Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Heavy Heart

The world is in need of some serious joy. I say this because it would seem that things just keep getting more bleak with every morning paper.

I would never pretend to be a political person, nor would I pretend to be a spiritualist - at least not anymore. But it seems to me that people as a species have entirely missed the point of what it means to be here; to exist. I know this is so heavy I don't even really want to take it on as a topic. However, I'm feeling the need.

The way I see it, the things that matter most in this life are good health, kindness and respect. Yet financial greed and selfishness abound, as does religious fanaticism. There is no joy in any of those things. Would anyone argue that all of our time and effort spent on obtaining wealth, and converting others to our own personal beliefs, would be better spent on medical research, making sure that future generations can continue to exist and thrive on our planet without destroying it, and just being kind to others? I know it's simplistic (perhaps naive) and I may be hypocritical in my own day to day, by not running off to some third world country to contribute to the solution as opposed to rotting away in my own consumerist lifestyle, being part of the problem. I tell myself I'm a good person because I make the utmost of efforts to be kind to "everyone" I encounter. Honestly, I do. (I'm speaking of the "kindness" part, in particular, not just the self-delusion that I'm a good person.) I'm an avid recycler, and I use public transit, I contribute to charities when I can, but none of this stuff truly makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. How does one get beyond the nagging, gnawing belief that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and there's seemingly nothing to be done that can stop it?

Brought-up in a Pentecostal home by a hopelessly reality-free mother, I was always taught that nothing in this life matters but God, and serving God. Happiness, is an afterthought that you'll find if you win God's lottery of the faithful. Knowing from a young age that I was gay, immediately put me at a disadvantage in the whole, good-Christian living way-of-life, and my mother to this day still hides her head in the sand on the whole issue, choosing to have a son who tells her what she wants to hear, rather than face the truth and rethink her own values. At 33 years of age, I'm more than comfortable with who I am, and I refuse to believe that I'm going to burn in hell over something I can't change even if I wanted to.

I'm not even certain I believe in God anymore which makes the whole concept of hell a moot point. I'd like to believe in God, but as a species on the whole, I don't think human beings deserve the kind of grace I was always taught to believe God possesses, and that goes for the people who whole-heartedly believe they're living the way that he would have them live and carrying out his will to the letter. It's just not right. Wars are being fought over religion. That's what most wars are fought over: beliefs in something that's not even tangible. To me it's not worth killing for, and it's certainly not worth dying for. I'd rather agree to disagree. You have your beliefs and I have mine. I know that in the real world that's simply not plausible, but I really think it should be.

Getting back to the way I was raised though; I was always taught that the way we believed was the only way "to" believe and everyone else would suffer for all eternity. And to even question your beliefs was wrong. (Strangely enough, I don't think I've ever written that kind of statement and just "looked" at it.) But I'm way beyond just "thinking" that that way of believing is merely flawed. I'm seriously at the point where I truly believe religion should be abolished. Or rather that we as a species would have been so much further along in our social progress had it never existed at all. I don't think that people should be "forced" to give up their beliefs, but I think it would do everyone a world of good to doubt themselves and question their doctrines. Dangerous thinking... I know. But I just don't understand how people can believe in anything so vehemently that they'd be willing to persecute, punish or eradicate others for not sharing in their beliefs.

Perhaps I feel this way only because I'm unwillingly on the list of most punishable sins in almost any religion because I'm gay. But I've yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why homosexuals should be stricken from the list of things that are natural or holy. I'm sorry, but the bible just doesn't cut it for me. We as a species have "sexual" urges ingrained into our DNA and no one can tell me that in our cavalcade of differences that same-sex attraction isn't natural. Easy for me to say huh?

Anyhow... I realize I've said a whole lot and simultaneously nothing at all. But to just vent my feelings into cyber oblivion feels good. Therapeutic even. And I've got a heaviness in my heart that just won't seem to go away, because of all the atrocities I read and hear about on a daily basis. It will never make sense to me and whether or not I can ever accept it doesn't seem to matter anyhow.

I promise to write about something a whole lot more optimistic the next time I blog.

This song was written by Amy Grant shortly after the events of September 11th, 2001. It's on her album "Simple Things". The lyrics are given much more depth when you can listen to the song. It brings me comfort in it's simplicity... acknowledging helplessness and how fragile life is. It's honest; if not a solution to anything.

"I Don't Know Why"

This is one of those moments
When all that really matters
Is crystal clear
We are woven together
By whatever threads of life that have
Brought us here

We are stripped of all our layers
We are getting to the core
Tell me something real
And nothing more

I don't know why
I don't know how
I don't know where
Baby all I know is now.

So I'm here between the bookends
Of everything that was and
What will be
There's a wealth of information
And not so many answers
It seems to me

So I face the unfamiliar
And nothing is clear
Only blinding faith can carry me from here

And I don't know why
I don't know how
I don't know where
Baby all I know is now

Hold my hand and hold this moment
Time sure feels precious don't it
Life is always changing
This I know

I don't know why
I don't know how
I don't know where
Baby all I know is now
Baby all I know is now


Keltie said...

Oh, John. As someone who sat through so many of those church services, youth groups, all-nighters, conventions, retreats and whatnot with you I have to say that I empathize. Strongly.

I'm not religious any more. I'm not sure what to call myself but agnostic comes closest, probably. I refer to what I grew up in as a 'cult' because the brainwashing was so overt. There were good people among it all, and there were the people who make religion a very terrifying thing.

Truly, I'm happier now.

Jerome said...

I know that I'm certainly in a different place than you when it comes to the world of religion, but I can certainly understand much of what you're saying. I think people lose sight of or distort the real point, which is "You are loved", not "You are loved so long as you..." Those people screaming, "God hates fags" or starting wars in the name of religion are, from my point of view, just looking for justification/excuses for their own prejudices.

Of course, that's just my opinion.

John said...

I'm glad to hear you're happy Keltie. And I know that you are when I read about your life in your blog. It does my heart good to know you're happy. I guess I'm still looking for it.
I have so many wonderful aspects to my life that I'm truly grateful for. It's not all doom and gloom. I just get bogged-down sometimes.

And Jerome, you certainly seem to have found a peaceful spiritual balance. I honestly respect your opinion. You're wise. You always have been.

Keltie said...

Well, there's honestly a lot that doesn't make it into the blog, if you know what I mean. I purposely keep it upbeat, since I started it as a means to keep my friends and family updated on my life in general.

My spiritual self, however, is definitely happier now. I never really rebelled outright against Pentecostalism. It just never 'fit' me comfortably and I suffered a LOT from that, convinced that I was probably pure evil.

I have knee-jerk guilt flashes that are trained into me still, but letting go of all those passive-aggressive expectations was when I started liking myself a lot better.