Posts tagged ‘God’

The Message in Easter

[ C ] Caravaggio - Martha and Mary Magdalene (...

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Matthew 28:1-10After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (NIV)

This Sunday I celebrated Easter at church. It was great. The Mr. Brewsters and I went to MCC in Austin. It’s the second time I’ve been. Lots of churches in Austin claim to be inclusive, but this one may be the first where I’ve actually seen gay and lesbian couples and transgenders free and welcome to worship. They are comfortable here, and it’s a loving, affirming environment.

Also, this is a true Christian church. The theology is sound. It’s not all over the map. It’s not new age. It’s not read Eckhart Tolle and the Dalai Lama and Deepak Chopra and believe whatever you want to believe like the Luby’s Cafeteria of theology — but neither is it dogmatic. And it seems to get the emphasis of Christianity just right. It’s about the love, the faith. We can debate and overthink the miracle of Christ until we suck all the joy right out of it, and that doesn’t make us any different from the atheists.

About a week ago a young man who writes his own very funny blog left a comment on a post of mine about Early Christianity, and he noticed that I seem to be concerned with women’s issues. He asked me to expound upon the significance of Jesus’ appearing to the women on Easter. And I think I’m ready to address that issue now.

First off, one of the things we know about Jesus and his ministry is that he was chiefly concerned with the “little people,” if you will. He ministered to people that his society shunned. In some cases these people were truly corrupt individuals and in other cases they were just people who were needlessly suffering.

Regardless of whether the person’s status in society was of his own making or simply a byproduct of blind misfortune, Jesus ministered to them all. He shook hands and broke bread with tax collectors and lepers and prostitutes.  If He were on this earth ministering today, He would be ministering to the gays and the transgender and the homeless and the crack addicts and AIDS victims and, yes, the prostitutes. Some things never change. Jesus said that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Women, in Jesus’ time, as they still are in many Asian and African and Latin American countries, were considered to be second-class citizens. Actually, that’s a fallacy. They were literally considered property, like cattle or children. That Jesus ministered to women and that some of his most faithful disciples were female should come as no surprise. They might not be listed in our Bibles as one of the twelve “chosen” apostles, but make no mistake that Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene were just as devoted to Jesus as any of the men. In fact, the women did not deny Jesus after His death; it was the men who did that.

On the morning that our Lord rose from the dead and the angel rolled away the stone, the women were coming to attend to Him.  This was woman’s work, preparing a body for burial. There is irony in the fact that the first eyewitnesses to the resurrection were women. This is because women in those times were not considered to be reliable witnesses. They could not give testimony in a court of law; it would not have been accepted.

This explains why, when the women obeyed the command of the angel and went to tell Jesus’ disciples that he was alive, they initially refused to believe. In fact, they would not believe the resurrection until they saw the empty tomb for themselves. And one of them would withhold his faith until he was able to literally poke a finger through the Lord’s wounds. But the women, faced with a rolled stone, an empty tomb, and an angel, believed. They didn’t question it. They didn’t ask for proof. They didn’t ask the angel how he pulled off that trick. When the angel offered a wholly implausible, insane explanation, they accepted the word of the angel without question.

God is the master architect. Don’t mistakenly think that the women coming upon the Lord’s empty tomb was by happenstance. The women were meant to be the bearers of the Good News, the most important and defining brick in the mosaic of our faith, the resurrection that is definitive proof of our salvation. What an honor, if you think about it. The last shall be first.

April 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm 1 comment

Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace

A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds

Image via Wikipedia

All too often what I see going on in the manosphere is a vilification of women, the flourishing of stereotypes without sound empirical evidence to back it up (i.e. all women are sluts, and this is the result of feminsm), and the same tired and stupid arguments being rehashed over ad nauseum by a group of people, some women but mostly men, who are all in agreement with each other’s biased viewpoints. These websites are one trick ponies written by men with their own rationalization warthogs.

No room for dissent here. If a critically thinking person brings up evidence or viewpoints to the contrary, then the blogger or the community resorts to personal attacks. It would bother me if I respected their opinions, but since I don’t I just see it as further proof of their single-minded ignorance, and, to some extent, stupidity. If you have to resort to personal attacks, then the truth is that you just don’t have what it takes to bring it. I don’t hate them. Beyond my initial outrage, it doesn’t even make me angry. It makes me pity them.

These men also aren’t self aware enough to realize that if you’re failing at relationships with women repeatedly, then the one common denominator in all these relationships is: you. The same rule applies to the females, absolutely. I’ve previously admitted to my own failures personally on this blog, if you regularly read it. I absolutely think that I bear responsibility for my failure to secure a long-term commitment. I own that. But you can’t apply that rule to the females only, and then go, “Look! It’s exactly like I told you; they’re all either harpy hags or shallow, slutty bitches!”

Well, actually, you could. But this would be a fallacy. Maybe the reason that these men aren’t more successful with long-term relationships is BECAUSE the women recognize that these men deep-down actually hate women and discount their contributions to society beyond their sexual market value and their ability to conceive and incubate a child. If that’s the case, then women are right to respond to these men as they do. After all, even the hottest youngest woman gets old one day, and fertility isn’t a guarantee, and no person likes being someone else’s slave.

Now I realize that I’ve seen a small portion of the websites and blogs that favor men’s rights, and probably not all of them are resorting to blaming rape victims and outright saying that a woman’s only worth is motherhood. There are probably a lot of guys out there who are bringing up some very good points about the relationship between the sexes. There are some guys out there that are probably writing smart stuff about legitimate areas in our society where men are getting shafted, real examples of misandry. The websites I’ve been to, unfortunately, aren’t it. Although, I will say that several men who have commented on this website have brought up excellent topics for debate. I thank them.

My advice to anyone who’s seeking to bridge the gender gap, as I am, instead of perpetuating it, or, God forbid, widening it, is to listen, seek to understand, be open and tolerable to other viewpoints. We don’t have to agree. There’s no law that says we have to agree on everything, but if you’re open and willing to listen, instead of outright dismissing someone on the basis of his or her sex, you just might learn a thing or two that you didn’t know previously. Someone might bring up a point you hadn’t thought about before.

My goal is for women and men to live in peace with one another, enjoy one another, sacrifice for one another, be selfless and kind and think about the ways in which we might fulfill one another and lift one another up rather than tearing each other down. That counts for everywhere from the battlefield to the boardroom to the bedroom.

Whether you are religious or not, much wisdom can be learned from an ancient prayer widely attributed to St. Francis of Assissi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

February 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm 22 comments

The Fruit, The Fall & The Plan

A screenshot from To Beep or Not to Beep.

Image via Wikipedia

Some of my readers seemed to get a little upset that I would say that birth defects or being born gay or transgender might just be a part of God’s plan. They mentioned the fall, when Eve and then Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One said that as he understood it God wasn’t in charge of the earth now.

Well, I think God’s always been in charge of the universe, not just the Earth. If not, then who is in charge? Us? That’s a laugh. Satan? That’s even funnier. God’s in charge right now. God was in charge back then. He may choose not to interfere on a daily basis or not to interfere unless we ask Him in, but make no mistake that God’s ALWAYS in charge. He can step in any old time that He likes.

I also stand by my statement that what we often perceive as people’s imperfections are a part of God’s grand design, a design so big and complicated that you can only see it from God’s perspective. Think of corn mazes and crop circles. You don’t know what you’re looking at until you see it from the air.

I don’t mean that what a lot of us would think of as diseases and defects are personally visited upon particular people as a punishment. That makes no sense. A little baby has done nothing to deserve fetal alcohol syndrome, as an example. I only mean that God purposely designed a world in which these things could occur.

Let me ask you something: do you really believe that God is so small that the mere eating of a piece of fruit totally thwarted his original master plan for the universe? That’s it. Us all-powerful humans learn the difference between good and evil, and all hell breaks loose. It’s back to the drawing board for God, like Wile E. Coyote.

No, the world is the same world that was created on day seven. The fall didn’t thwart God’s plan. But there had to be consequences for Adam and Eve’s actions. The consequences were banishment from paradise amongst other things.

What was Adam & Eve’s sin? Well, for one thing it was thinking that eating a piece of fruit would make them as knowledgeable as God. It was that arrogance and hubris. And for another thing? It was believing the serpent, taking the serpent’s word over God’s and assuming that God lies. It was failing to communicate with God and failing to trust God.

Why would God purposely create a world from the very beginning that included the possibility for error? Well, I’m not God, so I can’t know for sure. But I believe that there are three reasons. The first is so that we would learn to love one another in perfect love. We would learn that other human beings sometimes require help and care. We would learn compassion that way. When we show love for our fellow human beings that pleases God.

The second reason is that if God created a world that was all paradise all the time, then it wouldn’t really be paradise anymore. In order to recognize that you’ve got it good there has to be a corresponding opposite state of bad. Otherwise, good is just the status quo. There’s nothing good about it. It’s just what you’re entitled to as a child of God. Ho hum. Just another day in paradise.

Adam: Do you think God will walk through the garden again tonight?

Eve: Who cares? There’s no reason to talk with Him. We have everything we need.

Serpent: Psssssssssssssssssssssssst!

And the final reason that I believe that God created a perfect world of imperfection: so that we would learn to love God and to rely on God. The whole reason that the human race was created in the first place was to be in relationship with God. If we have free will and everything goes hunky dorey for us all the time, then there’s not much reason to be in communication with God. To thank him, some of you might say. But how do you recognize the need for gratitude when everything is just perfect all the time? That’s just the way it is. Why would I want to thank anyone?

If God didn’t want to be in communion with us he would have chosen, instead, to make us pretty dolls that he could just sort of move about the world, in much the same way that a little girl plays with Barbie’s dream house. Greek mythology often refers to humans in much the same way, as the playthings of the gods. I don’t think we’re playthings. I think we were meant to be companions. God didn’t create us just because he was bored. He created us because he was lonely.

I’m not so full of myself that I think these ideas are original to me. I’m sure that if I had gone to seminary that I could give you the name of at least one famous theologian who thinks the same way I do on the subject and can probably discourse on it much more intelligently than I can. What I’m doing is articulating my theology in a way that works for me. Hopefully, it works for you, too.

You can disagree. God made as many viewpoints in the world as there are people. The important thing is that we do think about God and speak with God and spend time with God and live our lives according to what we can best divine to be His will. But it would be a mistake to ever think that we can comprehend God’s plan for the universe, no matter how much time we spend reading the Bible…or how much fruit we eat.

January 14, 2011 at 1:22 am 8 comments

Write Something Happy

Two billion monarch butterflies (pictured) hib...

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Something happy.

There. I’m done. Please leave comments.

(more…)

January 6, 2011 at 1:05 pm 3 comments

Proof That Atheists Believe in God

Angry man

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I haven’t known that many atheists, let alone been close to them. But the ones I have known, frankly, didn’t seem like true atheists to me. They still seemed to acknowledge God’s existence. They just seemed angry or bewildered at God. They spoke of God and their frustrations with Him and their perplexity at the dichotomy of a cruel world and a loving God. They spoke of their disappointment and disillusionment with the God of their childhood.

Finally I have “proof” that atheists actually believe in God. An article I read yesterday on CNN is about a study on college students that will be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Students of all religious backgrounds were studied, and they reported having felt anger toward God. Not towards fate. Not towards the deck of cards they were dealt. Not towards The Force. Not towards Xenu. Towards God.

I ask you, logically, how do you experience anger towards someone who doesn’t exist? Well, you don’t. The fact is that whether you choose to believe that God created man or that man created God, God does exist for you if He’s real enough for you to be angry with Him. And anyone can start there.

http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/01/anger-at-god-common-even-among-atheists/?hpt=Sbin

January 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm 18 comments

The Post In Which I Eat Crow

A bottle of Hannaford store brand Dijon mustard.

Image via Wikipedia

Mmmm. Yummy crow. I will not eat the whole crow, but I will serve myself up a nice big gnarly piece of breast meat and chow down, carefully, with lots of honey mustard or barbecue sauce to help with the taste.

Remember my post on The Man Box, and then the one about The Bet? Remember dear old Vern? Well, after Kay’s comment on The Bet I rushed to old Vern’s defense pretty quickly, and I realized that something about the cynicism of the situation really bothered me.

I realized that I liked thinking that on some level Vern had been my friend and that he had genuinely wanted to look out for me. I realized that something about me really cherished that memory. And that, despite my nasty but truthful comments about his fatal flaws of vanity, narcissism, bigotry, and small town small mindedness, I really thought this guy and I had a friendship at one point. I liked thinking that someone was watching over me. Just like the old song. Some feminist I am.

So, I thought about it some more, and then I thought, well, I could “settle” this once and for all (not really; I mean, you never really know if someone is telling you the truth or not) by contacting Vern and allowing him to respond with his side of the story. Naturally, I did not tell him that I had written an uncomplimentary essay about something he did nearly twenty years ago and published it on the internet. Let’s keep that secret just between us guys and gals.

How did I go about performing this feat of achievement? Why, with Facebook, of course. It’s easy to find Vern on Facebook. You just type Vern and then Smalltown, Oklahoma, and he pops up. Amazing. And then you can email some guy who tried to get into your pants nearly twenty years ago. Gotta love the internet.

So, of course, I sent off my pissy email. And basically, it went something like how’s your kid and the wife, and by the way, did you really think your friends wouldn’t tell on you? That’s a really great way to contact someone you haven’t seen or heard from in years. I recommend that everyone show such discretion and judgment.

He responds with two emails. The first one is one where he says, basically, I’m not sure if I know you, but didn’t we work together at the physical plant at State Mental Hospital University? The second response, about four minutes later includes an apology in advance. It reads basically that he did a lot of stupid stuff in college, not all of which he could possibly remember but that if he ever at any time hurt my feelings that would really upset him. Also, he tells me he has a seventeen year old son and that he and his wife have been divorced for thirteen years now.

A sane woman receiving this response would probably just think, yay, I got my apology, but no! I have never claimed to be sane. I email him back, mostly smarting because he pretended not to remember me. Bullshit; I knew he remembered me! And that basically made me go all passive aggressive on his ass, by telling him that I would hardly say that he hurt me since that’s really making a bigger deal out of the situation than it was but that I think he’s a jerk because he tried to get in my pants when he had a fiancée and a baby on the way, and what’s more he made a bet about it with his friends.

I don’t ask him what happened. I just go right ahead and accuse him. I also recommend this tactic. Be pissy and make accusations and then fly off the handle with resentment because someone who hasn’t seen you in nearly twenty years might want to ask where they remember you from. I should teach a class in conflict management.

If I haven’t made enough of an ass of myself yet, did I mention that I also told him that he was full of himself and then added that I’ve met bigger jerks than him since then? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a proud moment. Jesus is smiling down on me from heaven. I didn’t come across as bitter, not at all.

Vern responds with a book. I mean the email practically had diagrams and everything. The friend (let’s call him Ernest (an Oklahoma joke for those in the know)) that I got my wild accusation from about the bet, because come to think of it, it was just the one guy, turns out that he and Vern aren’t buddies anymore.  And according to Vern this guy used to make up stories about him because he was jealous. Okay. That’s plausible.

Then he gives me a timeline of he and his ex-wife’s courtship. This includes the date of the original breakup, after which he would’ve been free to screw around, so to speak. He admits to being promiscuous but says he’s not proud of it. He then tells me when he and the girlfriend started dating again, and it was, lo and behold, the same month he graduated, the one when I turned 21, and it is not just plausible but in fact likely that he might not have even been together with her on my 21st birthday. They didn’t conceive their son until October of that year. The wedding was in January of the next year, and the kid was born in July. So, hmm, the timing for my version of events is all wrong.

He then goes on to say that he admits to using poor judgment in waiting until the last minute to make a move and that he thought about it often over the years and regretted how it probably made me feel. He swears on his Father’s grave (I’m not making this up, just reporting the facts) that there was never any bet.

Then he goes on to talk about how he’s been raising his son alone as a single parent and that he doesn’t date or “chase tail” and that his kid is an honor student who’s graduating in the spring with a full ride scholarship for vocal music and drama. Huh? A son in musical comedy? Vern? Didn’t you make him play football? He tops that off with saying that he’s raised his son “not to be like me.” What was that I said about small town small mindedness? Pass the honey mustard.

He apologizes again, even though, at this point I think we all know who the ass is in this scenario. He tells me he had a crush on me and  liked me because I was sweet and attractive and yes, he wanted to have sex with me because he genuinely liked me. I admit. It’s a novel concept, but sometimes people want to have sex with someone because they find the other person attractive and they like the other person.

So, now I have a dilemma. I can either choose to believe the story I originally believed, or given that his explanation is plausible and his explained motivation the simpler of the two possibilities, I can choose to believe Vern, or, well, at least give him the benefit of the doubt. So, I apologize. I tell him that I’ve been unforgivably rude, and that the truth about a bet or no bet is ultimately between him and God, and he shouldn’t really give a damn what I believe.

And then the emails fly back and forth, and we have a nice flirty time on memory lane where I fish for compliments about how hot I was back in the day, and I think I’ve been somewhat unfair to this guy over the years. Maybe very unfair. I don’t trust him entirely, but I do know which version of the story I prefer. Not enough to want to pursue something with him, although he left the door wide open for that and told me he’d love to buy me dinner to make it up to me. I got the last email at noon today. I won’t respond this time, but it started off with this sentence, “I did like to look after you and make sure you were safe.” Is it a line? Yeah, but I liked it just the same.

December 31, 2010 at 1:08 am 7 comments

Promises, Promises

As I Am (Kristin Chenoweth album)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s a musical on Broadway that got a lot of controversy over reviews for the lead that intimated that a gay man could not act straight. Kristin Chenoweth, his costar, quickly came to his defense. I LOVE LOVE LOVE  that she fights for gay rights. But let’s face it, is Jack from Will & Grace really convincing as a straight playboy? Maybe not so much.

But I love that she stands up for him anyway. LOVE LOVE LOVE that Kristin Chenoweth stands up for gay men and gay rights with no apologies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE  that she’s an avowed Christian who also stands up for gay rights with no apologies even if it costs her money or chances to market to the “Christian” demographic.

I think that all people, regardless of religion or sexual orientation or any fucking thing that we might be able to think of to differentiate ourselves from someone else, can relate to promises that other people didn’t keep. My former “fiance,” a supposedly gay man, didn’t keep his promises. The third man I fell in love with couldn’t keep a promise to pick me up on time for me to pay for an expensive haircut that was supposed to be his birthday/Christmas present.

More seriously, sometimes people actually promise to stay together for their whole lives, and then they break their promises. I can’t even begin to comprehend how difficult it must be to come to terms with that broken promise. It must be triply difficult to deal with that after many years together, many years beyond the two years that I spent with a trysexual, sociopathic loser that I am still not entirely over or willing to forgive. And that is my loss. Forgiveness is what God calls us to do in all circumstances. Why can’t I forgive the Rat Bastard?

That’s only my loss. It’s like the AA saying that resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. It makes no sense.

Broken promises are hard to forget but forgive we must.

December 24, 2010 at 2:09 am 7 comments

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