No Abrahamic religion for me

I am not a believer in any of the major book religions. You know, the type where the entire belief system is from one undeniably convoluted, infallible, inerrant, word of god book? The kind where the god speaks, people (men) write it down, and it passes through hundreds or even thousands of years, through tens of thousands of transcribers, translators, and conquerors, unadulterated and pure? You know, the kind where the god sets lots of impossible to follow requirements, says some pretty ludicrous things, sets ultimatums, orders slaughters, offers his (in book religions, it’s always a ‘he’) favors IF and only IF you worship HIM and only HIM.

This is consistent throughout the Abrahamic religions. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with other book religions. The main three Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each one is based on a book, and each one has a common element found in just one single book (although none of them started with a book, it’s just that the books took over and became more important than the religion they represented). Why does it seem so obvious to me and so many others that the stories held within the pages are the stuff of myth? These books are so clearly based on human faults, suffering, etc. It is no god of which they write.

In those, the god character claims to be the only god, and is unusually jealous. The god requires certain behaviours and also has some pretty strange outrageous demands. Book religions require revelation from the top down. It is a rule book which self declares it’s inerrancy. It is an imposed spirituality, not requiring thought on the part of the partaker. Any one or anything that has the line: “then God said,” falls in this category.

But the problem with book religions does not end at them. Any religion can have a top down flow, requiring all subjects of the religion to follow it’s precepts. It almost seems that is what religion is for! It certainly has been used that way throughout the ages. But there is another type of belief, another way of revelation and that is personal revelation. Allowing yourself to be open to revelation… experiencing it first hand. This is bottom up spirituality. It is intensely personal, and in my view, far more authentic. It is open and unbounded. There are no rules imposed upon you, only the constraints of earth and sky. A person is left with their own moral fiber, not a rule guide dictating what is” right” and “wrong.” It can be more frightening, encountering Deity on your own, with no intermediary or instruction manual. But it can also be more authentic. Encountering the Mysteries on your own, with all of what you are, is what we were meant for.

You’d think fewer people would favor the book religion model, yet you can certainly understand why they do. Having something of such depth and meaning handed to you in an “infallible” manuscript means you no longer need to examine depth and meaning on your own! No questioning needed! Instead, those who adopt the book model, simply delve into the book, making it everything, and missing anything else. And that is probably the biggest error of the book religions. Not that they have a top-down approach per-se, but that they stop there. They don’t see the stories in the pages; they don’t honor the myths. Taking it all as the plain text it appears to be, so much is lost. So much is missed.

I think this is why I’m so drawn to Paganism*, where we speak not of  revelation from the top down, but inspiration from the bottom up. Most Paganism is Earth based, which means it is grounded in our experiences. Yet, just as a seed lay in the dark ground, it soon sprouts, grows and blossoms into pure beauty. But that is just the beginning. And a thorough description of Paganism would contain volumes (most likely because it has as many manifestations as there are people who have practiced it).

In this day and age, you’d think people would shun jihads and crusades and myopic ideas of the god concept. You’d think they’d be done with fundamentalist group-think, and open up to the freedom of self-discovery. But no. Sadly, that is not meant to be. I leave you with this:

… the modern world of international communications, trading, travels and migrations — which brings every religion and culture into contact with every other — can no longer afford to indulge the rabid myopia of monotheistic fundamentalism, with its attendant holy wars, crusades, missionaryism and inquisitions. As Thomas Paine said, “The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion;” and “No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.”

– Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, being interviewed on a local television station in Sydney Austrailia, during his first visit there in 1985

* by Paganism, I am referring to the modern interpretations of ageless beliefs. Sometimes known as Neo-Paganism, but drawn on countless ancient forms.

Posted in Living, Spirit | Leave a comment

ReverendDollar

I remember watching some time ago a TV evangelist whose main purpose in life was to beg for money. I saw this guy a few times. I don’t remember if his name was Tilden or Tilten or something like that, but I do remember that during his entire show, he was somehow able to make his message for “more money” into his sermon of the day.  That showed incredible talent, now that I come to think of it (and why am I coming to think of it now?).

He was able to masterfully blend your sending him money with his god’s sending you blessings. That’s right, the old cash for blessing program. With this incentivised program, his god was sure to move blessings out the door. No offer was too ridiculous . Come in and let us show you what we have!  We’ve got this beauty right here from 1 John 3:15, oh and here’s one from an actual gospel. All these blessings and they are ready to move.

OK, so I did a few searches and actually found the guy. But not what I thought I would find. This is the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in a long time. I was in tears laughing at this. Watch it… you’ll see.

http://religiousfreaks.com

Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

What to believe. What to believe.

I have not been biking this year as much as in past years because I just can’t seem to find the time. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the kids getting older, but now is not the time to slack off! You know, getting older and stuff, it’s important to do whatever you can to stay alive.
So the other day I was going through YouTube looking at all kinds of atheist videos from George Carlin (funny), Richard Dawkins (smart), Chris Hutchins (odd), Bill Mahar (funny and smart), and others. An atheist friend of mine was having a huge discussion/argument with others on their Facebook page regarding this and several atheists had links to these videos. The atheist/freethinkers had a 20 to 1 advantage over the irrationalists. I hate to see people try to defend something that is not defensible. It’s hard enough trying to defend certain facts, let alone defending fiction.
Anyway, the videos really made people of faith seem like idiots, but especially fundamentalists. Not hard, I know. It seems beliefs can cause people to do almost anything, but their most favorite is killing others.
Problem is, humans by nature are compelled to make sense of what they do not understand. It has to make sense to us, it has to fit into our frame of reference, before we can even get to understanding. That is the basis of “faith”. Everyone has faith… whether they are Christian, Buddhist, or Atheist. There are things out there we just don’t know, and yet, they are in our mind. Even if you go purely on science, which is fine, there are still unanswered questions. We have to fit that into our world view in some way or life is threatening to us. Consider this: Say you saw a ghost or something like that. Something you had never seen before, something odd and maybe “spooky”. Immediately, the first thing you would try to do, is to make sense of what you just experienced. You could come up with anything, really. You might even make up some things — possibly quite irrational — to help you explain it. Or maybe you will start researching it, ask experts, visit libraries, whatever. But I think we’d all agree, your first reaction would be to figure out what it was. We just can’t let the unknown go unexplained.
So some people turn to myths, which is fine, I suppose, until the particular question is answered, then they need to turn away from the myths. And some people turn to myths and fully believe in them as fact. And still others never do turn away from the myths, even in light of full physical evidence.
Take lightening for example. At one time, most people thought that it was the anger of the gods (or something like that). But then, we studied it and figured it out. Now, most people don’t think it’s angry gods. It’s lightening. Those who still believe its from the angry gods are that last group I just mentioned (Note: Many fundamentalists still believe that storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis are caused by an angry god as a retribution against whatever makes the god angry).
Some people believe in their myths to such an extent that they are convinced theirs is the only way, and that is the biggest single danger to humanity (well, next to economic inequality). And religion is the single biggest purveyor of this form of danger. It’s group-think belief full of hierarchy, threat of punishment, retribution, false promises, force, etc. Organized mind control… the ultimate cult.

But people make myths of anything, whether it’s god, or things like getting AIDS from standing too close to a person with AIDS. It always comes down to the things we don’t understand.

Posted in Miscellany, Spirit | Leave a comment

Cigarette Out the Window

You may have felt it before… maybe a small tinge or a depth of indignation. You’re stopped at a traffic light or stop sign. Then all of  the sudden, you see a white thing flicked out of the window from the car in front of you.

How can this be? Who in the world would do that, you think to your self as your car idles, waiting. It stews in you a little more. That really pisses me off, you mutter, as you see the still lit butt sitting on the side of the road, but still on the pavement. That guy’s an asshole.

It hasn’t yet crossed your mind that the pavement that both your car and the one in front of you sit, waiting, is made from a toxic mix of petro-goo poured liberally across every corner of the country, if not the world. Poured right beneath where you are. Right beneath where you’ll be, and conveniently enough poured generously everywhere in between.

If it had crossed your mind, you might have felt as I do sometimes. Sure I get pissed, but then I look around, at myself, sitting in a car, on a road, maybe a Chipotle cup in the trash with other assorted junk lying about. Maybe you’d realize the irony, or the fact that all the trash you create will all end up somewhere on the planet. Maybe not just right there on the side of the road, next to the car. It will end up in a huge man-made mountain somewhere. Hopefully somewhere you can’t see it or smell it.

But as for the man throwing his butt out the window (oh wait, it’s a woman) well, what do you expect? She obviously doesn’t care about herself! I mean, smoking? That is just so bad for you! Who even does that anymore? So typical of a woman driving rusty Plymouth Acclaim. Actually, I can’t tell… is that a guy or a girl?

Posted in Living, Suburbia | Leave a comment

Appreciating your god

If only Christians could truly appreciate Jesus. I mean, it seems sometimes that they very much reduce this man to a formula to get into their heaven. I remember this group in college that spouted a simplistic, formulaic method for ensuring you claim a spot on the salvation express called the Four Spiritual Laws. In addition to saving your own, they had a plan for spreading this message virally throughout the collegiate biosphere. Limiting such an important figure to a means to save your eternal ass, is missing the point. It misses the whole target, falling well short of it.

I went to church for many, many years. Part was put upon me, part was my own choosing (late high school, early college as I went through a Christian youth revival period). But in all those years, I never learned as much about Christianity as I did from one source — a musical. That’s right, Andrew and Tim’s Jesus Christ Superstar. This one musical allowed me to see for the first time ever the world that Jesus found himself in at that time and place. His land was occupied by a foreign power, the Jews were looking for a way out, and even though his message was spiritual, it was taken as political and used ultimately to kill him.

My absolute favorite line from that musical is this one, spoken by the Jesus character: “Neither you Simon nor the fifty thousand, nor the Roman’s nor the Jews, nor Judas nor the Twelve nor the priests nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself, understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all…”

That really says it all. And the tune behind it is riveting. Power is not what we think it is. It is not “power over.” It is “power within.”

It seems Christians ignore the very evident Jesus as mystic, enlightened master, self-aware, awakened, human. And they are the ones who should know. They study his words, spend time worshiping him, and supposedly try to be like him. It’s odd that this would be the case, but at the same time, I understand the bible is a very dangerous — if not inscrutable — book, in that it can be interpreted in as many ways as there are people who read it. And since some claim it is the inerrant word of God, well there’s your recipe for disaster (and a world of history to prove it). When a book is said to be written by god, in any belief system, it’s a sure fiasco waiting to happen. And it has happened. And is happening now.

Everyone has their own truth. And all those truths lead to the Ultimate Truth. No one person, no one belief system can claim ownership of Truth, only of truth. One question I have is, was Jesus really here to ensure people worshiped him endlessly? Or was he here to point to a better way, toward a truth which could ultimately lead people to The Truth. It just seems to me that simply worshiping him, or focusing solely on the “he is God” aspect completely blinds people to his message. That’s how you get things like “Baseball+Apple Pie+Jesus = American.” I mean, how else could such a concept come from what Jesus taught? It takes a lot of reduction to get there.

Posted in Spirit | Leave a comment

I am this, I am that

I’ve seen in some writings, in some new age groups and even among Pagans, the idea that “I am God.” Although it is fun to say, I just want to be clear about where I stand. I don’t think I am “God.” As a matter of fact,  as gods go, I’m pretty much not one. But read on…

Then what do I think I am? According to Tolle, I am “the Universe becoming conscious of itself.” I am a point of consciousness, a point joined to all the other points, being the Universe to consciousness. My sentience is a reflection of All-That-Is. I’m finding the words to describe this relationship very difficult to come by.

By consciousness, I don’t mean thought, I mean existence. Or more so, awareness. Enlightenment is the awareness of Awareness.

But back to “I am [not] God.” What are these “I am’s” that we humans describe ourselves with? I am a lot of things. People use “I am” to describe themselves, yet not a single one of the I am’s is what we really are. We are only describing a facet of ourselves, a property, if you will, or an attribute. But who wants to say, “Hi, one of my properties is lesbian (I’m not, but…), or one of my properties  is millionaire (again, not).” What if I told you “I am a Witch, I am a barefooter, I am a bicyclist, I am a bi-sexual, I am a father, I am employed, I am a carnivore, I am a US citizen.”

Truth is, I am none of those things. They are merely some of my properties. How about, I am a human. Surely I must be human. No… again, merely a property. What I am, can not entirely be fathomed, until I become enlightened.

But am I not saying, in some way, indirectly, that I am God? No, that isn’t what I’m saying. Because God to me isn’t what a statement like that could refer to. In other words, you (I) can’t be God. God is All-That-Is, and I am not all that is, I am a part of what is. A part of All-That-Is, and inseparable from it. It is me, and I am it. One. But saying I am One with All-That-Is is not like saying I am God. And at the same time, it’s not as easy as saying I am a part of God — even though God being all that is. Words can not describe, they can only point.

Ok, pretty heady. Let’s take a break:

<Play the song 1-1-1 by the Elvendrums here.> Wish I could. See track 7 in the link.

Posted in Living, Miscellany, Spirit | Leave a comment

Strong pull of the Goddess

My whole being is drawn in, pulled toward the light of the Silver Wheel. Her presence is felt. But more than that, it’s a part of my being. Where did this come from? Why so intense? And why now?
Summer is strong, the heat is at a climax. I feel her inside and out. Inside in my soul, and outside in the warmth that surrounds me.

Every night for the past week or so, I have been called outside to just be there with Her, with the elements and myself. I go to my little garden (which isn’t really a garden this year) and do a small ritual. I honor each of the four sacred directions, calling to each of their attributes with gratitude. Sometimes I am skyclad, and it feels so good to just be there alone, covered only in darkness with the warm summer breeze caressing every part of my skin gently, softly. How it increases my appreciation and energizes my ritual.

Of course, being in my backyard, in a neighborhood with other houses around, skyclad, even in darkness, is a bit risky. I think I may have been spotted on an occasion or two. One night I was headed back to the house, and there were people out, and it appeared they were looking at me. And at that point, I was slightly more illuminated. But so what, I just get so much out of it. I mean, it’s not as if my neighbors don’t already think I, and my unschooled family, are pretty weird. Just the other day, I was having a photo-shoot out in the backyard with my wife. I was in my witchy robe, in a tree, with my wand, as my wife took some pictures of me in different poses. They were for my profile in my The Witches Voice page — turned out pretty good too! My next door neighbor looked out his window and I can only imagine what he was thinking.

But I love my nightly greetings. If I could do it right through to winter I would, but naked at 0 degrees is not for the faint of heart! Plus, the way light scatters so easily off the snow, makes the darkness of a steamy summer night less possible. The other night, just as I ended my ritual in which I dedicated myself the the Goddess and God, I spotted a tiny but bright light on the ground just outside my pebble-outlined circle. I stared. I couldn’t believe it. In a way, it looked like the stars above me, but it was at my feet. I looked closer. It glowed. Was it a pixie? Could it be a firefly? And this late in the year? After I had seen none for quite some time, and at a time of the year when I had NEVER seen any before? I’m not superstitious, but I truly feel this was a gift, just a little sign from All-That-Is to me, to let me know that I’m being heard, watched over, loved. I remember the first night I did my ritual, I saw a shooting star just as I finished. And this was several nights after not seeing any during the height of the Perseid meteor shower.

Blessing to all, and peace of the beloved Goddess to you. May you find your own sacred space, and may you experience divinity in your lives daily.

Here I am on the edge, between Earth and Sky. I am the conduit; may the energy flow through me.

Peace.

Posted in Spirit | Leave a comment

My Paganism…

…most likely isn’t like your Paganism. I would go so far as to say no one’s Paganism is like anyone else’s. But mine is particularly distinct in flavor. Eclectic Universal Tollianism. What in the world is that?

Well, I’m eclectic. I do not stick to any single tradition or system of beliefs. I absorb that which works for me and makes sense to me. I’ve had enough time trying to take in things that make no sense to me. That was where I and so many others come from. It is so unnatural, and unnecessary. It doesn’t have to be that way people!

I’m a Universalist. Not a Unitarian Universalist, but a Universalist as in I believe Universe is God. But God is such a loaded, abused word, that it is difficult to use. I see the Universe, all that is, as god itself. I believe god is not apart or outside of us, but is all around, and within us. Is us.

I’m a Tollian, even though that’s not a word, nor should it be. Eckhart Tolle’s books have had a great influence on me. I’ve learned so much from them, and even though I find them difficult to put into practice, I understand them… I get it. I know what he is saying and it explains so much of what I already knew, but never could piece together until now. His words speak deeply to me, and I know them to be true. What he says actually explains so much of the Christianity I grew up with. It gives me a new and deeper appreciation for Jesus teachings. It allows me to move on from those years, with appreciation instead of resentment. I know Tolle’s words are not new. I know he draws from various traditions and sages. But there is something about the way he presents it that has gotten through to me.

I’m also a Witch. I learned of that around 1994 or 95. I was looking for my spiritual roots before Christianity, and stumbled upon modern Witchcraft. Lo and behold, what I read resonated loudly in me. I felt it inside. Words were put to what I always knew, but couldn’t explain. I cast the sacred Circle, call the quarters, invoke the god(s) and goddess(es). I feel the energy in me, moving through me powerfully and in a real way

But again, my witchyness is probably quite different than yours (if you are one). I would go so far as to say there are not even two Witches the same. There are many out there that I do not resonate with, and many that I do. We are all very different, for there is so much individuality in our beliefs.

Posted in Spirit | Leave a comment

Words that make me cringe

  • Church
  • Congregation
  • Worship
  • Prayer
  • Liturgy
  • Religion

Alternatives

  • Enlightenment
  • Presence
  • Meditation
  • Spirituality
  • Acceptance
  • Community
  • Circle
  • Collective
Posted in Miscellany | Leave a comment

War on Xmas

What’s all this about a War on Xmas? We have the war on drugs, war on poverty, war on terror… it seems there ain’t nothin we won’t go to war against. So now we’re at war with Xmas. Well, if we have the same luck as we’ve had with all those other wars, it looks like Xmas should do just fine.

Anyway, really, it seems to be that time of year when certain people get very offended that Macy’s uses “Holiday Sale” instead of “Christmas Sale” in their fliers. It seems they feel it is important that their god endorse all sales, or they aren’t valid sales. Seriously, why would these people want commercial stores to make reference to their god? How insecure must a person be about his or her beliefs. How small must they think their god to be, if threatened by such an insignificant  matter.

What is really going on? Is it the lack of faith? Maybe. But what you’ll really find behind this is the religious right, trying to usurp control and force their vision of Christianity on the populace. Similar to what the Taliban liked to do with the people of Afghanistan. What is their fear of taking Christ out of store ads? Is it that it will only get worse? If they take their god out of the stores, then next he will be taken out of public restrooms, then NASCAR, then finally, the worst of the worst, their god will be blasphemously removed from bumper stickers and billboards.

It’s about fear. It has always been about fear for Christians. They do not actually put any trust in their god, as evidenced by their belief that they must forcibly push their god on others. They are fearful of anything they do not understand, and they are fearful of many things — which means they don’t understand much. It seems that if Christians just let go, and trusted in their god, all would go well. If their god was so great (and I’m not saying he isn’t, it just seems no one gives him a chance), it’s presence would be naturally accepted around the world.

This fear spreads to the Christians heavy emphasis on their dark god, Satan. They have so much interest in their dark god, that you would think that it is their primary god. Why so much emphasis? Why so much apparent fear? Again, it seems like a lack of faith in their main god. Stop giving the bad guy so much credit, and press, and attention. For where your intention goes, so goes your power.

Peace out, y’all.

Posted in Spirit | Leave a comment