freedom of religion

Unintended Results…

…The World is a big place…doh…and we each only really occupy a tiny bit of it. Yet, sometimes, we occupy more than we think. We, either by accident or intentionally, impact people in ways we never intended…

You see, there’s a Pagan that makes me a better Christian. To understand her place in my world and to try to understand her faith, not the rituals or beliefs but, the depth, I had to examine mine and my place in it. Look at it like this, we do not share the same group of beliefs but, we share Faith. We both believe in something greater than ourselves and find a sense of “place” within that commonality. *editorial, I had a pastor tell my Dad that they needed to get the humanism out of me. It didn’t work. I merely apply it within a context that include my spiritual beliefs*

Aj didn’t set out to help increase the depth of my faith. She really wasn’t trying to give me any reasons to look more deeply into what I believed. I think that she really wasn’t trying to do anything at all except correct a smart-aleck comment I made the day she told me she was Pagan. I KNOW it wasn’t her intent to “rock my world”. I suspect that if the issue hadn’t forced itself, she would have picked a different time or a different way to let me know. As it stands, what happened was I made a comment and she replied. Then there was the accidental *editorial, I do not believe in accidents. My belief is that there is a purpose for everything* part. I was left with a question, was I convinced beyond a doubt of the “rightness” of my position or was I human and possibly not completely correct? Do I believe every bit of the dogma or allow for the possibility that there are multiple “right” paths?

In the end, the only conclusion I could come to was that my path was correct…for me. That the Divine expresses itself to each in the fashion that is needed by that individual. That our spiritual beliefs are so deeply personal that we, even when we say we share beliefs, really only have our own personal construct.

At the same time, without knowing the details of her rituals, I see the depth of her faith and the way it impacts her life. That encourages me to explore my own. That puts mine at the front of my mind. That, by writing this blog, my beliefs and views are constantly on my mind. By looking for ways to express, to you, what I see, feel, and think I have to look inward. I have to find expressions of my God in my life and, even though she doesn’t see it the same, in her’s. *editorial, I AM NOT making her Christian. I am saying that having different beliefs does not negate that I believe that the God I have works in her life, just as she believes her gods work in mine. Fair enough?*

*editorial, I AM NOT making her Christian. I am saying that having different beliefs does not negate that I believe that the God I have works in her life, just as she believes her gods work in mine. Fair enough?*

We don’t always do what we set out to do. I didn’t seek out Pagan friends to become a nicer Christian. I didn’t really seek out Pagans for any reason. Wasn’t looking and, had I known before I got to know her, would have avoided them…as it is, though, I do know a few Pagans. I have learned to look outside myself. Because of that, when I look inward, I find depth in my faith and room in my heart that I never knew existed…all because  of a smart aleck comment and a response that was kindness and patience.

A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Prov 15: 1-2

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Tiny Victories

Dear Pagans,

Christians are obtuse. We will try to intellectualize and understand something that is visceral and emotional to you. We will fail. YOU will be the ones taking the risk because we are the “establishment” and you are the ones striving to prove to us that you deserve equality and respect. It sucks, truly sucks. There is not one tiny bit of “fair” involved. I wish it were different.

It gets worse, even when you do succeed with one person, there’s still a chance, a good chance, that someone will come along and justify the fears that we still have. Some other person will fit our stereotypes and we will think we made a mistake, “see, I told you they were ALL like that”. You do know all of this. We will see those of you that become frustrated and vocal and we will feel vindicated. We will read words like “Witch” and “Crone” and not know that, to you, they are titles of honor that have been earned. We will look at your communities and see them as strange and different, forgetting we forced you into them. *sigh* We can not help it because we do not know any better and refuse to be taught.

I don’t know how you do it. Even though I am a fringe part, Heretic Christian is a denomination with one member, I still get to be Christian. I’m even on your side, if not faith. Remember this, too, we will see the history of our early church and the Roman Empire’s persecution of us, forgetting that we were committing treason, and see that as justification for everything we did after Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire. We will ignore or diminish what we have done to you saying, like a child, “you started it”. We will be hypocritical and xenophobic. Our faith demands it. There are vanishingly few of us, like me, that are the tiniest bit open to the idea that ANY faith outside of our own is valid, much less polytheism or elemental faith. We don’t really understand. We will always see our fears. We were trained to do that and are too lazy and mentally dishonest to try to break our teaching. We will refuse to admit the possibility that there are other paths and ways. We CAN NOT because that would mean our beliefs are not infallible. Hell, we can not even agree that all that claim to be of our own faith really are.

Please do not stop trying. Please try to show us, even when you get frustrated and feel like it’s an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. Please teach us, even at risk of loss because some of us are willing to attempt to understand. Please be patient when we are boneheads. I am not saying we are worth the effort, I am saying YOU are. Look at it like this, if one of you can convince one of us to love the first one, then we, read “I”, will become willing to accept all of you. *sigh*

I wish the burden were not on you to justify yourself. I can not blame you when you get frustrated and decide we are not worth the energy. If I had to face what you do, I would do just that. I’d stay angry at the unfairness of it all. I’d quit trying to reach out to even one of us. At some point, I’d say, “effing damn hypocritical christians need to practice what they preach or shut the eff up”. For what it’s worth I wouldn’t blame you if you said just that and quit trying but, please don’t.

When it is safe, or possibly so, meaning physically safe, please “come out” if there’s the possibility that you have found one of us that will see the person. If there’s a chance, try. From my personal perspective, one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given was the risk that Aj took and the trust and love for her I now have. She risked telling me she was Pagan after we became best friends but, while I did not know. She had become “attached” to me and was willing to take the hurt if I rejected her so that she could tell me the truth and not hide from me. That gift and that truth changed my world and my view of all of you. That was a “tiny victory” and that is how you will get there from here. It will be one of you teaching one of us. Please try.

Love, Miller

 

A Very Long Way to Get to “I Love You”

I was reading a year old post. It seems that some things haven’t changed. I mean, the things that bounce around in my head don’t…

A year ago I wrote, “She is going to be my priority when I write.” about Z. The only difference is that now I write, “I’m doing this for Z.”

A year ago I wrote, “I worry that by reminding Z that the “haters” exist and that, … it brings her down.” I still do.

A year ago I wrote, “This blog would not exist without Z. She deserves credit. She earned it. So, if you happen to read these, think about Z. These might be my words but, they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.” *grins*  Yesterday, “For what it’s worth, if it weren’t for Z coming out to me, I’d have never written the blog. I might have done a few posts around the subject but, not this many and not this much effort.” Go figure…

*****

I’ve never hid that I’m an ex-addict. That comes with some baggage. Some of that is that, even though I’m 9 years and change clean, I wasn’t from my mid-teens through early forties. That means I am having to learn some emotional lessons that I should have learned in my teens and early twenties. For example, I need to have some idea where relationships stand.

For example, I need to have some idea where relationships stand. To digress…you, Readers, know about Z. Well, when I started, this was also about Religious Freedom. The reason being that Aj, my “best friend that is not my wife”, is Pagan. The main focuses were to be LBGT Rights for Z, Religious Freedom for Aj, and a few side trips into stuff about me. It became more focussed on Z because Marriage Equality is coming to a head… So, just because it morphed into a blog about Z, it didn’t take away from Aj. Tracking so far?

Here’s the confusion and my “baggage”…In my confused and scrambled up brain, I have to try to keep people in their boxes and order. I mean, wife first, (fill in the blank) second, (fill in the blank) third, etc. Still along with me? So, with Aj in second, where did Z fit? I mean, I’ve been writing about her, thousands of words and a couple hundred posts, for over a year. That and we talk almost every day. I say her name to God every time I go to sleep. That’s a huge amount of emotional energy. I am learning emotional stuff as I go, right? So, my tiny brain was getting rattled and stressed because of that desire to prioritize. Baggage, right? I didn’t want to hurt Aj’s feelings by saying I love Z, too. Didn’t want to hurt Z by saying she’s less than Aj.  That’s the lesson. I can love someone. I can love an other someone. I love my wife. *editorial, MY WIFE is and will always be FIRST. She’s the only romantic love in my life and the only one I desire. Forever. Period.*…

Anyway, I learned, yesterday, to my great relief, after much agony and confusion and stress, that I didn’t have to take away from either Aj or Z. They can be tied. I can love Bacon and Rib-eye at the same time, even if they’re very different. *grins* To digress…again…to me, because of the baggage, food is security. Having enough to eat was not always something that occurred in my past. Thus the analogy…So, I don’t have to make someone I love second to someone else I love. Funny thing is, I told them and they were Aj, “Why would you ever have to choose?” and Z, “I told him the same thing yesterday,Aj. He doesn’t have to pick. Feels like how I feel about my kids. I love them all. I have no favorite.” Did I say I’m a bit dense? The best part is they know and love each other. *editorial, I really really stress hurting the feelings of the three women in this section*

*deep breath* I am un-stressed. Is that a word? Poor Z took the brunt of my confusion and over-thinking. I’d agonize and ramble at her trying to figure out where she was supposed to be. I’d try to talk around and work it through. I’d question MY motivation and who I wanted her to be and what place she belonged in. Ugh for her. I’d have smacked me. At least Aj didn’t have to put up with the nonsense, read bulls**t, that I subjected Z to. Lucky her. *grins* Sorry, Z.

I’m sure, very positively sure, there’s more crap buried in my skull that’ll come out in time. More years un-sober than sober leaves a big pile of manure to shovel out…

*****

That last part is a good lead in to this…

This blog has been a year and a half long “love letter”. It has been about my love of my wife. It has been about how it’s possible to un-romantically love other people. It has been about my love of my faith and how it is possible for someone else’s love of their faith to strengthen mine. I’ve become a better Christian by knowing and loving a Pagan, Aj. It has been about how what society thinks of love has no effect on what love actually is. I love a woman. I watch Z, a “girl that likes girls” and KNOW that what gender she loves doesn’t amount to the tiniest difference. Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to love.

As sappy as it sounds, and yeah, I’ve written this, or something like it before, love is love. Being Pagan doesn’t change the love that one’s faith brings. Being gay doesn’t change the longing of the heart. It is neither a matter of quality or quantity. Nothing that either of them will ever do will make what I have inside my heart and soul worth less. Their paths and ways may be different than mine but, that’s all, just different.

Never let anyone convince you differently. Never believe the lie that says that “different is less”.

*****

Yeah, I’m sure if I read back, I could find a post that’s similar to this one. I suppose that’s a good thing. It means that, for all my confusion and un-confusion, some views have remained fixed. It means that it’s ok to grow and it’s ok to stress out of care. It also means I haven’t changed how I feel or think. I still have my priorities straight. It also means I won’t have to decide who is more important. Rib-eye or Bacon? Bacon or Rib-eye? How ’bout a can of Dr Pepper and both? *grins* *inside joke, Aj and Z’ll get it and they’re the ones that matter* *grins again*

Hey guys, thanks for putting up with me and loving me back…

Sitting on the Fence

I’m pondering on the nature of fences. Specifically, what does it take to stop sitting on one ? I’m not sure that there’s a conclusion for every case.

I know that there are issues that I will always remain apathetic about or will have decided that there are enough voices. Politics have worn me down. *editorial, I have no intent of going into party politics or debating the merits of either political party* I also think that there are some issues that have enough voices that mine is lost in the crowd. I may have a view there and might vote that way but, it really doesn’t mean I’m going to be vocal. 

Some times, I just don’t care. There are Issues that are not personal enough, will not affect me, or do not have a solution that makes enough sense to use. Other issues are really “non-issues” that have convinced people that they exist. Then there are issues that I have decided to not spend “emotional energy” on. Aj warns me about that quite a bit. She’s kind of my “emotional energy police”, in a good way. *editorial, Aj is my “best friend that is not my wife” and she tries her best to protect me from myself. She does a good job when I actually listen to her*

I think it comes down to when it becomes personal. When I decided that the issue was one that hit home. When I found a reason to WANT to spend my energy on it. I very rarely react publicly from an emotional point of view. My views are, usually, well pondered and thought out. Not to say that I’m unemotional but, I don’t let them make my decisions for me. It is, for me, counterproductive to get to a point where I’m slamming down the keys as I type. 

For me, faith and love are the same sides of the coin. *editorial, I’ve said that before, just don’t remember if I did here or not* That’s where it became personal. I first learned I had faith in something greater than myself. Then I realized that I was capable of love. I believe that love is also something “greater than myself”.

I met my wife. Learned that I loved her. Married her. Maybe not as simply as that but, that was the progression.

If you have read any of these, you know about Aj and Z. I’ll spare the details of how much I care for these ladies but, I’ll hit the high points. Aj is a person of strong faith. It happens to be Pagan. Z is also a person of strong faith, Christian, who happens to be gay. Because I had known them as people before I found out that either had an aspect of their life that I didn’t know, I didn’t really have a chance to apply any of my preconceived notions. Funny how that works. Neither wears a name tag that says “Hi my name is (blank) and I’m in a group that you are not.” They just go about their lives and let you make your decisions about them based on who they are. 

That was what pushed me off of the fence. Sure, there are a bunch of voices advocating religious freedom. *editorial, my Pagan friends might debate my choice of the word “religion”. It’s what I have so, it’s what I use*

Sure there a bunch of groups advocating “gay rights”. *editorial, please don’t get upset if I didn’t quite phrase that one to your liking either. Again, it’s what I have*

There is one group advocating Aj and Z. *waves*. I’m it. It became personal. I got nudged off of the fence. I hope that my voice and my words might sway someone else to change their views. I hope that my views of my friends might persuade someone else to see them as I see them and, by seeing them the way that I do, decide that they are not to be feared or scorned. I hope that my views might help someone, anyone else to overcome their apathy. I hope that by trying to show my friends as people, that they might gain additional support of their rights to live and love. I also know, that for Aj and Z to have the rights that they deserve that it’s going to mean the same for a bunch, millions, of others. For me, the millions are incidental to the two and those others that I know that fit either demographic. 

It is, and will always be, personal. I think that is where we always decide to get off of the fence. I think that when we do, we are able to speak with passion. I hope that my passion comes through. I believe that change will come when we can use that passion to persuade. I’m glad I’ve gotten off of the fence and spoken out. I’m glad that I was allowed into the yard. I remember, as a kid, sitting on the fence and watching the game. I wished I could play.  Life is not a game but, it is not worth living if you sit on the fence and watch it being played out.