Tag Archives: Christianity

The Camel in the Room

Tonight, I answered questions
from a survey-taking girl
who wished to know where I weighed in
on God’s place in the world.
The purpose for the questions
seemed to me a bit unclear;
more fodder for pro-Christian ranting
or control, I fear,
but I took part, and did my best,
although the answers seemed
to only fit such a small range
of my spiritual scene.
She asked after my parents,
and the job I thought they did;
if moral guidance and the Bible
formed me as a kid.
I told her it was by example
that my parents taught;
they did not spell out right and wrong,
and certainly did not
expect that I would blindly follow
their belief or creed,
but rather taught integrity
and finding what you need.
It’s odd – responsibility
seemed not to be a part
of the survey; I guess
that would put horse after the cart.
Instead, did I attend a church,
or pray, or fellowship,
believe that Jesus Christ had sinned?
At that, my kindness slipped,
and I said, how would I know that?
I never met the man;
he lived two thousand years ago.
And if you think you can
believe what’s printed up in books
and sold like blessed snake oil,
there’s not much hope for anyone
escaping evil’s coil.
I strongly disagree that evil
is personified
beyond the selfish, clutching hands
who prey on those outside
the mainstream, where the status quo
dictates that blame be found
in others first, before yourself.
You seek God? Look around
and make the world a better place
by caring for more than
your own private and shallow soul.
Try that on, if you can.

Whose God? Whose Bible?
Whose church service
would you have me grace,
when everyone I meet has
good and evil in their face?

Truth is a pathless land;
it wanders beyond black and white.
To posit otherwise is like
a blind man, in the night
giving directions to a man
who cannot hear a word.
One’s map is forged, the others’ blank;
both seem a bit absurd.

12 JUL 2005

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The View You Choose

Having just seen the new Harry Potter film, I was contemplating the underlying message I find in JK Rowling’s work. No, it’s not some dark Satanic point that seeks to overthrow the basic power structure of the Christo-centric universe. Not exactly, anyway. In my opinion, the most important lesson to be learned from Harry Potter is this: there are people in this world who see magic, and those who don’t. Much like there are people that imagine the world is becoming a hell-hole, and those who imagine it can become a paradise. It doesn’t matter, really, from whence you feel that the magic, or power, emanates. What does matter is your motivation for harnessing it. Next to that, is your interest in how it affects other people. Or something like that.

Among the views with which to judge this life
are found just variations of a pair:
the one, that looks upon the world as filled with strife
and seeks for naught beyond its veiled despair,

with tired and jaded judgments placing blame
on circumstance and temporary might;
for those who look in this way, life’s a game
that designates the one who wins as right.

And sadly, with this vision they proceed
to deem imagination foolishness;
Upon the world they let their bitterness exceed
their hope, and thus, destroy real happiness.

Some unseen, greater prize in vain they seek
to line the coffers of their empty hearts;
and without joy, at length, they deign to speak
of where one’s duty ends, and knowledge starts.

The other view sees the same time and place,
but seeks beyond the surface of the world
and to its mad illusions gives no chase
preferring the whole oyster to the pearl.

Where others see mere folly and lost wealth
attending those who linger on the path,
concerned with more than benefit to self,
they look upon the flower’s bloom, and laugh.

In each small thing, a sense of grand design
and purpose is observed by eyes like these;
and in the commonplace, they seek and find
beneath the surface, subtle energies

that form the substance of all that exists;
yet this discovery breeds no sense of pride,
nor puts their name on some great hidden list;
’tis rarely fame and wisdom coincide.

Of course, within each group, a varied lot
that spans the gamut from glutton to saint,
exists, and each must find their chosen spot.
For some the vision’s strong, for others, faint.

But it is from this pair of points of view
that all the world divides in sects and creeds:
the one, that sees no magic left to do;
the other, knowing better, disagrees.

06 JUN 2004

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A Rainy Season in Hell

Certainly my outlook on life, my philosophy of existence, has been influenced and affected by Christianity. Besides the fact that our culture in the United States is immersed not only in Christian metaphor, but has as its core the underlying belief that everyone is Christian and shares as a result some common understanding of a shared reality plays a part in that. It can be an insidious, even covert sense of instrusion by which that undercurrent makes itself known. I’m not referring to the obvious politically motivated occurrences, like “In God We Trust” or “under God” or swearing on a Bible in court as your standard oath. I’m talking about the definition of words. The framework for a worldview that assumes certain things to be “self-evident.”

I see these signs in dictionaries and their more readily-accessed counterparts, crossword puzzles. The dictionary I have has a definition for Adam: the first human, and theoretical forefather and progenitor of the human race.” It does not preface this phrase with “According to the scriptures of the Christian religion…”. Likewise, it is common to see the clue “earthly paradise” in a crossword puzzle. The correct response is, of course, “Eden.”

Our system of law likewise reflects this closed-system view. What exactly is “an act of God” – whose God, I would like to know, and on what proof is it established that there is a direct divine origin for said act? Do “acts of God” happen to non-Judeochristians? To atheists (of course, an atheist denies the existence of “God”, which doesn’t necessarily make it so, Number One, just like believing that George W. Bush is a decent, honest and intelligent human being interested in the well-being of all Americans equally doesn’t ip so facto it). This is almost, of course, tanamount to a strange kind of animism, to suggest that anything outside of one’s personal control (e.g., earthquakes, floods, political action committees, the mating habits of the lemur, etc.) are under the direct purview and lead by the immense finger of some unseen deity. Are we really saying that every shift in the tectonic plates, every overabundant rainfall (even those precipitated, so to speak, by our own environmental mismanagement and ignorance of the havoc we as industrialized peoples wreak upon the natural balance and cause-and-effect) is a wakeup call from some divine switchboard?

The Bible has been re-translated (or adapted, universalized, updated, modified, or denigrated, depending on your particular point of view), particularly in the New Standard Revised Version (NSRV) to eliminate unnecessary male/female specific pronouns, to reduce gender bias where possible. Political correctness has placed restrictions on such words as “blackboard” (as if being a board whose color, defined by the slate by which it is constructed, being black, is somehow derogatory).

How about a politically correct, or rather, ecumenically correct, dictionary of the English language? One that eliminates Christocentricism so that people (particularly those coming from outside the English-speaking universe) can learn the source of phrase or words without a preconceived bias that is antithetical to their own religious belief? Let the religious nature of a word be defined by its context — a context not pre-imposed within its very definition, so that it can be better understood that in the human experience, which is in fact in the majority non-Christian world-wide, the prejudices of a minority sect are not the basis by which the English language need be understood. Let the Word represent more universally everyone who is interested in knowledge (be it of words, customs, cultures, self, or even the divine).

Of course, to be thorough, that would entail identifying the sources for artifacts of Christian mythology as well.

For example, the world antediluvian might require modification to its definition, from “the period prior to the Deluge visited upon mankind by God” to “the period prior to the catastrophic flood referred to in Christian literature as the Deluge, and referenced by many other religions and ancient histories as either a divine cleansing, or simply a significant watershed event perhaps linked to the melting of the polar icecaps due to global warming during the post-Ice Age period of the earth’s development…” or something like that.

Is this likely to happen? No.

The anthromorpocentric bias of Judeo-Christianity firmly imbedded in our collective Western (and Near East) consciousness, the one that believes there is such a thing as “pre-history” and imagines that with the appearnce of Adam that evolution was completed and the entire universe reached its climax whereupon improvement and/or modification was no longer required, does not entertain exploration beyond its narrow boundaries – thus enforcing its own limitations with a kind of circular definition: it has ceased to evolve, therefore evolution does not exist and has never existed. To paraphrase Descartes, “I do not think, therefore, it isn’t.”

As I have said before, evolution can be proven. There is no mention of humankind being able to swim in the Bible. Yet, it is obvious that somewhere along the long stretch of time from “Adam” to the present, humankind learned this activity, probably as a means of survival. Ergo, it must be a “learned” skill. A change to the frame of reference by which humanity encountered the surface of the world (and a good part of its surface, by the way). An evolution. Humans have evolved, learned new skills, adapted to different environments, with variations in bone size and density, skin pigmentation, cranial capacity, genetic modifications designed to weed out the less able from the fittest, so to speak. We have, as a species, evolved. Therefore, evolution MUST not only be possible, but essential to our very existence. Everything else is a perhaps once-useful, but ultimately superstitiously misguided despite its apparent good intent, mythos.

However, to paraphase again, this time Arlo Guthrie, “I didn’t come here to talk about Alice, I wanted to talk about the Draft.”

My outlook on life has certainly been informed by Christianity. But that is not its only source of information. Were that the case, I would be standing at the seashore with a galvanized bucket full of briny water thinking I had a lock on the meaning of the whole ocean. And that is not the case. I have looked in a great number of buckets, tasted many a variety of seafoam. And I have found that by and large, the salt does not lose its savor in the process. If anything, being as a human animal a microcosm for the world as a whole (both approximately 70% saline based) I have discovered under my own blind hands a few of the different parts of the elephant. The trunk, the tail, the tusks, the broadside, the ears. Not that I have a picture in my mind of the whole elephant. That is not likely in a single lifetime, I suppose. But at least I know there’s more to the elephant that what it leaves behind in the cage.

Or something like that.

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Why Some Sources Are Better Received: an allegory

We stand together on the shore, you and I, watching the night sky.
We both agree we are land-bound and each pines to know the sea.
In our hands we can hold some sand; to me, yours looks the same as mine –
just tiny fragments of the whole, in numbers greater than ourselves.

You use your sand to draw a line between us. As it trickles from
your hand, I wonder why you mark the boundary there and not out
there at the ocean’s edge, where we both see our path’s limitations.
Instead, you tell me that my grains are false and you cannot use them.

I wonder where your few handfuls, that I saw you scoop next to mine
(made of the same small hard stuff, broken from the same giant whole)
became so different from the rest, when you had time to sort these few
in the short time we both had here, how you learned to separate them
from all others on this great span. They are just grains of sand, my friend;
there are millions of them out here, but alone they are not the whole.

Only if placed here together can they make a way for we two
to trail our toes in the vastness that is the sea, from whence we came.
But you reject my small quartz bits, and claim the beach in your sand’s name.

You come at night and wreck castles built of other grains, and on the spot
construct some great monstrosity (that uses some of my sand, too).
By day and night you guard it well, thinking it achieves all that sand
was ever meant to do or be. You cry that your castle weakens,
that when you look, evil sweeps down to brush away your great design.

Sometimes you sound insane, when you insist yours is in fact the only sand
there is, even as the rest of the beach clings to your feet and hands;
Sometimes, when the wind blows strongly, and the air fills with the surf mist,
I see you try to rub the salt from your eyes, cursing the ocean.

Not evil, but the sea itself fights you. For your sand grains are stained
with blood, and the walls of your shrine are tamped with hatred and deceit.
That must be why your sand differs from the rest, and why so many
others, when you offer to share, choose from grains that you have not saved.

26 AUG 2003

An Allegorical Response to Christian Exhortations and Concerns

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