Sunday, June 9, 2013

We're All Stories, In the End.

I saw this on Facebook and felt it was worth sharing. The quote comes from the season 5 finale of Doctor Who, "The Big Bang". The Doctor's last words to a sleeping Amelia Pond:
"It's funny, I thought, if you could hear me, I could hang on, somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you'll have a mum and dad, and you won't even remember me. Well, you'll remember me a little. I'll be a story in your head. But that's OK: we're all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know, it was the best: a daft old man, who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you I stole it? Well, I borrowed it; I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy, you'll dream about that box. It'll never leave you. Big and little at the same time, brand-new and ancient, and the bluest blue, ever. And the times we had, eh? Would've had. Never had. In your dreams, they'll still be there."
 The line used in the picture has stuck with me because it sums up what I believe. After our bodies return to the Earth our stories continue. These stories connect and define us while also creating new stories. A beautiful example of the interconnectedness of our stories is portrayed in last year's film, Cloud Atlas. The film is based on David Mitchell's 2004 novel which consists of six stories spanning from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future. The characters of the six eras are connected to each other through storytelling and are inspired by that connectedness to fight the injustice of their time. The stories stand alone independently but when they are told together they create a beautiful interwoven tapestry of us, a story of being human.

Some people fear that they'll be forgotten after their death, but even the shortest and seemingly insignificant of lives have a part to play in the choir of humanity. One of my favorite Doctor Who scenes happens between Wilfred Mott and the 10th Doctor in "The End of Time":
The Doctor: I'm older than you.
Wilfred: Get away.
The Doctor: I'm nine hundred and six.
Wilfred: Oh really though?
The Doctor: Yeah.
Wilfred: Nine hundred years. We must look like insects to you.
The Doctor: I think you look like giants. 
The beauty of our collective stories is not solely found in the most prominent threads in our tapestry, but in the sea of unique threads interconnected and bound to one another. When we discover that interconnectedness we come to appreciate each others stories that much more. And as we blend we begin to forget where one story ends and another begins.

So what is your story? Have you found your story's place in the tapestry? Are you making it a good one?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Geography of Hate

Vorjack from Unreasonable Faith shared this interesting interactive map which shows the areas in the U.S. which produce the most hate tweets on Twitter. This map is based on 150,000 geotagged tweets between June 2012 and April 2013 which contains racial or sexual slurs. Here's a snapshot of my local region showing homophobic tweets in the Eastern Tennessee and North Georgia area. You can check out the full interactive map here. The interesting thing is that the majority of the hate tweets originate in the Eastern half of the U.S. The process, and pitfalls, in collecting and mapping this data is explained here. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Dream of Life

There is something about listening to speeches (sermons?) by Alan Watts which really strikes a chord with me. I've only read a couple of his books and even though I don't completely buy into everything he talks about it's fun to think about and play with the ideas in my head. It always inspires me to look at life differently.

If we had a chance to dream the perfect dream of life would we get bored and end up dreaming of a normal life? Boredom is one of many reasons why I can no longer understand the point of living in bliss for eternity in heaven. Even as I child I (secretly) asked myself "wouldn't eternity be boring?" As a teenager I even had dreams where after a few millennia in heaven I dove off the edge of heaven and back to earth (reality) because I found heaven boring.

I can understand why people feel the need for heaven to be real. Life is rough, heart-breaking, and down right miserable at times and some people rely on the hope for a way out. Heaven=hope to billions of people and the last thing I want to do is to pull the rug from under their feet. To me, heaven is more of a distraction from the here and now. There is so much beauty to see and experience that I can't see myself ignoring all of reality, however short in comparison, in hopes of entering a place (or state of mind) of eternal bliss. Who I am contains experiences and memories of both good and bad things and I can't fully appreciate the good moments in my life without the bad. I believe learning to live with the ups and downs of life is what being human is all about.

Does this idea that we are all connected, that we're all waves of an ocean, of any benefit to anyone? Although I have trouble believing that at the core we are God playing hide and seek, the idea that we are connected to each other and the universe helps me to be more understanding, compassionate, and to tread carefully and respectfully in life. This concept isn't necessary for me to be compassionate and understanding of my fellow man but is simply a story which symbolizes and illustrates why I do. So which is more important to you: controlling your adventure of dreams or simply experiencing them?

Friday, May 10, 2013

"You Got To Touch His Freakin' Heart"

A video of Jeff Bliss, a Duncanville High school student, going off on his teacher has recently gone viral. Here's the video if you haven't already seen it.

The teacher is now on leave with pay pending an investigation of the incident. You can watch an interview with Jeff here.  I've felt this kid's frustration before when I was in high school (and in college at times). Some teachers just hand out material for you to learn and the students regurgitate it on a test (I personally tend to forget what was taught after taking a class taught like this). Although he probably could have delivered his message in a more appropriate manner sometimes rants like these have to be expressed and witnessed by the public to get to the root of the problem.

I enjoy classes where there is interaction between the teacher and their students. Not every student learns the same and some need more involvement from their teacher. If the teacher hadn't brushed off the student ("you're wasting my time", "get out") the video probably wouldn't have gone as viral as it had. A student's success depends on all parties involved: the parents, student, and teacher. In this case Jeff was frustrated because he values the importance of a good education. He wants to succeed but feels that this specific teacher was not making any attempts to hear him out let alone teach beyond passing out worksheets (err, "packets"). I know the education debate is complex and I don't believe that cutting a teacher's pay (the "stick" approach) is going to resolve our nation's failures in education. I also don't want teachers teaching me or my kids with such an extreme lack of enthusiasm for their job that it causes an outburst like this one. At least in college you have some options towards choosing your teacher and I've seen some students, prior to their appointed registration time, research professors on I've personally never used the site prior to today and don't really plan to in the future but felt it worth mentioning. When a student like Jeff, who returned to school after dropping out, feels this strongly about the education system then you know there are issues to be addressed. If the kids (with the help of parents) are truly trying their best then the least the teacher can do is try to inspire the kids. Jeff said it best, "you got to touch his freakin' heart".

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Clara Oswald: The Red Shirt

Although I mainly write on religion and spirituality I thought I'd continue my thoughts on Doctor
Who and theories on the identity of Clara Oswin Oswald. One of the common themes I've found reading on theories on Clara's identity is that she wears red, a lot. Combine that with the fact that she keeps dying and you can't help but calling her a red shirt. Others have also noticed roses referenced in several episodes, possible hinting at a connection with Rose Tyler (a popular theory being that Clara is the daughter of Rose and 10-Two). Even though the color red may be a foreshadowing of Clara's death why does she keep coming back only to be killed again? The way the Doctor desperately tries to keep Clara alive after seeing her die twice before reminds me of Desmond's attempts to keep Charlie alive in Lost. Regardless how many times Desmond tried to keep him alive Charlie had to die.

There is a Grand Unified Doctor Who and Clara theory found here which attempts to explain why Clara keeps popping up throughout history. It states that she is in fact a Time Lord who used a Chameleon Arch on herself.  Even though her body dies her Time Lord essence fights its way back into existence constantly being reborn throughout time. It's an interesting theory (although I'm unfamiliar with the Classic Doctor Who series so I'm not sure of the theory's plausibility) but I really like the focus on her essence fighting its way back into existence.  Unlike Charlie in Lost where death was unavoidable, life is unavoidable for Clara. Regardless of her true identity I believe her constant rebirth is tied to the Doctor's identity and acts to remind the Doctor of something incredibly important ("Run, you clever boy. And remember.").

And on a side note, does the promo pic of the new episode, Nightmare in Silver, not remind anyone else of The Last Supper?

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Doctor Who is Named...

So while wrapping up my last post on our thoughts on God a line from the Tao Te Ching and my excitement to watch Doctor Who tomorrow accidentally collided inside my head. I love reading about the intersection between religion and science fiction so I couldn't help myself from creating this meme. The line was "The Tao that can be named (spoken) is not the eternal Tao."Although now that I think of it a better line to use would have been "The Name that can be named is not the eternal name." I don't believe Moffat and friends will actually reveal the name of the Doctor but instead talk about the power in knowing the name and what may befall if that name fell into the wrong hands. My wife and I are banging our heads against the wall trying to figure the identity of Clara Oswald, I suppose, like everyone else. Even though we may not guess her identity we're definitely enjoying trying to solve it. Let me know if you can come up with a better meme. I'd love to hear them.

Our Thoughts About God

This image sums the first of many questions I asked myself when I began my spiritual journey over 7 years ago.
"Our thoughts about God are just that: thoughts about God. They are not God. They approximate God. This includes the thoughts, now written, of the biblical writers and all theologians since. All their thoughts and all their writings are not God, but approximations of God." -David Haward (You can see more of David's work here.)
This was when I began to differentiate between my thoughts and what God is. How I define God is just that, my definition. To embrace the idea that our thoughts are just approximation carries with it a humbling affect. It allows me to understand how someone else may view and define God (or anything else for that matter) differently. God then becomes malleable (a playdoh god, maybe?)  able to change shape and grow depending on the viewer. This tells us more about ourselves than it does about God herself granting us another window into the heart of our neighbor. Is there a God beyond our personal playdoh god? Sure, why not, who knows. Does it matter? That depends how important it is to you for your thoughts about God to be real.

This is something most people don't readily think about because it introduces a sliver of doubt on what they consider to be the foundation of their beliefs. But doubt is not the "gateway drug" which leads down the slippery road to Atheism, it is a constructive tool which helps us analyze our beliefs. Analyzing what we believe helps us to better understand why we believe the things we believe. Would you rather accept a belief system you simply inherited from your parents and/or environment or would you like the chance to choose what you believe for yourself? In the end we decide what religion to follow (or not follow), which house of worship to attend, and what spiritual practices to practice. In the end we make our choices based on our thoughts after weighing the evidence we analyzed. Now multiply that process by several billion people and it becomes clear that our thoughts about God are simply that, our thoughts.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Good Do We Have to Be? Part 6- Final thoughts

  [I started this blog series well over a year ago on Harold Kushner's How Good Do We Have to Be? and life got in the way and I never got a chance to finish reviewing the book. I recently recommended this book to other people which caused me to dig up this long unfinished post.]

In the last couple chapters Kushner explains that life after Eden wasn't a punishment at all but a gift to be cherished. We are conscious about our death and having that knowledge makes our days that much more beautiful, or at least it should but we allow guilt and fear to overtake our lives. How good do we really have to be? There is no bar we have to meet that any higher power requires of us. What we can do is forgive, love and accept our friends and family for who and what they are, human. We are going to make mistakes and holding the ones we love to unreasonably high expectations will only feed the damage caused by guilt and fear. It is hard to be humble and vulnerable but if we open ourselves to others and understand our shared suffering then we don't have to suffer alone. And by opening ourselves to others we allow love to flow freely between us.

Kushner closes with what he deems is the most important word in the Bible found in Genesis 17:1. Tamim, which is usually translated as perfect or blameless, can translate to mean something like whole-hearted. Kushner states that God, as a God of forgiveness, doesn't want us to be perfect but to strive for integrity. As fallible humans unable to go back to Eden (existence before eating from the Tree of Knowledge) we should strive to be true to the core of who we are and the goodness found within all of us. In the final chapter Kushner shares one of my favorite stories, The Missing Piece, by Shel Silverstein. Like the circle who is content with searching for its missing piece after finding and leaving it behind, Kushner suggests we are more whole when we are incomplete.
"The man who has everything is in some ways a poor man. He will never know what it feels to yearn, to hope, to nourish his soul with the dream of something better...There is a wholeness about  the person who has come to terms with his limitations, who knows who he is and what he can and cannot do, the person who has been brave enough to let go of his unrealistic dreams and not feel like a failure for doing so."
There is a wholeness in coming to terms with our humanity, with our fallibility. When we give up our search for perfection, accept ourselves and others for who we are, and strive to be our best selves, then we find there's plenty of love and forgiveness to go around.

Part 1: A Story of Emergence
Part 2: Guilt and Shame
Part 3: The Cycle of Guilt
Part 4: The Wholeness We Seek
Part 5: Is There Enough Love for Everyone
Part 6: Final Thoughts

Monday, April 29, 2013

The importance of Change

The concept of personal growth and change has been on my mind again, something which I touch upon here a lot. It is an important topic to me because I've embraced that change is constant. And even though some changes in the universe can be interpreted as negatively impacting our lives I can't recall anyone actively seeking change which would make their life worse. Looking back we might be able to pick out the bad choices in our lives but at the moment we may have believed that was the best decision for ourselves. When it comes to my personal spiritual growth I have made choices which I believe would strengthen my spirituality, and my walk with my fellow man. Others who fail to understand the reasons behind my choices will interpret my change as negatively impacting my life as well as those closest to me. They say with a negative tone that "you've changed" as if shaming me would shock me back into being the old Sam.

I don't believe it is possible to go back to being the person we were before. We are constantly being affected by our environment, people, and events that it is simply impossible. And if it were possible (say by some timey,wimey revision of history) what would be the point of living a life where nothing changed? Outside of it being incredibly boring you wouldn't experience anything new and exciting, nothing would happen to you. So when others approach me with the "you've changed" look/tone I feel as if they would prefer that I stay in the same state that they're comfortable with, regardless of my personal feelings. They are uncomfortable with your changes without knowing the reasons behind the change. I've gone from 7th Day Adventist -> SBNR (I'm not in love with the label but that's the best I can find so far) and most don't ask what inspired (and continues to inspire) me to change or discuss my journey but instead focus on what was so wrong about my prior religious identity that I had to discard it. When I reply with "it simply didn't work for me" most take it as an attack on Christianity itself and by then any hopes of dialogue dissolves into a rant of how lost I am and ends with them saying they'll be praying for me (I've got a small army of people praying for me). Just because Christianity doesn't work for me DOES NOT mean it won't work for you. But if you're of the mindset that one faith is completely true then by definition it has to work for everyone, and if not the blame falls on the individual and not the religion. My beliefs changed because of the experiences, people, and events in my life. Change was bound to happen and will happen again. So how will you react to changes in your life? Will you fight or embrace them?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Defending God

I've been gone for quite a while mostly busy with school but I thought I'd share something I came across again yesterday. Andrew Hackman, from Hackman's Musings, shared this verse on Facebook.
And the Lord said, " “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple. ~ Ezekiel 9:5-6
How does this verse make you feel? Are your initial thoughts to defend or oppose it? What if we made some minor changes to the verse like the following:
And Allah said, " “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple. ~ The Holy Quran sura 9:5-6

Does that make a difference? Would you defend one more so than the other, or do you find them both abhorrent? What if I tied these words to Hitler? Would it make a difference if we added context to each of these scenarios? What if we explained that the residents of the city needed to be exterminated or else they would continue to commit heinous crimes against humanity?

The words themselves regardless of the source are abhorrent, period.  The issue some people struggle with is what to do about the source. If the source is someone (or some group/institution) you identify with what do you do with a verse/quote promoting genocide? What does that verse/quote tell you about the source? Are your tribal loyalties so important to you that you would defend the source regardless of what he/she/it may say?

If you can work out some clever double think so that your source stays innocent and blameless while promoting something as sicking as genocide AND still be able to sleep at night, then I applaud your skills in mental gymnastics. I, on the other hand, can not look at a verse like this without feeling sick. Opposing this verse doesn't mean I throw out the Bible entirely or despise the religion (or the believers) around it. I just can't believe in a deity which calls for genocide in one verse and then promises showers of blessings and love in the next. It is the image of a barbecue-obsessed deity, who demands obedience or blood, that I have rejected after many years struggling with questions brought up by reading the rarely mentioned parts of the Bible. Studying the Bible in-depth is what set me on the path to the conclusions I've reached today. (Although, I wouldn't mind grilling with Thor.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013


 'Merica! Where we can say and do whateva we want!

My Facebook feed gets flooded with all sorts of quotes, rants, and proclamations of love for food, family, and God. Facebook does allow me to filter the feeds from anyone I'd rather not see. I don't use the filter because this seems like overkill to me since I do enjoy seeing updates, photos, and connecting with loved ones I don't have time to see. The bombardments of memes and praises for Jesus doesn't phase me one bit. What does concern me are the individuals who share jokes and memes without understanding the message of what is being shared (or if the do understand, they're so completely detached from reality they fail to grasp the inhumanity of the message). Take this meme for example where someone posted the results of what is supposed to be a nuclear strike on Mecca (I think) saying that the problem was "solved". I won't go into how many MORE global problems that would bring up (social, economic, culural, environmental, etc.) but you get the idea.

So when I come across something like this I try to point out why this is morally wrong. I try not to do it in a smug "holier than thou" manner but simply pointing out that the individual might need to reevaluate sharing what they shared. Depending on your Facebook settings these images and jokes can be seen by friends, family, coworkers and companies looking to hire you. You may think the content is funny, and you ABSOLUTELY have the freedom to share it, but do you really have to act on an impulse simply because you are free to do so? Some fundamentalist groups believe it is their right to stand up for their beliefs by publicly condemning gays, and when they are prevented from partaking in their hate speech they play the "We're being persecuted" card. In the end you'll just end up looking foolish trying to protect your pride and beliefs.

I believe we should focus more on how we should utilize our freedoms to improve the quality of life for our global neighbors than abuse those freedoms for our own selfish reasons. But we are talking about Facebook, it is the home for egocentrics.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blog Series: Sunday Sermon Podcasts- The Vicious Circle

This Sunday's podcast with the Rascally Rabbi Rami Shapiro is entitled "Vicious Circle: Theology and the Demonization of the Other" which was recorded back in March of 2012.Enjoy.


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"Boxes are everywhere. Once they're set and once we've agreed to live within them our notion of truth and what's right is pretty much fixed....The more locked in we are the easier it is for us to not simply lock the other out but to assure on a very deep psychosocial level that the other is actually evil."

I love listening to talks by Rabbi Rami because he introduces questions which I find helpful in sweeping the mind of our images and ideas of Reality (God, etc.). Are UUs a religion of neti neti? I'm not sure, but then how do you avoid the vicious circle? How do you escape other boxes while keeping one foot in new one ( the UU box)? Sound off in the comments.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I am the One Who Knocks

Although this post doesn't contain any spoilers about Breaking Bad there may be spoilerish moments via the link. Ye be warned.

Breaking Bad is one of my all time favorite shows and is one of the few shows which still causes my heart to race. I never really thought too much on the intersection between religion and Breaking Bad mainly because I'm completely drawn into the story that I miss what can be very some very intriguing concepts where this show intersects with religion. While I was cleaning around the house my mind wandered to this scene where Walter was correcting Skylar, his wife, as to who truly is the enemy of the story. In this scene Walter exclaims he has no reason to be afraid of someone knocking on his door to shoot him, but instead in one of his best moments he says that HE is the one who knocks. It took me all of 4 seconds (yeah, I'm embarrassed it took so long, I really should dust off my Bible more often) to realize where I've heard this particular string of words. The next most memorable scene (at least to me) has Walter White dealing with a meth distributor in the desert. Declan, the distributor, asks Walter who he is, in which Walter replies by saying they all know who he is and eerily demands that they say his name. He wants people to know who he is. This is in contrast to Jesus in Luke 9 asking his disciples "who do you say that I am" and then warned his disciples not to reveal his identity to anyone. The following video also highlights some other moments most notably Walter coughing up drops of blood on his hands. Warning: this video DOES contain spoilers and violence.

This led me to a treasure trove of images on the internet (the one pictured being my favorite) merging Jesus with Heisenberg: both are associated with life and death.

If you haven't seen Breaking Bad then I highly recommend catching up on Netflix before the series conclusion this Summer. (And on a similar note I thought this picture merging Ned Flanders and Walter White was too good not to share).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Why Do You Get 18%?

This image has exploded on the interwebs and even hit the news. I've seen some humorous (and plain awful) restaurant receipt images but what's sad about this one is that this pastor played the religion card to justify not giving a tip (although Bell and company claimed they left a $6.29 cash tip on the table).

She apologized stating she's embarrassed by her lapse in judgement, but frankly, as many in online forums have stated, she wanted someone to see it she's just ashamed that her unchristian behavior went viral. So let's break it down shall we?

"I give God 10%"
 Bell is boasting how faithful she is to God by proclaiming she renders to God what is God's. This holier than thou attitude is a cry for attention and acceptance. We all want to be loved but why go out of your way to get someone fired over your wounded pride?

"Pastor Alois Bell"
I understand why some doctors prefer being called doctor, they worked hard for their title (as long as they don't let it get to their heads), but why mention you're a pastor on a restaurant receipt? Writing pastor on a receipt is not a get out of jail free card,  they're not going to look at that and say "she's not being rude, she's a pastor". It doesn't allow you any special privileges in society. It's like walking into a room and "declaring bankruptcy", it's not anything.

"Why do you get 18%"
This reads "why should I be more generous to you than I am to God?" Forget that she's a pastor or even Christian for a moment, and focus what this says to you as a human. This is saying my loyalties to my ideals and beliefs deserve more of my attention and resources than my fellow man. Everything is second to _____ and if anything threatens or is elevated above _____ then I will reminder you/ it of your/its place. If you can't connect with or even have a shred of compassion for your fellow man (never worked in food service but I'm sure it is rough) then you can't call yourself a pastor.

I feel for the fired waitress, even though she did break corporate policy, who only posted it as a comical example of a bad tipper. Hopefully she won't be out of work for too long but this is a clear reminder how interconnected we are to each other and even the smallest of actions can have serious consequences.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The "Dangers" of Being Open to Other Beliefs

What's better than a great question you can mentally wrestle with for hours?

The questions which come from attempting to answer the first one.

Andrew Hackman, of Hackman's Musings (jeez, if I continue mentioning this guy any more in my posts I may come across as a stalker), shared on Facebook a gem of a question, along with this comic, I'd like to pass on to you like the flu. I hope I infect you.
"What if you expected yourself to be as open to another faith as you desire others to be open to yours?" 
This question is geared more towards people who believe they already have the truth and want to share their truth with you. Of course they'd rather not have you share back, evangelism can't work if you're BOTH open-minded. Dialoguing with another person is a great way to get infected with foreign ideas and concepts.

But what really are the dangers of exposing yourself to other beliefs? If you have confidence your faith will not waiver by a handful of words what harm will come by simply listening to others? If anything it can be a good test of your faith. If a thought provoking conversation with an unbeliever causes your spiritual knees to wobble then wouldn't you want to discover why? Not everyone is born to the faith they follow, at one point in their life they may have made a decision to follow their current beliefs, they were once open to then foreign beliefs and ideas. Why stop there? Why stop being curious?

A believer's easy answer would be "I have the truth now so everything else is irrelevant", but that answer doesn't cut it for me. I believe in the insatiable curiosity of humankind and our desire to connect with one another. To crush or hinder that spirit saddens me and, in my opinion, feels like you willingly accept to entrap yourself in a cage in hopes of receiving a false sense of hope and security in a chaotic universe. The universe is fluid, it keeps changing, evolving, and growing, so what makes us think we don't change as well? As an Agnostic/SBNR (ugh, I despise labels) I try to expose myself to a wide variety of beliefs (which there ain't too much here in the South) because I find religion and spirituality are beautiful expressions of our humanity. The language of religion, stories, and rituals gives us a way to connect with one another, so exposing myself to other beliefs helps me to connect to more of my global neighbors.

Being open minded to other beliefs doesn't mean you HAVE to agree with others, it means being attentive and actually listen to what others are sharing. Wrestle with it, find the commonality and the differences between you and the foreign beliefs. Most importantly, again in my opinion, find out the why behind what they believe is important to them. When you discover that your global neighbor shares in similar hopes, dreams, and fears you will find that we are all cut from the same cloth, or if you prefer, molded from the same clay.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Do I Offend?

Religion is a touchy subject, it has its pitfalls but it also has those beautiful awe inspiring moments found in the stories they tell. When I speak about those stories I do so with full respect to the people who place their faith in them.  I'm not here to pull the rug from under anyone's feet, that's counter productive. I do however shine a light on the evils caused by men using religion to carry out their unjust deeds. Even Agnostics have morals and values, we're just as human as everyone else. Every now and then I'll write a post or make a passing comment related to religion which causes a Facebook friend to "delete" me, or I find myself on the receiving end of a long winded speech as to how I'm going to Hell. These don't phase me anymore I just find it curious as to why people find it necessary to act this way. First,  I do become a bit discouraged that a long time friend would sever our digital friendship over a difference of opinion/belief since social networking sites is the main way I keep in touch with many of my friends. (A busy stay at home dad working to finish a M.S. on a tight budget doesn't get out to socialize much.) So unless I run into them by chance at the grocery store I may never see them again. (By this point I realize that if they get THAT offended over a string of words we weren't very good friends to begin with.) Second, threatening me with eternal torment in Hell is like threatening me with a flock of evil, flying (but decently dressed) monkeys. I'd just find it amusing.

So I asked myself, how did I offend others? Was it my choice in words? Was it the method in which they were delivered? Was it the message itself? Or was it simply because I'm on the "wrong team"? I'm a fairly friendly person, so much so that my wife says I'd be friendly to Hitler. I don't go around spouting hate either. What I've concluded ( those offended please correct me if I'm wrong) is that I'm simply batting for the wrong team. Once you're seen as the "enemy" all sorts of walls go up. Some will try to convince you to come over to their team so that they won't have to view you as the enemy. Others will cut off all interaction so that they don't become infected with your beliefs. Either way things change, people change. And as we enter into a new year let us ask ourselves how we will change? Will your changes make a difference in the lives of others? Or will your walls seclude yourself from others causing you to fear them?