religion

A Curmudgeonly Protective Rant

I’ve decided to be more close-minded. I’m going to slam it shut. I am not going to tolerate other views or perspectives. Willingly and with forethought jump off the deep end into my own view being the only correct one…

You might, at this point, be thinking, “Miller, you claim to be a Heretic. You ‘say’ that your best friends are “other” when it comes to who your demographic is. What gives? Have you just become some kind of a hypocrite?”

Well…no. My view is that my “other” friends are MY friends. What is good for them is good and what harms them is bad. Period. I can not physically protect them. They live too far away. I’m fairly sure that, between them, they have enough shovels to bury the bodies on their own anyway.

In fact, I don’t think they “need” me for any d**n thing. They’ve put up with enough bulls**t in their lives and come out stronger. They’ve walked their paths since long before I was around and they’re still on their feet. They made it past exes and a$$holes and abuse that would make my knees buckle. They’re a bunch of tough broads and I admire the hell out of them for it.

My friends, the “usual suspects” and another that seems to have crawled in over the past couple of years are better than me…and for damn sure you…*see, close-minded as hell*…In spite of that, they put up with me.

What I CAN do is to be on their side…meaning MINE. I can channel my inner curmudgeon and say “f**k you” to the world for them.

If this seems a “tad belligerent”, it is.

It is me protecting by wrapping my figurative arms around them and letting them have space, not a silly “safe space” but, just space where they don’t have to be anything other than who they are. Where some a$$hole guy doesn’t want them for what he can get from them…I lied, I do want to “get” something. It’s just that it isn’t sex, money, power, or personal validation. I don’t need any of those. I get to have people to care about. I get to let them have a bit of me…and I have a bit of them.

So, yeah, closed tight. Wrapped around a group of people that I wouldn’t have sought out. They’re far too different from “old me” for me to have gone looking but, since they’re here, I wouldn’t trade them for any number of you.

Like ’em. Love ’em. Hate ’em. I don’t care what you think. I’m not their “only” friend but, I am one that says “p**s on my demographic I love them just the way they are”

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I Want to Title This “I Am Lucky” But, I Don’t Remember If I Have…

I haven’t written in a very long time. I don’t know if the words will find me…

Since my last post, it seems the World has changed. We are more divided than ever. *editorial, I am not and will not make this “political” because I think the state of “politics” is a symptom and not the disease*

If anyone is to “blame” it is ourselves. Maybe I missed it? Whatever happened to “live and let live”? What happened to being responsible for our own actions? Why is it someone else’s “fault” if something happens to me?

Why is it that it is easier to see someone as “different” and then claim persecution by them. Yes, persecution does happen. I am not denying that. Yes, prejudice and misogyny exist. People are stupid. I really get that. People are xenophobic and clannish. People are a$$holes just because…

People can also be kind and caring. People can empathize. People can reach out to strangers. We may, if we’re lucky, meet people that give us a chance to learn and grow.

I am lucky. I married my best friend. It was our first marriage. It happened in our mid-40’s. It is still, some years later, an “adventure”. I have said a few (thousand) times, “Smartest damn thing I ever did was marry her”. She makes me grow. She, not realizing it, forces me to look outside myself. I do things for her that I will not do for any other human…and sometimes I fall flat on my face, too…

Yesterday, I was also lucky. If you happen to read back through the blog from years past, you’ll find Aj all through them. I used, in a conversation a few minutes ago, the phrase, “I am romantically attached to ONE human and love a vanishingly few others”. As it turned out, yesterday, I was able to talk to, and watch them talk, a pair of them. It was the first time they interacted. There are not really words for how nice that was. The “funny”, read odd, thing is that I don’t really have any common demographic with them…race but, that doesn’t count…The list of “we don’t share” includes, gender, faith, geographical location, parental status, probably “that ‘p-word'”, a desire to go outdoors…pick a bunch more… and I love them dearly… What they have in common with my wife is that they force me, unknowingly, to look outside myself…and for that, they have my eternal gratitude…

Hobbes said, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” 

Yet, if we are lucky and I am, there are reasons not to be those.

We can make our own society that doesn’t include fear…well, aside from our own nightmares and insecurities but, you get my point. We can live knowing that the odds of “violent death” are small. We can be not “solitary”. The paragraphs up there prove that to me…As for the next two, “nasty” and “brutish”, those choices belong to YOU. “Short”? Who knows when this path ends? We are all going to be surprised when it does…

Life is an odd place. I am lucky that I finally grew up. I am grateful for every breath I am allowed. I am also grateful that I am allowed to have some people to love and that, I truly hope, love me back.

Ya know what? You decide what you want to do. Love me or hate me. See my demographic and blame me. See my loves as different. Those are YOUR choices. Live a cold, bleak, and distant life. See life as competition and struggle. I am not willing to spend my emotional energy on that. For me and mine, I’ll care for those in MY world and not be concerned with how you live in yours. Seems fair to me…

 

Other…

I was talking to a friend. She called herself “other”, meaning “different”…

It occurs to me that we are all other. I mean, even the people we think are “same” aren’t. How could we be? As far as I know, there are no cloned humans with exactly the same experiences. We might share a gender, political views, religious views, and sexual orientation but, even then, we came to those spots inside our own skins…

So, why did this idea of Other stick in my head?

It is because of this…We need to protect other. We need to appreciate the Otherness of those that are other. Gaaaaack, this seems so obvious to me. We will never be able to fully understand any human. Hell, we don’t even understand ourselves. Anyway, *sigh* to not protect Other, we fail to protect ourselves.

There’s nothing wrong with not being the same.

Current society thinks Other equals Dangerous. If your political views differ, that person must be a threat… I suppose I could go down the list but, y’all get the point…Jumpin’ Jimmeny Christmas and The Easter Bunny, being different doesn’t present an existential threat.

The next part of this thought is, how do we develop and mature our own views if we are so hidebound that we refuse to listen to difference? If am so unwilling to listen to dissent and become so defensive of my own views that I refuse to admit the possibility that I could be in error, odds are that MY views are less valid than I think. Perhaps it’s just me but, I do make mistakes and continually look for holes in what I think and my personal philosophies…and adapt when some Other shows me error or invalidity…

*****

Other is also a trap when you apply it to yourself…

“I am Other and they’re all the Same so, they couldn’t possibly understand me…” That’s what a kid says to their parents and a 20-something says to someone in their 50’s…Not realizing the oldsters survived what they are living. I know I used the section up there to point out how we’re all different but, which in this case doesn’t mean “please disregard”, in quite a few ways we are the same. We all started out pooping our pants. We all want whatever form of “success” we deem. We all want to love and be loved. We will all face the same end…

…and not to drop into “politics” because I have avoided making any indication of any “political” view I might have…

…Our parents survived the Cold War. *I was born in 1963*. Their childhood was filled with above ground Atom Bomb testing. Their parents were the generation of WWII. The parents of kids today, are children of the Viet Nam Era. The World has been filled with “threats” to us since before the Dawn of History…

We, humanity, will survive and adapt. It is our nature to do that…

*****

Other, hunh? Celebrate it.

Other, hunh? Protect it.

Other, hunh? Ignore it.

Other, hunh? Learn from it.

Other, hunh? Yeah, and Same…

Holy Smokes

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote…I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I also left because I was at a point where I felt like I had said all I could say and was reaching burnout. In addition, my own tiny family, meaning, my wife, needed every bit of my emotional energy…

I am writing this one because I want to reaffirm and restate what I always believed.

  • What your beliefs do not make you good or bad. There are bad Christians, good Pagans and, indifferent Atheists. The “content of your character” comes from within and not a system of belief.
  • Women have worth. Period. They are not chattel. They are not objects. They are not punching bags or targets for torment. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters, coworkers, fellow humans, wives, partners, and any other phrase or word you choose to describe them. They are the equals of men. They are the ONLY gender capable of giving birth to humans. We owe them our lives and they deserve to be treated with the respect that has well earned.
  • Your sexuality is your own. Yeah, I think the LBGT Community has gotten a rough deal from the majority of my Cis-het Christian Community but, the fact that you are ANY of the previous doesn’t make you “special”, it makes you human. There are over 7 billion people on the Earth. All of them have some form of sexuality … including a desire to have none. All it boils down to, in the end, is that you don’t deserve to be persecuted for who you f**k. That’s it.

I started to write this as a response to the Fear that seems to pervade today’s society. Thing is people have been saying for thousands of years “the end is near” and it hasn’t happened yet. The fears of today are nothing but the flavor of the month. We have survived both wise men and fools in high office. We have survived War and Famine. We have made it through everything Nature can throw at us. The troubles of today pale in comprison to those of the past. The only difference it that today’s are happening now…

Perhaps it’s merely my age that gives me some tiny bit, I hope, of wisdom and perspective but, I am less concerned about how the World treats me and more concerned about how I treat y’all. It isn’t the Alfred E. Neuman, “what, me worry?” as much as it is that I really don’t want to waste the energy concerning myself with things I can not change and may not even happen…

…I don’t really know if this post means I’m back or is just to say that my views haven’t changed…

Being a Reasonable Person

I quit writing earlier this year. I hit burnout. It felt useless to write because of several reasons the primary ones being that I was, and still am, tired of everything becoming politicized and that the vilification of differences of opinion makes debate seemingly impossible…

Which brings me to why I decided to break my silence. Being a reasonable person is hard. It requires me to assume the person I am talking to is also reasonable. It forces me to maintain the idea that their beliefs and convictions have come from as much thought and internal debate as mine have and it means that, even if I disagree, I have to credit them with intelligence and rationality…

I’m fair minded enough…I hope…to believe that I am capable of being mistaken. I know that I have mad mistakes and will again but since I make mistakes and want my failings forgiven, I must be willing to return that same grace. It would be far easier to be a mean-spirited cynical old b****rd. It would simplify debate if my answer to anything I disagreed with was, “are you f**king stupid?”…and it would make lie to my claim and desire to be reasonable and occasionally rational…

My father says, “everyone has their flat sides.” The way I think he means it and the way I take it is to read that there are imperfect parts to all of us. I KNOW, read “bedrock belief”, that I have mine, see “mean-spirited cynical old b****rd”…and I struggle against that. I enjoy being that person. He’s comfortable. Part of that struggle is to, pardon the trite expression, I have to clean my side of the street before I worry about yours. If I decide to be against something, in Millerspeak, to be an “anti” I have to be sure that what side I take hasn’t done the same or worse than what I’m against. Just because I support something or person or view doesn’t give them a free pass…in fact, it means I hold them to a higher standard and if they fail, I reevaluate MY position.

Being reasonable both simplifies and complicates things. I’ll explain. It simplifies because I have zero tolerance for people that aren’t willing to be and return the same. As a result, I refuse to engage them in conversation. It complicates because, when people disagree rationally and reasonably with my views, I have to give some credence to their view and explain my view in a civil manner, see my comment are you f**king stupid?”…

Anyway, life is too short, my life is at any rate, to be more hypocritical than I can avoid. My own code requires me to give the same consideration and respect that I would want given to me. My friends and loved ones were too carefully allowed into my life to have me want to drive them away because I just decided to be a twerp. Live yours as you wish but, for me, being a reasonable and calm human is a worthy goal and part of my chosen path…

It isn’t how you treat the people you like that matters. That’s easy. What counts, what reflects on you, is how you treat the people you despise. That’s the hard part…

Differences…

So, I was reading a different blog by a Pagan author. She was talking about how Pagans can’t seem to find a way to reconcile their different views. By that I mean they couldn’t agree that they could be different and get along with those differences. Does that make sense? So, I decided to do some research about Christian denominations…

I decided to do some research about Christian denominations…According to the numbers I could find, there are between 33 and 43 THOUSAND different “denoms” world wide. A “denom” *pardon shorthand* being defined as an organization in a country and not as an individual’s privately held belief. I suspect that there are as many different “beliefs” as there are Christians…

Anyway, the author of the post that prompted this thought lamented that they, Pagans, couldn’t seem to agree to disagree and accept that different people had different views. That some people HAD to try to force people to fit a box not of their own choosing…

Funny how some things cross every boundary.

*sigh*

People are different. My belief is that God made people in every shade and belief. He created genders and personalities. He made some to agree…and some to disagree. He gave every human some other human that they could love…sometimes he even gives us people to not be our mate and love deeply as friends. The varieties He created are as many as there are humans on the Earth…

Why do we have to put down, castigate, condemn, or slight those who are different since none of us are the same? I’d rather embrace the differences and share the wonder of the people I share my world with. Just because your beliefs or politics are different than mine doesn’t make you bad. What does is how you express those. If you see different as a reason to hate or put down, I’ve no use for you but, if you embrace the human that has the difference then you have worth and are part of the collection of people that make life worth having…

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

Pull Your Pants Down and Other Random Bits…

I have an experiment…pull your pants down. Do you have “parts”? Good. We have established that you have them. Now, go up to a stranger. Attempt to pull their pants down. Did you get slapped? Good, now we have figured out that their “parts” are none of your d**n business…There is a point to this…Take it further, look at your parts in public. Take a long look and maybe play with them. Did you get some funny looks and maybe a “conversation” with a cop? The reason is that there are boundaries to what we think is permissible conduct. What is socially acceptable and what is not. What you do in private with your privates *pun intended* is your business and that of those you share them with. What you do with them in public is the business of those that do not want to see or touch them…

Religion is the same way. It is acceptable to have it. It is acceptable to recognize that others have theirs. It is NOT ok to inflict yours on someone else without their permission. *editorial, yes, I really did just compare genitals to religion* If you are in a place where people have chosen to find you, sharing and discussing faith or religion is your option because they have a chance to leave or rebut. When you force your views on someone that has no choice, there is no difference between that and any other emotional coercion.

*****

Hey Z, you said, yesterday, that you told some people “I’m one of those fags”. I looked it up. It took a bunch of googling to find a definition that finally gave me this “Faggot, often shortened to fag, is a pejorative term used chiefly in North America primarily to refer to a gay man” *from the wiki* I think the term you were looking for is “Human” just like those “fags” are humans, too. Funny, not ha ha, how that works. I think the people that don’t see the Human have been spending too much time looking in someone else’s pants…

*****

I was just talking to my wife and had this deep *grins…maybe not* thought. Cows follow a$$holes that randomly spew s**t on the path and don’t seem to mind. People are the same way. We get used to following the same kinds of thing and don’t even notice what we are walking in. Cows also follow the same path every day. Go look in a pasture if you don’t believe me. Anyway, if you follow someone because it’s what you’re used to, you get used to not thinking and walking in manure. There are other paths and other ways to get to the same end. Try thinking on your own. We may still end up agreeing but, at least we can share different views of the journey…

*****

As an aside, I posted links to Aj and Kelly’s blogs in the Why Am I Here bit. I offered to remove their links. They left them there. I was talking to Z and told her that HER blog link could not be removed. *grins* There’s a very simple reason for that. I write these words. She is in every post. Sometimes I quote her. Sometimes it’s a conversation that starts the train of thought that ends here. Sometimes, it’s an article disparaging Lesbians or LBGT’s that does it. Sometimes, nothing…except that she was the one of the person’s that encouraged me to start. So, it may be me but, to remove her blog link would mean not writing and that’s not an option…

*****

I think that’s enough for this morning. Let me make sure. Inappropriate joke, check. Religious freedom, check. More oddness involving animals and human behavior, check. Z being human, check. Aj and Kelly, check…Wait…missed something…Hey Z, kiss girls, play with boobies, go have fun… *grins* …got it now. Comment encouraging favorite Lesbian to do “stuff”, check. Now, I’m done…

Y’all have a good Monday. Try not to take yourselves too seriously. Hug someone you love. Breathe and relax, life’s far too short for hate.

More Thoughts… (Z, Being Gay, Christianity, The Bible and the Constitution)

After my last post, Z made this comment “I guess I’m not a citizen since the laws that apply too all citizens don’t all apply to me.” This reminds me of the part of this blog that I hate. *sigh* Z allows me to use her as the example. If you read any of these posts, you’ll very quickly realize that I think the world of Z and hate the idea of any harm coming to her. She’s a strong lady. Still, I wish there wasn’t the reminder, to her, that not everyone sees her as what we see her as. Not everyone sees the warm and caring human we see. They just see the part that is the thing they hate. That sucks. *sigh again* If there were a way to hide that from her I would but, she knows it better than I do. *sigh 3rd time*

*****

I am a husband. Of all the parts of my self-identity, that is the most important. I remember the first time I told my wife I loved her. I think I was more surprised to hear me say that than she was. Falling in love with her was not a conscious choice. It was just something I realized I am. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t plan on it…Perhaps, Z may correct me, being gay is the same thing? You don’t mean to be. It is not a choice. It is just something you realize has happened…

*****

Christianity has changed over the centuries. The early church is not the same as the modern one.Catholic Cannon and Protestant Cannon are not the same. There are various movements within the Church. We have changed our views on everything from Slavery to Women’s Rights.

Right now, there is a new set of factions. I don’t see it as a gay rights issue as much as an issue of who the individual believer is concerned with. Am I concerned about my own actions and following the example of Jesus or, am I concerned with the actions of others? For me, MY actions and the way I treat others are of greater concern than what perceptions I might or, might not, have of their life. *editorial, this statement contradicts the entire point, persuading others to change their beliefs, of the blog. I do understand that* Am I more worried about showing compassion toward others of, condemnation for what I think they are doing? Is my sin more important than my perception of someone else’s? Do I express myself with love and gentle persuasion or, do I point my finger and shout about their very existence being an “abomination”?

It is my choice to believe that God did not create “abomination”. It Is my belief that the Jesus I follow would have reached out to ALL humans. It is my belief that I should use my words to show support and love for those that are different from me and still created in the Image of God. It is my heart to be a compassionate Christian. It is my belief that your life does not make me a victim but, a fellow Child of God. It is not in me to think less of someone because of how they love but, to think more of them because they can.

*******

Please *quietly pleading, passionate tone of voice* read your Bible, if you’re Christian. Please read all of it. Read the words of love and compassion. Read the words of encouragement and strength. Read the words that call us to look inward to our own weakness. Read the history in the Old Testament. Read the many varieties of what marriage is. Read the context of it’s time and social issues. Read the words of how we are to treat others. Read how we are to not judge the conditions of someone else’s soul but, our own.Read how we are to forgive “seventy times seven”. Read how we are not to “cast the first stone”…

Then, if you are American, read the Constitution. Read how it protects our rights to “equal protection under the law”. Please read how it uses, repeatedly, the word “citizens”. It doesn’t mention a specific religion or orientation. It doesn’t say we have a right to not be exposed to things or people we disagree with. Please tell me how keeping a group of citizens from having the same rights as another group is equal protection. Tell me how you might justify it. Realize that the same Constitution prevents the government from encouraging or repressing your faith. The same Constitution protects your right to offend and be offended. The freedoms of Expression and Assembly that protect me, also protect Westboro, PETA, NOM, and every politician and journalist. All those laws protect Citizens. We don’t get to pick which citizens are less than citizens. We accept that there will be citizens that we disagree with, That makes them no less worthy of protection than we are. Please try to understand that, if you want to be protected by the Constitution, you can not limit it to people just like you. It is there to protect the little guy, the weird people, the minorities, and the ones you disagree with. That is the entire point of it. It is to protect us, all of us citizens, not just the ones that look and act and think like us…

I love those two works. They give me the framework that I live within. One, the Bible defines how I interact with God and Man. The other, the Constitution, gives a basis for how the Government interacts with me. I need them both.

*****

I think perhaps this enough for one day.