Did You Ever Wonder?

Did you ever wonder why some religious folks just can’t seem to take a step away from some of the most repugnant beliefs of their otherwise quite lovely and compassionate faith? Mind you, I don’t have an answer to my own question, I was hoping you might.

rage

Recently I was listening to an audio book by a lovely man of great charity and compassion who has done incredible good for disadvantaged people. Everything about the program to which I was listening was beautiful and moving – and then he said it. My personal deal breaker is when someone writes or says some version of “thank goodness God tortured God’s only son because God was surprised and pissed off that the very people God created aren’t perfect, and because God isn’t very creative or very bright couldn’t see any way out of this massive angry outburst (like, maybe, forgiveness) and so tortured that same son to death to slake his rage-filled fit and to show us what love is.” Sure enough, in the audio program I had been enjoying the deal breaker eventually arose and I had to shut it off.

Ideas like this one don’t even make any sense, and the fact that I could explain to you how such ideas arise, why they become popular, and why people are afraid to let them go doesn’t change the fact that I am mystified how any reasonably intelligent person would insist on hanging on to them. Much like hitting your own knee with a hammer and then deciding to stop, letting these beliefs go brings tremendous relief. It would seem that people get more pleasure out of hanging on to a misguided notion of “how things have always been” than they do from having their beliefs make sense – which makes no sense at all!

Are there similar things that leave you mystified?

Who are “They,” Anyway?

I am sure you know. We all encounter them in our chosen fields. They are the experts, the ones who supposedly are in the know and who may, if we are extremely lucky, deign to share their vast knowledge with we commoners.

They have a lot to say about you. They say you have a fractured attention span, that you prefer a short, Twitter-ish message length, and that you won’t take the time to read anything more than a few paragraphs long because you are unwilling and unable to do so. They tell me that means I should write in snippets so that you won’t pass me by and every day so you won’t forget me. I should be the written equivalent of a gnat, buzzing at your ear regularly but not long enough to get slapped.

I reject those interpretations of the people that read my work as insulting and unworthy of either of us. If I am wrong, if some of my readers are so impaired from participation in our fragmented culture, there are plenty of options out there for you. On the other hand, if what you are interested in is a relatively intelligent, relatively insightful exploration and conversation around what’s going on in our world then we are both in luck, because that’s what I feel led to write.

Moving forward, starting on Monday, I will be posting one to two times a week on topics that I think are important. There will be observations of popular culture, spirituality, religion, and contemporary life. I will do my best not to write eight hundred page essays, but I will also try not to give a topic short shrift. I invite you to join the discussion by commenting, and I will do my best to respond to all of your comments. Together, we can build something worth reading. I hope you will join me!

Becoming Comfortable with Change

My wife laughed when she saw the title of this post. She knows that my number one pet peeve is when a store rearranges its shelves. I’ve reflected on this, and determined that there are two reasons it irritates me. The first is that it takes me longer to find what I came to buy. I don’t want to wander around your store endlessly searching for things that, just one day earlier, I could find in my sleep. That’s the second reason I despise store resets – I know they are manipulating me, hoping that in wandering around searching for the things I want I will find other things that I will buy. What they don’t know is that on principle I never buy any extra items after they shuffle things around. Take that, you retail bastards!

We all resist change to one degree or another. It upsets our routines, or our understanding of our world, or our sense of safety, and so we push back. Consider the Buddhist teaching that says everything changes all the time. Some of those changes are so insignificant we don’t even notice them. Consider that dust settles constantly in whatever room you are sitting in reading this post, and you aren’t even aware of it. Other change we welcome. If you are sick right now, you would welcome the change of recovery. None of us get too upset that new mail comes to our mailbox regularly, unless it contains a jury duty notification. Then there are the bigger changes that we despise. Someone close to us loses a job, or is getting divorced, or receives a bad diagnosis at the doctor. Our world is turned upside down, and we cry out against change. How could this be? How could this happen to him/her/us/me?

It helps to work with change before a big change comes along and knocks us onto our heels. We can take a few moments at the end of our day to reflect on what changed today. Did we fill up our gas tank? Stop at the store? Get a day older? If every night we make a list of five to ten things that changed today, we will gradually come to see that change is constant. Of course, when we receive devastating news we will still be upset – but we won’t be asking ourselves “how could this happen?” We will understand that everything changes all the time, and that knowledge will free us energetically to respond to the demands of our new situation.