Why I Could Never Again Be a Christian in America

First clarifying a couple things:

I dislike or hate people of Christian faith: To the contrary.  My mother is a Christian woman who’s faith shapes everything she is about.  She is a loving, wise, and generous soul.  Of the many times we talk, rarely does a conversation end without her talking to me about prayer.  She says often that, “God hears your prayers, son.”  She doesn’t say that like, ‘God hears everyone’s prayers.’ It’s one of those, ‘you have a gift and because your heart is good, God hears you,’ kinds of things.  Many of my close relatives, friends and social heroes are Christians.  Coming from a Christian background myself, there was a time when I based everything I lived on what I was taught within it.  If only I had a dollar for every time I was told I was going to be a preacher!

I am not an atheist:  I am a believer in evolution by the truest definition. There is easily accessible evidence that people and nature evolves and has been since the beginning. No way in hell do I trust that all that is glorious and magnificent in the universe is random.  It’s simply unintelligent to witness science, which is also merely discovering what is already, be fascinated by the wonders of what we could never duplicate, witness how nature and the world works together to sustain order and still somehow arrogantly believe it’s all by chance.  What I tend NOT to believe however, is that if we were to somehow be privy to the genesis of the universe, the answers would revolve around a religious mandate.  In other words, I don’t believe the Architect, if you will, would be obsessed with him/her/itself.  “Hey guys, its all about ME!  Worship ME!  Sing about ME!  Pray to ME!  Want rewards?  Come to ME!  Avoid destruction?  Come to ME!  ME ME ME!  Anytime there is an obsession with the WHO of God, there is by extension a narrow distinction which separates and isolates those who are not within that same group.  Basically it’s a group of people saying they have the market cornered on the WHO, and if you don’t accept their version of this entity, you are doomed for all eternity.

I’m courageous enough to ask critical questions and live within the journey as things unfold.  My faith tells me that anything I need to know to live my best life in this world is available to me.  This world is the only one I am present in and therefore assuredly accountable to.  

With that, there are many schematic reasons why I cannot embrace Christianity.  But I am not going to quibble with theology, dogma or doctrine.  My frustration is simply the wildly selective, inconsistent, hypocritical and vile display of all the worst in human nature that cuts against every basic principle taught by Jesus himself.  Though this is nothing new, specifically as it relates to Christian Conservatism.  I remember going to church during George W Bush’s re-election campaign.  The pastor of a local church here in St. Louis, named Raphael Green said, “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.  But as a Christian you shouldn’t vote for anyone who is for killing babies.”   Translation – Vote for Bush.  Nothing wrong with being anti-abortion.  But being pro-life in all phases of humanity is consistent with the teachings of Christ.  It is now as it was then that Christians tend to care a helluva lot about the unborn, while caring little for the child who has ventured past the womb.  During that election cycle the church by in large took the position that the areas of abortion, gay rights and school prayer were the only issues that really mattered when choosing a given candidate.

I look at today’s embracing of Donald Trump by Christian Conservatives now as,”the more things change, the more they stay the same”.  The reality is that those Trump supporters who carry Christianity as a banner are race and religious separatists.  These are the same people who hate Barack Obama with all of their hearts.

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Let’s look at Mr. Obama (regardless of politics). Married to one woman; faithful husband and father of two daughters, has brought no scandal to the White House whatsoever during his 8 years in office.  His daughters are stellar and controversy free!   Christians should love them for modeling ‘traditional’ family, right?  No.  Their lives as a witness never stopped Evangelicals from railing against him at every turn.  Never did they stand up to birthers who questioned the president’s citizenship.  Christians refused to acknowledge the President’s own claim to the Christian faith.  According to Pew Research Center, 70% or Republicans are white evangelicals.  80% of Mormons are Republicans. According to The Hill, 43% of Republicans still believe the POTUS is a Muslim.  These evangelicals have never embraced President Obama on any subject matter.  There were even preachers who hate him so much they had the nerve to say God hates him, and even prayed for his death!  Imagine that!  I never heard the Christian Right criticize this or other ministers who used their pulpits in churches as platforms for attacking the president’s character and at times calling for his literal execution (from White or Black preachers).  Meanwhile, unemployment numbers are down to record lows.  The stock markets rose to epic levels even after the deepest recession in decades in 2008.

Now let’s look at Donald Trump.  The Donald, a serial adulterer, who publicly flaunted his new women while being married to the old ones.  He had a child with #2 while being married to #1.  He ‘joked’ that if Ivanka wasn’t his daughter, he would sex her up as well.  Not a big deal?

But let’s put Barack Obama in Trump’s shoes and then tell me if the person who takes this point of view is going to feel the same.  Trump claims to be Presbyterian, but openly admits that he has never and will never ask God for forgiveness regarding anything.  This eliminates him from the possibility of being a Christian according to Christian teaching.

“Why do I have to repent, why do I have to ask for forgiveness, if you are not making mistakes? I work hard. I’m an honourable person. I have thousands of people who work for me. I have employed tens of thousands of people over the years.” – Trump on Anderson Cooper 360 July 2015

This dude is so biblically inept that he blamed his ‘Two Corinthians” comments on the Evangelical Minister Tony Perkins who gave him his talking points for his speech at Liberty.

“Tony Perkins wrote that out for me. He actually wrote out the 2, he wrote out the number 2 Corinthians. I took exactly what Tony said, and I said, ‘Well, Tony has to know better than anybody.'”

Militarily, Trump criticized Arizona Senator John McCain for ‘getting caught’ as a POW.  Of McCain he said, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  He refuses to attend a debate because Megan Kelly is a moderator, saying he’s going to raise money for wounded veterans.  I wonder why?  I would think he would be more approving of veterans who didn’t get shot or wounded from IADs.  The reality is, he doesn’t want to be a part of any situation where he does not control 100% of the narrative.  All of this and yet… he is the leading GOP candidate among American Christians.

I was watching CSPAN the other morning.  The subject for the open phone section was for Conservative Christians as to whether they were voting for Trump or Ted Cruz.  Most all of them chose Trump.  The moderator asked a few of the callers if they believed Trump was a Christian.  One lady said she believes he is.  When the moderator talked about how he didn’t feel the need to ask for forgiveness, she said, “I know.  He’s still a Christian in my heart.”  WTF????   I guess its the way he mocked a mentally disabled journalist that was indicative of the character of Jesus.

When asked about Trump’s comments about having so much support that he could shoot someone and still not drop in the polls, another Christian caller laughed it off and said it was funny. When asked about Trump’s 3 wives and history of infidelity, another Christian caller said, “As long as he keeps it with women!” 

This isn’t just for white Christians either.  A plethora of Black Conservative Christians that came out the wood-work early on slobbered all over Trump for his money.  They tout his business savvy in spite of several bankruptcies.  When questioning that logic they say, “Well he just took advantage of the system the way it’s set up.”  Not quite like calling him a welfare businessman or predicting he would be a food stamp president as Newt Gingrich called President Obama.  I wonder if these people know that ultimately the tax payer picked up the tabs for these business decisions that put thousands out of work?  Now these Christians who criticized Obama for being ‘ungodly’ after almost a decade when confronted with Trump’s shenanigans, all of a sudden say they are electing a president and not a pastor.  The hypocrisy revealed by irony has been on warp speed in 2015 and the start of 2016.

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The Trump phenomenon is just an example. The rest of the Christians favor Ted Cruz.  This is a man who’s father tags along with making statements like, “What many people don’t understand, is the fact that Obamacare was actually put in place to act as a bridge for ISIS terrorists. A bridge that’s supposed to enable them to come here illegally and pose as doctors who allegedly want to help. And that’s not surprising, considering the fact that fewer and fewer doctors in our country are actually Caucasian, which is something Obama is well aware of, hence Obamacare as his weapon of choice. Do you understand what I’m saying? Our president is actually helping terrorists come to this country and not only that, he has created a permanent way for them to be able to wreak havoc all across America.”   Ahh, just let that sink in a moment!

I’ve talked to some of my black and white conservative friends about this subject.  Most of them are so blinded by their hatred of abortion, and same sex marriage, all the other scriptures regarding love, truth, justice and righteousness seem irrelevant.  For instance:

Mass Incarceration: These are the numbers for the federal prison population increase for mostly low level drug offenses:

1990 – 64,936

1995 – 100,958

2000 – 145,125

2005 – 187,394

2010 – 210,227

For states the total is well over 2 MILLION!  In most of these states prison is privatized and in addition, these institutions are guaranteed by the state to have a certain percentage of inmates. Where is the church on this?

We have a water crisis of epic proportions in Flint, Michigan.  This was caused by men who decided that poisoning an entire mostly minority and impoverished community was suitable.  Where is the outcry from the church regarding how Jesus said that how you treat the least of them is how you treat him?  I remember when Pastor Marvin Winans, in Detroit, refused to baptize a young woman’s child because the woman had the baby out of wedlock!  Won’t hear a word from him on this!  Black ministers are the worst for being fixated on material things, building mega churches and flying in private jets. If you held your breath waiting on them to speak on other issues like what Michigan’s governor did to residents in Flint, you would pass out.

I’ll tell you some of the reasons why they won’t say a word.

  1. They are bought and paid off.  These ministers make much of their money by networking with other ministers.  They don’t want to jeopardize those relationships and compromise future earnings from speaking engagements and perdiems.
  2. White Evangelicals have defined the metrics for what is moral vs what is ‘just the devil, and is therefore ignored.’  While they railed against gay rights and abortion at the turn of the century, they ignored the lies by a previous Christian president (Bush) that got us into war, murdered tens of thousands Iraqi civilians and mentally destroyed thousands and thousands of US servicemen and women. Clearly for them God only moral emphasis deals with who has sex with whom, and whether women keep the babies they are impregnated with, even if they are raped.  Many black ministers were given their biblical points of emphasis and marching orders by their white counterparts.  Since these white ministers are the majority that provide the gateways to get wealth, they close their eyes and ignore the obvious.
  3. Tribalism: Like most other religions, there is an US vs THEM state of mind.  If you’re not in the group, there is reticence to ask serious question and challenge any thought that doesn’t already support the status quo.  When 5 Americans were released from Iran recently, one of my Facebook friends only mentioned Christian pastor Saeed Abedini’s release as ‘an answered prayer.’  In other words, to hell with them other dudes.  I guess they’re just lucky or got to roll on the pastor’s coattail.

I’ve had conversations with black ministers.  There is only one that I know who agrees with me.  The others tell me that I am using my intellect too much.  When I challenge their ideas of traditional marriage with facts about the historical precedence of marriages being arranged for money, class, and inheritance, or how the god in the bible never challenged men who had multiple wives, even Solomon who had 700 of them along with 300 extra concubines, they say I am rejecting the word of God with my rebellious logic.  When I ask them which sex hermaphrodites should choose and who are they to marry, I get nothing but a dismissive smirk.  I’m sorry, but I just cannot accept this American Western civilization’s version of morality and base my life on it.  I cannot suspend serious questions just to make it into their heaven.  I cannot suspend critical thinking for the sake of the fear that I won’t have fire insurance. I cannot live in a bubble that ignores police brutality, and mass incarceration, while denying climate change.  I refuse to submit to a theology influenced and based on (that continues to be filled with) White Supremacy.

The Black church, while never perfect, used to be about something.  Going back to the 50s  and 60s, ministers like Martin King would use his influence to force those in government to hear the issues of the poor, those who were discriminated against and so forth.  In the tradition of Moses they echoed they cried, “Let my people go,”  when those at the bottom were being trampled upon. Today’s preachers just want to be in Pharaoh’s house. They want to rub shoulders with him and speak of his great virtues.  “He’s a billionaire and knows how to make money!”  They have become concerned with prestige and profits instead of being prophets.  These days far too many black churches have allowed themselves to be spiritually manipulated into fighting culture wars. I’ve had to debate black Christians who have defended Kim Davis for breaking the law of the Supreme Court.  And yet Kim Davis would never ever stand up for them if they were profiled and shot dead unjustly by police. She doesn’t desire to worship and associate with black Christians.  Think about it.  THE most segregated hours in America remain on Sundays between the hours of 10:00 am and Noon.

Martin Luther King Jr., with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy (center) and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, defied an injunction against protesting on Good Friday in 1963. They were arrested and held in solitary confinement in the Birmingham jail where King wrote his famous "Letter From Birmingham Jail."

Martin Luther King Jr., with the Rev. Ralph Abernathy (center) and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, defied an injunction against protesting on Good Friday in 1963. They were arrested and held in solitary confinement in the Birmingham jail where King wrote his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Can you imagine Martin King, Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy caping up for Trump, Cruz, and Huckabee over same sex marriage, abortion and guns?

Encouraging enough, some of my Christian friends praise me for my stances and the challenges I bring to their thought process.  More of them pay attention to my social media posts than I ever imagined, though they rarely make it publicly known.  I appreciate that.  My goal is only to provoke thinking and searching.  If something is true, it will continue to be true after further investigation.  If it’s not, one should strive to grow beyond remaining in a comfortable lie.  It was very difficult for me to walk away from that which I knew my entire life.  But I am thankful to have the courage to ask questions and not be afraid of the journey.  The problem with religion is that it doesn’t trust people with that journey. It has to tell us what to do and how to find God it’s way.  It sets the perimeters and doesn’t allow for any personal discoveries.  It’s controlling.  I’ve always said that if technology progressed like religion, we would still be riding camels and horses.  We certainly wouldn’t have computers and smart phones.  Technology is growing by leaps and bounds simply because of a hunger and thirst to learn more and reach for the possibilities.  And yet everything we are supposed to know about The Divine and our own lives has been completed hundreds of years ago?  I appreciate the United Church of Christ for their slogan, “God is still speaking.”  It gives us hope.  **Shout out to Rev. Tracie deVon Blackmon, a real 21st Century warrior and an excellent example of the teachings of Christ!

I am for a faith that is concerned with promoting all that is good, that speaks out against all wrongs without any sacred cows.  A faith that isn’t too afraid to think, question, challenge and grow from it’s evolution.  A faith that loves justice, grace and kindness.  If all this Evangelical Jesus cares about are the things they emphasize, as Curtis Mayfield once said, “If there’s hell below, we’re all gonna go!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Of Michael Sam, Black Folk and the Deity Factor

When I was at Webster University I took a class called Religion and Political Conflict.  It was one of my favorite classes, as it inspired critical thinking. Our professor, Chris Parr assigned us a paper asking the question: Why do people threaten violence and wage war in the name of religion?  I titled my response paper, “The Deity Factor.’

The basic premise is that a person will do most anything no matter how heinous if they believe the orders are from their highest power.  As much good that is done in this world for the sake of the deity factor, there are just as many if not more evil done against mankind. This could range from feeding the poor, evangelism, or strapping a pack of C4 on their bodies and killing innocent people. Logic and self analysis fall to the deity.  This is because the follower believes his/her eternal state depends on pleasing the deity.  Frankly, when dogmatic belief is serious enough, one would do anything to satisfy that longing to be approved of by his god.

What is interesting about the deity factor, is that it’s easy for those to believe their own illogical ideologies, while thinking others are ridiculous.  For instance, I can’t understand how radical Muslim extremist believe that the reward for martyrdom is 72 virgins in the great by and by.  I mean, you blew your body to pieces, and dead people can’t have physical sex.  And what does that say about a female martyr?  She can’t have 72  fresh penises because the sexism that rules on earth carries over to heaven or paradise. Sounds like a raw deal for the sisters to me!

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Unnamed female Islamic radical

There is a segment of the White Christians who inherently believe that they are superior to all others based on their color.  They have used their interpretations of the bible to justify slavery then, and status now.

As silly as that martyr/virgin sounds to most, many Christians, don’t see the similarities or hypocrisy they display when they openly discriminate against the gays and lesbians.  This seems especially true of the Black Christian community.  I’ve had a plethora of discussions with my Black  Christian socially conservative friends.  I am amazed at how they hand select scriptures that supports their discriminative beliefs, but turn an unapologetic blind eye to other scriptures that would make their own lives uncomfortable.  Many are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people.  But once the dogma of the deity come into play, they turn into blind nincompoops.

I wasn’t always as passionate about supporting the LGBT community as I have been in recent years.  I had never been an all out bigoted idiot, but I certainly wasn’t a friend.  There are some elements within the gay community that still rub me the wrong way.  I still typically frown on what I view as an overly effeminate male who acts more girlish than the most girly girl I know.  I agreed with a former gay male friend of mine when he told me, “I’m gay, but I can’t stand a sissy!”  That’s on me and I’ve been working on growing above that judgment.

A more appropriate critique that I do challenge them on is wanting to be equal without embracing the ability to take a joke. I hate racism but I am able to critique black folk,  laugh at myself and my people.  No group can truly prosper and be taken seriously if its members take themselves too seriously. Some of my gay friends haven’t gotten there yet.

In a most recent conversation on social media, some black folks were asking the question, “Why does Michael Sam have to announce that he’s gay?  What is the big deal?  He’s gay…. I’m straight.  So what?”  I explained why Michal Sam made his announcement.  (As if it wasn’t obvious)  I further explained that these same people who resent Sam for making his ‘announcement,’ don’t bat an eye when a ball player is interviewed after a victory and they say, “I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ who gave us the victory.”  When Kurt Warner played for the Rams, St. Louisans heard this every week.  (Unless the Rams lost and Kurt sucked)  When Tim Tebow talked about his faith 24-7, it never occurred to Christians who supported his rhetoric, that Jesus never threw a pass, never threw a block, made a devastating tackle or sacked the other team’s quarterback.  Public figures give credit to their deity thereby ‘announcing’ their religious beliefs every day.

Christians love it when famous people do it.  It confirms their own brand of faith.  On the flip side, they merely reject Sam because his gayness doesn’t jive with their brand of religion dogma.  I told my Christian friends that to reject this recognition in light of the original question they posed about Sam’s announcement is being intellectually dishonest.  Of course, neither logic, theory, nor the incredible amount of irony couldn’t crack that steel wall of dogma!

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Michael Sam’s return to Mizzou Feb 15, 2014

I pointed out that… “the real issue for you wasn’t Sam making an announcement, it was what he announced.  To suggest otherwise when you applaud announcements that support their own beliefs  is hypocrisy and intellectually dishonest.  And while gays are catching hell every day, you lack empathy for their struggle while still getting pissed at white folk who are racist against you and people who look like you.”

Look, the LGBT community has been here since the beginning of civilization.   In 20 years, there may not be a such thing as a closeted gay person.  You won’t be able to pray them away… and they aren’t trying to change your minds about them.  Neither will I.  You are free to hold on to your prejudices.  Just keep in mind the flip side.

Every time you criticize them for asking for what is rightfully their’s, (which is to live and be allowed to live,) you sound just like White folk who say, “I’m tired of your black shit!  Trayvon Martin was a thug and deserved what he got!  And so did Jordan Davis. What are you crying about?  This isn’t 1964 anymore.  Don’t talk to me about disproportionate injustice and  mass incarceration rates.  You have Oprah, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.  Dammit you have a black president for godsakes.  I never owned slaves.  Shut the hell up about racism already!   

Many Christians I know say that homosexuality and gay rights are being forced down their throats.  And yet this is the same language used in Mississippi, Alabama, and so forth when it came to Black folk as it pertains to equality.

I am certainly not going to suggest that you change your mind about approving of homosexuals.  Just as I am not looking to convince a racist white person to appreciate me for who I am.  But what I am asking you to consider is the same thing I ask of the prejudice:  

You don’t have to love me.  You don’t have to like or approve of me.  But don’t attempt to stop me from prospering.  Don’t kill me advocate or excuse violence against me.  Don’t arrest me for unjust reasons.  Don’t deny me equal opportunities.  Don’t stand in my way as I look to create a decent life for myself and feed my family.  Don’t support legislation that denies me full equal rights that you support for yourself.  Keep your prejudices if you must, but don’t exploit my life and ruin my opportunities because of them.  And dammit don’t support or excuse those who do.

If you can do that, you won’t hear me say another word!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Easter Eggs, Speeches, Pets, & Billy D

me

As we approach this holiday that we call Easter or Resurrection Sunday as the new term goes among Christians, I can recall how I viewed the most famous Sunday of the year.   My first memory was the first Easter egg hunting contest I participated in at the age of 4.  It was at Frank Holten State Park in East St. Louis with Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.  This was the first time that I discovered my competitive streak because I remember saying to myself, “I have to win this contest!”  I was fired up!  Next thing I know when they said, “Go!” I was out like a Child of the Corn snatching up eggs left and right under trees, bushes, leaves or whatever!  I filled up with more than two dozen and smashed the competition.  I enjoyed the praise from my mother and felt that first sense of pride and accomplishment.  Sadly I never won another egg hunting contest.  But who cares right?

As a side note on the egg hunting subject: I can’t help but remember my friend Allison who has three dogs.  The animals are her “kids” if you will.  And I remember that in years past she would have Easter egg hunts among her pets.  I witnessed one of these and it was just hilarious as she hid the eggs and then told the doggies to go for it.  Of course they would look at her like, “What the hell?”  Then she would blissfully lead each one to find their own eggs.  “Over here Snickers…look!  Ohhh you found it!”  (Clapping) A God loving Lutheran from Wisconsin, it was all about tradition and love.  I admired her commitment.  But it was still funny! 

The next thing that comes to mind about Easter is the infamous speeches we had to give in church.  I remember my first one of course.  I was pressed in my new suit and clean with my tight hair cut.  It was pretty simple since I was pretty young.  I stood in front of the church in silence, just long enough to make them think I had forgotten my lines.  Then burst out with, “What are you looking at me for?  I didn’t come to stay.  I just came to say Happy Easter Day!”  To which they all laughed and I was relieved.  See I was just a little tot, but that line was befitting my stage of advancement.  No way I was going to just accept saying, “Jesus wept.”  I knew that was weak!

When I was about 12 or 13 the stakes got raised.  At Mt. Calvary Baptist in South Bend, we had a sunrise Easter play.  No biggie.  I would just be a disciple or something.  Something without too many lines.  But no!  The teacher who also happened to be my principal at school Mr. Jordan thought that I should be Jesus.  I was like, “Noooooooo!” cause he was the main character and had tons of lines.  I was not trying to remember all those lines. Who did he think I was?  Billy D. Williams or something?  “Look man, I can be a great sheep!”  But no.  He said, “I think you’re the brightest kid here.  I know you can handle it.”  Geeeez!

The play was pretty serious which included me carrying the cross on my back to the choir stand and being crucified.  I got through the lines pretty well too with the exception of the one time I got in the middle of the B-Attitudes… “Blessed are the uhhhh… (silence)  …they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”  (Sigh)

As an adult, now I look at Easter as the one day I won’t go to church cause it’s so crowded.  When I attended church regularily, I looked at it as giving up my seat for those who would only attend this one day a year.  I also see the Saturday before Easter as the one day you don’t want to be caught needing a haircut cause you can forget it as every black man with a fade, crop, or afro would be lined up trying to get that fresh cut to go with that suit he’s going to buy later on that day.  Ha!  That is for the birds.  Now Easter for me is an easy going Sunday that I hope to just relax on.  Sure I remember the resurrection, but it’s something I tend to think of several hundred times the rest of the year.  Neither of these remembrances require a speech, a play, an egg hunt, a hair cut, nor a suit.  And I am cool with that.

A Call To Oneness – Listen up if your in “The Lou”!

 

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This looks to be an exciting and worthwhile project being put on by many committed men and hosted by “Shalom Church (City of Peace)” in Florissant.  You can click on the pics for a better look at the details.  There will be a panel discussion, workshops and a rally all coming up this weekend.  Activities and workshop locations vary throughout the area.  Call the number listed or visit the site for more information.