tolerance

A Comment Needed a Response and I’m NOT a Troll…

Reading other blogs is a good thing…sometimes…Other times I read the comments under them.

A few days ago I read a blog by a Pagan Lady explaining her friendship with a “Jesus Freak”. It was a very well written post talking about her friendship and how the two of them could get along. How they could find common ground and peace between them That they could share the blessings of their separate faiths with each other and not be intimidated or feel fear of the other. She also commented that some Pagans would *paraphrase* say it wasn’t possible and she was a traitor to her faith. Then a commentator proved her to be correct. He said he would accept allies “but”…In my mind, the word “but” in a sentence means “please disregard previous”…

I’m not a violent person. I haven’t physically hit someone since I was a kid on the playground. I wanted to smack the guy. You want allies only on your terms? Ok, here are mine to that guy. A. I don’t want to change you. B. I am an ally based on MY views, not yours. C. I am an ally because I want to be. It is my choice to attempt to help, not you compelling me. Alliances are based on MUTUAL respect and common ground. D. I may be some people’s ally but, *Yeah, that word* if you disrespect my views, I am not YOUR ally. You may feel free to reject the idea of my help and slight my beliefs, by doing that, it’s your loss, not mine…

*sigh*

Here’s the deal. I don’t “troll” comments or posts. If I have something to say, I use my own space to comment. I don’t get the need to disagree or argue with someone on line. I am willing to discuss a differing view but, to completely disparage another’s view, on a post that they wrote particularly when they are talking about a rare supporter of their belief system and an outsider that wants to help them, makes no sense to me.

I’m not “special”. I don’t need my ego stroked. I am also not common. I don’t know the percentage but, experientially there are very few pro-Pagan Christians that I have met…and I’ve looked for more. I need allies of my own faith to help me spread the word. If someone that is Pagan doesn’t want my help, fine, don’t take it. You have that right. Having said that, we, Christians ARE the majority view in this country. No matter how far my heresy goes, I’m still in the “club”. To push back against ANY of us that are willing to reach out or to put down ANY friendship that reaches out is “cutting off your nose to spite your face”…

Ok, the rant and “harsh” is over…*edit, I fibbed. my bad. rant continues toned down a tiny bit*

To more directly answer something I posed up there, “I am an ally because I want to be.” Why do I “want to be”? The short answer is because Aj, my “best friend that is not my wife” is Pagan. The longer answer is more complicated…

I didn’t want to be but, *that word again* I had to be. It would be easier not to be. A different blogger used the  phrase “agnostic Pagan” to describe the possibility that she might be mistaken. I have that same view, only Christian, I’ve been wrong before. It WILL happen again. To believe that my limited perspective and words I’ve read give me a lock on the Divine and morality is foolhardy…

It would be MUCH easier to be simplistic in my beliefs. “Christians good and EVERYONE else bad” is a far less complex world view but, that’s not the way I’m made. I am a person that recognizes my limitations.

*sigh*

There’s an, to borrow something from myself, expression “some of my best friends are (fill in the blank)”. It’s usually used by a racist, homophobe, or some other person to justify why they aren’t prejudiced…and they really are. In my case, some of my best friends are Pagan. No justification, fact. I can be judgmental and not exactly “tolerant” but, that’s based on the individual and not some charistic like faith or being LBGT. There are humans that fit any demographic that are people I love and like…and some that I think are complete a$$es…

Yeah, that guy bugged me and I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

I’m used to being the only Christian in a conversation or the only straight male. It would seem that the people I hang out with don’t care about those things and put up with my silly questions. *editorial, I mean on line. I go to work and come home. My “hang out” is virtual. My job requires much interaction and I like home and quiet* I digress, those people don’t “tolerate” or “accept” me, they are people I like and love and KNOW that is returned by them. They tease me and I tease back. Friends…that happen to not fit my demographic.

*sigh…for the I don’t know how many time*

My path is mine. I was raised Christian. I became “fallen”, if, not quite, atheist. I became, a bunch of years later, Conservative Christian. Over time, I wandered into heresy. It is my path. I don’t evangelize. If you don’t want to use the same path, don’t. It is not an easy one, questioning and doubting. It is mine, though. If you want your trail to parallel mine with a different faith, that’s fine. Keep your beliefs and faith and just walk along side. If you want my help, ask. If I am able and inclined, I will but, if you reject my help or lay conditions on what I do, don’t cry when I don’t. Don’t say that you reject my beliefs as they are as much a part of me as yours are part of you and then complain that you’re not getting the help or respect you think you deserve. It’s a two way street. Period. You get what you give.

I’ll take what help I can find. No matter if it’s from a Crone or a Saint. I’ll listen to words and, if there’s wisdom, gladly absorb what I am able. I’ll wish “Merry Christmas” or “Blessed Yule” depending on the person and not think twice. My nose doesn’t get out of joint at the idea that different beliefs are merely different, not wrong. I’ll respond to kindness and love with the same…

I’ve said it before, “I’m not your ally”. I might be a voice, if you’ll let me. I may not understand or share your views but, I’ll respect and defend your right to them and the practice of them. All I ask in return is the same I’m offering you…*editorial, I reserve the right to have self-contradictory views. I’m human*

Oh yeah, “mutual benefit”. What do I gain from helping you? Nothing but…some of the people I love and want the best for fit “your demographic” and what helps the people I love, helps me. If my words and thoughts make your life better and, as a result, theirs I’ve gained. To change their world for the better, I have to change yours, too.

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This Was a Facebook Status

Because I haven’t put one on my wall for some time, here’s a thought…Let’s say, for a moment, I have a strongly held religious belief. Let’s say that my faith is not Christian, but some other faith. *make up a name* Let’s say that I have an issue with the Christian rite of Communion. *editorial, I am Christian and have no issue with Communion* Since that issue of eating the transubstantiated body and drink the blood of Christ smacks of cannibalism, I feel that those that do are “perversion”, “abomination” and “morally repugnant”. As a result, I should be given the right to deny equal protection and rights. Because I feel that cannibals shouldn’t be allowed to spread their views and “agenda” I am going to deny them the ability to marry or adopt. Cannibals should also not be allowed to have a job at my company so, when I find out, I’m going to fire them. You see, cannibals are against the faith I have which is one of peace and love. “But wait”, you say, “Christianity is my faith and the way that we do things has no affect on your life. I should be granted the same rights as you”..Now, lets take that parable and apply it to the current situation in the USA…When you are willing to impose your religious views as a way to deny rights to those you don’t understand or approve of, don’t be surprised when, some day, your rights are taken away or denied. You reap what you sow. If you sow removal of rights and making people second class citizens, it will come back. If you sow harmony and protection of people you don’t understand, that, too, will come back…food for thought…y’all have a nice day

*****

Sorry that the format is sloppy. I just wrote it over there and copied it to here. You get what ya get.

Sin and Being Gay

 

I have been thinking about the relationship between the concept of Christian Sin and being gay. I have had to use my life experience as an addict as a starting point.

It is my view that sin is a willful act of disobedience to Gods will. The operative word is “willful”. From my perspective, I was an addict. Both the use and the path I took to get to the use required multiple acts of will on my part. For me, I was in a state of  rebellion because I had taken a path that removed from the love that is in God.

Based on my conversations with Z, there was not a set of actions that were volition on her part. She did not decide on a path that lead to being gay. She did not seek it out. It is the way she was created.

That’s where I find the difference between what I lived and what she lives is. My life and rebellion was something I wanted and sought. There came a time, through faith, that I was granted relief from it. It was not a part of me. I was not created an addict.

Z is different. She could no more become “un-gay” than she could become “un-female”. There was no volition on her part. She is the way she was created to be.

 

I don’t know any other way to simplify it other than to use those examples. In my view, sin is an act that removes us from Grace. Sin is personal to the individual. I think people can use substances and not be outside the Will of God. I am not one. I also think that being the way you are created and accepting it is part of the Will of God. That, by doing that, you become closer because you do not feel condemned and separated from His love.

I have bias. I trust Z with my fears. When I do, I go to her for prayer. I believe her faith is strong and she lives within the Will of God. By necessity, I will not believe that her nature is sin.

*****

I wrote the previous part last night. I have been pondering on what constitutes “sin” in the 8 years and change since I became sober. This is not some randomly new idea for me. It has not come about to, merely, justify Z. Like I put above, I DO have bias, though.

The thing, in all fairness, is that I also believe that being gay can be sin if the person involved believes that they are in rebellion to the will of God. Sin is personal. By the same token, I believe ANY personal act that we, as individuals, believe removes us from God’s will could be sin. I just don’t think that it is our place, as outsiders, to judge what is an inner condition.

As I have grown older, I’ve become far less legalistic. I’ve watched scriptural laws be disregarded to suit social and scientific change. The view that has remained constant is the idea of “active rebellion.” This is the point that I am at. That being gay is not “active” because there is no “choice”. No one, given the current state of things, would willingly choose to be repressed and reviled. No one would pick the difficulties. I think that is overlooked.

These are my thoughts. I am sure there are people that will disagree.

Let’s Treat All Choices Equally

I’m going to make a dangerous assumption. I’m going to assume that the people that want being gay to be treated as a “choice” really mean that they want every choice treated the same way…

The Military is all volunteer. That means the possible consequences of that service PTSD and injury are a choice. The end of that is that we deny services to them because of their choice. No more V.A. Hospitals. Sorry guys, it was your choice.

Driving a car is a choice. You knew the possibilities that there would be drunks, faulty equipment, or any of the other dangers. So, we are no longer going to spend our time and money protecting you. No more traffic enforcement.

Single mothers, you made the choice. We are very sorry that you don’t have enough income to feed those kids. Maybe if you let a couple starve, then you will have enough income to feed the rest.

You live in an area that has natural disasters. You could have picked a different place to live. Better luck next time. We’ll send you a sympathy card.

The logical end to treating things like choice is that we treat all choices the same. I do not think that being gay is a choice any more than being male or female is.

But Miller, we didn’t mean that. What we mean to say is that we only want the things we DISAGREE with to be treated as a choice.

Sorry guys, you decided that “equal protection under the law” was a conditional statement. It wasn’t me. If you want “fairness” then apply it equally. Otherwise, put your money where your mouth is. Stand up for the things you might disagree with. If you have decided that gay is a choice, the conclusion to that thought is that being straight is also a choice. If you want your protections, protect the rights of others. From their perspective, you are the one that is different.

*editorial, I do not believe that gay is a choice. I also do not agree with the idea that we do any of the negative things I propose*

Poor Poor Me

Some days are more effective than others. Some posts get responses and for a sec I think that someone might be reading them. Other days, there is zero response. It happens. I know that a blog is a selfish act. It presumes that someone thinks that what I think has worth to someone else. It strokes the ego. Some days, I write one of these and think “this one is great, it might REALLY make a difference” and it falls flat.

Aj would tell me to shut up, quit whining, and drive on. She would also remind me that other people have lives and that it isn’t all about me. She would be correct.

If the worst things that happen in my day are that no one reads these or some idiot tells me I’m going to Hell, my life isn’t that rough. It’s not like states are trying to pass laws that limit my rights. It isn’t like I’m being told that I’m “un-American” because I’m not a Christian. It isn’t like me looking at the news and seeing people of my gender being treated like chattel, raped and murdered for being women, or being threatened and killed for being gay. All that happens to me is that I don’t get my ego stroked.

My three closest friends are women. My wife is a woman. Most of my other friends are women. That’s a good thing. I’m not a “girly man”. I don’t really have a feminine side. I am merely smart enough to recognize the value in the people I cherish. It happens that they are women. It does skew my perspective, though. It makes me realize that “my demographic” is much more of a threat to them than we are willing to admit. We, men, both overtly and covertly, treat women like objects. We use religion to marginalize and disparage them. We demand our “rights” and say they are exaggerating the issues. I do not understand the psychology of that.

My friends are capable, loving, tough, smart, wise, and talented. They have words worth hearing. They have faith that is stronger than mine. They have courage beyond what I think I am capable of. They face, daily, things that would make me hide.

My friends have paths that are not mine. That doesn’t matter to me as much as that I try to protect their rights to those paths. If you happen to read this and are Pagan, gay, female, or some combination, please understand that not all white, male, Christians are out to get you. At least one of us, when he’s not feeling sorry for himself, thinks the World would be a much less worthy place without you in it. Some of us, me at least, think that you were not created to be a lesser being or a weaker sex. Some of us recognize your toughness, wisdom, wit, brains, and capacity for love and are in awe of it. You don’t have to be a feminist to see that, all you have to do is deflate your ego a tiny bit and see the treasures around you.

I Struggle…

When I write these, mostly, I am polite. I try to persuade the people that don’t see things the way I do. I make a meager attempt to encourage my friends. I do what I may to tell people that I’ve never met that not all of my “demographic” hates yours. *editorial, you may object to my use of the word “hate”. I would submit that you do not deprive someone of “equal protection” out of love* I work hard not to let anger come through and use reason to frame my arguments.

That’s how I write, mostly…

My last post was a rant. It also illustrates what I struggle with. I have a temper. Sometimes it flares. When it does, my attitude becomes decidedly “un-Christian”. There is one main cause of my temper to flare. That is to cause harm or insult to the people I care about. I do not care if it is intentional or not. Don’t give the tiniest bit of empathy to accidental insult or hurt. It is black and white. You can do what you will or say what you want about me, no biggie. Wife and friends? All bets are off.

I apologize for letting a rant come through. It doesn’t advance the cause to shout or use profanity. It doesn’t encourage or show love. All it does is show that I am capable of rudeness.

I will always believe that being the way that God created you is not a sin. I will always believe that who you love, be it “faith” or “person” is not a sin. I will always equate religious freedom with “personal” freedom. I will also, sigh, take a homophobic comment as an attack on a loved one. I will always take a comment that a person of a different faith is going to Hell as an attack on a friend. Those comments, even if not directed at either Aj or Z, will be taken, in my mind, as if they were. My temper will flare again as a result. I struggle with keeping it dialed back to civility. When it becomes personal, I struggle.

I Had a Thought and Changed My Mind

I was going to go on a rant about my pet peeve. It’s the victim mentality. I really don’t like the attitude in myself, or anyone else, that is not willing to take the blame for our own actions.

It’s been brewing because of that idiot out in Cali that wanted to blame women for his own misguided actions. It also brews because I see my demographic wanting to say the world is against us. We seem to think that we get to blame other people for us deciding to be a$$holes. We don’t.

Somehow, we have decided that placing responsibility for our actions on others is comfortable. I do not understand that. I find it much easier to realize that I’m a big boy and I have some control over myself. I may not be able to change the way other people perceive me but, I can control the way I react. Anyway, that was the thought I had and was going to expand on. Changed my mind.

Then…I “un-changed” it.

I think it becomes a matter of perception vs fact. The perception is that the “gay agenda” will be the downfall of the “straight agenda”. That is not the truth. By knowing Z, I am not going to have my marriage ruined, become gay, and decide to take a male lover. It isn’t going to happen. If it were, it would have happened by now. I’ve known Z for years. What did happen was that I became outspoken in defending her. That’s it. That and I made a trusted friend.

The perception is that by allowing Z into your church, she will cause the “corruption” of your church. If by “corruption” you mean gaining a member of your church that believes very strongly, takes the injunction “do unto others…” to heart, and loves God, then, yeah, she’s going to “corrupt” it. What will cause it to fail is when you forget that Jesus loved everyone. That the Gospel is about letting anyone that wants to hear it in.

I guess I’m a “simple”, using the meaning “clueless”, person. I don’t see how someone being what they are makes me a “victim” of them. I don’t see how I get to blame my actions on her. Perhaps she brainwashed me? Perhaps I’ve been contaminated by associating with her? Somehow, by asking her to pray for me, when I need it, I’ve been tainted? Maybe she has ruined my orthodoxy because I think that being gay has nothing to do with being a good Christian Lady? Is that it? Am I a victim of her “agenda”?

In all reality, the answer to all of the questions is “no”. I am not a victim of Z. I am a willing participant. I have looked at the facts and come to the conclusion that I would rather speak up for her, when she lets me. I would rather go to her for prayer than to a “Christian” that would call her “perversion” and shove her out of their church. If I am “tainted” by the idea that being gay does not make you less than equal to a straight person, so be it. I have not been brainwashed into seeing her as any more or less than she is. I have not been victimized by an “agenda” that merely wants to be treated as an equal.

That is where I am going with this. We only become victims when someone inflicts on us an action that we can not avoid and has a physical or material cost. The conscious choices we make to feel sorry for ourselves or affix blame on others do not make us victims. Those choices make us whiners.

For what it’s worth, in parting, I think the downfall of Christianity is un-Christian Christians.

 

Tolerate

tol·er·ate (tŏl′ə-rāt′)
tr.v. tol·er·at·ed, tol·er·at·ing, tol·er·ates
1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).
3. To put up with; endure
I like #2. #’s 1 and 3 kind of piss me off. Who do people think they are to presume that they are in any place to “allow” someone to be themselves? Aj or Z, do I “allow” you to be yourselves, or do I respect the fact that y’all are great folks that happen to do things differently than I do? I don’t “allow” *what a condescending thought* my wife to have a different view point. I enjoy that she, and y’all are different than I am. Neither do I “endure” it. People’s lives and ways of doing things aren’t mine to be “endured”. They are mine to be blessed to have been allowed into. Difference isn’t to be “tolerated”. It’s to be examined for what can be learned from it so that we can all grow. If all you do is “tolerate”, and not respect and learn from, it’s your loss…y’all have a nice day and quit being so condescending unless you just want to be tolerated, too.