Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chattanooga Mosque update

I've been keeping up with the construction on the new mosque being built on Gunbarrel Road and happen to get a quick snapshot with my phone on my way home. Anyone interested can actually see it from the highway traveling north on I-75 just past Hamilton Place Mall here in Chattanooga. But with all the buzz and protest covering the Islamic center in Murfreesboro I'm wondering why no one has protested the construction of this one which is well on its way to finish. Opponents of the Murfreesboro mosque have recently cautioned the local Muslims from commencing with the groundbreaking. Not that I'm trying to draw negative attention to the mosque being built in my backyard, but if Islam really was the "Great Evil" it is claimed to be by these patriotic God-fearing Americans how come this one is being built without any Bible-thumping, anti-Islamic rallies? Maybe the local Christian community isn't as God-lovin', or flag wavin', as the ones in Murfreesboro, or maybe they're just ignorant of the neighbor they're suppose to love that they're unaware of their presence. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

I fear that if any attention is raised during the construction of this house of worship there may be a local backlash. But then again once it's completed the local Christian community might cry foul and claim the Muslims are creeping in, sneaking into our peaceful town to convert everyone on pain of death. Damned if we know, damned if we don't. Either way it'll catch heat, unless the local citizens are **gasp!** reasonable, rational people accepting we are a multicultural society and that there is no danger in letting an already present community construct a larger facility to meet, pray, and come together.

Of course if people like GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain had their way they would crush any sort of diversity and multiculturalism by claiming any outsider or foreigner as a threat. People like Herman Cain believe it's best that the Murfreesboro Muslim community stay in their presently cramped house of worship. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Who Are You? Who Am I?

It's questions like these which keep me probing, picking, and wrestling within my mind. The simple question "who are you?" is a corrosive enough question which most people don't even dare to reflect upon let alone answer. If you were to ask someone who they were they would respond with titles, labels, occupations, etc. But are you, am I, merely a collection of labels and titles?

That question itself is what put me on the path I'm on today. Once you allow yourself even once to peak beyond the Wizard's curtain you can't help but tear down every curtain you see. Asking questions is my spirituality, even though I know these questions might not ever lead to answers. I'm not looking for answers, which is what the religions of the world claim to have, I'm looking for interconnectedness with reality, my fellow man, the All. What better way to connect with one another than through the corrosive questions which melt away the labels and ideas which separate us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don't Waste Your Prayers on Me

"I'm praying for you" is the most common closing response I get whenever I share my lack of belief in Christianity or a supreme Being. I don't find it offensive or disturbing, simply pointless. Now I'm sure there are plenty of people praying for me to "see the light" and change my mind but if the prayers haven't worked so far why continue wasting your prayers on me, or any other unbeliever for that matter? I'm not saying prayer is pointless, in fact even as an unbeliever I find prayer and meditation an incredible way to connect oneself with the All, with everyone and everything else. Prayer is the vehicle which cracks open our hearts to reality and teaches us how to love one another through understanding and interconnectedness. Of course, this is my opinion as to how prayer should be utilized and not for one's own personal gain. Praying that your loved ones agree with you, join in with your tribal/religious community, is more for one's own interest than in the interest of the ones you're praying for, your fellow man.

So when I say don't waste your prayers on me I'm not saying stop praying, I'm saying change what you're praying for.
-Instead of praying for someone to turn from their sinful lives, pray for the empathy to cry and suffer with the suffering. In shared suffering comes unending love.
-Instead of praying for situations to go your way, pray for the strength to get through the tough times. Some things may be out of our control but that is why we have each other, to get us through the downs while enjoying the ups.
-Instead of praying for people to turn to God (i.e. accept your belief system), pray for the humility to understand your neighbor.Through understanding comes love.
-Instead of praying for the defeat of your enemies and the destruction of evil, pray for the courage to stand up against injustices.

Prayer only gets us halfway there, we must do our part to answer our own prayers.

On a related note John Shore has an incredible 3 part series on compassion and prayer for those we dislike or consider or "enemy", and the difference between praying for and forgiveness.