Just bitchin'

Faithless

Been bumping heads with so many Christians lately.

I find this odd, because I consider myself a Christian, and, even if Man invented religion and splintered it into so many sects that it bears no resemblance to its first and oldest emergence, the basic tenets should remain as touchstones for all.

In the trauma that is the Trump administration and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, however, a different kind of light is beginning to shine on my personal beliefs. This is of no interest to anyone other than myself. Still, I feel compelled to write it out.

Because that’s what I do when I feel the need for comfort or clarity or a clarion call.

So…

There is a sense of entitlement that pervades all major religions; a conviction that yours is the best of all possible paths to reach the highest spiritual destiny. It takes a certain amount of enlightenment to acknowledge that your private path is really only ‘right’ for you. It takes a certain amount of tolerance to understand that all the divergent paths that bolster millions of people and are dissimilar to yours, are still and always viable, valuable means of spiritual direction.

Many intellectually grasp this. Few practice it.

For most, the strictures of their religion are the guiding principles by which they try to live. No one succeeds completely, but, when faced with conflict or a major juncture of your life, you try to apply these principles. They form the part of you where honor and dignity and compassion intersect. How much effort you put into living according to these precepts when the chips are down is a defining aspect of your character.

There’s a lot of bad out there. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to know there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s hard to know that the only recourse you have is to set an example by holding yourself to your personal standards. It’s hard to realize you’re not the best example. All you can do is try.

The catch is, the people you see as reprehensible think they’re doing exactly what you are: setting an example of how they wish others would live.

I’ve been angry and confused and upset about the things people have said to me and posted on social media to me. These are people who think they represent the highest and best that faith has to offer: God’s law. They blast me with their Christianity and make it clear how sad they are that I don’t fall in line behind them and support their beliefs so they can be that much surer of those beliefs themselves.

It took a headline from the Associated Press in the wake of a hurricane to break through and shed a little light on my troubled musings. The oversized type caught my eye.

Black, white, rich, poor: Storm Harvey didn’t discriminate

And I understood.

I wish for a society that would treat people the way Nature does. Indiscriminate. Colorless. Shorn of faith and creeds. Equal. In a way that says all the outer trappings…the accents, manners, ethnicity, positions and possessions are ultimately unimportant.

That’s not necessarily the way God does things, nor Jesus. Not if you listen to the Christians who’ve been haranguing me. To them, there is…and SHOULD be…preferential treatment for those gathered around the cross at church every Sunday.

So maybe I’m not a Christian after all. Maybe I’m merely a person of conscience and spirit.

I hope so.

I think I like that better.

Advertisements
Standard
Just bitchin'

And To All A Good Night…

blogxmas1

I did something shocking.

I proclaimed, loudly and without the slightest apology: “Merry Christmas.”

I hadn’t intended to; it just slipped out.

Silence ensued.

I had committed the politically incorrect sin of uttering something un-generic at a time of year when we are all very careful to tiptoe about on religious eggshells for fear of alienating anyone who might not celebrate the same holiday that we do.

blogxmas2

I knew it the second the words dropped like leaden harbingers of impropriety. And then I decided I really didn’t care what others thought. I wouldn’t be offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Solstice, or any of the multitude of other winter observations, as long as the intent was to share joy.

I’m sorry to offend, but the term ‘Happy Holidays’ just doesn’t pack the emotional oomph of its more specific cousins.

So with all due respect…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…

blogxmas3

Standard
Just bitchin'

Mischievous Marcus and The Once-and-Future King

kingarthurmerlin

Shortly after informing me that Catholicism was a vampiric religion (see previous blog: Mischievous Marcus and Jesus the Undead), Marcus and I met again. But this time the discussion had more to do with folkloric legend than horror.

“Christianity is a fractured religion,” he began.

“Whatever it was supposed to be, it’s been shattered starting way back with a control-freak emperor’s obsession with forcing people to switch their belief systems. And the shards have filtered down, mixing with folklore and paganism until most Christians blindly follow what they’re taught. They’re good at reacting, if challenged, but most of them don’t know and don’t question their own religion’s origins.”

Considering the multitude of sects and creeds falling under the umbrella of Christianity, I could see where Marcus was coming from, but I was sure there was more…

“The emperor Constantine took a lot of artistic license with Christianity,” he continued. “Scholars say Jesus was born anywhere from April to November, depending on whose reasoning you want to follow, but Christians celebrate His birth on December 25th. Why? ‘Cause Emperor Constantine wanted to lure people away from the festivals surrounding the Winter Solstice. So…presto! Suddenly Christ gets a new birthday that has nothing to do with reality.

“And tell me if this sounds familiar: ‘Man, born of woman, with no mortal father.’ That describes Jesus, right? Well, it’s how Merlin the magician is described, too. And Christians, who refer to Jesus as their ‘King,’ expect a Second Coming. What does that bring to mind?”

I knew what he was going to say before the words left his lips.

“It has to remind you of the legend of King Arthur; resting somewhere, hidden from the world; just waiting for the time he’ll resurrect. Both of them…Jesus and Arthur are once-and-future-kings.

“Christianity is like a shattered mirror,” Marcus concluded. “You can see partial reflections everywhere a piece falls, but you’ve all lost the bigger, original image it contained when it first started.”

His smile turned wicked. “Maybe you guys broke the mirror because you couldn’t see your own reflections anymore…

“…you know…because vampires don’t have reflections.”

And somehow, Marcus and Christianity had come full circle.

catmirror

Standard
Just bitchin'

Mischievous Marcus and Jesus the Undead

tombforblog

Halloween seems an appropriate time for this tale…

When I first met my friend Marcus, he stared at the silver, fleur de lys cross depending from a chain around my neck, and gave me a mischievous grin.

“So. You’re really into vampires, huh?”

My brain processed his question on a few quick-fire levels…all literary.

Did he think I wore this charm because of the traditional powers attributed to it by folklore? A cross…and silver…. Both supposedly effective weapons against the undead? Or, was Marcus referring to the jewelry design which sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans? Was he drawing on the vampire legends of author Anne Rice and her ties to the same area that crafted my necklace?

Since I wore it because it was a gift from a loved one, neither supposition applied. My cat-curiosity gave him a sidelong look, inviting explanation.

So Marcus took it a little further, and immediately planted a firm foot on the path to becoming one of my most intriguing friends.

“Generally, people who wear crosses are Christians,” he stated. “That means Jesus Christ is at the foundation of your faith. And…” His grin grew wider. “…Jesus was a vampire. In fact, Catholicism especially, is a very vampiric religion.”

My bemused expression and the fact that I didn’t walk away, encouraged Marcus to elaborate.

“Jesus rose from the dead.” He shrugged. “Maybe if they’d pierced his heart instead of his hands and feet, he wouldn’t have. And there’s that whole bread and wine thing. You know…drinking the blood of Christ so you’ll live forever in him?” He gave a sage nod. “Vampirism. Pure vampirism.”

I forgave him the contradictions in his theory…that the cross would then burn and repel those who partook of this vampire religion, because it was, as I said, intriguing.

The second encounter I had with Marcus, he had another take on Christianity; a commingling of legends that I’ll pass on next time… But for now…

Happy Halloween!

warningcat

Standard
Just bitchin'

Human Hubris

halloweentrickortreaters

I know a couple verging on senior citizenship. They are professionals. They are well-off financially. They are parents and grandparents. They are educated and well-traveled.

They send me cute, little e-mail greeting cards at the drop of a hat. New Year’s. Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Arbor Day. Thanksgiving. And Christmas…assuredly Christmas.

But not Halloween. Never, ever Halloween.

They associate All Hallow’s Eve with Satanism…Devil Worship…Eternal Damnation…

They worry about me. Because of my Celtic heritage and the way I embrace a night of costumes and folklore and imagination. They have recommended their church to me in hopes that I will join and ‘find the companionship that has so enriched our lives.’

But I know what they’re really saying. The poor girl with the Welsh ancestors needs saving. And being the good people they are, they will not shrink from the task of hammering out that pagan streak of innocence; replacing it with their own particular brand of Christianity.

I was raised Christian. I wear a fleur-de-lys cross . (I guess my French heritage passes muster with them, but I could be as wrong about that as I am wrong to celebrate Halloween.) I pray. I donate to charity regularly no matter what my financial circumstances of the moment. I cry when animals get hurt. I believe in things that are eternal and beautiful. And I have fun once a year in a shivery, fake-horror, too-many-sweets way.

And these people who cringe away from Halloween, who endeavor to live up to the standards they wish everyone would adopt, do things that horrify me. Most recently they confided that they were sorry they had to kill raccoons that trespassed on their newly-sodded lawn.

‘We spent so much to have it all made nice. We just couldn’t let animals destroy it.’

They trapped and killed the creatures themselves. ‘But we said a prayer for our souls with each one we put down.’

Well, I guess that makes it all okay, doesn’t it?

They believe such action is acceptable, because ‘animals have no souls.’

Ah, yes. The hubris of the human race. Like a story in the news some months ago. After extensive study of the electrical impulses in their brains and comparison to synonymous paths in those of humans, it was declared that dogs are indeed capable of feeling love.

Gosh, really? Did you really need to spend vast amounts of time with extremely expensive equipment to come to that conclusion? I could have told you dogs feel love. And cats. And pretty much any creature you take the time to know.

The hubris of the human race. Again.

Next thing you know, they’ll be announcing that animals…yes, even animals!…have souls. But first they’ll have to prove that humans do, so there will be something to use as a baseline comparison.

I’m not sure they can. At least, not all of us…. Must be that rebellious, Celtic streak.

 

halloweencat

Standard