Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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I really do think that love is the answer.  So what’s the question?  Doesn’t matter.  Make one up.  In its simplest, most basic form, love is my answer for everything.  It is my philosophy.  It is my religion.  And I do try hard to adhere to this philosophy, to open my heart to love, to forgive those who have wronged me and find a way to feel love for them.  I try very hard not to worry about material things.  I’d rather have a hug for Christmas than an iPod.  I have been called a minimalist and I accept the tag willingly.  When I sold my house because of my prolonged unemployment I got rid of a literal ton of stuff.  I no longer own a bed or a couch.  I have no utensils.  I am living with friends and when I start earning a real living again and can afford a place of my own it will be sparsely furnished.  A lot of people would, I think, have a difficult time divesting themselves of all or most of their possessions but I have to admit that having done it, I feel lighter.  Not just physically lighter but spiritually lighter also.  I have been attempting to jettison bad attitudes, negative thinking and sarcasm, which I know can seem funny but in my opinion is the antithesis of love.  And it’s everywhere.  It seems as if sarcasm is the new way, the only way that people can relate to one another these days.  Sincerity is out of vogue for some reason, maybe because it’s not cool enough.  But I appreciate sincerity.  I have no use for “cool.”  I have told my daughters at least 100 times, “As soon as you think you’re cool, you’re not.”  To me sarcasm is just plain meanness expressed verbally.  And I’m not condemning all sarcasm here.  There’s a place for sarcasm in truly brilliantly written comedy.  I just don’t think it needs to be a way of life.  Love is better.

On Being Christian

Posted: September 16, 2013 in Religion
Tags: , , , , , ,

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In junior high school I had a best friend named Lucia.  She lived about a mile away and if we wanted to hang out after school we had to go to her house because she was expected, by her two working parents, to be there when her little brother got home from elementary school.  I didn’t mind at all because at that point in my life, anyplace was better than my violent, abusive and dysfunctional environment at home.

At least once a month I would be invited to stay for dinner at Lucia’s house.  Whatever was served was usually prepared by the two of us, after we had played Heart And Soul on the piano for about an hour, done some homework and entertained her needy brother.  Her mom was a secretary at a business in town so she would get home first, at about 5:30, and put the finishing touches on the meal that Lucia and I had concocted.  Then her dad, a member of the NYPD, would arrive.  The whole family always treated me with warmth and kindness, even though it was obvious I wasn’t your garden variety teenager, with my short hair and Levi’s and radical political opinions.

I would see Lucia and her family at church almost every Sunday.  She’d be there with her mom and her dad, her younger brother, maybe even one or both of her older sisters.  They would sit, stand, kneel, sit, stand, kneel with the rest of the congregation, recite the prayers, receive Communion then shake hands and go in peace, just like all the other members of the church.  It was the early 1970’s in Nassau County, Long Island, so if there were any registered Democrats in that house of worship other than my mom, they were not readily advertising their loyalties.  But the mere fact that they all went to church each week gave me a small amount of hope that my town was inhabited by good people, good Christians.

To me, being a good Christian has always meant very simply, attempting to live a Christ-like life.  That’s it.  Period.  And so if you are a good Christian you are not judgemental or full of hate.  You cannot be a racist or a sexist because He was neither.  His skin was probably a lot browner than all that great Renaissance art has lead us to believe and if you dig deeper into books about Him not sanctioned by the church, you will find that He was all for the equal treatment of women.  And if He were walking the Earth today, at the very least, His hairdresser would be gay, don’t you think?  Okay, that’s a silly stereotype, but you can see where I’m going with this.  God hates fags?  Really?  And you were told that you may speak for God by… whom, exactly?  God hates?  I’m sorry, but God doesn’t hate and if Jesus Christ knew what you were saying and doing in His name, I believe He would be at least as upset as He was that day at the temple.  And He’d probably very politely, or maybe not so politely, ask you to stop.

It is my humble opinion that Jesus was a man, a wonderful and peaceful man whose goal in life was to remind us to be nice to one another.  It’s possible that He was a Bodhisattva, a highly evolved soul who could have easily reached Nirvana and left the physical plane behind but instead chose to return for one last incarnation to spread the word of love.  It’s possible, even, that He was sent by God, the positive energy of the universe, the kindness and love residing in the hearts and souls of all of us.  Maybe we felt the need and sent Him to ourselves.

Would He have wanted us to kill people who didn’t “believe” in Him?  Would He have wanted anyone to force or coerce people into converting?  Would He be capable of hating anyone?  It wouldn’t have been very Christ-like of Him to harbor hatred in His heart.

Which is why it would always shock me, as a young teenager trying to find purpose, trying to be kind and loving and giving despite my miserable existence at home, when Lucia’s father would sit down at the dinner table and use the N-word in every other sentence, while describing his day at work.  I used to think, wait, didn’t I just see you in church last Sunday?  Aren’t you a Christian?  How can you possibly take Communion every week and then sit there using that disgusting language, so full of hatred and ignorance?  And so I left the church back then because I didn’t want to sit there with hypocrites.  I didn’t want God to think I was like that.  My mom supported my decision and in fact left the church then also, because she was fed up with their rules about birth control, abortion and divorce.  When I came out to her about ten years later she added the church’s stand on homosexuality to her list.

Fast forward a few decades.  I’m looking for a new church now.  I’m looking for a place where I can appreciate Christ for all His beautiful mercy and love.  I’m searching for a welcoming congregation, a home where my children and I would be embraced, not merely “tolerated.”  I’m looking for a place of worship where the people who enter are truly trying to live as Christ lived.  An impossible feat, I know, as imperfect human beings, but we need to at least try.  We need to at least look in the mirror every day and tell ourselves that we are on the path of goodness, that we will not be a part of all the misery and violence in the world, will not inflict pain on any living thing, will try, at least try to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  I’d like to find a place where materialism has no hold, where a sense of entitlement doesn’t exist, where the hearts of the believers are filled with love and joy, not want and greed.  A place where He might be found, on any given Sunday.