of faith.  She will swear that who and what I am now is a direct result of years of nightly prayers for me.  Who am I to argue with that?

I, and many people like myself are people of faith who don’t subscribe to the character of The Divine being defined for us by people whose ideology are so flawed that only their own arrogance keeps them from recognition.  I support a faith that loves all of man kind.  A faith that comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry and have compassion on the sick.  I support a faith that protects, nurtures and trains children to inherit the next generation and take it as far as they can.  I support a faith that loves justice and compassion equally; that explores the individual and the collective benefactors of the human and humanity.  And I’m good with that.

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Encouragement, And Words that add Life

Proverbs 12:25

  Worry weighs a person down;
  an encouraging word cheers a person up.

My regular readers may remember when I officiated some basketball games and had this inward moral conflict going on inside me as to whether to take this extra money the tournament director tried to pay me.  I decided to give the money back but he let me keep it.  Read here if you didn’t see it.

Anyway that school had a tournament again this past weekend and I made my first return there since then.  I saw that same director who greeted me with a smile and said, “Man I am sure glad to see you.!”  I said, “Why do you say that?”  He said, “Because you are an excellent official, and a great person.”  Later on he joked with me about not wanting to take his money, and we had a laugh about it.  Needless to say he didn’t forget that incident and it made an impression on him.

I bring this up not to pay myself on the back.  Just last Thursday a parent greeted me on the floor after a championship game of 6th graders ended in an exciting buzzer beating finish.  I thought it was his kid that hit the shot and as he walked towards me with a half cocked grin,  I stopped, held out my hand to shake his and asked, “Was that your kid who hit the shot?”  He said, “No…  and you suck!”  There are times I literally leave a gym depressed and weighed down after having every single thing I call or don’t call loudly second guessed and throughout the course of a game been called everything BUT a child of God.  Sure some parents and coaches really know the game and some don’t know Sugar Honey Ice Tea!

The point of this post is just to say that Saturday I was really having a challenging day from an emotional perspective.  No matter what I try to be a top notch professional and have a positive attitude with the students I ref.  But I thought it would be a long day mentally and a part of me wanted to be someplace else.

Hearing the tournament director’s encouraging words really did a service to my spirit however.  For one I know that he is hard on officials.   I have read his emails to others criticizing officials who are lazy or those who may seem incompetent.  Bad officiating is bad for business as teams don’t want to pay to get in tournament if the refs are horrible.  Win or lose, coaches and parents will talk about who they think called a consistent game.  So I have a pretty decent reputation for handling myself a certain way.  That aside the fact that a guy took the time to say something good and meaningful to me pushed me to the point where I was able to manage the thing that was bothering me and really step my game up even more.

The world is really hurting out there.  And flowers are often needed when one is living, not at the funeral.  If you have something good to say about someone out there – something that you really mean from your heart that will add life, by all means say it.  You never know the effect it can have.  And you never know what someone is going through at the time you say it.

 

The Man Bible 3 – Live With An Open Heart, Even If It Hurts

Live With An Open Heart Even If It Hurts

 

Closing down in the midst of pain is a denial of a man’s true nature.  A superior man is free in feeling and action, even amidst great pain and hurt.  If necessary, a man should live with a hurting heart rather than a closed one.  He should learn to stay in the wound of pain and act with spontaneous skill and love even from that place. – David Deida

 

Oh boy!  This is a head banger for me!  WHAT?  Are you kidding?  Closing down in the midst of pain is my specialty.  And why shouldn’t it be?  Who wants to continue to punish themselves by subjecting themselves to further pain whether it is by way of cruelty or rejection from friends, a lover or whomever? 

 

I read this one and had to pause.  When I am confronted with these words, pain and bad taped memories rush to my mind and consciousness.  It would seem the logical thing to do, the smart and intelligent thing to do, the way that leads to survival is to step away from the pain as quickly and as completely as possible.  If you burn your hand on the stove do we leave it there for more?  I have gotten by some 40 years by doing this – though I have been known to stand and face some hard confrontations.

 

I can think of times when one of my daughters seemed to act as if she wanted nothing to do with me in spite of my coming to her time and time again.  I would explain possible misunderstandings to her and clear the air though I knew she was often stubborn or the recipient of bad information. After a while I would say to myself, “How many times must I come to you?  You are old enough to take a step yourself.  I am tired of putting myself out there to be rejected!”  Sometimes those close to me would say that I should keep extending the open arms regardless.  They say she will come back around and see that you were down with her all the time.  Hmmm.

 

My spirit man understands fully the need to remain open and to love unconditionally through my pain.  It recognizes that this is essential to true and authentic love being displayed.  It resonates with the fact that often it takes this kind of love to break the walls of pain in the heart of others in order to heal, cleanse, and initiate the process of reconciliation.  It understands fully well that this is totally necessary.  And yet in my present state I have not attained.  Sure there have been times where I have stepped to the plate to take some more swings during the process of spiritual and emotional battles.  These are occasions when I seek that small glimmer of hope that the reaction to my attempts will be welcomed and accepted. But for the most part, I run like hell from pain.  The funny part is that rarely does it ever work.  If anything I can temporarily suppress it with self mediated methods.  But that only last for so long. 

 

I know that I need to grow in this area.  And I believe I will.  I have to learn to turn pain in to my friend and see it as a challenge that calls for my best to overcome.  My mind gets it.  My heart understands it.  For this to become who I am however will only come by experience.  And in the midst of the heat it’s hard to see the other side. Brothers and sisters I readily admit – I am not there yet.  But I want to be. I will strive to be.  Lord help me.

The Man Bible 2:Stop Hoping for a Completion of Anything in Life

Stop Hoping for a Completion of Anything in Life

 

Most men make the error of thinking that one day it will be done.  They think, “If I can work enough, then one day I could rest.” Or, “One day my woman will understand something and then she will stop complaining.” Or, “I’m only doing this now so that one day I can do what I really want with my life.”  The masculine error is to think that eventually things will be different in some fundamental way.  They won’t.  It never ends.  As long as life continues, the creative challenge is to tussle, play, and make love with the present moment while giving your unique gift.  – David Deida

 

A scripture came to mind to me when I read this for the first time. 

 

Genesis 8:22 For as long as Earth lasts,  planting and harvest, cold and heat,  Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.”

 

This to me refers to the cycles of life.  Though each day has its own special gifts and opportunities to present, there are some basic fundamentals that will never change.  Planting and harvest talks about labor or putting in work, as well as receiving rewards for that work.  Cold and heat are about the ups and downs we experience during this journey.  Regardless of how well we lead our lives, none of us are exempt from difficulties, challenges, hurtful experiences and losses.  If we hang in there we will also have our experiences of unspeakable joy as well.

 

As a man, I find that I enjoy doing and completing task.  Completing task solves problems.  And yet I find that I can complete a task and think I have graduated that particular lesson – sometimes only to battle the same things over again.  Something or someone is always in some sort of need – as am I.  I have often though that once I get a particular lesson everything will be ok.  Once I understand and walk in a principle things will change.  But as the writer says, they do not.  The only thing that can change is me.  I can get better, develop more understanding and attain strategies to operate more smoothly through adversity. 

 

The issue is not solving all the problems in my life. (Though I am a problem solver by nature)   The issue is to learn from the lessons and grow into a person who transcends my challenges, embracing the flow of yin and yang – understanding that some basic lessons are taught over again in varying degrees.  I suppose this is what it means in understanding that life is not about the destinations but the journey.  If I journey well, I will reach certain destinations.  But like one of those video games the levels just keep coming and with the new levels come new degrees of difficulties.  The further I go, the more “points” I can gain as my skill level increases.  I become qualified for more challenges, but the game will never end.

 

In terms of dealing with the woman who complains or doesn’t seem to ever understand me, Deida says it best:

 

The feminine always seems chaotic and complicated from the perspective of the masculine.  The next time you notice yourself trying to fix your woman so that she will no longer __________ (fill in the blank), relax and give her love by touching her and telling her that you love her when she is this way.  (whatever you filled in the blank with) Embrace her or wrestle with her, or scream and yell for the heck of it, but make no effort to bring an end to that which pisses you off.  Practice love instead of trying to bring an end to the quality that bothers you.  You can’t escape the tussle with the feminine. Learn to find the humor in the unending emotional drama the feminine seems to enjoy so much.  The love that you magnify may realign her behavior, but your effort to fix her and your frustration never will.

 

Can the church say Amen?

 

By the way, I decided to roll with this topic every weekday till it’s done.  If I decide to write about something else as well – I will.  But for me this is what is hot.  So I will ride it out. 

 

Tomorrow, “Live With An Open Heart, Even If It Hurts.” 

 

 

The Man Bible: A Series from BB&G

Folks, it has finally happened.  I read a lot of books.  Some of them are very good.  Practically, I used to buy them all and then I got hip to this little known gem called the library where I can read them for free.  J  Some books aren’t available at the library.  However, some that are are so good that even after I’ve read them, I still had to purchase it to preserve my own copy.  The book I am about to introduce is such a book.  As a matter of fact, this book (though I have not completed it yet) is so significant that I plan to always have it close to my person to remind me of its many principles.  Some of them I have read repeatedly and yet it seems as if I get something fresh each time. 

 

MEMO TO MEN: If you are 100% the total man not lacking in any areas of understanding, disregard the rest of this post.  Otherwise if you are like me working towards attaining total manhood get this book in your hands. 

 

The book is called, “The Way of the Superior Man,” A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire.  Written by, David Deida, it has spoken more to my core than any piece of literature I have come across.  It speaks towards my life and purpose as it relates to a level of manhood I truly desire for myself.  I have already recommended it to a good friend, and will give it out as gifts to other men.  I cannot say I subscribe to every single principle in the book, (Everything will not apply to everyone.) I see the totality of the work as significant and vital to being the man I would admire and respect the most.  It’s so challenging that some of it I just laughed at knowing it was right but that I was far from it. This work is a life changer.  Once read all the rules change. I am hooked.

 

Book Cover

 

I am not sure how often I will do this- perhaps once a week I will share a challenge in the book and when applicable relate an example to my own life.  If you are a man or a woman, feel free to comment on some of these principles.  Tell us if you agree or not.  When it speaks of things related to the interactions of women and men, a woman’s point of view is definitely welcome.  More and more I am finding that women are hard to understand.  Sometimes it seems impossible.  But indeed it’s very possible to learn to manage a level of resonating and acceptance based on her gifts and ways of thinking.  My whole educational process on the matter is being totally revamped.  And I can see where I have been banging my head to no end. 

 

Let’s start to review some principles tomorrow.  After that I will decide how often and what days we can discuss the principles.  In the meantime, as I said earlier I suggest picking up a copy whether through the library or your local bookstore.  I warn you though – be ready to re-think some things.  And regardless of how much you buy into personally, the wisdom in this book will not allow you to remain the same.  Here’s to growth!