Apr. 21st, 2014

rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
It's not like I haven't written before about false dichotomies, more than once, but there are times I just get reminded that, too often, false dichotomies exist because the middle ground just doesn't speak up. Easter is one of those times. It's the same people doing it as usual, to be honest-- on one side are those who wield the name of Jesus like a sledgehammer into everything they say, as if every #Jesus hashtag is another entry in the Free-Ticket-to-Heaven giveaway and they are a WAYYYY bigger Heaven fan than all the other contestants so they're NOT GOING TO LOSE; on the other side are the ironically-holier-than-thou atheists who make jokes about belief in general as if only truly STUPID people would ever, say, ACTUALLY CELEBRATE Easter, who honestly aren't trying to offend anyone because they BELIEVE that all the sensible people they're talking to must agree with them about religion. I mean, that's just the random sample of the Internet I saw that gets me THINKING on the topic-- the issues and extremes aren't necessarily embodied by these PARTICULAR people, especially on Easter, and I don't want anyone to think that everyone who posted "Hallelujah!" or a slightly irreverent joke yesterday is necessarily one of these extremes, because, you know, it's Easter and you do those things. But I started thinking about it either way, and sitting in church I knew it was time for me to speak up on the religion topic, at least, again.

For some people, faith, or at least religion, IS an either/or thing. But that doesn't mean everyone's either and or is the SAME. And every time someone equates religion with Creationism I especially cringe. Gosh, I'm truly sorry if you think faith and science can't dwell in peace in one person's personal worldview, because they're both a part of MY worldview, and I can't imagine feeling forced to choose between them. Really, Creationists, when you see the wonders of the universe that science has uncovered, is it really necessary to reject those miracles because they don't fit the very narrow definition of "miracle" humans settled on centuries ago? Really, atheists, when someone believes in a Higher Power, is it really a mark of a Freethinker to assume this means they're superstitious, backwards, and anti-science? The biggest fallacy in this forced dichotomy is the idea that there's only one kind of Faith-- or one kind of religion-- or something. When people make it all Secularism vs. Fundamentalist Christianity, I wonder, what about the Hindus and Buddhists? Jews and Muslims? Pagans and Pantheists of various persuasions? What about the wide varieties of personal belief within single denominations? If someone says "I'm an atheist because I don't believe the world was created by an old man in the sky," I'm like, "Hi, I don't believe the world was created by an old man in the sky, either. I'm a Catholic Christian."

So let me tell you about me and faith. I've already told you I'm a Bad Catholic. But I AM Catholic. I AM Christian. And I DO BELIEVE. But for me it's not about believing anything to the letter, word for word. It's not a prescription, it's a relationship. It's a LIVING Faith. It's being open to revelation, to self-discovery and other-discovery, to understanding and to accepting-without-understanding.

I do believe in questioning ideas and dogmas and just-what-everyone's-always-thoughts. Questioning is how you incorporate what you learn, understand it, make it your own. I do believe in learning about many different ways of thinking and believing. Sometimes another person's faith will help you understand your own faith better. But this is what I MEAN by a Living Faith. It's fluid. You allow it to grow, to change you, to speak to you where you are in your life and personal development. It's not a stagnant set of rules or strict literal adherence to certain stories. There are rules, and there are stories, but they are guides, not Faith itself.

I mean, if religion was all Thou Shalt Nots, it wouldn't do me any good. I'm GREAT at Not Doing. It's easy for me to avoid violence and theft and betrayal and cruelty. Threatening me with hellfire if I step a toe out of line will not make ME a better person, though it might be just what some people need. But I'm the sort of person much more prone to Sins of Omission-- a person whose primary Deadly Sin is Sloth-- so I need to be inspired toward DOING GOOD rather than simply Not-Doing Bad. So I use my Faith to help ME, PERSONALLY, grow in the ways I, PERSONALLY, need to.

So my point is, there are many ways to do religion, and what is right for one person may not be right for someone else (and I'm aware that that statement itself may be WRONG to some people, but that's THEIR Right Way, and them telling me so won't change what I know in MY heart). I think we need to be more open about our own ways, to show that there isn't just one extreme or the other, to help those who haven't found THEIR way to see that it's not a hopeless decision, and to help those who DO tend toward an extreme to understand others' ways of believing.

So this is what I was thinking about this Easter.

Okay, admittedly I was also thinking a great deal about chocolate. And the birthdays of my children and sister which all happened this week so as to make a rather gift-filled day with cake and stuff yesterday too. Also, my sister gave me bongos for MY birthday, since she hadn't seen me closer to my birthday to do it then. I love my bongos. But my kids keep wandering off with them and using them in inappropriate ways (I mean inappropriate for BONGOS, not inappropriate for children and elderly family members!), and my husband complains if I play them around him. So now I need my own personal bongo-playing room. But anyway.

ALSO SPEAKING ABOUT MUSIC AND MY SISTER DID I TELL YOU PAUL MCCARTNEY'S COMING BACK TO PITTSBURGH THIS SUMMER AND I FINALLY, FINALLY, SCORED TICKETS?!?!? FOR MY SISTER AND I? I have now replaced "See Paul McCartney Live In Concert" on my Bucket List with "Hug Martin Freeman." Because that's how likely "See Paul McCartney Live In Concert" was looking there for a long time. BUT NOW IT'S JUST SHORT OF CHECKED OFF. Still have to wait for July to be sure. I mean, we tried to go see Ringo in concert once and he got laryngitis and cancelled. BUT I HAVE TICKETS AND THAT'S AS CLOSE AS I'VE EVER GOTTEN.


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