Archive for the ‘spiritual guidance’ Category

What Would Jesus Say?

Most of us are familiar with the WWJD (what would Jesus do?) bracelets that burst on the scene a few years ago. They served a very useful purpose: To remind us to think about what Jesus’ reaction would be to a given situation. Were they effective? I don’t know.

They certainly made someone a lot of money.

I wonder if the vendors in the temple courts had a WWJD bracelet booth back in the day?

Anyway, it got me to thinking. Scary, I know. Me thinking is usually the equivalent to violently shaking a bottle of nitro-glycerin. Something’s probably going to blow up and someone could end up with a shrapnel (sp?) injury.

Lately I’ve been pondering what Jesus might say to us today if he were to suddenly appear before our eyes. There’s a lot we blame/credit him for saying that historically speaking probably didn’t come out of his mouth. There is very little we know with any level of historical confidence that can be attributed to him and him alone.

So I figure if the writers of first three centuries can put something out there and give Jesus the credit, I might as well give it a shot, too. Who knows? Two thousand years from now, maybe some archeologist will find a random hard drive at an excavation sight in Houston, discover my digital record of “What Jesus Said”, then proclaim it a divinely inspired writing. That’d be some serious irony.

And who’s to say my writing isn’t inspired by God?

So what WOULD Jesus say in the days leading up to Christmas 2010? What would he utter that would inspire us, direct us, even change us for the better?

I think I can do this. I have a cynical streak….a heavy dose of sarcasm and lame humor that runs deep in my veins. Jesus was apparently a cynic and a bit on the sarcastic side, too, so we relate well.

Jesus: “Note to self. Humans will make a god out of a tree. Why didn’t I see this coming?”

Jesus: “I think maybe you misunderstood a few things. I said there are ONLY two commands. Both start with the word LOVE. Where’s the confusion?”

Jesus: “How the hell did you manage to twist love your enemies into permission to commit murder and genocide in my name? Don’t blame me for that crap!”

Jesus: “That Paul guy? Why did you decide to do things his way instead of my way? He was way too friendly with the peyote stuff.”

Jesus: “Give me a hug. Free hugs.”

Jesus: “It’s amazing how many people you can feed with a small donation. You should try it sometime.”

Jesus: “Yeah…so….I’m really not into following rules in case you hadn’t noticed.”

Jesus: “Now tell me again why you keep looking for the kingdom of God in a church? I thought I was pretty clear that the Kingdom of God is within you, not outside of you.”

Jesus: “I tried leaving this thing in the hands of the women folk. The men just had to take over and mess things up with their my way or the highway methods. That one hasn’t worked out so well, now has it, Guys?”

Jesus: “Yeah, okay. So I really did like it when the chicka washed my feet with her tears and hair then put the smelly-good stuff on them for me, but these $20 million dollar church buildings are probably a little more than I had in mind.”

Jesus: “Uhm….yeah….so…..the keyword is love, not fear. What are you so afraid of? Hell? Here’s a tip for you—that hell thing wasn’t created until after I was gone. The ‘men’ in charge made that one up so you’d keep giving them money. And for Peter’s sake, how many times did I tell you ‘Do NOT FEAR?’ I fail to see how that was confusing.”

Jesus: “You people suck at translating. Seriously. If your language doesn’t have a word that means what the original says, then maybe you should just leave the original alone instead of making up something totally different and then blaming me.”

Jesus: “Y’all are WAY too literal. Chill out. Roll with the parable. Enjoy the mythology and mystery of it all.”

Jesus: “Moses is a cranky-butt. Abraham is the cool one.”

According to my twenty year old, Jesus would also be singing Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Now there’s a mildly disturbing image to carry around in your brain. Her edits: “I also think he’d smoke some weed. Every other male in Silver City with long hair and a beard does. Why not Jesus? The picture we paint is exactly that of a hippie stoner from silver.”  :)

What else would Jesus be saying?

Peace on Earth

That’s what Christmas is about, right? Wishing for “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men”?

But what would it take?

Really.

What would it take to bring peace to this planet?

Praying for peace obviously hasn’t worked. You’d think an Almighty God would be totally and completely into making that one happen.

Oh yeah. “He” gave us  free will. Darn the luck. Guess that means those prayers for peace on earth are pretty much wasted effort.

So what’s another option?

I mean, after all, if the Big Cahuna can’t make it happen (or won’t), that pretty much leaves it all up to us, doesn’t it? So much for an all-powerful God.

At this point we will pause for a minute to allow you to process that logic. Go ahead. Throw out all the “yeah, buts” you can muster. Explain how all is right with the world because God is in control and answers prayers, but that whole Peace on Earth thing is just not in his cards. Be sure to go down the road “God is a God of Love” right to the intersection of “God is a God of War”. Pause on the side of that road at the part where innocent babies suffer from starvation and women can be stoned or hanged in the name of God for opening their mouths (or showing skin for that matter) in public.  It’s okay. I’ll let you work through it.

Try not to lose your religion over it.

Or…..

Maybe that’s what it will take.

Maybe the path John Lennon “Imagined” is exactly what is necessary to finally achieve peace on earth.  Take a moment to listen and watch this. Focus on every single word and phrase. Ask yourself honestly what the world would be like if there was no religion. Set aside the knee-jerk reaction about “no heaven” and “no hell” if only for a moment.

Just ponder the possibilities.

Gives me chills every time I hear it. That’s the energy of the Universe coursing through my veins.

I get it.

Do you?

Special thanks to Christopher Ledgerwood for giving me reason to pause and consider this at a deeper level.

Truth and Terror

I am terrified to tell the truth.

Not average ordinary everyday sorta truth.

My truth. The truth about what I believe at this point in my life. The truth about my faith, my thoughts, and my passions.

It’s just not a popular stance in these parts.

And so, I tip-toe around my truth, throwing nuggets out into the blogosphere, waiting and wondering what type of response I will get with each post. Most comments are supportive, their authors apparently traveling a road similar to mine. A few are challenging, compelled by years of religious training to defend God’s honor and defeat the forces of Satan, which it seems I may have become to them.

There are people about whom I care deeply who seem quite agitated by the road my faith has taken. I think they fear my spiritual destiny will land me in hell for all eternity.

If not me, then my poor un-churched children, for sure.

Yet one of my truths is this: I no longer believe a place called hell actually exists. Neither do a believe in a fallen-angel-evil-spirit named Satan. I truly believe he/it is a creation of those who would lie to the uneducated to enslave their mind, their loyalty, and their money.

That much has been put out there for the world to see.

And it stresses those whose Sundays revolve around fear of spending eternity with the evil one.

But there is so much more. My truth is unfolding on a daily, even hourly basis. There is more to be told. More to be confessed. More to be revealed. More reactions to fear.

More reasons to hold back my truth.

And then an encouraging word from a spiritual mentor arrives in my email…questions prodding me to speak my truth and acknowledge my faith where it is today, boldly, fearlessly.

As I sat at my desk reading the words composed in Ronna Detrick’s newsletter, these words grabbed me and yanked my complacent brain cells back into reality. These words left me once again feeling the passion and fire that begs me to share my truth….my reality.

“Lies were perpetuated; lies that have existed for thousands of years; ones that (we are) asked to bear the weight of. Though not spoken nearly so blatantly, this is what was ultimately being said: A woman only has value when connected to a man, when submissive. A woman is dangerous. A woman should recognize and acknowledge that her gender, through the sin of her forebear Eve, is single-handedly responsible for The Fall and all of humanity’s subsequent separation from Eden, God, and all that is good. No pressure. All lies.

And that is when I realized that I am not wrong. I am not evil. I am not dangerous. I am simply seeking the truth…..telling the truth……accepting reality rather than myth.

There is nothing wrong with myth until it is accepted as absolute truth….as law….and is used to abuse, confine, restrict, and terrorize people in their ignorance.

The truth is, I cannot understand why otherwise rational, skeptical, and even occasionally suspicious people have allowed themselves to accept as legally binding ancient traditions that require suspension of the known laws of nature and common sense. I cannot understand why even I did this for years.

We have adopted traditions and beliefs about a period of time that cannot be corroborated by historical evidence, and in fact in many cases has been shown to be an embellishment by writers with an agenda and an authoritative mandate.

That mandate certainly didn’t come from divine inspiration delivered by an omnipotent God.

The truth is, I would love to see a restoration to the original purposes and intentions  of a human being who lived 2000 years ago whose name is translated into English as Jesus.

The truth is, this thing we have created called Christianity isn’t/wasn’t his doing.

The truth is, we are not inherently sinful, but inherently good. Those ideas of sinfulness were created by men to financially support their temples, their churches, and their religious dynasties by creating fear in the masses and demanding payment for forgiveness of sins. Yes, Jesus hoped to end the insanity, but alas, the old enslaving ideas were re-created using his goodness as justification.

The truth is, we would probably come closer to understanding the teachings of Jesus by studying the teachings of Buddha, not Paul or Moses.

The truth is, the Jesus portrayed in most of the New Testament probably isn’t the Jesus who walked the earth. The Christ of the New Testament was created by men some 100-300 years after the legendary man made his escape from a physical body. I doubt Jesus would even recognize that creation as himself, nor would he approve.

The truth is, resurrection has become a distraction from the true purpose of Jesus’ life and message. We have made it about resurrection and salvation when in fact, it is about imitation and service to others.

…..because believing, accepting, and proselytizing is much easier than giving, doing, and becoming.

The truth is, we are all connected. That “one body” stuff isn’t church talk. We are interconnected like the cells, tissues, organs, and systems that make up the human body. We are parts of a body that is God. God is not something we seek. God is within us. We are God and God is us. When we take care of hungry, homeless families in Honduras, we are sending life-giving blood with it’s oxygen and nutrients to a part of our own body that is suffering.

When we attack each other through wars and abuse, we are nothing more than a cancer or autoimmune disease within the human race.

I am tired of the lies that divide the cells of the body that is the Universe. I am tired of believing the man-made myths that were never intended to be taken as divine truth. I am tired of feeling as though I must either love “The Church” or love people from all walks of life, but not both.

I am tired of persecution and destruction in the name of God. I am tired of being afraid of those who disagree with me.

I want to heal the body (the world) as Jesus did.

This is my truth, terror and all.

Several Things I Might Have Gotten Wrong

Fate landed me in front of a TED Talk video of Mike Rowe this morning. At first, I thought we were going to celebrate those who had broken free of the 9-5 (or around here 8-5) “prison” that seems to suck life right out of its hostages.

Boy was I wrong.

And apparently that was the point of this 20-minute video shared by Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth.

After watching the full 20 minute presentation, which is odd since my attention span rarely tolerates 20 minutes of anything, I asked myself:

How many times have I gotten it wrong?

Ouch. This could be a real ego-buster. I mean, MOI???? WRONG????? Say it ain’t so, Joe.

But alas, it is true. There is a slight possibility I might have been wrong about a few things in my life. I’m thinking a top ten list might be in order, so here goes:

Top 10…I mean…Several Things I Might Have Gotten Wrong (Darn list keeps growing.)

1. Farm life is for the birds. I wanted to be a city girl. (Age 17-22ish) Today, I’d love to be out where the only people who would think of cutting across my yard to get from Point A to Point B were likely birthed of my loins.

2. Picking the right church and following the right rules are necessary prerequisites to getting into heaven. (Birth through about age 37.) I now wonder if we are looking for heaven in the wrong place. Didn’t Jesus say the kingdom of God is within us?

3. The Bible was written by God (er…uh….men “divinely inspired” by God?). That one survived to about age 41. The more I study, the more this notion dissolves and I feel like a victim of terrorism and manipulation compliments of Constantine and his goons. That’s not to say there isn’t good stuff contained therein. Just a note to self regarding origin and authority.

4. A college education is a necessity. Okay, advanced training is a good thing, but I’m no longer convinced it has to come in the form of a 4-6 year degree and $40K in debt.

5. A big house is a blessing. The older I get the more I long for simple and cheap. Big = Expensive + Liability

6. Energy healers and new age crystal-loving types are quacks. It’s amazing what personal experience does to shift one’s perspective. Don’t knock it if you’ve never given it a decent chance.

7. Seeing is believing. What’s that phrase they holler out when everyone’s dancing to The Cotton-Eye’d Joe? Yeah. That one. The one I can’t use on my blog because my mom reads it. Anyways, there are now lots of things that I accept as possible, yet cannot “see”. Sometimes that which we think we can “see” and prove is merely an illusion.

8. God only speaks to us through his written word. All other forms of direct communication with a divine source are probably the devil or some level of psychosis requiring hospitalization and pharmaceutical drugs. Wherever shall I start hammering on this one? If you wish to continue believing this, that is your choice, but don’t put ME in the straight jacket for seeing things differently.

9. There is an evil spirit entity called Satan that loves to slyly entice us into doing evil things like suggest there is no Satan or that the Bible was not actually written by God…er…uh…God-inspired men. Yeah. Right. And Zeus impregnated how many women to bear his half-god, half-human offspring? You believe that, too, don’t you?

10. Christianity is about following Jesus Christ. I wish. Most Christianity is about following Paul…..and Peter….and the guy on TV….and the guy at the front of the auditorium/sanctuary on Sunday morning. If it were about following Jesus, things would look a whole lot different. Actually, it would probably look like this and this and this every day. It certainly wouldn’t look like this.

And a bonus (or two)……

11. Scientific research has proven………. (see my response to #7 above). If there is anything I have learned it’s that the only correct response is “…based on the knowledge we currently possess, we now think this is how it is.” Ain’t no such critter as “proof”. Just ask Christopher Columbus, Galileo,  Pythagoras, Socrates, and a few other guys that dared question the prevailing “proofs” of their time. Oh, and while you are at it, Stephen Hawking might appreciate some acknowledgement, too. Possibilities, Baby. Possibilities.

12. Humans are inherently evil and need to be saved. Yeah. Not so sure about that one. We aren’t born evil or sinful or bad. Kids learn bad or good from their environment. Some seem to actually posses an incredible and almost super-human level of compassion.

13. You simply must go to church every time the doors are open, or you aren’t a good Christian. Uhm…..no. I’ve got nothing against a get together, but that whole guilt and terrorism thing is just dumb….and very un-Jesus.

14. Children need church to become good people. Children need parents or at least some type of decent role models who are good people. Church does not make good people.

15. Check back. I’m sure I’ll think of more.

Yes, there was a time when my life pretty much existed as black or white. I almost miss those days, yet I really do like the freedom that evolved once I began to realize that I just might be wrong about a lot of things.

For that matter, maybe I am right. Hmmm……now there’s a twist.

PS: While I welcome your thoughts, comments, observations, etc., please know that I’m not interested in being preached at or proven wrong….mostly because your proof is no more solid than mine (see #11 above) and quite frankly I get downright cranky when someone tries to suggest I am wrong. My husband and children would greatly appreciate if you wouldn’t contribute to that mood swing.  Besides, if your education has never seen the outside of a religious library, you probably don’t have anything to offer that I haven’t already heard in the way of “proof”.

If you find that your chest tightens and your face turns red when you read this, or you feel an urge to grab a Bible and pound your fist on a piece of wood, you may be defending something that you can’t prove or something that you choose to believe because someone in authority taught you to believe it without question, and…well…doing otherwise would simply be an ….ahem…..abomination.

Naked Jesus Stuff

Recently someone close to me asked if I had yet found that for which I am/was searching. My answer was, for the most part, yes. Then again, life is a journey full of new discoveries every day. I think the entire process is a combination of balancing the search with contentment.

What is it that I seek in my moments of discontent?

…A simple message stripped of rules, legalism, how-to’s, and guilt.

I stopped in at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago in search of some recommended books related to that topic. I did not find the recommendations, yet as typically happens, three books found me. The usual sign indicated to me that these were in fact going home with me. It is a shudder, a chill, that runs full body as I hold and read a few pages of each. No chill, no book. Very simple.

I began with the shortest easiest read. The deeper I delved into that one, the more I wondered if my shudder signaler was out of whack. Why the heck did that one need to come home with me. It was leaning in an almost opposite direction from the one I was searching. It’s message: Religion has been made complicated by those who would cling to Old Testament regulations as their governing force. (Actually that fits well within my “men have complicated what God made simple” theory.) But then it went on to suggest that even that which Jesus taught and practiced was not ours for today and that Paul had shared what we need to know.

Ugh.

I am NOT a Paul fan. Or a whomever-wrote-that-stuff-fan. Or a whomever-decided-that-he-was-writing-to-people-two-thousand-years-later fan.

I guess maybe the point was made to reinforce my instincts of how off base the whole Pauline Christianity thing has become.

Then I started on the second book. It is Rex Weyler’s The Jesus Sayings: The Quest for His Authentic Message. It looks at the available and emerging historical information as well as current religious texts in an attempt to find what is truly creditable to Jesus. Through a comparison of the oldest and most duplicated sayings attributed to Jesus, the author has arrived at the following which appear to have been recorded long before any of the so called gospels made it to public light:

Seek the truth.
There is a light within; look and you will find it.
Know yourself.
When you find the light within, share it with the world.

A divine kingdom is within you and all around you.
Speak out. Teach others about this kingdom.
This kingdom is like a small seed that grows.
It is like leaven in bread, a tiny force that affects everything.
Observe the world before you, here and now.

Commit fully, now.
Act on your knowledge.
Your understanding is revealed in the fruits of your actions.

Be generous and merciful.
Share what you have with others.
Help the poor, hungry, and grieving, and those who have no home.
Don’t worry about your own comforts.
Your poverty and sadness bring you closer to the divine kingdom.

Remain humble; don’t exalt yourself.
Don’t judge others, but rather improve yourself.
Be as a child, open, curious, authentic, and modest.
Love your enemies and those who rebuke you.

Otherwise, avoid rules, and follow the truth you discover yourself.
Act from awareness, not habit or convention.
Don’t blindly repeat rituals.
Don’t trust those with spiritual pretensions.
Question those who presume to speak for God.

If you have two good ears, listen to what I am telling you.

I knew there was a reason I liked this guy, especially stripped down to what is his and his alone. I have a few of these areas mastered well. Others need much work before I can be like him.

Funny how much of his message sounds like the sages and prophets of several other …ahem… “evil” philosophies.

I’m looking forward to the next chapter on Mary Magdalene.

I Would Have Been A Floater For Sure

Cowgirl has been laid up for over a week waiting on the medical establishment to get her leg bone secure enough to rejoin the rest of the world. That means she has been home from school for seven days now. Don’t get me started on how dumb it is for a high tech school to not be able to patch my kid who’s sitting in a high tech home directly into her classrooms. That was my previous rant.

In an effort to keep her on top of her studies, I’ve been retrieving her assignments from school, cracking the “git ‘er done” whip, and returning said assignments to the school upon completion.

One of Cowgirl’s assignments has involved reading a novel for her English class. Apparently Cowgirl was accustomed to having the novel read out loud to the class, so I was obligated to continue the learning experience precisely as had been her in-class experience.

The book is called The Witch of Blackbird Pond, an historical fiction novel about a girl in the 1600’s who lands herself in the midst of Puritan religious legalism and is accused of being a witch. Interestingly enough, there probably isn’t a twelve year old on the planet whose attention has ever been grabbed so quickly nor emotion stirred so intensely as what this 42 year old’s was. An English teacher could only dream of engaging a student at the level I became engaged.

For many readers, I’m betting the most significant parts of the story were the emotional highs and lows of romance blossoming and the terror of being placed on trial for being a witch.

For me, the intensity lay (lied, lain, ???) in the realization that not much has changed in 400 years. I identified with Kit on so many levels. Her experiences were much wider than those of the mostly uneducated Puritans. Her view of the world was so much more positive and trusting. Her ability to see past human differences was so much greater.

The Puritans were convinced of what was God’s will and what was evil. They were so sure of themselves, they were willing to kill those who did not believe or conform to their religious ways. They feared and reviled that which was different. Quakers happened to fall into the category of different and thus evil.

I know what it’s like to be part of a religion that’s convinced everyone else is wrong and destined for hell.

It occurred to me while reading through the story that I likely would have been ostracized, singled out, and possibly drowned, hanged, or burned at the stake had I lived in that time. I’m pretty sure I would have been a floater, and floaters were automatically guilty. A pure woman would be accepted by the water and God according to their beliefs.

Sounds like I’d be dead either way.

That’s got an irony all of its own. You end up dead if you’re following their life-sucking religious rules and you end up dead if you don’t. Either way you’re “Dead Woman Walking”.

Because I choose to challenge what I perceive to be ignorant, blind belief of things that I see as being far from real evidential truth, things that do not promote charity and love, but rather promote divisiveness, isolation, and hatred, I would likely be killed.

That’s what happens when legalistic religion is allowed to trump love for humanity.

Jesus recognized it in the Jewish religion. He saw how harsh and cruel and loveless the Law of Moses was and how much worse it had become under the enforcing eye of the Pharisees and the Priests of the day. He tried to be different. He did his best to love and teach love. He healed wherever and whenever needed regardless of the religious laws. He fed people who were hungry wherever and whenever necessary, even breaking the religious laws so his followers could have a few grains of wheat on the Sabbath.

And they killed him for being a trouble-maker because he interfered with the religious status quo.

And then they deified him and made up a whole bunch of new rules and said the new rules were given by Jesus himself.

And then they killed people who didn’t follow the new rules. And they killed people who saw things differently: People who attempted to find the truth and enlighten others, and people who simply chose not to participate in their legalistic game.

And it continues today. Not so much the murdering part (although there are still plenty of people right here in America who are murdered by religious extremists for choosing not to be bullied by extreme religion), yet every day people are isolated, shunned, and disowned because they choose love over religion. They are labeled and branded as trouble makers or worse, all because they have been blessed with the gift of sight and a voice of intelligence. Their eyes are no longer clouded by tradition, fear, and loyalty.

They call it for what it is, and they are hated for it.

Nope, not much has changed in 5,000 years.

I haven’t decided yet whether or not I believe in reincarnation. It really doesn’t matter. I am here. Now. In this place. At this time. But I have a hunch that if I have lived before, I was probably every bit as challenging, every bit as sighted, every bit as annoying to the religious legalists as I am now. I’m pretty sure I would have been tried as a witch and likely convicted along the way.

I’m pretty sure I would have been a floater.

And I have a hunch that even then, there were those who stood by my side, much like Kit’s Uncle Matthew did, knowing that the challenge to the status quo and hand-me-down beliefs was long overdue.

Thankfully, no one has tried to kill me this time around. Even though things pretty much remain the same, there are more who have allowed love to trump religion, even when they are employed by religion.

Imagine how incredible the world would be if everyone could simply release the religion and just be pure love.

What If It’s Us, Not God?

I just came upon a religious website that is quite a ways from the theological roots of my faith heritage. It had a paragraph explaining the “Basic Beliefs” of the religion that triggered an AHA moment for me.

Those AHA moments are dangerous ’round these parts.

For a good while now, I’ve held the belief that the fiery place called hell is actually a creation of the human mind in an attempt to control and acquire money from other humans through fear of death and pain. My reasoning behind this belief lies in the difficulty I have accepting something as absolutely black and white when so many contradictions surround it.

I can rattle off several examples, yet the one that packs the greatest punch for me is the God is Love vs. God is a vengeful God argument. You see, the same people that preach God is love, God is the ultimate Father, God so loved the world he gave his only son, yada yada yada, also preach that God destroyed his creation once because they became so wicked he hated them, and he’ll do it again if we don’t do things exactly right, like vote for the Republicans who won’t allow gays to marry because that’s an “abomination” (Bleah!) or get dunked appropriately in the watery grave of baptism–just as soon as we can agree on what is “appropriate”.  Not doing things exactly right will cause us to spend an eternity being punished in a fiery furnace of torture.

So, this tells me that there is a supreme being, a man that isn’t really a man, but, well, he just is sorta male (according to those who think they know because we all know men are better leaders, right? Double Bleah!), who is the ultimate loving compassionate father figure, who essentially birthed us all (let’s see a man do that one!), gave us free will because he wanted us to love him by choice and not by command and fear, then issued a bunch of commandments and said if we don’t follow them, he’ll pout and withdraw from us and we’ll spend an eternity being burned to a crisp without burning up while he says, “Nanny-nanny-boo-boo—you didn’t play by my rules!”

Uh, excuse me, but where’s the free will in that? And where’s the divine supreme loving entity in that?

That folks is what I call a contradiction. There are several others within religion, many of which I began to recognized long before this one, and which led to my awakening and departure from my faith heritage.

Besides, as a daughter, a mother, even an animal care-taker, I can say with a good bit of confidence that no sane entity, especially not the supreme God of Love, would or even could do this to someone in their care. I mean, I know for a fact that there were times when my dad’s blood pressure probably blew out the top of the sphygnomanometer (or however you spell that thingy), but I don’t think there is anything we could have done that would have pushed him to the brink of going out back and building a bonfire for the purpose of chunking me or my brother in it. It might have crossed his mind a time or two, but nothing would have caused him to actually follow through with his momentary frustration with us.

And I realize mine is quite the extraordinary dad, but this religion thing has preached all along that God is supposedly SOOOOO much more loving and incredible and giving and caring than even the most wonderful dad that has ever lived on earth, including mine.

So where’s the logic in preaching/teaching this loving father theory then scaring the crap out of us by reminding us that if we don’t love him and obey him, he’ll throw us in the big bonfire he’s built for his naughty children because he is a vengeful God?

Then there’s the whole bit about the divinely inspired Word of God that is THE AUTHORITY on God’s will for us. Except that it contains all this contradictory crap that religious people try to explain away or conveniently dismiss when it interferes with their views of what God intended for us to believe.

Oh yeah….and it took how many thousand years for THE Bible to be written? And HOW MANY different people? And HOW MANY different agendas? And how many supposedly inspired writings were dismissed when the ruler of the entire world decided to have them assembled into one book that he liked? And how many people died through the centuries because they didn’t agree with the emperor and his mignons? And how many years AFTER the death of Jesus were THOSE “eye-witness” accounts written? Don’t know about you, but my story gets better and better (and wilder and wilder) as time passes. Oh yeah….God possessed the writers’ bodies, glazed their eyes, and wrote HIS words through them.

Yeah…..Right.

I’m thinking the almighty supreme God would have made it a little less contradictory and a little more clear than the mess he is credited with creating that we call Christianity. Messes are usually made by men, not supreme beings. The only things I believe to be divinely inspired about the Bible are the egos of the ones who assembled the writings and proclaimed it as Divinely inspired. I’m pretty sure their Divine was no one any higher up than than a Roman ruler.

Religion is apparently the only acceptable field where otherwise rational, skeptical people can suspend all logic and intelligence in defense of their beliefs and get away with it. Hence, we have hell because the Bible says so, and because Mommy and Daddy said so.

And if the Bible says so (and Mom and Dad said so), then it must be so. Even if it doesn’t make any sense.

Which takes me back to the paragraph I found a religious website that appears at first glance to be significantly different in its teachings than my faith heritage preached. Paraphrased, it says that the the Holy Spirit purifies one of karma (sin), making it possible for him to accept the full love of God in this lifetime. Then he gains wisdom, charity, and freedom.

In other words, we CAN’T accept the incredible fullness of God’s love as long as we think and act in ways that are anything other than full of love. Only through fully connecting with Spirit (which requires stripping away the rules and laws created by religion) can we begin to see the possibilities for accepting the fullness of God’s love.

Remember that guy who said there are only two commandments? I believe he was a prophet named Jesus, and I believe he said to love the Lord your God with everything inside of you, and love your neighbor as yourself. Pretty short and sweet and simple.

What if it’s been us all along, and not God who invented hell (and religion and its laws)?

Maybe we’ve been blaming God for creating the hell that we have created for ourselves. Maybe hell is right here on earth (down below?), living out eternity one lifetime at a time until one day we understand love to the point that we can release the religious crap in favor of both giving and receiving love unconditionally. Maybe the Buddhists and Hindus are smarter than we give them credit for being.

Maybe this shoots the hell out of the hell thing.

Politically BiPolar

I figure I have now spent two days ranting about politics on a wellness website, so what’s one more, right?

Today I find myself processing all the cheers, jeers, and sarcastic comments that  have shown up in various Facebook posts of friends and acquaintances regarding the outcome of the elections. Around these parts, there’s a real hodgepodge of opinion. My county has traditionally been hard-core Democrat, yet recent years have seen a major shift to the far right as the Republican party has finally grabbed a foothold (and a noose) around our citizenry. It seems someone decided that the only way to be a good Christian is to be a good Republican, and that ideology has spread like Swine Flu in these parts.

I used to consider myself staunchly conservative, definitely leaning toward Republican ideals, yet defiantly independent, because that’s just how I am. I scoffed at the high school political science teacher who suggested that I was actually a closet Democrat and just hadn’t figured it out yet.

Ugh….I so dislike it when other people know me better than I know myself.

So this morning, my question becomes

What Am I?

Am I a Democrat now, complete with the notorious higher taxes, big government beaurocracies, and social programs out the anus?  Or am I still a conservative Republican with it’s trickle down economics, big business, war machine, and strong second amendment support?

Honestly, I’m none of the above. I don’t know that there is a party that can contain what I value.

So what do I value?

I value compassion.

I value live and let live.

I value keeping my money and donating it where I see the need.

I value good roads.

I value keeping the government and big corporations out of my way.

I value separation of church and state.

I value freedom of choice, especially where MY BODY and MY CHILDREN are concerned. When and if I choose to be a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical companies, I will let you know.

I value human life.

I value protecting those who can’t protect themselves.

I value freedom of choice. (Did I say that already?)

I value a balance between feeling safe and having personal freedom. If forced to make a choice, I’d lean toward freedom over safety.

I value personal responsibility, not legislated morality.

I value giving people a chance to stand on their own two feet without yanking them up by their bootstraps and giving them a wedgie in the process.

I value helping people toward independence rather than perpetuating dependence.

I value education that encourages entrepreneurship and creative thinking rather than creating compliant robots ready to spend their lives making someone else wealthy.

I value nature and things that promote sustainability over consumption.

I value independence and self-sufficiency.

I value teaching people to fish (and learning how to fish) rather than handing out fish day after day. There is definitely a time to hand out some fish. Jesus did, and we can, too, as needed.  However, if there is an opportunity to give someone a hand up after the handout, then I want to be ready to meet that need enabling them to pay it forward for the next person in need.

I value our constitution and the intentions of the people who created it. Yes, they probably envisioned a nation blessed by God, however, the concept of God and what God supposedly wants has changed substantially since then thanks in great part to preacher politicians. The founders knew the dangers of allowing religious ideals to drive government decisions. They sought to create freedom of and even (when necessary) from religion. This generation seems to be pushing towards religious control by the government.

I value local decentralized leadership and decision-making as much as possible.

I value social programs run by charitable groups rather than the government.

I value the right to defend myself, my family, and my property.

I value the recognition that we are all interconnected and interdependent. It’s in my best interest to help someone else succeed, live, thrive, prosper, be healthy, and I must realize my actions affect others as well as future generations.

To some, it may seem that I have lots of contradictory values. Maybe so. Maybe that’s why the political process is so frustrating to me. People want things to be black and white.

They can’t be.

They never will be.

The world is not two dimensional. It is multi-faceted, multi-colored, and loaded with a million shades of gray to blur the edges. There are no absolutes. There can be no black and white.

In the end, the only platform that matters is the Jesus platform, which happens to be quite similar to the Buddha platform and several others.

It’s really quite simple.

Love God, the source of life energy.

Love People.

The end.

Can your political party claim these two as the primary issues? If not, maybe you need a new party.


Identifying NOTs to Find My AMs

Life takes us on some interesting journeys. Doors open and close. People walk in and walk out. Opportunities sprawl in front of us awaiting our decision to reach out and pluck it’s juicy fruit. Yet sometimes what seems like an opportunity is actually a glimpse at what may not be part of our dream.

I typically prefer to focus on the dream itself, keeping my energies directed at what works for me rather than what doesn’t work for me. However, occasionally, it becomes necessary to look closely at the NOTs in life in order to more fully reveal the AMs.

And often times, the process of experiencing a NOT leaves me with a small treasure that enhances the AMs in amazing ways.

This morning finds me meditating on what I AM, my dreams, my desires, my space of expertise and influence. It’s leaving me with a strong desire to identify out loud some of my NOTs.

Apparently, I am NOT interested in being a fitness-center-type personal trainer. The idea of calculating METS and reps and VO2 Max just annoys the crap out of me. Of course, a good class and good instructor might have been able to send that in a different direction, yet for now, this does not feel as if it is for me.

Dear Amarillo College, enjoy my $300 donation. Be sure to use it to pay that teacher for not teaching his online class at all.

I AM interested in coaching and teaching people basic principals about how their bodies work, what strengthens and weakens the body, as well as how food, stress, and exercise work together to support health and wellness. I am a cheerleader for these people.

I am NOT interested in being tied to a bureaucratic hierarchy that is public education. Too many chiefs, not enough warriors, and way too much rigid scheduling. I’m all for having some structure in my day, but lose structure seems to be more my thing. I like choosing my schedule as I go.

I AM interested in working when I choose to work with whom I choose to work. I am also interested in answering mostly to me and the person with whom I am providing services. That process eliminates a lot of second-guessing, condescending supervisory crap that tends to make me nuts. I am rapidly approaching the point at which I think I’ve made a good decision in choosing to be an entrepreneur.

I am NOT interested in trying to please supervisors by keeping my mouth shut when I see something with which I disagree. I am not thrilled about being bound by chains of command and 47 jillion policies and procedures which have been designed to discourage negative feedback. If compliments required as much hoop-jumping as requesting a review of something that is causing concern, no one would ever get an ataboy.

I AM interested in working with those people who will provide immediate feedback on what is effective and what doesn’t seem to be improving the situation. That just works for me.  And it strokes my ego.

My ego needs lots of stroking.

I am NOT interested in working for someone from whom I have to request permission to get or give professional training. I must admit, it is nice when their dime picks up part of the tab, but that frequently seems to come with a side dish of guilt, some soul-level ownership, and a dose of “you owe me”.

I AM interested in work that allows me to choose what, when, where, and how much training I will receive or provide. Yes, taking this approach means I am likely going to be paying for the training from my own earnings, but in most cases, the earnings out pace the cost of the training in some way.

I am NOT interested in working with people who don’t value what I have to offer. Hmmm…. that pretty much eliminates my children. Except when I offer money. Then they seem to value dear ol’ mom.

I AM interested in working with those people for whom my training has the potential to impact in a HUGE way. That would include children with disabilities, adults desperately seeking something outside of the ordinary box, those looking for information to help them take control of their health, people looking for a way to release stress and tension, and service providers who know there is something out there just begging to be revealed to them.

Let’s see. If I enter this information into the trusty ol’ computer, divide by my desire to take a vacation whenever I like, add in a smidgen of creativity, weirdness, and nature, the result is……….

Exactly where I am today.

Thank you, Universe, God, instinct, Spirit, whomever or whatever you are that has led me to this particular place in life.

I’m lovin’ it!

Spiritual Opposites

I had a conversation yesterday with a beautiful lady. Against my better judgment, I allowed the topic of my religious views to burst forth, so to speak. I couldn’t help it. She point blank asked me what I thought.

The “hell” topic surfaced, and of course I totally freaked her out. It makes me sad to freak her out. Yet I have to remind myself that it is not me who inflicts the freaking, but rather her choice to be freaked about my thoughts and current beliefs.

I don’t control the thermostat.

I just am.

I am.

That’s got some spiritual overtones to it, don’t ya think?

Anyway, I’ve continued to ponder that conversation a bit, and this morning some things began to click for me.

I’m pondering a view of opposites and how rather than giving power to what we perceive as negative, we can simply leave all the power with that which is positive. In doing so, we choose to see its opposite not as bad, but merely as an absence of that which we believe is positive.

For example….

Light and dark.

Religiously speaking, we tend to honor the light. We sing songs about walking in the light. We suggest that Jesus is the light of the world and in him is no darkness. And yet, darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. In and of itself, darkness is not bad. Without darkness, we would not even notice the light. We could not see the subtle light of the stars in the heavens.

Without total darkness, our bodies do not fully rest. Melatonin in our body’s is produced best when we sleep in total darkness. Melatonin is a protective hormone we need for good health.

Darkness is necessary. Darkness is even good.

Black and white.

Here’s an interesting twist. Black is actually the presence of all color whereas white is the absence of all color. Again, how would we know of the purity of white without first knowing of the melting pot that is black? Is black somehow bad because it is a mixture of everything? Is white somehow better because it has no color and is pure? Sounds a bit boring to me. We simply cannot know one without knowing the other. Neither is any better or any worse. Both serve a significant purpose. A beautiful painting would be nothing without the ability to mix colors into something other than white. Black defines white.

Heaven and hell.

Ah, this one may really get the ball rolling. Heaven and hell. Divine opposite destinations for all eternity. No one really knows what or where these places are, yet we believe they exist because ancient writers and religious teachers have told us so. We believe each “place” has special characteristics, and we believe one is good and the other one is evil. Yet if we follow the pattern of opposites we are seeing so far, wouldn’t one simply be the absence of the other? Wouldn’t hell simply be the absence or lack of heaven? The Bible mentions the righteous being taken up into heaven at the judgment. We use terms like “left behind” to describe a religious invention known as “The Rapture”. Is it possible that the spirit world to which we escape at death is actually heaven, and life on this earth living in a physical body with physical limitations is actually hell? The interesting thing is that there isn’t much info on hell in older religious documents. According to historical information, hell seems to be a creation of the church…. a church in need of loyal, fearful, paying members.

God and Satan.

Here’s a good one. Supposedly there is an all powerful universal entity we call God. S/he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. I’m good with that. Unfortunately, humanity has created for him/her a nemesis, an arch enemy of temptation and evil, if you will. Kind of interesting that the ultimate force in the universe would allow such a destructive being as this entity called Satan to thrive. Mere belief in a tempting force called Satan implies that God is not all powerful.  And, it gives us someone on which to blame our shortcomings.

Maybe “evil” is what we get when we do not acknowledge the power of the Universe. Maybe pitfalls and tragedies and so-called temptation are all brought on through our own lack of understanding of a God who desires love above all else. Our failure to understand the miracles of “…ask, believing you have already received…” and “….give and it will be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…” leaves us feeling desperate, poor, broken, and helpless when in fact we  have the riches of the universe at our fingertips.

According to the Bible, God is love, which implies God = Love. If we pursue this line of thought, then Satan = No Love. Satan could simply be the bigoted animosity created by religion, which is often aimed at those who see things differently. Satan or evil could simply be a lack of loving our neighbors, and the consequences thereof.

Love and sin.

Jesus is reported to have given two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Doing those two things implies obedience to God. Not doing those two things implies disobedience or sin. Hence, sin is merely the absence of love. If we act in love in everything we do, then we cannot sin. I would even go so far as to suggest (and I may catch “hell” for this one–pun intended) Jesus saved us not through his death and resurrection, but by getting this message to us. Love is what saves. It is through love that we fulfill our destiny on earth. Once we get that part figured out, then maybe we get to spend the rest of eternity in the spirit world of heaven instead of constantly being sent back to the hell of earthly humanity to try and figure it out.

There’s us something to chew on for a bit.

What other opposites come to mind that follow this possible pattern of one being the absence of the other rather than the horrible, terrible, evil it is often portrayed as being?

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