i’ve been struggling with some stuff lately.

one thing is that i decided to write a letter to richard dawkins, author of the god delusion. i wrote it and it lives on our kitchen table until i work up the nerve to read the book and write more after having read it.

the same day i wrote that letter, i read a piece in an anarchist zine that seemed to equate right wing christianity and… christianity as a whole. and i was like, “i think i feel like i can handle this challenge. i think i can tell this person, who i already know a little anyway, about my upsets at the mass media’s portrayal of christianity as closed-minded, selfish, and cruel.” and so i wrote this impassioned email. and he wrote back. and something, i don’t even know what, hit my giant doubting button. no wait. nothing he said. but me trying to figure out how to respond.

how do i tell this person, whose calling is to be anti-authority, that there might be an ultimate authority… and that things still suck a whole lot?

and so i’ve been going through the “so much suffering, why why why?” thing… and the “what DO i think of god as authority” thing. and then last week i had that brilliant idea to skip out on the group where i can talk about this sort of stuff.

the second thing i’ve been thinking about is my greeting experience. and the way that it has become a kind of giant thing. and how i posted about it as a tangential bit to a post about the amazingness of giving vocal ministry for the very first time and it got put on quakerquaker as being about my greeting experience. and people from meeting still keep coming up to me and checking in. and i dunno… i am fine. my pride was wounded and confused for awhile, and i’m excited that some discussions are starting about how we greet… but i feel like i’m being treated like a victim of something… but when i start thinking of victims in this case, giant issues about poverty, mental health, and how to really be kind and respectful to someone all come up. and i don’t think i’m ready to tackle them. and so i am kind of grouchy about the whole thing. and confused. and i should probably have some more out loud conversations about it, rather than just stewing about it all and getting angry at people for caring about me. i appreciate the care. hugely. i feel a part of the meeting in a different way now. and i like that. i just feel like the person i’m worried about is the guy who i let in. and i hate that i feel totally helpless about him.

the third thing i’ve been thinking about is sex. and not in a pondering deep meanings kind of way. except then i start wondering if i should be. except then… i find that i can’t.

puck and i have a mostly-previously-unexplored poly-friendly relationship. and a few months ago, i started dating a very nice lady. and she and puck are also getting along well. and things are very cozy and happy. and i am a giant ball of hormones.

plus, i have apparently started getting hot flashes. seriously. boy puberty and menopause all at once. it’s fascinating.

(this has way oversimplified the whole relationship. i have been having many talks with myself and with others about how to do this relationship in the best way possible, and i’ve been praying about both of my relationships so much. and i am doing my best to be mindful and prayerful and careful and everything. but the point of it being in this post is that my attention span for deep issues keeps being trumped by my inner teenager.)

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i have been talking to puck about the lack of proselytization with Friends. but then yesterday they mentioned that it was odd i used a quote that talked about the importance of evangelization. i read something this morning from our meeting’s seeker’s packet (d) about evangelizing that i wanted to put here, because it explains it better than i am currently able to.

“What is critical is the personal experience of the divine and that is possible for everyone. It does not matter that people have never heard the word God or the name of Christ… If they have the experience of the divine and respond to it they are part of our fellowship. If they have not had the experience of the divine or have not responded to it, they are still part of the covenant and one with us. This is why Friends are not evangelical in ordinary ways. We have no Truth to bring to others like a product to be handed over. We are called to show that Truth has us and by example demonstrate to others that they too can be found by God within.”

that’s from “Dear Friends: No Creed is Not the Same as No Theology” by Robert Griswold. i am nervous some about the specific use of God (again with the whole “you don’t have to believe in God, and we will respect you, and you will be as right as us, except that you secretly mean God” thing that feels so hypocritical/provincial), but i think i really like what that quote means anyway.

from 10-19, in my paper journal:

“my thought for today is that maybe–
maybe the thing with religion is that– christianity is such a human faith- historical- with this person who Actually Existed. & maybe that’s why it has such a tendency to splinter off & become different sects– because each generation has a new idea of what a human would do. & maybe, in a way unlike other religios maybe, some of its followers believe that it has to continue to be accessible if it ever was to have existed. because why would jesus have been made human if not to be accessible?”

Published in: on 22 November, 2006 at 11:39 am  Comments (1)  

“the soul selects her own society” : or what i want out of a quaker blog, PLUS extra bonus material about rage & cubbie

about two months ago, maybe going near 3 now, though i’m not absolutely sure on the timeframe, i went to my first quaker meeting. i went because i was dissatisfied by my recent experiences with unitarians, my desire for a faith community, my desire for more spiritual fulfillment, and because my partner, whose aunt is a professor at a quaker college, said something along the lines of, “quakers are nice.”

that first meeting, two things struck me: 1) that the silence was really nourishing & 2) that i felt immediately welcomed and accepted by everyone. i have not felt that at any uu church i’ve been to. i haven’t felt any animosity, but i’ve felt like the outsider of a cool clique.

every sunday, i’ve found myself wanting to do nothing but go to meeting. the silence has continued to nourish, in deeper and more profound ways, and that welcome has blossomed into a feeling of genuine care. there is such a recognition that we are all seekers. i love that. none of my questions have been brushed off. everything has been thoughtfully considered. i feel young and new and naive, but that has come from my own baggage surrounding those things (and has not always felt negative) more than from the group itself.

in, i think it was holy silence by j. brent bill, there is a part about community as part of the spiritual journey, and how for community to work, you really have to know each other. and… i’ve always been very much about putting myself out there to people. sometimes i worry that it is self-absorption. and i think some of it is. but as i said in the introduction, i want people to be able to learn from me– and at the same time… i think i, um… kinda wanna be… eldered. if i understand the term correctly. i want the been there done that people to hold me accountable. that seems really scary and also… kind of selfish — take time out of your busy schedules to monitor my spiritual growth!!! (please?) but i want to give back. in many ways i don’t know how that giving back will be, but…

i was starting to write “i am prepared to give so much to this spiritual community” and i think that’s true, but the word “prepared” startled me, so i’m going to not quite say it, in the hopes that it will feel absolutely true soon-esque.

i might get defensive, i might get cranky, i might cry a lot, but… i do that with the things i tell myself, too. i hope you will be gentler, stricter, and truer to me than i am.

today’s paper journal entry (i have so much i’ve written in the past months that i plan to share, but… this is what it seems i should post today. still with the giant and scary.)

“i have been battling more stress in the past 2 days. it seems like whenever i view my home as a sanctuary– and sort of specify what that means, there is trouble.

but i have noticed that the things that have brought me joy while calm bring me some calm while stressed– though it’s amazing how much i battle that. there are times when as much as i hate being pissed off, its still how i weirdly prefer to be. it feels like a gift, like something i deserve to feel– even though peace and joy would actually feel better. but i feel entitled to my rage and in it, i seem to say that nothing should get in its way.

it’s interesting, because i’ve noticed this in reference to my alone time related anger. and so it’s like, ‘well, if i don’t et my alone time i should be allowed to be really angry about it.’

but my anger isn’t constructive– it’s teary and frustrated and full of desires to physically rip holes in myself. the alternative brings a glow to things. it shouldn’t be hard. humanity is so silly.

this morning & yesterday morning i didn’t get or give myself my precious solitary time. yesterday i was so tired and slept until after noon- not waking up until bonnie called. this morning i had a staff meeting at 9, which meant leaving at 8, which meant an hour to get ready and i had to print out some things, which took up the “spare” time that i could have had. but i have made sure to give myself time later — and yesterday […puck was] very accomodating for my need for alone time. hurray!

in wrestling with our faith tradition by lloyd lee wilson–
‘Peace comes not by the Pax Romana or Pax Britanica, or even by the Pax Americana, but by the rule of Christ in human hearts. Our best defense, on every level, is evangelization: promoting the true knowledge of Christ in every heart. That will protect us (and everyone) from the mugger as well as the invader.’

and you know what, i believe that.

but at the same time, i still think i believe that belief in christ can be corrupted to be the ’cause of all outward wars.’ because it has been used for that justification for so long. and those who are used to that belief and justification get tense and enraged– on either side of the battle, really. either ‘jesus, he knows me and he knows i’m right’ or ‘you’ve been using your jesus to fuck me &/or my friends over for so long.’

and it aches that that is what has happened, but–

the holy spirit is not solely the christ holy spirit. i mean– it is the holy spirit of which jesus talks, but it is the holy spirit of other faiths, too.

and being ecumenical within oneself might be an attempt to bridge those wars.

but– i have heard and it makes sense to me that the surest way to find the meat, the heft, the truth is to follow one tradition to its core.

but in our society, the concepts are so misconstrued & diluted that the words have become almost poisonous.

and so– does one try to save the terms and explain what has gone wrong– or does one avoid the words.

(and then there’s the way that i think that people who seem hardwired for non-religion have the same access to truth as those to whom religion is natural and ‘easy’– but then who am i to say that they do not know it but they believe in something holy.

they believe in something i find holy.

…)

and then there are the wars that have nothing to do with what word you call truth– the person vs. self wars. the world falling apart in tiny immediate ways that breaks down the sense of inner calm, that embraces all noises, cracks, and ugliness– unless it is directly happening to you. the war of the world not making sense in a physical, literal way, minor disasters that seem to shatter everything and the self that responds defensively with an attack at the self that should have either fixed the world so it wouldn’t break in such a way, or has no right to get upset about it.

i went to the bathroom and then the toilet paper roll fell off the wall. i decided to fix it, but i couldn’t find the tiny screwdriver. then the drawer wouldn’t shut. then puck wouldn’t listen to me. then it turned out that the problem was deeper than something that could be fixed with the screwdriver, because the part in the wall where the screw was is stripped of anything to keep the screw in.

thus, the end of the world, complete with loud accidental noises, loud on purpose noises, shouting at inanimate obkexts, grudges, self-blame, feeling ignored (after having asked to be left alone), inadvertantly tiny [voice], and tears.”

see, see, see? i want to show you all my flaws, and that scares me, because i don’t want it to seem just like confessional and now i am absolved, woo-hoo!, but instead… so that you know where i’m coming from, what seems to be stuck in shadows. who this is that is coming to your community and saying, “i need things. point me in the right way. don’t give them to me, probably. but just… make sure i keep looking.”

and… since i am fluffy and stuff, i have also been daydreaming about this next bit of this post, which is the 10 things that i think i feel like most people know about me, but that since i am new, the quakers don’t.

1) religion has pretty much always been a big part of my life.

2) marilyn monroe is actually kind of my patron saint.

3) i actually identify is not a boy or a girl, but somewhere in between and also outside of the two… but i prefer masculine pronouns. i have been on hormones for about 5 months and really like pretty things.

4) my father was a drummer (reggae, blues, and some other things). he died of a drug overdose on halloween 2002. it wasn’t really a surprise.

5) i didn’t actually realize i liked kids until i did my americorps term last year.

6) puck and i hope to raise kids in community in a few years.

7) anti-racist and general anti-oppression work is really important to me, and it is also something about which i continually feel very dumb, inept, and clumsy.

8) we have 2 cats, butter and secret. secret is very mean. butter is very soft.

9) i have a history of self-injury that i’m still working on.

10) i studied religion in college– this made me feel clever, stupid, bitter, inspired, and like i will never ever be an academic.