Room Inside a Box

"There is no room inside a box." ~Doug Pinnick

Location: Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, United States

I started this blog as a soundboard for some much needed therapy during my separation with my wife throughout much of 2005. It was truly a blessing to get my thoughts out there through the writing process. Thankfully things have worked out between us. I would have continued to blog, but ever since I started my teaching career, I have found it impossible to do as much blogging as I would like to. So now I hope to periodically post as time and energy allow.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Something to think about, to chew on, to ponder. That's all.

All while I was feeding the kids and washing the dishes and feeding myself and playing with the kids and giving them baths and puttig them to bed, I was thinking of some things that I wanted to add to my previous post. I was hoping to get some writing time in between the kids going to bed and "The Revolution" on the History Channel, but that didn't happen. So today I am hoping to get some more things down that have been on my mind.

One thing is that I'm thinking my brother might take offense or be affronted by some things that I wrote yesterday, and I'd like to predict what some of those offenses might be and ameliorate some of those points so as to quell any possible firestorms that might begin to brew.

Number One: A) He might think I'm worried about his salvation or B) that he's not saved or C) that he's wrong for being gay or D) that it's wrong to not believe in God--or at least a higher power or E) that I'm judging him or F) that I don't think highly of him or G) anything along those lines. Answers: A) Not at all, if indeed there is such a thing, B) I despise that "Sunday school" terminology and think the whole idea is a bunch of hooey, C) While I don't think being gay is natural, I'm certainly not going to say it's wrong or that he and other homosexuals should not have the same rights and privileges and liberties and freedoms as heterosexuals, D) it's not wrong; I just think it's poor judgment, E) Not my place, not my job, not my desire, not my right, and not my idea of a dialogue, F) I think very highly of him, except for his taste in movies, G) I used to be such a fundie asshole that I dread I might still have some lingering fundiness, and it is my desire to simply offer alternative ways of looking at Jesus and God, because fundies and the church en masse should not have cornered the market on Jesus and his teachings--though they have and it's a tragedy. I think of a recent comment on one of Jason's posts which read, "My brother is gay and he's afraid to be himself because of jesus christ. He's diagnosed with a mental disorder because of it. I'm fed up with organized religion and their negative brainwashing. I hope its not too late for my brother to escape his religious prison." Jesus, as recorded in both the canonic and the gnostic (to my knowledge) gospels, never said anything about homosexuality. The Apostle Paul did, but he's not Jesus. I've said it before and I'll say it again, people have fucked up Christ's teachings for so long that people have come to think that Jesus is responsible for more than he actually is. He was just a dude who lived 2000 years ago. An important dude, for sure, but it's not his fault some people in this world cannot come to terms with their homosexuality--it's our repressive society's fault and their misguided notions of Christianity. And yes, organized religion does suck and it is a prison; with that I agree. But because human beings--given their quest for power because of their deparavity and lack which ultimately cause fear and repression--latch onto a zealous Jew and claim to have an in-road or some kind of handle on him (read: the Church) organize themselves and condemn homosexuality, should we then say, "Oh, fuck Jesus"? Certainly not! We should say, "Fuck these people and their religion!" Stop throwing Jesus under the bus. Or at least redirect your anger to its proper place.

Which leads me into something I've been thinking about, something I think I already might have written about, but I'm not sure. Anyway, people get angry at God for so many things. And thus they say, "Fuck God!" And they proceed to not believe in him anymore, or they follow another one altogether. That's fine, but it does show a lack of understanding about responsibility. The first misunderstanding is that people think God does this or Satan does that or some Force made me do this or that. No: people do things and are responsible for their own actions. People do most of the fucking-shit-up in this world, and most of the problems we have in this world, when you boil it all down, can be traced to an individual looking out for himself and not for you. "That's fine," you might say, "but what about tsunamis and hurricanes and flu epidemics and all that?" Once again, the problem lies in the supposition that this shit shouldn't happen. Well, it should because that's the type of world we live in. The universe thrives on explosions and destructive forces. If we fall victim to them, it's not God's fault--it's no one's fault! We're just on this spinning ball for the briefest of moments. We're a blip on the history of the Earth, which itself is a blip in the Universe's history. People step on ants when they walk down the street, and you don't see ants blaming God for that, and neither should we blame a higher power when an earthquake rips across the bottom of the ocean and creates a wave that tears up an island. Perhaps, instead of using our higher faculties to blame a higher being, we should use those higher faculties to not live so damn close to the ocean, or build cities below sea level. And if we're going to build cities beneath the sea level, then we should do a better job of protecting that city. All the money we sink into this insane war in the desert would have easily paid for better levy systems in New Orleans. Or, how about we not contribute to global warming, which changes weather patterns to create stronger hurricanes. So once again, we have to lay at least some of the blame on ourselves for these natural disasters. Don't blame God, and certainly don't blame Jesus. He was just a teacher-dude that thought he was doing the right thing.

So when people go blaming God for the shit in their lives, I just think it's all a bunch of bologna. Blame people; don't blame God. I'm oversimplifying for brevity's sake, by the way....

So I didn't want to write that, but I did. And I think I did because it leads me into my next point, which is that people lose faith in Jesus or God--or a higher power in general--when they look at the world and see all this shit and say something along the lines of, "How can there be a god when there's all this shit in the world?" or "God doesn't exist becasue if he did we wouldn't have all this shit in the world" or "God is something that science and reason and logic prove every day that doesn't exist; so therefore, he doesn't exist" or "God is a human construct that people conjured to give them security and purpose; he is just a figment of our imagination." All of these and probably more are some reasons people just decide not to have faith anymore. I think that's sad. I think it's sad because the only alternative is to believe in humanity itself--or at least your own person--and that's a travesty because human beings are depraved animals in desperate need. More on that at another time.

I still didn't yet get into what I origianlly wanted to write about, which is a defense of my writing to my brother in general about his atheism. It's one thing for Joe Schmoe to be an atheist; it's another for someone you love. And it's not like I'm trying to save him or that I'm worried about his soul or that there's something wrong with him. It has nothing to do with any of that at all. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that for a while I thought about that, too. I mean, there are times when I think that there is no such thing as God or even a god or goddess. I sometimes really think that he is a construct of our overactive imagination. The more we learn about our universe, the less important and relevant he becomes. But then I always come around to thinking that he's more than just this god of the gaps. But those reasons I'll save for another time. The point is I only sometimes play around with the idea of there being no more than just us and the universe; I never actually commit to the idea of a godless universe. Even if it's not Jehovah, I still think there is a higher power. And it has nothing to do with my upbringing, either. My worldview is so different from what I was taught during my formative years that many wouldn't even consider me a Christian at all; my belief system would be deemed heretical and unorthodox. What always comforts me in this regard is that that is exactly what got Jesus killed--so much for upholding the laws and orthodoxy of the church.

I just try to follow the teachings of Christ. That's it. If he never rose from the grave, alrighty then. If he wasn't God, alrighty then. Even if he never existed at all and he's just some conjured up superhero for a small sect of Jews that history seemed to eventually favor, alrighty then. It doesn't bother me. It's like at the end of Big Fish, when the doctor tells the son the real story about his birth. You can still learn important things from these stories, even if they never happened and are embellishments on what really happened.

It's very liberating, actually. I remember when I was at Eastern and I was zealously speaking about Jesus with a good friend of mine at the time. I forget what the topic was exactly, but I was on fire. My audience--one person!--was captivated. Soon, one of the employees, my old boss, actually (I worked in the cafeteria one summer), who went by the name Doc, sat down to listen. I always liked Doc. He and I had many good conversations over that summer. He just sat there and listened to me as I pontificated on this or that about what I had just learned about this or that. After a few minutes Doc had to get back to work; he left the conversation as he had entered it: silently, not a word spoken save this smirk on his face. I remember when the conversation was over she told me she was impressed with some of my ideas and I gave her a lot to think about (which reminds me: that's all I want to do, to give people something to think about and chew on and ponder, because I love it when people do that to me, and I just want to return the favor). As we were walking out of the cafeteria, Doc came up and asked me, "Tom, what if you were to die tomorrow, and you found out that everything you had just talked about was wrong?" I didn't even have to think about it; I didn't bat an eye. I confidently said, "Dude, I'd breathe a long sigh of relief because if someone or something out there exists after I die, then they surely can give me all the answers, because that's all I want to know, the truth!" Doc couldn't believe what I had just said, and quite frankly, neither could I. It was the first of two epiphanal moments in my life.

Most Christians uphold this proposition that Jesus being God is a fact. They say his resurrection is a fact. They say God is a fact of the universe. According to the Apostle Paul, if Jesus only died and didn't rise from the dead, then their (Christians') faith is in vain. If you don't subscribe to this doctrine or that doctrine, then you are heretical and outside the Communion and your soul is in dire straits, hellbound for all eternity. This is what was taught to me growing up. And I reject it all. Yet I still have the nerve to call myself a follower of Christ? Absolutely. I can explain why, but not now.

The second epipanal moment of my life was after I was married and my first son was born. We were living in Gilbertsville (yea Zerns!) and I was on my way to my old church, Moutain View Chapel. I always have and still do respect greatly the pastor there, even if we completely disagree on some fundamental (yea puns!) issues. Nonetheless, at this point in my life I was still at a crisis. Too many questions hurled through my mind, all of which could be summed up along the lines of: How can I be a Christian if I don't believe most of what I was taught to believe? You see, I always dug Jesus. He is the ultimate rebel. And I love rebellion. He was a rule breaker, and I love breaking rules. He stood up for what he believed in, stuck it to the fundies, created a new world order without trying, and was a total feminist. So I wanted to follow this man, but this church thing kept getting in the way. These Christians kept dogging me. I was tired of these loser Christians, yet I couldn't stay away from Jesus. And somehow, something clicked that I can't explain. As I was driving southbound on 100, turning right onto the road that leads to Wal-Mart where the Red Lobster is, it all became crystal clear! Tears started welling up I was so overcome with jubilation and relief. Fuck these Christians! That's what was going on in my mind! And fuck all this belief system worldview crap I've been mistaking for the real thing! Jesus lived and died 2000 years ago, man! We can't even get a story straight that happened the day before, and we're going to get it right after 2000 years? He said and he said and he said and he said and he said for 2000 years? Ever play whisper down the lane? Things are gonna get fucked up and distorted after a while! So if this didn't happen and that didn't happen, so what? The core of the story doesn't change. This fucker, whether or not he existed, whether or not he was god, thought he was dying for me. Whether he was or not, whether he did or not, it doesn't matter. He thinks that he was doing it, and that's as good of a person as any to follow.

You gotta follow some idea in life. No one goes through life believing nothing. There's this dude with a whole lotta love and a whole lotta wisdom and a good teacher and he changed people's lives for the better... you gotta believe in something, and he's as good as any. Lao-tzu, Buddha, Mohammed--whoever. These were great dudes with a lot of great thoughts and great philosophical ideas flowed through them. Jesus was different than the others, yes, and that's why I do his thing and not the others'. But that's another story for another time.

So what I'm saying is this. Xianity is a huge idea that got fucked up over time and became Christianity. People fucked it up. Over time people began to follow people and not the teacher, making a gross mistake which fucked people over big time. It's my contention that if people would see Jesus as an actual, living breathing fleash-and-blood person and not some idea that is loaded with all sorts of shitty baggage that speaks of the shittiness of other people, they'd be more sympathetic to him. That's all. I just don't think people give this guy credit because they're so overcome with anger at the fuckedupness of the church and many Christians. You don't have to be a Christian to follow the teachings of Christ.

And it's not like I want to change people's ideas. It's not like I want to change Jason from an atheist to a deist. If he does, he does. If he doesn't, he doesn't. I just want to present alternative ideas maybe he and whoever else has the patience to read this blather might not have thought of before. I have many books on my bookshelf written by atheists arguing for atheism because I want to be well-informed and open-minded. Like I said, my goal is dialogue where people learn new shit they never thought of before. People will change if real dialogue is taken seriously. How they change and to what degrees they change is not for me to control or to decide. It's not my goal to change people's minds toward this idea or that idea. It's my goal to present ideas, learn ideas from others, have them learn from me, and let change happen within them and me as whatever spirit or consciousness moves.

And I will respond to the first post's comments Jason answered, the entry he entitled, "Brace Yourselves... This is Long" because I need to take back some things I said, especially the part about being a Republican. How can I be a Republican if I'm registered Green? As this is too long, I'll stop. I'm sure I'll have to retract, redact, and rewrite once people start poking holes and flaws into my random thoughts that I only have a chance to write down when the kids are napping. None of this, by the way, is spell-checked or edited. It's pretty much free-flow from the time I put the kids to bed to the time they wake up. So I apologize in advance if I said somethign poorly or wrong.


Blogger Jason Hughes said...

Have I mentioned lately how glad I am you're writing again? Cause I am... and you can find my response to your last post here. None of the thoughts you were worried about crossing my mind didn't exactly cross it the way you thoughts, though I would be lying if I said they didn't flit by as a knee-jerk reaction :D

Now I need to go back and re-read this latest post... you certainly know how to cram a lot in to... a lot. :D

June 20, 2006 8:21 PM  

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