Monday, 28 September 2015

Substance of God

I am, not will or was
I am, not part thereof
I am, not bought or sold
I am, not young or old
I am, not male or femme
I am, nothing to condemn
I am, and will not be judged
I am, living loved
I am, not sin redeemed
I am, not life undreamed
I am, enough, complete
I am, a bit rough, but sweet
I am, part of the whole
I am, on no church roll
I am, substance of God
I am, a lightning rod

I am, you
I am, us
I am...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Sea of Sadness

The sea of sadness hosts no storms
It dampens the angry clouds of lightning
It unravels twisting water spouts
Languid waves lap it's shores

Mists drift in and out dripping soft tears
Silver light shines in poignant beauty

The sea of sadness holds hearts that have too much to bare
It's sparkling silver arms of comfort
Wrap warm and deep pains in stillness
   Truths that can never be spoken  
   Love that can never be revealed 

The sea of sadness is wide and deep
It welcomes the weary with gentle caress
It promises nothing but a moment of eternity
And the glimpse of a distant beacon

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Being a "man"

There's so much around these days about what it means to be a man.

There's this image of the prefect man, who creates an environment for women to become perfectly "whole", kids to become perfectly fulfilled and for society in general, to be blessed by their masculinity.

Men must be men! We have a blueprint for the perfect man and if we don't fit that blueprint then we are a failure, not only creating dysfunctional families but even worse, mocking God, who created very clear boundaries for what a man is supposed to be.

Reality check!

There is a gender/sexuality continuum.
There are two types of "psyche" (for want of a better word) that define certain characteristics as masculine or feminine.

The masculine is described as strong, decisive, objective etc...
The feminine is described as emotional, sensitive, empathic etc...
We are very familiar with these concepts.

However, to associate these characteristics with particular genitals is nothing more than a social construct. Sure, lots of humans with penises like football and are strong and aggressive. And lots of humans with vaginas are soft and caring.

But here's the glitch - countless humans, irrespective of their genitals and hormones, display a broad mix of masculine and feminine traits. Many humans with penises are emotional and sensitive - they love to support others with compassion and empathy - they are nurturing, and empathic... And lots of vagina and breast endowed humans love to rough it up, take charge, be confident and assertive, and play football. In fact most humans have a completely random mix of these qualities in various quantities.

But society/culture and especially religion, consistently creates stereotypes that force the "psyche" attributes to fit the physical attributes. This is probably one of the most tragic things society has suffered!

Humans are supposed to deny who they are at the deepest level, in all its amazing and beautifully unique complexity, to become stereotypes, as defined by religious definitions.

Our genitals DO NOT DEFINE US. We are who we are!

If you have a penis and experience "feminine" traits, then guess what - you are a perfect human! If you have breasts and like "masculine" things, then you too are a human - perfect just as you are.

I am a gay man. I love having a penis and have no desire for anything physically feminine (I mean breasts are just yucky). But I have a few feminine qualities, and definitely lack the "macho" needed to enjoy footy.

So why do I need to be anything different? Why does anyone need to adopt a gender based role to be a "whole" and fully functional human? Why is some perfect balance of masculine/feminine the ideal that all humanity must strive for to create a perfect society that pleases god?

If all of us are free to simply be who we are in every way - and by free I mean that we are accepted as equal, valued and valid members of society - then we  will also be free to contribute all we are to the richness of humanity.

To demand that "men" be masculine and women be "feminine" is to deny the very character of god and all that we are as unique and wonderful creations.

I've seen first hand the tragic damage caused by forcing men and women into gender stereotypes. It's time to grow up, and become exactly as we are created to be.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Do I hate Christianity?: Part 3

I've been pretty harsh so far about christianity.

I've been honest, with myself, and also wanting to validate the pain and abuse countless millions have suffered at the hands of this religious system for centuries. It completely screwed my own life up, so yeah, there's still some anger there about even the most foundational beliefs, and especially how those beliefs are implemented.

Of course I know all the "correct" theological answers to my own complaints. I could argue against my own arguments quite convincingly!

I blogged recently about Brian McLaren's "levels of faith" and have spent some time looking at my own journey through this. Although I still have a lot of anger towards christianity to work through I am genuinely feeling a great love and patience towards those who fully embrace it's central doctrines.

As I read, meditate, explore and discuss all this stuff I find the paradox gets more extreme - I can completely understand why so many love christianity and find life and peace there, living out a "personal relationship" with God through Jesus (it's what I did for 45 years!) - but I can also see massive failings, delusions and escapism that all religions have at their core.

To even suggest to a passionate christian who has experienced deep intimacy with Christ, that what they believe is just one small subjective experience of an infinitely greater spirituality is nothing short of heresy and blasphemy!

To suggest that the whole concept of the christian god (or any god) is nothing more than a man made religious construct is to invite absolute disdain and contempt at best, and having your name added to a prayer chain at worst.

However, to see each other's spirituality as a completely unique experience, and to honour each others journey, is the best thing we can do. It frees each other to explore and grow.

The other day I was confronted by someone who was posting fundamentalist vitriol about various topics, and displaying the lack of compassion and "christ-likeness", shallow thinking and exclusivism that you'd expect. I found myself in a dilemma. Do I just treat them with forgiving grace and accept that that's just where they are at, or confront them in some way. I chose the latter, and was accused of not extending the love I preach. So there you go!

Still, I had to make the decision that although they were speaking out of ignorance, the things they were saying were destructive and damaging to many on a very personal level, and although there was nothing I could say that would convince them of that, by publicly challenging their views in a way that left no doubt about the damage they cause, I had actually acted in a far greater love than appeasing an individual's emotions.

Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he ripped the Pharisees to shreds.

So do I hate christianity? That's still a question I won't directly answer.

I hate religion in all its forms. I hate anything that separates and excludes. I hate anything that even vaguely promotes bigotry. I hate anything that says we are filthy sinners worthy of death who's only hope is the vicarious sacrifice of a man/god.

But I love anything that brings out our inherent beauty. I love anything that unconditionally loves us as we are. I love anything that builds unity. I love anything that speaks life and empowers people to be their unique selves expressed through love.

If christianity can do that, then I'm good to go. If it doesn't, then I'll expose it for the lie that it is. I'm sure I'll keep changing though, I know I am! Even the last few weeks have seen my heart shifting in many ways - letting go of a lot of stuff, seeing the deep levels of abuse that my spirit/heart received and it's effect on my life - allowing myself to feel things I'd always repressed, and also allowing them to be at rest, to be touchstones of empathy.

Living Loved is hard and wonderful, painful and joyful!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Common Truth

It's amazing how the further you go on this journey, the deeper you go down the rabbit hole, the more you unravel etc... the more you find deep common truths, and the paradox's of life, and that we really don't know much at all.

Although I no longer hold the basic tenets of christianity, there are still deep truths in it all, if we want to sift through it all, if you can be bothered. But then, our limited understanding, senses, world views etc. demand our labours, our passionate efforts to find some sort of truth we can hang our hats on.

It's easy to not partake in that work though. We love to find others who are "doing it" and just accept that they have found "it", and tag along for the ride. And there are countless rides to be had! Even in christendom there are so many conflicting beliefs, and when we open our eyes a little, we see the problems, so often jump off one ride and on to another, thinking it's better in some way.

But it's just another ride, in someone else's car. We don't want, or are fearful, to drive our own car - be responsible for how we drive - maintain the car - fix it when it breaks, or even get another one when it's beyond repair! (not sure how well the analogy works but I'm sure you get the idea, lol)

Dogma is the most damaging symptom of our spiritual laziness. It says "I have the whole truth and nothing but the truth and you must believe my truth to be accepted". It says "I'm right and you're wrong". It says, "my whole life journey is valid but yours isn't". It divides and destroys at the deepest level. It creates fear, anger, hatred. It truly is one of the most "evil" things we can do to ourselves and humanity.

When we refuse to see that religious systems, of any form, are subjective, we have embraced dogma at its most foundational level. Whatever your belief system may be - it's entirely subjective. It may be a very valuable belief system that embraces methods and disciplines that enhance our humanity and love, or it may be destructive, but if we don't accept that it's OUR subjective belief system, then we are ultimately responsible for the evil we see around us.

If your belief system does not embrace the core universal elements of love, unity, compassion and empathy, then you have completely missed the point. If you treasure your belief system more than the "fruit" of that system, then you have embraced the problem and not the solution.

I have no issue with whatever religion we may choose to help understand and live those core and common truths - we all need a "handle" that helps us personally understand these truths, but every single person's "handle" is different and subjective to their unique identity and experience.

You can even make the most beautiful spiritual practices into destructive dogma. So lets take the time to do the hard work, to recognise our tendency towards destructive spirituality, and encourage everyone to explore the only thing that truly brings life - LOVE.

(I hope I'm not being too dogmatic about this!)