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Spiritual Stuff

I often tell people I'm a "Recovering Catholic," which always gets a laugh. But I'm still Catholic. I go to mass almost every Sunday, I take Eucharist (and it is very meaningful to me), I observe Lent, and I celebrate Easter.

See also my page about prayer. Oh, it's not what you think -- go on, check it out.

I am "Catholic and" because I have not stopped being Catholic, but my spirituality has gone beyond the point which The Church is willing to go. At least under John Paul II.

I still believe Jesus lived and that he said a lot of what is in the bible in those red letters. He may even have had a higher connection to the Spirit, but I think when he died, he died, and then Paul and "John" -- decades later -- developed a theology to explain how their Messiah could have just ended up dead with nothing changed. Interestingly, the theology found in Paul's letters and in the Gospel of John often conflicts with what (according to the other gospels) Jesus said and did.

The Eucharist is a good example. Jesus made it a point to share meals with everyone who cared to join with him -- breaking bread together. He did not send anyone away. But then snotty old Apostle Paul declared that, well, not just ANYone can participate in this, etc. Paul hijacked Christianity in the cradle and turned it into his own elite club. He had been a Pharisee before his conversion and he retained that mindset -- which was very different from what Jesus was about. But I will preach more on that topic later ...

We are Athena

In my theology of The Spirit, I often picture a "messenger" like Athena in Homer's epics. She would swoosh down from Mount Olympus to help Odysseus and the Akhaians, but she never showed herself to them as her true self. Instead, she'd be in the form of an old washerwoman or an old soldier or some other ordinary person who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to say or do just the right thing to help Odysseus.

See, this is part of Serendipity. When some stranger is there right when you need them and helps you and then is gone -- and you look around a moment later and wonder, who WAS that?? -- I believe that sometimes that person was sent to you from The Spirit.

BUT, I don't mean that the person didn't really exist and was just a disguise. True, sometimes Athena did it that way, but that was just a simple legend from a time when people believed they were just pawns in the games of gods (which by the way makes more sense than the notion of one all-powerful God who lets bad shit happen cuz it is part of his freaking Plan).

But I don't believe in either of those views. I believe that we are all part of God and that without us She has no power to change things. Oh I imagine she can kick up a good thunderstorm now and then (not in the desert, but where conditions are ripe). I believe she can give me a breeze now and then and send a songbird or a deer to cheer me up.

But she can't pick up this cup of tea on the desk in front of me. Only I can do that. She can't feed a baby or help someone who has fallen back up on his feet. Only we can do that. We are God's hands. We are Athena.

And prayer can be the connective energy through which we can join together in The Spirit, and sometimes help each other in that way. Sometimes a person is really in need. Maybe they pray for help, or somebody they know prays for them. Maybe there is no prayer at all, but The Spirit still feels their distress and is moved to help them. And when The Spirit is moved, that means we are ALL moved. And maybe at that moment I am standing right next to that person at a streetlight downtown, and my mind is busy thinking about the errand I am on but then I feel inside myself what The Spirit feels -- becuz The Spirit is in all of us and we all collectively together make The Spirit -- and I look around me and I see that person I might not have noticed right there next to me, and I can see that something is wrong and I say, "can I help you?"

And when that happens, I am Athena. I am the messenger from God who has come to help. Sometimes I am Athena and sometimes I desperately need Athena to come to me. And She has.

A typical letter from a typical "Christian"

   I read your interpretations of the scriptures and of the Apostle Paul.
   Must say I didn't know whether to die laughing or become upset at yourignorance of scripture. But then the Holy Spirit reminded me that apartfrom Him you can not understand the true meaning of scripture. So I amwriting to you to tell you very kindly that you are so very wrong aboutwhat the Bible is saying about your sickness and totally wrong aboutPaul and his teaching (which was Spirit inspired just so you will know,and not his personal opinion unless he states it to be).
   I am praying that you will become born again and give up your detestablelifestyle (which God does not approve of)....... I'm sure you will havean opinion about this email and i am willing to tolerate your misguidedopinions in order to tryhelp you understand real biblical truth. Just understand you are very,very wrong and you need to seek Jesus with all your heart and leave theabominable lifestyle you are now in.
   Or someday, when you stand before Jesus, you will surely wish you hadlistened.

and my reply . . .

Dear Mr. (name omitted)

    I am no longer surprised when certain types of Christians speak such hateful things "in the name of Jesus."
    Thank you, though, for the warning that when I stand before God at Judgment that He will completely ignore every good and giving and loving thing I have ever done in my life and send me straight to Hell for the "sin" of loving a woman instead of a man. Yes, I know all about the various "abomination" quotes in "Scripture," but they mean nothing to me -- except to remind me that supposedly-religious people have been hateful long before you joined their pompous ranks. I do not believe that Jesus or God would say the hurtful things that have been written in their name.
    Jesus embraced the outcasts of his time and broke bread with them. He taught us to love our neighbor and to care for the weak and the oppressed. As Jesus healed and taught, the Pharisees could only complain that he was not following the letter of "The Law" -- as when he dared to heal someone on the Sabbath for example.
    Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion to Christianity and in his numerous letters he lectured the early churches on how to pray and when to cover their heads and so on -- still behaving like a Pharisee so focused on "The Law". Jesus would share a meal with anyone, but it was Paul who turned the shared meal into a ritual reserved for the elect. I doubt if Jesus would approve of much of what Paul wrote about him.
    Today we have a new type of Pharisee -- Bible-quoters like you who go around pointing to "scripture" even as they deliver hateful message that we outcasts do not belong in the sight of God. We are "abominations" not because of any unkindness we do or hurtful thing we say to others. We are "abominations" because it says so right there in the "Holy Scriptures."
    You happen to believe that what we now call the Bible was written with Divine guidance and that it says exactly what God wants to say to us. I do not. You can quote verses to me all you want, but I don't accept that as the word of God, and I can't imagine a real God behaving the way people like you describe. When Jesus returns I believe he will take my hand and invite me to sit at his table -- while Pharisees like you stand around quoting verses.
    You probably believe that all those billions of people in China and India will be sent straight to Hell (along with me) unless they adopt the version of Christianity which you espouse. You apparently believe that every Buddhist and Hindu who has been born and died in the past 2,000 years must surely be burning in Hell right now. And you believe Jesus would approve of this??! Not the Jesus I know.
    For the record, sir, I wish no evil upon you. I wish you only the blessings of Life. I believe God is in you, as God is in me, and I have no fear of facing God after my death.
    And what if I'm wrong, you may ask? What if I find myself at Judgment Day looking up at the God you worship, the God who sends people to Hell for such "sins" as homosexuality and Buddhism? Well, if that happens I will go off to Hell quite willingly because that kind of god does not deserve my worship, nor would I want to look around "heaven" find it populated only by people like you.

Peace be with you
-- Libby

Not surprisingly, the above was not the end of the "discussion." We went back and forth a few more times. You can read the rest of it if you want.

Today is a Gift

I have a lot of little things taped to the frame of my computer monitor. In fact I have lots of little things I cut out stuck all over the house. I have a whole wall here in my special room where I have made a collage of cool faces I cut out of magazines. This is "my" room in the house where I have my computer and my art desk and all my goofy arty stuff. Mona never touches any of it and she is so respectful of every little scrap becuz she knows I have a Reason for everything in this room.

But anyways, the particular thing taped to my computer that I was gonna mention says this: "Today is a Gift - What will you do with it?"

That is just something I wrote down one day and taped to my monitor. Uh, but I also wrote down and taped up here “You have no idea how head my full is!” But seriously, I am almost constantly aware of the Gift of Today. From talking to other people I realize this is not all that common. People are busy with their jobs and their errands and so on and forget to Be Here Now.

It has become cliche, I know, but everything is considered "cliche" if it is repeated more than twice. “That is, like, SO twenty minutes ago!” Personally, I am not worried about being considered cliche or uncool by airhead chicks who only care about being ahead of the newest latest trend. People like that are boring AND stupid, which is a pretty bad combination, lemme tell you.

What the Bible says about homosexuality

Well, heck, anyone knows that, right? The Bible sez we're "an abomination." In several places.

Interestingly, though, there are a LOT of other things in the Bible that most Christians ignore.

For example, some people love to quote Leviticus 18:22 about homosexuality but they ignore the entire rest of the book which prohibits having tattoos, eating pork and shellfish, the wearing of a garment made of two types of cloth, planting two types of seed in the same field and dozens of other things that modern-day Christians ignore. Leviticus also explains in great detail how to buy and sell slaves in a manner that clearly does not condemn slavery. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

The Leviticus stuff has been humorously laid out in that "Dear Dr. Laura" letter that was circulating on the Internet a while ago.

Granted, there are a couple of anti-gay passages are in the New Testament also, mostly in the letters of Paul, who was a busybody with an opinion about EVERYthing. But he issued edicts and orders on a lot of other things that Christians choose to ignore.

For example, in I Corinthians 11:5-6 Paul says women must cover their headsin church and never cut their hair. And then a few chapters later, in I Corinthians 14: 34-35, Paul writes:

"Women are to remain quiet in the assemblies, since they have no permission to speak: theirs is a subordinate part, as the Law itself says. If there isanything they want to know, they should ask their husbands at home: it isshameful for a woman to speak in the assembly."

Most Christian women don't keep their mouths shut in church -- and I'm certainly not saying they should. But if they're gonna harp to me about what the Bible says about gays, then they'd best shut their traps in church cuz the Bible says that too.

You'd think that people who consider Jesus their Lord and personal savior would value HIS words above all others -- and in many Bibles the words of Jesus are illuminated in red. In those red letters, Jesus himself is never quoted saying anything against homosexuality, but he is loud and clear about divorce for example. In Matthew 5:32 Jesus says "whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Most Protestant churches accept divorce and re-marriage and you never hear them pointing to this passage and condemning divorce. Yet they sure like those anti-gay sections.

He is also pretty explicit on the topic of wealth and is quoted in three separate gospels saying "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25)

Here is a little parable that I made up to illustrate the hypocrisy of conservative Christians on these topics:

A Bible parable

On a rainy night, several travelers are seeking shelter at a little motel along the highway. A big sign over the desk says, "We reserve the right to refuse service to those who violate the words of the Lord Jesus Christ."

First in line is a middle-aged couple who say to the proprietor, "We are on our honeymoon! Both of us had bad first marriages, but finally found true love."

Next is a well-dressed man who says, "Give me your best room. Money is no object."

Last is a woman with short hair who sighs and says to the proprietor, "I'm gay. Is that gonna be a problem?"

The proprietor then holds up his Bible, points to the woman and shouts to the crowd, "This homosexual . . . is the only one of you people who does not violate the words of Jesus. She can stay, but the rest of you sinners need to find someplace else to sleep."

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