Present Tense

Is that really what God meant?

I’ve been in a crabby mood lately and a lot of it comes from my over-consumption of media and social networks; too much crazy-ass stuff is out there.  My therapist would tell me that I need to react differently; quit with the whole trying to control other people.  She’s right, as usual, but that’s what I pay her for.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year, exploring religion and spirituality.  I’ve been reading and contemplating and trying to understand how God might fit into my life.  I’m still struggling mightily with what will work for me, in terms of melding beliefs with values, opinions and my own truths.  That’s where I’ve hit a roadblock that’s really been bothering me.

My main struggle is with Christianity, since it’s by far the predominate religious practice in our country.  Most Americans identify themselves with a Christian God and surveys indicate that about 80 percent of us say we believe in God.  I don’t count myself among that 80 percent; while I am coming around to the idea of God/Creator, I don’t identify myself as a Christian.  In fact, I am teetering on the brink of flat out rejecting much of modern American Christianity.  From what I’ve seen and read, Christianity seems in the midst not of re-birth, but of stagnation and regression.

I’m disturbed by the attitude toward  gays, in the name of religion. Gay people are just as much God’s children as any of us.  To be segregated from your civil rights based solely on your sexual orientation and certain religious beliefs, is shameful.  It’s puzzling to me how such cruelty can be inflicted in the name of a loving and forgiving God.  In fact, it makes me so angry, that I’ve found myself saying and thinking things about my Christian friends that I’m ashamed of.  I am beginning to bubble with the type of intolerance and judgement that I’m so disgusted with.  The institutional  religious persecution and rejection of gays in our culture is backward and ignorant.

Here’s another thing that got under my skin.  The praising of God for the rescue of the Chilean miners.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it seems as if fervent religious belief shoves aside the amazing capacity of man to invent, innovate, problem-solve and act.  MEN rescued those miners.  I have no doubt that faith did come into play, as they waited underground for that rescue, but their salvation was not an act of God, it was an act of man, science and engineering.  The earth didn’t open up and create a huge stairway for them to walk out of the mine.    It’s unsettling to think that we are so quick to dismiss our intellect and capacity as humans in favor of something mystical.

Near our home in Fraser, Colorado, we had a fairly serious wildfire a couple of weeks ago that had the potential to cause a lot of damage.  It was close to our home and we were warned that we might have to evacuate.  Fortunately, the winds were light, there were extra fire crews in the area and it was contained before it turned into a major disaster.  The crews were very well-trained and worked with military precision.  Today, I’m reading the letters to the editor in our local newspaper and there was a rather long letter decrying the lack of thank yous to the one entity that  saved us all from this disaster:  God.

Now, if I were to follow this person’s logic, isn’t it equally possible that God started the fire?  All I know is that I sat at the end of the cul de sac, watching huge tanker aircraft dropping tons of fire retardant for hours and hours.  I saw spotter planes and helicopters dipping and dropping huge buckets of water on the blaze.  Hundreds of hotshots were on the ground building fire containment lines.  Those are the ones that all of us wanted to hug and to thank.  Perhaps the letter writer’s prayers helped them along; I really have no idea, but I was bothered by the condescending tone heaped on all of us heathens for not publicly thanking God for sparing us.

Maybe I’m over-thinking; being closed-minded.  Could be.  I am in therapy and reading a lot of books trying to explain the meaning of life, so I guess I haven’t quite grasped it all yet.  Here’s the bottom line with religion for me:  it seems to endorse rejecting modern life.  Science, technology and innovation seem to be cause for suspicion and fear.  Mysticism and superstition seem more powerful to some and it scares me.  Religion makes it okay to call homosexuals perverts and deny them access to rights that should be guaranteed thanks to the freedom and liberty promised us as Americans.  God gave us brains, free will, and science to use for our betterment.  He also made some of us a little different; I think maybe that’s a test from God to see how we’d handle people who don’t fit our ideal. Right about now, it would appear that we are getting a D.

October 15, 2010 - Posted by | Musings | , ,

29 Comments »

  1. Thank you, Jane! This is exactly how I look at it. I grew up as a Christian, and as I got older I realized some things the church (or religion) teaches is not what God would want for me or the people of this world. The things that I know about my God is that He is loving and forgiving, and since we are told to seek after Him and be like Him, we are also to be loving and forgiving. It saddens me that so much anger, pain and hatred has sprung out of Christianity.

    Comment by Kelly | October 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Kelly:
      Where does it come from? I don’t get it. Thanks for the comment.

      Comment by janelondon | October 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. Jane,
    I study a religion called Christidelphian,it is not a main stream religion. The basis of what I am learing is that god has a definite plan for the earth and those in it. I am totally responsible for my choices and behavior. What I have studied so far has increased my consience and responsibility for my life. I do not know if you have ever heard of the religion but there is a very good book called ELpis Isreal By a man named John Thomas, if you want to read it let me know.

    Comment by marge Beem | October 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. I completely understand what you are feeling. I grew up with religion in an odd way. My parents drove me to Sunday School, Youth Group and other church functions and then promptly sped away from the dwelling. I chose to go to church alone. Not that my parents were atheist or agnostic; they just didn’t have room for religion, but supported my curiosity/need.

    As I grew older, and quite frankly left NE Ohio, I experienced and met other ways of life and other people that were not like me. I loved them, called them friend and became very disillusioned with organized religion; especially those that banished my friends.

    I’m about to stereotype…. but, through social media, I have reconnected with old high school classmates. I’m floored with some of the stuff that they post on FB about their religious and political beliefs and their thoughts about others. There people have never left the bosom of my town NE Ohio and have made their judgments on the religion their parents instilled and their political party that they registered for because that’s the pin their parents wore.

    I decided to “hide” those that make me crazy and I am just not getting into pissing matches with those that are completely ignorant. I’m 44 years old, happily divorced and I don’t have the time or desire to convince others to learn acceptance and tolerance; because let’s face it, it would fall on deaf ears. I’ve chosen to surround myself (and not in a group hug way) with like minded people. Now, I’m not one to back down in a conversation; I’m vocal and opinionated as hell; but I choose my audience.

    It’s really oxymoron in a way. I want people to be open and loving of all others; while those people want me to discriminate, be fearful and hate those same people.

    In conclusion, Jane. I’ve got nothin’

    Chris

    Comment by Chris | October 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Chris:
      It sounds as if you got “somethin'”. Your beliefs evolved as YOU evolved and grew and matured. I completely understand your frustration, with people who seem to living in another era, that isn’t practical or moral in our modern world!
      Thank you for a very eloquent comment. Much appreciated!
      Feel free to re-post my blog to anyone that you think might want or ‘need’ to read it:)
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | October 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Why “hide”, why not remove?! Are you afraid of some strange FB repercussion? It’s all about fear. Much organized religion (and politics) is based on the fear factor in order to control.

      Comment by Imasink | October 16, 2010 | Reply

      • I have removed one person before; only because he kept sending me religious groups to join, he became gum on my shoe. After he continuously tried to re-friend me, I knew I made the right decision.

        The others I spoke of, while ignorant, I chose not to remove because I don’t feel the need to make that kind of statement. Like in real life, I have never broken up with a friend, rather just let the friendship fizzle.

        Comment by Chris Tisone | October 16, 2010

  4. Religion. I claim Christianity and yet I feel as if it has been watered down and absconded by men who are seeking power. We have lost the connection with a “Higher Power” and replaced it with rules and regulations to get us into ‘heaven’. Even Jesus hated that. He called the ‘holy men’ snakes. They created and environment where it seemed that the only way to have a relationship or connection with God was to have wealth. The rules were so constricting that no one could worship without fear of being ostracized. Snakes and a brood of vipers. Clean on the outside and dirty on the inside. It’s exactly the same today with men and some women, of power deciding who can and can’t be loved by God. REALLY?? One of my favorite lines from an Indigo Girls song…”Who are you to speak for God?”

    I have a double struggle as I claim a religion that not only doesn’t claim me, but that denies my very right to CHOOSE it or participate in it. Thank goodness God doesn’t see it that way. How do they think they regulate my faith anyway?

    We are amazing creatures, and if you believe in a Creator, created in the very image of God. Creative and brilliant in our own right. Thank God for doctors who treat our ills and fire fighters who keep us safe and , for the most part, all the rest of us. I say there is a balance if you BELIEVE in that Creator God. Let’s give credit where credit is due. We have the creative ability given to us by God to think out the problem and find the solution, go to school to learn medicine, or write a song. But it takes action on our part to make the thought become reality. Ideas, no matter how inspired, remain inert unless we as humans act. SO YEA! to the engineers who got the miners out and YEA!! to the firefighters who saved homes! ….and in my opinion….YEA! To God for the inspiration to figure it all out.

    I’m always searching for a closer connection…I don’t think the search ever ends if one believes in God. At least it shouldn’t. A stagnant relationship dies no matter if it is with humans or God.

    That’s all I got:)

    Comment by Kandis | October 16, 2010 | Reply

  5. Jane,

    I just wanted to let you that because one “christian” acts in a certain way doesn’t make it right. No one is perfect that’s why Christ had to come. As far as homosexuals go they aren’t living in accordance with God’s word. I don’t hate them, how can I bring them to God if I am a hateful person. They deserve love just as anyone else does. It’s just that the live they live isn’t in accordance with His word. I Corinthians 6:9-10 gives a list of sins that would cause one not to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Homosexuality is one. I hate the thought of many not going to heaven because of who they choose to live with but, I cannot change God’s word and hiding the truth would condem me as well and I certainly don’t want that.

    Have a great day 🙂

    Comment by Mike | October 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the note. I would submit to you that many of us don’t live in accordance with God’s word; perhaps because we are human or because we are not Christian. Secondly, you assume that homosexuality is a ‘choice’ that one makes; I disagree. Thirdly, using religion to make laws that restrict people’s civil rights is the big stumbling block that I have. How is it any different than the Taliban, which we, as freedom-loving Americans, decry?

      You certainly have every right to live YOUR life in accordance with your religious tenents; but to go beyond that and demand that everyone follow every rule, is wrong.

      Someone shouldn’t be denied rights or equal access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the United States, based solely on their sexual orientation. NONE of us is without ‘sin’ on a hourly basis, so who are we to pick and choose who gets rights and I daresay, none of us really knows who gets into heaven and who doesn’t.

      I’m not sure if this occurred to you, but not everyone believes in heaven, so I have hard time basing legislation solely on that premise.
      jane

      Comment by janelondon | October 16, 2010 | Reply

      • I realize not everyone believes. That’s why I don’t agree with things that the taliban do like stoning homosexuals. You are right in saying if that’s how they want to live it’s their right. What I don’t like is when people who do “believe in heaven” try to twist the scripture to get in those who don’t obey God’s word. I wasn’t commenting so much on social issues as I was religious issues and what the scripture has to say about it. As far as choosing how to live I guess we’ll just disagree there. Once can choose to live alone or with someone reguardless of orientation. At least that’s my take.

        Have a great weekend.

        Comment by Mike | October 17, 2010

  6. Jane:
    Keep up the search. It is journey and you will not “arrive”.
    Christians, in my opinion are believers in GOD the creator who belive in Jesus of Nazarath as Jesus the Christ. The curious part is that many and I mean many, do not follow the examples that Jesus set for us while he walked on Earth. Simply following the basics of the Sermon on the Mount is a good start, while you search for a deeper connection. To Mike: at the writing of the books chosen by men to be included in the HOLY BIBLE, no word existed for homosexual or homosexuality. The acts being described in the passage that you quoted refer to pedophelia among priests- which was a common practice of the time. There is in fact no mention of homosexuality – being love, sex or marraige among two adults of the same sex. You have been duped into believing the interpertation of those seeking to control the masses into believing that the Bible says something that is simply does not say. The Bible is complex and represents many translations from Greek and Hebrew, then Latin and German – all before English and all by men. One must also understand the sociopolitial climate of the times in which the Bible was written and translated. Please do not be among those who simply believes what you are told about the Bible. Back to you Jane: Everyone should take the time and devote the energy to “live a better, more productive life.” You are a smart woman. Don’t over think.
    Amy

    Comment by Amy | October 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Amy:
      Brilliant. I’ve read similar interpretations about the “homosexuality” passages. Not only have there been numerous translations, but numerous people wrote and edited the Bible, in many cases to ensure that it reinforced the prophesies of the Old Testament. So, following to the word, a text that has been changed, translated, edited and maninpulated for thousands of years is fraught with potential for misinterpretation.
      You’re so right about the basic teachings of Christ, but my distress involves the widespread bastardization of those teachings, to further a moral, social and political agenda. Using religious maninpulation to control or deny people’s rights is evil.
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | October 16, 2010 | Reply

      • Evil, but, as with all ages past, just part of the world we live in. My goal is to live the best life that I can live, touch and serve as many as I am able and to give the rest to God. Christ is my example. I, like everyone. am flawed. I am impatient,gay, in a long term relationship with a woman (not married – we live in Colorado, and the mother or 3 adopted children, 6 and under. My children are black and bi-racial. My father, a Baptist is sure that I am going to hell. He loves me – but he believes in his heart that I am condemned to hell because I am gay. To his credit he has over come the obstables of race considering that his white, daughter adopted little black kids. Turns out the race part was easier for him than the gay part. I can’t and do not try to change that about him. His is no homophobe – he simply believes what he was taught as a child. Jane: teach. Share your wide breadth of knowlege. Tell others what you believe is evil and what is good. It makes a difference. OH, and by the way, you have a forum. :).
        Amy

        Comment by Amy | October 16, 2010

    • You are right on one level. For instance the Catholic Bible has the apocryphal books that the Bible I use and trust to be God’s word does not have. I believe the Bible to be Holy written by men who were inspired by God and guided by the Holy Spirit. To the your statement about no word for homosexuality what about what happened to Sodom and Gahmorra in the old testament? It that area it talks about “men laying with men” and describes it as peverse. Now that that’s done I’m not here to irritate or demean how anyone lives. What my original intent was to point out that yes there are hypocrits who claim to know and love God. They do not. Take for instance the Westborough Baptist church and how they protest at military funerals. We are to speak the truth in love and they aren’t doing that. In fact what they are doing has nothing to do with the truth and they are in fact driving people away from God. Anyway have a great weekend.

      Comment by Mike | October 17, 2010 | Reply

      • Mike:
        “Removing the plank from our own eye” would appear to be a lifelong task for all of us, so for me, while I work on that, I will not work to deny others’ their civil rights, based on their sexuality. In fact, I will champion their rights.
        And if we’re going to go along with your literal interpretation of “men laying with men”, it would appear that we chicks are off the hook, as to who we lay with and how that will affect our admission into heaven.
        Hope you enjoy your weekend as well.
        And for the record, we do agree about the Westborough Baptist Church and I wish the media would stop giving them so much coverage.
        Jane

        Comment by janelondon | October 17, 2010

  7. you are my hero. well said.

    Comment by Francesca Amari | October 16, 2010 | Reply

  8. Jesus’ best friends were the misfits of society. He understood them as no one else did; He cherished their company. I strive to be like him in that regard. I’m not a Christian, don’t care for the twisted-up religion that 2,000 years has produced, but I do have a great deal of admiration for Jesus. He was Rebel #1 after all.

    It’s so sad to me that after so much time of human progress, we’re still seized by superstition, but I guess we’re still emotionally primitive creatures. I let science, reason, and logic be my guide in this life as much as I can. And logic tells me that denying one group of people civic rights while granting them to everyone else is wholly wrong! Homosexuality has existed on this Earth as long as there have been people. It’s not going to go away just because some prudish group of religious fanatics want it to. It is not a condition that can be changed. The human condition isn’t so neat and tidy as to be any one type of sexuality. Sociologists have defined human sexuality into at least 4 different types.

    The Indian tribes of the Great Plains recognized and embraced their homosexual brethren. They had a specialized place in the tribe, known as berdaches (most commonly). They had their own culture. Now, go on and try to explain to me how someone “chooses” to be homosexual growing up in a tribe like the Comanches. Balderdash!

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | October 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Oh, and in most First Nation societies, homosexuals were described and accepted as “two spirits,” and were easily accepted in most First Nation tribes, even those societies that were overtly patriarchal. All this anti-gay nonsense comes out the Judo-Christian tradition (read: old-men w/ sticks up their butts).

      Comment by Roxanne Rieske | October 17, 2010 | Reply

  9. Some thoughts…

    What an exciting life is available for each one of us today! We may not be a John Cabot, sailing off into the blue with the king’s patent to discover new lands, nor a Captain James Cook, whose voyages of discovery carried him to the known ends of the earth. Captain Cook declared: “I had ambition not only to go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible for a man to go.” But we can be explorers in spirit, with a mandate to make this world better by discovering improved ways of living and of doing things.

    The spirit of exploration, whether it be of the surface of the earth, the vastness of space, or the principles of living greatly, includes developing the capacity to face trouble with courage; disappointment with cheerfulness; and triumph with humility.

    God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.

    Carl Sandberg described our possibilities: “I see [life] not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us. I see [life] in the crimson light of a rising sun, fresh from the burning creative hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of will and vision.”

    However, during the last half century, there has been a gradual but continual retreat from standards of excellence in many phases of our lives.

    We observe business without morality; science without humanity; knowledge without character; worship without sacrifice; pleasure without conscience; politics without principle; and wealth without works.

    Perhaps the renowned author Charles Dickens, without really realizing it, described our day when he spoke of a period two centuries ago. His classic A Tale of Two Cities begins:

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”

    To measure the goodness of life by its delights and pleasures and safety is to apply a false standard. The abundant life does not consist of a glut of luxury. It does not make itself content with commercially produced pleasure, the nightclub idea of what is a good time, mistaking it for joy and happiness.

    On the contrary, obedience to law, respect for others, mastery of self, joy in service—these constitute the abundant life.

    (for full article http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=6139d7630a27b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD)

    Comment by Donna | October 17, 2010 | Reply

    • I have absolutely no idea what any of that means. Seems like another long winded way of crying “EMBRACE GOD!” Well, I have, but you will never have any concept of my idea of the Creator.

      Comment by Roxanne Rieske | October 17, 2010 | Reply

      • My apologies Roxanne. This is my first time commenting on one of these blogs & I thought I was adding a comment to Jane’s original post I didn’t realize it was a direct reply to your comments. Please forgive this rookie’s mistake.

        Comment by Donna | October 17, 2010

    • Donna:
      Thanks for your comments, although I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at or how it relates to my post. Perhaps I’m missing your point. Did you write this? The link you included doesn’t work.
      Thanks again
      Jane

      Comment by janelondon | October 17, 2010 | Reply

  10. After reading most of these comments let me say this: Now you see what I put up with every day! “Supposedly” loving, Christian people telling us (GLBT) who can and can’t be in association with God. I don’t want any part of that God. THAT God is hate filled and vindictive. That God is judgmental and dismissive. THAT God isn’t love as is stated in the Bible. The same Bible, by the way, that is used to cast aside the people who are desperately seeking the love that God says is for all people. I am ashamed to be associated with them.
    I love God. I have a deep and abiding passion for God and yet my love and passion is dismissed by the likes of those who say that they have the authority to speak on behalf of God. God said in Isaiah that NO ONE CAN NO THE THOUGHTS OF GOD! Not you. Not me and certainly not the likes of Pat Robertson.
    On top of that, using religion to deny basic human rights is exactly what the founding ‘fathers’ wished to avoid and yet that is what is happening right now.
    I’ve had my rant…..I leave with this last question.
    “When did you DECIDE to be straight?”

    Comment by Kandis | October 17, 2010 | Reply

  11. My Goddess loves everyone…especially JANE…smooch!

    Comment by Margie | October 17, 2010 | Reply

  12. Jane, I love you. Thanks for always having the courage to talk about those difficults things!

    Comment by Cyndi Robirds | October 18, 2010 | Reply

  13. Welcome to the world of evolving awareness.

    Holy crap, it turns out we made God in our image, and attributed this God with all of our human limitations and disturbing characteristics, instead of the other way around! Along with making this God omnipotent, omniscient and all-knowing.

    Somewhere in scripture it says (I think that would be Genesis) we were made in God’s image. I think that got lost in the translation somewhere. “God” looks a little too much like us, with all of our pettiness and self-serving stuff.

    I don’t think so, really. I think it is quite clear we just cannot get our head around this “God”! All religions seem to reduce God…read that again…reduce God to OUR level. Sorry, that simply does not work. The time has come to pop the concept up a couple of ticks. And it is time to stop allowing religion to interpret that which simply cannot be interpreted. Too much gets lost in those foolish interpretations.

    You are right on track. I know it is not comfortable.

    Your friend (I’m hoping we have trimmed our sails since past storms),

    Greg

    Comment by Greg | October 20, 2010 | Reply

  14. Thank you for this! Very insightful on many levels. Regarding homosexuality: I am Christian, I have a degree in theology, I teach yoga, and I am gay. My mind is WAY open…I believe EVERYONE, of EVERY religion, is CORRECT! The common thread I hear at every turn when discussing religion (please, don’t get that confused with spirituality!)is this ludicrous hatred thing. I so agree with you, Jane! Ask Jesus or the Buddha if they hate gays, or anyone else for that matter…

    Comment by Jen | January 25, 2011 | Reply

  15. I’m a non practicing catholic. I stopped practicing when a nun told me how much she liked my fuzzy mohair sweater… with her hands… in a very insistent way. I was 14. That’s when I learned I could not trust the men and women who say they have taken a religious oath to respect God’s laws.

    Now I deal directly with God. Period! The buck stops there. His son Jesus welcomed everyone with open arms. He turned no one away. He did not ask them about their religious affiliations. He just gave his love to those who wanted it. That’s good enough for me.

    Comment by DJ | May 30, 2011 | Reply


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