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Religion versus God October 22, 2008

While I am not a religious person, I have always been a faithful person.  I pray daily and seek out God in the little places: in nature, in others, in my heart.  Before I act, I always try to ask myself if the action is aligned with my morals and values.  Above all, I try to be God-ful, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always trying. 

The most important values to me are love and kindness and I think all actions can be judged against them.  These values apply to our relationships with others, the earth, animals, and God.  During this election season (and earlier), I have been appalled by the hateful venom that has come from religious establishments in this country and from the lack of willigness to care for the less fortunate.

Reading blogs and listening to the likes of James Dobson, I keep hearing that the two most important issues for Christians in the election are protection of traditional marriage and unborn life.  I dont think either of those are bad values.   Marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and beautiful.  I also think abortion is generally morally wrong and I dont support it.  However, I also dont  beleive in a constitutional ban on gay marraige, nor am I part of the pro-life camp. 

Spewing hate towards the gay community and pro-choicers is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I really dont see how civil unions threatens anybody’s traditional marraige.  Are these people really that insecure in their marraiges?!?!  Civil unions are  not going to destroy anybody’s marraiges or corrupt your children.  In contrast, banning gay marraige is hateful and judgeful.  How about trying out a little love and kindness, and if your God dissaproves, then let him judge, not you.

Likewise, overturning Roe v Wade places a woman’s rights to control over her body (and her life) in jeapordy.  Taking away rights moves us towards a slippery and dangerous slope.  Nobody is pro-abortion, they are pro-choice.  If the pro-life camp spent the amount of energy and money they spent fighting abortion on adoption,  contraception, and opportunity for women, I think they would go much farther in reducing abortions.  In addition, they would empower women rather than dimishing their rights.

By focusing so much on gay marraige and abortion, Christians are completely missing the boat on far greater opportunities for good.  If Christians are concerned about murder of the unborn, they should be equally outraged about the murder of US soldiers and Iraqi citizens.  They should be concerned about the underpriveleged and struggling.  Providing universal health care is the decent thing to do.  Caring for veterans and the mentally ill is the moral thing to do.  Protecting the environment is being thankful for the gifts God has provided.

It is my opinion that the fundamentalist movement in this country doesn’t have much to do with God at all.  It has to do with fear and judgement rather than love and kindness.  I hope that the true Christians will vote in November (Republican or Democrat) with their hearts rather than with their church.  I will be, and I dare anyone to call me a heathen.

 

Wilderness therapy September 11, 2008

Filed under: God,happiness,love,Nature — onarete @ 4:21 pm

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.  -Mother Theresa  (Picture credit)

I am a life-long worrier.  I have  been busy worrying since I was a little kid.  Sometimes, I worry about important things.  Am I headed down the right career path?  Am I saving enough money?  Is our government protecting the less-fortunate, the environment, and our civil rights? 

But more often than not, I am worrying about really stupid, unimportant stuff.  Did I lock the back door?  Why is my bike making that creaking noise?  Am I going to make it to work on time?  I drive myself crazy, and I am pretty sure I make the people around me crazy also.

The last couple of weekends I have gotten to escape to the wild.  Well not exactly the wild, but I’ve gotten to escape to nature.  And the same thing happened that always happens when I get outside: I quit worrying.  My mind goes quiet and my body literally fills with joy.  My soul is filled with wonder and amazement, love and happiness, peace and spirit.  I’m not the person who goes to work, exercises each night, makes phone calls, runs errand, tries to stay connected to family and friends.  I just am.  And I am well.

Being in nature is our primal condition.  Animals, trees, water, mountains, deserts: these are all a part of who we are as humans.  And yet so much of our modern life is spent separated from it all.  An article in the Oxford University Press suggests the same:

Humans have spent many thousands of years adapting to natural environments, yet have only inhabited urban ones for relatively few generations.  Whilst modern ‘westernization’ has doubled our life expectancy, it has also created disparities between ancient and present ways of living that may have paved the way for the emergence of new serious diseases.  ‘As more people survive to older age, and as patterns of living, consuming and environmental exposures change, so non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer have come to dominate.’ Further, mental, behavioural and social health problems are seen to be an increasing health burden in all parts of the world.

According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, mental health disorders currently constitute 10% of the global burden of disease. In Australia, depression costs the economy AUD$3.3 billion in lost productivity each year. Estimates suggest by the year 2020 mental health disorders will rise to 15% of the global burden of disease and depression alone will constitute one of the largest health problems worldwide…The evidence invites us to ‘look outside’ for solutions to this global contemporary health epidemic.

Clearly, our health, mental and physical, is effected by our environment.  I would also argue that our spiritual health is affected.  For me at least God is nature, they are one in the same.  Which makes sense.  Our connection to nature is primal; our connection to God is primal.  A sense of our true self can only be found outside the city limits.

For me at least.

 

Mountains May 9, 2008

Filed under: God,mountains,Nature,seattle — onarete @ 5:15 pm

Photo Credit

Some days in Seattle the sun actually comes out, the horizon is clear, and you come around a corner and are taken breathless by the mountains.  I think everybody has a landscape that they identify deeply with: the desert, the ocean, a river, dense forest.  For me, it is the mountains.

I’ll be stuck in traffic on the I-5, anxious and disconnected and suddenly, where there is normally gray, there will be a jagged, snow covered peak.  It is like a punch in the stomache, a slap to the face that brings me back.  Mountains are humbling, and mysterious, and deeply spiritual.  Their tops were home to the gods of the Greeks, the Norse, and the Iranians.  The sense was that mountains held spiritual significance because they were higher and closer to nature and to the gods.  I dont see the mountains as homes to gods, but rather as God.  That god might be vengeful and powerful, but always beautiful and demanding of respect.  A mountain can also be peace; it has been for me.

 

Thursday April 10, 2008

Filed under: God,love — onarete @ 10:13 pm

The Dalai Lama is in Seattle.  It seems like a good day to say a prayer….

Photo Credit