Monday, September 26, 2011

Life Beyond Christianity

My life beyond Christianity is not about giving any supreme being the finger or "enjoying" the sinful life. It's not about living a prideful life without the need of Big Daddy in the sky, or even a part of some Atheist/liberal/Evil anti-God agenda. My life beyond Christianity is not a life without meaning or sacredness, the core sacredness remains I've simply unchained the need for borders, labels, or tribal loyalties. At the heart of Christianity is (or at least should be) Love, love that transcends who we are and accepts us completely. The sacraments, rituals, and beliefs are just the language that attempts to translate that love into something tangible. I'm not seeking out to destroy the language but merely seeking THAT, the source beyond words.

If you were to ask a Christian (let's stick with Southern Baptist only because I know next to nothing about Eastern Orthodox Christianity) what God is, I mean really ask, they will inevitably end up telling you a story. Regardless if it's the Gospel story or their own testimony you will end up hearing a story. And why? Because there is power, beauty, and creation in words. Jesus is envisioned as The Word, as the source of all life, how can Christians not keep themselves from telling the Good News. But in the end the story points back towards That, the source beyond words! The story and the language are just vehicles and modes of expressions expressing a shared experience. It is that sense of community, the sense of connection with one another which is truly sacred. My personal choice to move beyond Christianity wasn't because the faith was lacking a sense of community but that I wanted to connect with a much larger community.This was as much of a personal choice as the personal choice of someone choosing to accept Christianity. The stories in the Bible don't have to be factually true to contain Truth, however, the Bible was written in a different time and place and many ideas, beliefs, taboos, etc. are no longer relatable or even morally acceptable. We've evolved (mostly) beyond slavery, treating women like property, and believing that the gods are the cause of natural disasters, so why can't we move beyond the need for our stories, our myths, to be factually true for them to hold any meaning or any values?

While I personally believe it's pretty messed up to turn to an outdated text for morality and daily guidance I understand why people do it: life is uncertain and people turn to something, anything which may anchor us through the chaos. But I find no peace or feel any transcendent love while reading Scripture (any scripture), just an interesting collection of stories. When I chose to leave Christianity I wasn't leaving behind Love, I was leaving the restraints which were keeping me from Love. This doesn't mean that Christianity is a monstrous, archaic evil organization filled with fearful angry bigoted people. Christianity can and is as beautiful and loving as the community of people which call themselves Christians. The beliefs and rituals don't speak to me, they don't help me to let things go, to move on, and to love my fellow man. It may work for others, and it worked for me for a time but not anymore. I know that may sound smug as if I were saying I'm too good for Christianity, and I apologize if that's the impression some may get. I see religion as language, it attempts to express something worth expressing but is limited by the words and symbols it uses. To me life beyond Christianity is an attempt to go beyond language to reach that something it tries to express. Or at the very least learn something about my own struggle, my own humanity, while attempting to reach THAT. The struggle, the journey, the experience itself is what I consider sacred, and the choice of leaving behind the Christian faith was my choice alone (not the Devil "tempting" me, nor the secular media "seducing" me into a life of Reason, etc.). I just want to express Love in other languages, or even using no language at all. We all know love when we see it, so can't we learn to let go of the words and experience it for a change? Is it really so evil/bad/sinful that I want to be more loving and understanding of my fellow man than I was yesterday?

Friday, September 16, 2011

B.F.F. T-Shirt Reprint

I've been waiting for this t-shirt to reprint for about a year. I completely forgot about it until I got an email yesterday about their recent reprint. This picture tickles me every time mainly because I'll never see this happen in real life, well at least in my lifetime. Order your t-shirt today so that we can be B.F.F. for life!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How NOT to Explain 9/11 to Children

 Only in America can you turn a profit on a national tragedy and sell it to children. Presenting the We Shall Never Forget 9/11 Kids Coloring Book by Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. On their website the company states that the coloring book  "is designed to be a tool that parents can use to help teach children about the facts surrounding 9/11. This book also describes basic freedoms in America. We suggest parental guidance." They also state that this has been their fastest selling book in their company's history. I'm not sure if I should be more concerned that this was marketed by the publisher as a "coloring novel" with a PG rating or that these coloring novels are flying off the shelves. Now there are and has been a lot of commemorative 9/11 merchandise out there but a coloring book for kids? Not only does the book fail to make any distinction between Islamic radicals and peaceful Muslims there is this following image of a Navy Seal taking out Bin Laden. The publisher has stated in multiple interviews that they have presented all the facts and are presenting them in this "coloring novel" to teach future generations about these "facts". Oh did I forget to mention that kids can color in the smoldering Twin Towers before their collapse?

I believe we shouldn't guard our children from heavy issues but for a parent to use this as a instruction tool just doesn't cut it for me. What's worse is that in the minds of an impressionable child material like this is similar to the propaganda distributed by terrorist organization: They are the enemy, They have attacked us, They hate us. The connection that children would naturally make is that Muslims= bad guys. The publisher states the book is not about Islam but about 19 hijackers who happen to be Muslim. The parents who purchase the book are more than likely to reinforce the negative stereotype that the publisher states is trying to avoid. Luckily children are very inquisitive and may begin to ask the tough questions their parents may not have the courage to ask themselves.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hiatus...Hello Sweetie!

So I've been out for awhile...a long while. I've been absent from the blogging world (reading and writing) due to minor health reasons and also because the Mrs. and I have been busy preparing for the arrival for our newest little bundle of joy. For the last month I've been busy painting and putting together the baby's furniture. Our kids are excited mainly because they now get to share a room with their new bunk beds. As a father of 2 kids I can honestly say that I can never get used to the anticipation of bringing new life into the world, and I'm sure my wife feels it 10 times more than I ever will. To be able to bring something new and unique into this beautiful, chaotic, and breath-taking universe is a blessing I will never take for granted. Which is why I can't understand why some people choose to abandon, abort, or even abuse their children. Now I'm not here to rally against abortion but simply stating that the anticipation and joy of bringing new life into the cosmos is so overwhelming that I can never imagine any other "options".

My wife is someone who is cutely impatient sometimes, and how can you blame her. I'd be the same way if I had to carry a life form which is constantly kicking and draining the life out of me. My wife is the type of person who can't wait to find out what happens in a book so she skips to the end or Googles the plot to see if the heroine of the story has a happy ending. This is why we're dishing out a few extra bucks to get the 4D ultrasound to see how River's face will look like. Yes, that's right, the Mrs. and I are HUGE Doctor Who fans and have named our new little girl after Riversong. I know it's not the most traditional of names but it is beautiful and of course my wife was also named after the witch from Bewitched. Nothing beats tradition. Now let's hope we don't run into a time traveling future version of River as we rush to the delivery room in December.