Sunday, October 25, 2015

Rare Does NOT Equal Unnatural.

“If homosexuality were natural there would be no procreation.”

Implication of this: homosexuality is unnatural.

So commented a co-worker recently when they made the naive mistake of randomly bringing up the subject and possibly thinking I would agree.  Instead this co-working was given a quick and brief set of arguments that basically blew that train of thought out of the water.

In the years of hearing homophobic people give excuse after excuse as to why they feel homosexuality shouldn’t be accepted, I can honestly say the above argument is one of the most inept I’ve come across.

To show why, here’s a few seemingly unrelated facts gleaned from the internet, please note that the following statistics are approximate based on multiple resources:

  • 17% of the population is born with blue eyes.
  • 10-30% of ethnic populations where it is commonest (Celtic descendent, etc.) have red hair.  
    • Fun Fact: Red hair is actually caused by a series of genetic mutations.
  • 10% of the population is left handed.
  • 1-2% of the population has some form of Autism
  • LESS THAN 1% of the population has Down Syndrome (1 in 700-900)
  • 0.0055% (1 in 18,000) of the population is born with Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD (the genetic disease featured in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil)

Why are some people born with traits that are not commonly found within the general population?

Just 50 years ago or so most children were discouraged or even punished for preferring to use their left hand.

Do these traits make us any less natural that the general population?  I know I didn’t choose to be left handed.  I know that trying to use my right hand feels very unnatural for me.

I know that I’ve had to adapt to a certain point to get by in a predominantly right handed world and that consequently I’ve become ambidextrous in some tasks as a result but that doesn’t make me right-handed.

Then there is the whole, “if it were natural there would be no procreation of the species”.

Science has already diagnosed numerous disorders that involve the reproductive system.  I have known 2 separate women in my life that were born without ovaries.  They just don’t have them.

They didn’t choose this.  It happened to them on a genetic level.  They will not be able to procreate the usual way but that doesn’t make their condition unnatural.

There are many conditions, genetic “diseases”, syndromes, etc, we recognize as rare but natural.  For a lot of them, we have no idea what the cause is.  We just know they exist.

This is why I find it so unfathomable that it is still such a stretch of the imagination for so many people that homosexuality could easily be, and probably is, a rare but natural condition too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Chicken - v - Egg: An Answer to the Age Old Question of 'Which Came First'

To start with, it depends on your school of thought: Creation or Evolution?

Creation School of Thought

God created all the animals and then they started reproducing. So of course the chicken came first.

Evolution School of Thought

Taken directly from

The Definition

Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next).

I will stand corrected if I'm wrong, but my understanding of, "Changes in a population from one generation to the next" means each generation is slightly different from the one before. So, for any particular chicken, the egg comes first for each genetic generation.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I Must NEVER Let My Guard Down

Most of my life I have worked to keep a certain level of mental and emotional distance from any situation I find myself in. This has stemmed from consistently experiencing situations where the whole atmosphere has turned on a tack and gone from relaxed and enjoyable to uncomfortable and anxious.  Often this is due to either extremely ill timed points being made, or just stupid overreactions where one person destroys the atmosphere for the whole group, even if the rest of the group as not guilty of anything except being there.

Social Phobia is an issue I've struggled with for decades, the above described situations probably being the primary cause.  Consequently I've created an inner wall to protect myself from negativity that I have no control over.

Woman Seated - Converted to B & W - Original Art by Ann-Monique
In the last several years I have finally managed to reach a level of coping that actually allows me to do things on occasion that would have been impossible before.  Things like go by myself on a walk outside the confines of my yard or even take myself on a tour of a new place and explore.  I've also reached a point where I can actually enjoy an evening out with a small group of people without feeling on edge the entire time.

Every once in a while I make a mistake though.  I get so comfortable and enjoy myself so much that I forget to maintain that certain level of mental distance that will protect me in case of a swift change of atmosphere.

This cannot happen.  The devastating feelings I get, the frustration, anger and resentment I feel as a result of these invasions of my stability, are enough to derail me for several days.

I must always be prepared for and expect the worse and not get too comfortable.  Then I run a lesser risk of being mentally punished for having fun.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sibling Rivalry and the Ultimate Parent

An Answer to the Question, “Why Didn’t God Give the Terrorists Massive Coronaries Before They Hit the Twin Towers?” - Matthew Albie, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Disclaimer:  I have done research online on many, many sites, gleaning the basic ideas for this particular post.  Needless to say there are numerous articles out there regarding parenting and sibling rivalry.  I’ve done my best to take the similar information from these articles and put them together to, I hope, best demonstrate what is being said and how it relates to my point.  My resources have included:


Sibling Rivalry

Older children have an intense need to measure up at home and get positive feedback from their parents. Often conflict arises because children feel they are competing with their siblings for this attention. Avoid comparing your children to each other.

If there is an issue going on between the siblings in your house, don't be discouraged. Dealing with this conflict often serves as a useful training exercise in which siblings gain experience in overcoming problems.

Like much of parenting, responding to sibling rivalry involves walking a fine line. Often parents allow siblings to work out problems on their own and not play favorites.

Teach your children negotiation and compromise then let your kids resolve their own issues.

Rivalry continues into adulthood and can become a bitter conflict.  Even when parents do their best at loving and respecting all of their children, the influence of siblings on one another can be enormous.

It’s important to accept that siblings will fight.  By allowing them to experience their emotions, a parent allows the child to develop a sense of responsibility. This is the foundation of emotional health.

To get to this point, all sides  have to want to make peace, and they also have to want it at the same time. If a dialogue is begun when one person isn’t ready you guarantee that any reconciliation will be artificial and create a bigger breach between those involved.   It’s hard to find just the right amount of space to put between brothers and sisters.

Sibling relationships are deeply ambivalent by nature, and they are fueled by both love and hate. Recognizing and accepting this is a sign of maturity. It allows us to create distance and to find a way of living in peace.  

"Our Father Who Art in Heaven" - The Ultimate Parent

1 John 3: 1-2

1 See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.   2 Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. 

1 John 3: 18

18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Luke 11:2

2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name…

Matthew 6:9

9 "Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 

The following text in italics is directly from an article in by Eliza Martinez about parents of adult siblings that still have a rivalry between them.

For Parents 

Step 1

Avoid comparisons among your adult children... children always want to please their parents, no matter their ages. Don't compare your kids' jobs, children, spouses, financial situations or homes.

Step 2

Talk to your kids... Help your children come up with solutions for their rivalry that can help avoid fights and conflict. Maybe they'll agree to disagree, decide to make certain topics of conversation off limits and agree to walk away from when things get heated so they can calm down.

Despite what many people want to believe, God is still speaking to us.  We may just not want to hear what’s being said or are not mature enough to understand.   If you are  a parent yourself, you may have an idea of how frustrating this is.

Step 3

Stay out of the sibling rivalry. Clearly tell your children that you won't take sides and don't want to be part of their fights and disagreements. This doesn't mean you can't offer advice and a listening ear when your kids need you, but if they know that's as far as it goes, eventually they won't even come to you with their disputes.

Step 4

Encourage your kids to see each other's points of view. You raised them, but that doesn't mean they think, react or feel things the same way. They each bring their own baggage and personality to the sibling relationships and helping each see their siblings' sides can help your kids understand each other.

Step 5

Seek help. If all else fails, help your kids find a neutral person to assist them in working through their issues. A family therapist is an ideal choice because she can work through emotions with siblings and work with them to come to a resolution to the issues they face. This can help your kids create and maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship throughout adulthood.

For Siblings

Step 1

Avoid trying to change your siblings. Despite a similar upbringing, you each have your own personalities, likes and dislikes, so it goes to follow that you aren't the same person. Instead, accept your differences and embrace that they make your relationships unique.

Step 2

Don't compete with each other. This doesn't mean that you won't get jealous of your siblings' successes, particularly if those successes are something that you'd like to have as well. The trick to is to keep that to yourself and congratulate your siblings on their new jobs, marriages, babies or big raises instead of trying to one up them with your brand new car or bigger house.

Step 3

Talk to your siblings. Arrange times when you can sit down together without outside distraction and hash out the problems in your relationships. Work together to come up with solutions. This might even mean taking turns going to family functions where emotions run high and conflict occurs.

Step 4

Spend time together in neutral locations. Perhaps you could meet for coffee once a week or have dinner at a restaurant once a month. This lets you create shared experiences away from the life events that cause conflict -- at the same time, being in public can help prevent you from coming to blows.

We have probably all asked our parents Why? before, and not gotten an answer we were satisfied with. 

God is the Ultimate parent.  There is no better.

God provides.  

We have the ability to learn, invent, discover, be curious, and explore.  With all of these skills that God has provided us, we can do anything if we put our minds to it, from growing our own crops to use for clothing and food, to curing deadly diseases.  We can even learn to build transportation that will allow us to explore more of God’s great creation outside of the planet God put us on.  God has provided us with what we need to survive.  It’s our responsibility to use those gifts to help each other.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Fight with Depression and Anxiety

Original Art by Ann-Monique

“I know I had become useless before I left. I'd let myself lose my grip on life and was struggling to get it back. I'm working really hard to come back to you both a much better wife and mommy…
…I don't cook I don't clean I don't do laundry I don't do his homework with him I don't mow the lawn…
…I beat myself up over everything. I know I've been failing
…I just want you to understand that I know I've been screwing up especially in my attention to you.”

In my journey down the road to recovering from my last major break down from Depression and anxiety I’ve managed to leave by husband so far behind its inexcusable. I was so focused on trying to fix myself while keeping my son from knowing there was an issue that I basically forgot to spend time with my husband. I didn’t recognize I was doing it. I honestly thought I was maintaining my relationship while I worked to heal myself.

The following is from WebMD. Follow this link for the complete article:

Depression: What Is It? 

It's natural to feel down sometimes, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal depression. Major depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities. Depression is not a sign of weakness or a negative personality. It is a major public health problem and a treatable medical condition.

Depression is sometimes linked to physical symptoms. These include:
Fatigue and decreased energy
Insomnia, especially early-morning waking
Excessive sleep

Without treatment, the physical and emotional turmoil brought on by depression can derail careers, hobbies, and relationships. Depressed people often find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. They turn away from previously enjoyable activities, including sex. In severe cases, depression can become life-threatening.

Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Depression can make other health problems feel worse, particularly chronic pain. Key brain chemicals influence both mood and pain. Treating depression has been shown to improve co-existing illnesses.

Anyone can become depressed, but many experts believe genetics play a role. Having a parent or sibling with depression increases your risk of developing the disorder. Women are twice as likely as men to become depressed.

Causes of Depression

Doctors aren't sure what causes depression, but a prominent theory is altered brain structure and chemical function. Brain circuits that regulate mood may work less efficiently during depression. Drugs that treat depression are believed to improve communication between nerve cells, making them run more normally. Experts also think that while stress -- such as losing a loved one -- can trigger depression, one must first be biologically prone to develop the disorder. Other triggers could include certain medications, alcohol or substance abuse, hormonal changes, or even the season.

Some Types of Depression
Chronic Depression (Dysthymia, Mild) 

Dysthymia, sometimes referred to as mild, chronic depression, is less severe and has fewer symptoms than major depression. With dysthymia, the depression symptoms can linger for a long period of time, often two years or longer. Those who suffer from dysthymia can also experience periods of major depression--sometimes called "double depression.".

Clinical Depression (Major Depression)

Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships -- symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM-5 -- a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions -- you may have other symptoms with major depression.

Those symptoms might include:
Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
Restlessness or feeling slowed down
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)

My Causes of Depression

For me it appears to run in my family and then can be made much worse from stress and major life events. Fortunately there is even better education and understanding now that there was even 20 years ago when I was first diagnosed. I have very good periods of time when I feel completely “normal” and then suddenly one day I’ll be incredibly sad, despondent and physically weary for no reason I can pinpoint. I have finally begun to see a pattern, pre-menopause has definitely made the symptoms more defined and the time periods more regular as I become more irregular in my cycle.

Part of me is finding the whole process intriguing to observe.  I’ll go 2 weeks or so struggling to maintain a daily routine, still be productive and still try to care about my own health, then one day it’s like a switch has been flipped in my brain and I’m back to normal for a while and working hard to get caught up from when I lacked the motivation to do anything.

I used to get really offended when I would hear people say that depression was all in the head. Of course those people usually meant that it was something you could choose to snap out of. As it happens, they were partially right.  It is all in the head, most specifically in the brain.

Photo from WebMD

Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in chemicals in the brain that are called neurotransmitters. Depression isn't a character flaw, and it doesn't mean you are bad or weak. It doesn't mean you are going crazy. (WebMD:

I’ve become less frustrated over time about my own battles once I completely understood that the symptoms are linked to actual physical issues in the brain’s chemistry.  It’s been easier for me to accept treatment, now that I understand that it’s not just because I’m “having a bad day”, but because something in my body is actually turning against me. I understand that I can no sooner tackle this condition completely by myself than I could tackle Cancer completely by myself.

My Attack Plan

I have spent most of my life developing Coping Skills to deal both with my depression and my social anxiety.  I’ve been on and off different medications as well as seen several counselors and psychologists as I needed to, depending on what else was happening in my life.  Several years ago my Psychologist recommended this workbook to me: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne.

This book is a wonderful resource for recognizing what you may be dealing with and helping you develop coping skills in a manner that works best for you.  I was able to not only realize how serious my problems had become but also work toward fine tuning coping skills in a way that has continued to benefit me.  I highly recommend this as a resource for anyone looking for assistance with their depression, anxiety or even a general phobia as these all often become linked and the exercises to overcome them are similar.

I’ve now better recognize what parts I do have some control over and can use my coping skills to use in battle. I’ve also accepted that it’s ok to be on medication in order to assist me with the chemical battles within my brain that I don’t have control over. This has led me to become much less frustrated and more tolerant of myself when I realize I’m not accomplishing my personal goals.  It has also made me more aware of where I am falling short so I can put more effort into those areas of my life.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible

Normally I would stop at one post per week, but since I used some quotations from the Bible in my other post today I am going to take a quick moment to let everyone know which version of the Bible I use and why.

The following is taken directly from Bible

You can find an online version of this Bible here:

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) was published in 1989 and has received the widest acclaim and broadest support from academics and church leaders of any modern English translation.

 It is the only Bible translation that is as widely ecumenical:

  • The ecumenical NRSV Bible Translation Committee consists of thirty men and women who are among the top scholars in America today. They come from Protestant denominations, the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek Orthodox Church. The committee also includes a Jewish scholar.
  • The RSV was the only major translation in English that included both the standard Protestant canon and the books that are traditionally used by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians (the so-called "Apocryphal" or "Deuterocanonical" books). Standing in this tradition, the NRSV is available in three ecumenical formats: a standard edition with or without the Apocrypha, a Roman Catholic Edition, which has the so-called "Apocryphal" or "Deuterocanonical" books in the Roman Catholic canonical order, and The Common Bible, which includes all books that belong to the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox canons.
  • The NRSV stands out among the many translations available today as the Bible translation that is the most widely "authorized" by the churches. It received the endorsement of thirty-three Protestant churches. It received the imprimatur of the American and Canadian Conferences of Catholic bishops. And it received the blessing of a leader of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The NRSV is truly a Bible for all Christians!

Rooted in the past, but right for today, the NRSV continues the tradition of William Tyndale, the King James Version, the American Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version. Equally important, it sets a new standard for the 21st Century.

The NRSV stands out among the many translations because it is "as literal as possible" in adhering to the ancient texts and only "as free as necessary" to make the meaning clear in graceful, understandable English. It draws on newly available sources that increase our understanding of many previously obscure biblical passages. These sources include new-found manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, other texts, inscriptions, and archaeological finds from the ancient Near East, and new understandings of Greek and Hebrew grammar.

The NRSV differs from the RSV in four primary ways:
  • updating the language of the RSV, by replacing archaic forms of speech addressed to God (Thee, Thou, wast, dost, etc.), and by replacing words whose meaning has changed significantly since the RSV translation (for example, Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 11.25 that he was "stoned" once)
  • making the translation more accurate,
  • helping it to be more easily understood, especially when it is read out loud, and
  • making it clear where the original texts intend to include all humans, male and female, and where they intend to refer only to the male or female gender.

More History is Made in My Lifetime

A great step forward in history was made recently when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bans on Gay Marriage were unconstitutional.  So, Gay Marriage is now officially legal nationwide in the United States of America.

My first reaction was, "It is about time!"

This of course will bring on the newest tirade of Conservative Christians who will be quoting the Bible to make their point.  If you have read my posts from the beginning you already know my arguments for things that happen that outwardly appear to contradict the Bible so I won't go through it again now.

I will include my own quotes from the Bible that have had a very profound effect on me and went as far as inspiring a piece I did over a decade ago.  The text written on the painting are the 3 verses listed below.

Love is Love

1 John 4:7-8 - (7) Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (8) Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4: 16 - (16) ...God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:20 - (20) Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

Marriage is about love and commitment.  True Love will never be unnatural or immoral.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Why are Some People Still so Stupid?

Thanks to the many places we've had the privilege to live, my son has had friends in his life since birth that were as varied as you can get. In fact more than once, as the only white male among the neighborhood kids, he was actually the minority among his peers. 

To my son, everyone is a potential friend unless that individual does something to hurt him or make him sad in some way. If that happens, he moves on to the next potential friend. Only recently has he begun to notice that some people don't like other people just because they are different from themselves. He doesn't understand why.

I am unable to give him a satisfactory answer when the question comes up because frankly I don't understand why either. I've finally come up with an answer that may not be completely satisfactory but that I believe is accurate. The answer is: 

Some people are just Stupid.

Whenever I give this answer to my son, I make sure that I include that yes, stupid is not a nice thing to say about anyone.  However, I also stipulate that in this case, its really the best way to describe individuals who hate entire groups of people for ridiculous reasons.

I have had the fortune in my life to be raised by parents who taught me to treat people as individuals.  If I don't like a person or fear a person or just can't stand to be around a person, its because I've gotten to know them on some personal level or another and that individual has behaved or otherwise shown me that they are not someone I want to know well.

The easiest way to explain my Protestant Minister Dad's view on my friends or boyfriends is this:

If I came home with a non-Christian African American or other Black person and said we were getting married he would have welcomed him (or her for that matter) with open arms.  Well, OK, as open as any Daddy would welcome the person involved with his little girl.

Now, if this same person were to become abusive or otherwise harmful to me, my Dad would of course probably try to have them killed, or at least arrested. This would in no way be because of their Race, Religion, Sexual Orientation, etc.

As a result of my upbringing I have developed a wonderful circle of long distance friends who are either not white, or married to people who are not white.  I can't imagine not having any of these people in my life and recognize the fact that I probably wouldn't have even given any of them a second glance if I had been raised differently. One of my closest friend's husband is African American and her girls are the daughters I've never had.  They have been know to refer to me as one of their Aunts and my son and the oldest one are very close friends who often mention that they wish they were brother and sister.  We just tell them they are close enough to count as brother and sister.

So, now let us address how Racism applies to mixed couples and the children of those relationships.  One of the comments that I've heard regarding racism and mixed race offspring is that it is not natural.  The argument often used to try to justify this statement is that you don't see mixed babies in nature.  

This one "argument" really pinpoints just how ignorant the people are who think like this.

We see mixed race animals in nature and in domestic situations all the time.  If its not done purposefully its usually referred to as  "Mixed Breeds".  If its done on purpose we usually hear the phrase "Cross Breeds".

Cross breeding is a fact of life. In nature it often comes from situations where there are limited partners available within the same breed but can be found within the same species. In domestic situations it has become a business to improve the breed.  Horses and dogs are two common examples of cross-breeding.  When race horses are cross bred its usually for the purpose of making the next generation faster, stronger and / or better than the previous one.

Back in the late 80's I learned in my High School Biology class that its not physically possible for animals from different species to mate.  I also learned that especially when referring to the Human Species, genetically we have issues when we breed with others too close to our bloodlines, referred to as inbreeding.

To put this more simply, when 2 people who are too closely related have children, numerous birth defects can present themselves.  The more the inbreeding the worse the defects on the genetic level.

So, in order to finally wrap this up, here is the point.

Human Beings Are A Species.
Within Our Species There Area Several Breeds (Races).
We Were Not Designed To Keep Bloodlines Pure.
We Were Designed To Mix It Up.

Pure Bloodlines Are Not Natural.
Cross Breeding Makes Us Stronger And Better As A Species Both Physically And Mentally.

Anyone under the age of 40 who doesn't understand this needs to go back to High School Biology.  Anyone older who doesn't understand, ask your kids in High School.  If they don't know, they haven't been paying enough attention in Biology Class.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Personal Update

Hello from the "Land Down Under" aka Oz, aka Australia. I am now live from Karratha, WA (Western Australia). For those who don't know, I have accepted a posting at one of the local schools as their Visual Arts Facilitator. My purpose here is to create and teach a step by step Fine Arts Curriculum for K-12, create Procedure manuals and hopefully train someone local to take over after me. Their school year runs from January to December so I will be here and away from my wonderful family until Christmas. Both of my guys are being very supportive of this once in a life time opportunity.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Where I'm Coming From - Metaphorically

My inability to capture many of my thoughts can be very frustrating.  Every day my mind will wonder into imaginary conversations with various people. Usually the topic is Religion, how I “practice” my faith, and why I do it the way I do.

A large part of me feels that if I could capture the ideas of these imagined conversations and write them down they could potentially assist many others who struggle with faith, either their own or their lack thereof.

One idea that always returns to my head is that there is a perception that organized religion and God must be inclusive of each other.  One must exist for the other to exist. I don’t believe this. I do not believe that to be a good Christian, or Jew, or Muslim or anything else for that matter, you must regularly attend a place of worship and go through an excepted routine of ritual to prove your faith.

Before I progress too far with this incite to my Spirituality, I will share my religious history.

I am the daughter and granddaughter of Clergymen. My mother's father was a conservative Methodist minister, growing up my mother couldn't ever order an entree that had a wine sauce on it, I never saw that side, since he died when I was 16. He was the Grandparent I was closest to and I only saw the lovable and always smiling cuddly Grandpa that taught me how to use tools and gave great backrubs.  My Father is a liberal U.C.C. Minister. I also received my BA in Studio Art from a Methodist College where Old and New Testament classes were just as much a requirement for graduation as College Algebra and English 101

My brother and I grew up going to church every Sunday unless we were sick.  These mornings usually consisted of Sunday school, the Service, and then Fellowship hour. Church for me wasn't just a time to worship and follow my faith, it was a second home and the people were extended family, as is the case for many people.

When I was little, I loved watching the activities that the youth group did and couldn't wait to get old enough to do them too. I would love it when the ladies groups and adult groups met at the house, hear them talk, help when I was allowed and looked forward to growing up and being able to be a fully participating member of the club.

My church "home" was a place I could feel safe, be most myself, and comfortably be social.  I am very Social Phobic, something I've been working to overcome most of my life. By the time I reached 4th grade school was a torment that only got worse every year. Church was my social circle.  By High School my sole source of regular social activities was almost all Church related, either directly or outside but with people from there.  Church was the solid foundation of my life.  It was my safe place and the only place I was really at ease. I know that many people feel this way as a normal part of life and I will admit I sometimes envy them for it.

I lived the first 20 years of my life secure in this bubble.  I had built up protective walls around me in all other parts of my life, especially school, and worked very hard to be invisible.  Church was my comfort zone.  I believed that within its walls I could trust the people there regardless of who we were outside of church activities.

I was very naive.

The summer I turned 20 I lost all my faith in the church.  I learned that even within its alleged hallowed walls, people can still be manipulative, spread vicious rumors that have no foundation, and choose to deliberately cause harm with no thought of whom else may be collateral damage. I am still unable to write about the details of that summer. I will say that the few people I have related the experience to have shown me deep sympathy and understanding as to why I have been unable to heal from this enough to trust the Church as a place of safety again. I have made attempts recently to be involved in some very wonderful congregations.  There is still a tentativeness that I haven't been able to completely overcome but I am making progress

There is a Hindu tradition that "...teaches that all religions hold aspects of the divine" ( 04.08.2015)

The story cited above reports about a short film called "Five" that presents to the audience the trust in faith that 5 children of 5 different world religions share.

I realize talking about this film appears like I've taken a hard turn off the subject.  I include it for a specific reason.  When I viewed the film, my first reaction was a small amount of jealousy. Jealousy that these children still held that complete trust of faith in the people they knew within each of their respective places of worship and that those houses of worship where completely connected to their faith in the Divine.  Once I guiltily brushed that feeling off, I was able to rejoice in the message of the film and what its message was trying to say.

Many would expect that to lose faith in the church would also equate to losing faith in God. This is not the case, not for me, and shouldn't be for anyone else.  I know better that to blame God for the pain and sadness caused by some of God's children.  Equally important, I know now that the whole experience was necessary to kick start me into developing into the person I am still becoming.  To stop being a blind follower and become more of a leader.  A leader who isn't afraid to step back, look around and question things that just don't seem right according to my understanding of our God as well as the teachings of Jesus Christ.

I look back at the rungs of the ladder that is my life and I know everything I've experienced has been important in helping me realize and appreciate what I have, as well as what we have as God's children and what we could accomplish with the materials He has given us if we would just get out heads out of our asses, stop squabbling about little stuff and work together.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why "Following AFTER the Comma" ???

Why “Following after the Comma”?  Since I come from a line of English teachers, I should explain the whole meaning behind my chosen title for this series of thoughts, editorials and general wandering of the mind as it happens.

So, first, “Why the Comma?”

My Dad is a UCC (United Church of Christ) minister.  Even though I don’t attend church anymore, I still consider it my denomination as it follows a path of spirituality that is most closely in line with my own.

The best way to answer “Why the Comma” comes directly from the UCC God is Still Speaking campaign:

THE COMMA constantly reminds us of God’s boundless love.
THE COMMA reminds us that God is still speaking and that God speaks in multiple ways.
THE COMMA  carries the hope of God’s peace with justice; of religion relevant to our unique experiences; of the new light and truth still to break forth from God’s word.
THE COMMA reminds us that on our continuing faith journeys, God is still speaking.
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Now that you know where the Comma comes from let us contemplate the word Follow as it refers to my title.

Follow: To adhere to; practice: follow the Lord God.

In other words, "Following after the Comma" instead of "Following the Comma" or "After the Comma" refers to my spiritual path. I focus on what we have learned about God's Creation since the initial interpretations were gathered together in the Holy Scriptures. Each individual sect of God's Followers has their own version ie, the Holy Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an and so forth.  The one thing that they all have in common no matter which version or translation?  They all were spoken about and later written down during a time when everyone thought the world was flat and we were the center of God's creation. 

Since then we have learned a lot, including:
  • The world is round not flat.
  • The Sun does not orbit around the Earth, 
  • We are not the center of our own Solar System or our own Galaxy, therefore we are not the center of God's universe.
  • There have been many versions of human beings since our planet's creation, we're just the most recent.
  • When you stare at the night sky, you are basically looking into forever.

We know so much more now about God's creation than they ever could have understood was possible.  All of these things and even more, like medical advances, DNA, and genetic characteristics, were there waiting for us to discover as we grew more able to learn and explore.

We must adjust our beliefs according to the information that we have discovered or we will never be able to appreciate just how glorious God's Gifts are.  My spiritual path includes following my understanding of God's Creation after the mental comma placed at the end of our recognized texts. God IS still speaking, we need to be brave enough to keep listening.