Why? Arg. (A rant and ramble) – Love Anyway Blog

Almost 21 months of this. Fast approaching 2 years. All this time with all this shit.

ARG!

Trolls. So many f’ing trolls, on the internet and in real life and just everywhere. Like in inauguration day someone gave out licenses to be an assbutt to everyone all the time.

I must have missed the memo.

Don’t get me wrong. Trolls are the price we pay for a free and open Internet and the right of free speech. If you are going to post stuff online at some point you’re going to have to deal with someone that just wants to play with your head like a kitten with a ball of yarn. It is what it is.

But since the 2016 election it’s more than just playing around. There’s some seriously messed up thinking out there being presented as viable solutions to real life problems.

Racist, bigoted, misogynistic, dangerous, messed up, dude bro, gun-licking, goose-stepping thinking.

How did we get here?

It didn’t just happen. People don’t just become that way because someone was or was not elected. There is a subculture that has been festering, spreading, oozing like fungus and the election was just an excuse for it to come into the light.

And ‘they’ accuse ‘us’ of doing the same thing, claiming political correctness is a mental illness (when in reality it’s just respecting people for what they are), claiming ‘we’ want full-blown Marxism and free marijuana for 10-year-olds and other ridiculous claims.

And ‘they’ blame Obama for dividing us, when in  fact we’ve always been divided, only now it’s louder. Talking heads on TV, podcasts, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags…

So very loud.

And the red ball caps and the white polo shirts and khaki pants and the chanting “blood and soil” and “lock her up” while carrying tiki torches…

And they say we’re “snowflakes” and “triggered” (mocking the very serious condition of being ‘triggered’ because of an experience that has given you PTSD or anxiety.)

And they say we’re going back to a time when things were ‘great’. But what they really mean is ‘great for rich white men’. Most of them not realizing that if/when we do reach that time again that they, too, will be left behind and subjugated by those with deep pockets full of large bills that they hand out to politicians for legislation that keeps those poorer subjugated.

All the while talking about civility while not showing any. 

I. Have had. Enough.

E. Nough.

I’m past political correctness, I no longer care about civility, I will not sit idly while the world my children will inherit burns and humanity is choked to death on our own fumes of division and hatred and out of control capitalism. 

Stop telling me “don’t stoop to their level” or to “love them into change”. They don’t care about love. Or logic. When did being a Nazi become an acceptable way to be an American? And when did punching them become taboo? Jesus called out the oppressors, he chased them from the temple with a whip. How can we do less because “kum by ya, by and by”? Are we to respect the oppressive powers or are we to help the least of these?

Quit hiding behind your stained glass and some misguided idea that the Bible means we let hatred and bigotry exist. We should be leading the way in overturning the institutions that push us all into the ground. 

Ok, rant over. Carry on.

Creation Guy

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth
many have questioned whether this was a good idea in the first place… (apologies to Douglas Adams…)

But in all seriousness, those first few words of the book of Genesis have become a point of contention among many in the Christian community and has spawned an entire sub-culture with Christianity that is referred to as Creation Science. It’s one of the most insane things…

The idea is that there was a literal 6-day creation as recorded in Genesis. That the literal 6-day creation can be, and is, proven through real scientific methods.

But the danger of this sub-culture is the idea that unless you can trust every word of the Bible as 100% literal and historical, if any part of it is false, then you can’t trust any of it because then none of it is true. All or nothing.

In other words, if you don’t believe in a literal 6-day creation, then you can’t be ‘saved’ because you can’t believe in Jesus either.

Right? I mean, seriously…

This sub-culture, or whatever you want to call it, I’ll keep calling that because I feel that’s the best description, is huge. So huge, in fact, that they built themselves a true-to-life replica of Noah’s ark. (Or so they claim, pictures of it being constructed clearly show modern materials and construction techniques.) Inside is a museum dedicated to creation science and it’s ‘proof’ of a literal 6-day creation.

I haven’t been there personally, nor do I plan to go (I don’t travel much, and even if I were to go to that area at some point, I wouldn’t give them my money.) But from the photos I’ve seen of the displays from others’ visits, it’s… odd to say the least, and dangerously insane in many places. 

The museum is the brainchild of author and Creation Science celebrity Ken Ham. Ham, with his staff, runs the ‘ministry’ “Answers In Genesis”. I’m not going to link to their website or anything, but feel free to look them up. Be prepared to go down the rabbit hole, though,  because like any sub-culture or cult (*cough* Scientology *cough*) they want to bury you with their writings and unquestioned all-or-nothing acceptance of what they teach. They confuse and muddy the water and make some things sound so plausible that you don’t bother to look things up yourself and soon you find yourself thinking “hey, wait… that could be… right?”

I recently encountered a member of the creation science sub-culture on our Facebook page. The original post was a quote about the Bible and the “ancient stories”. It didn’t specify which stories, but the assumption is the author is talking about Genesis and the other stories from the Old Testament. The quote goes on to say that the ancient people saw them as symbolic and therefore so should we.

And then comes Creation guy in the comments. I won’t share the thread, nor will I call the individual out by name. And with full, heartfelt respect, I don’t doubt his faith and I cannot say this individual is mentally ill or anything because I fully feel he’s very intelligent.

But he’s also fully misguided.

Like Ken Ham, and Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and others who are very sincere in their belief, Creation guy walked the same line and almost word for word from those authors’ writings debated me over the course of a week on why you HAVE to believe in a literal 6-day creation because if you don’t you can’t believe in Jesus.

And honestly, to me and most others, that’s just plain silly.

Silly, and honestly, childish.

I’m going to dig in here and just ramble.  So buckle in.

Once upon a time, I was Creation guy. Maybe you were too. Many years ago in my new-found faith, I dug into the Bible. I took one with me to work and read it on my breaks and trips to the bathroom. I devoured it. I read it cover to cover. Twice. Over the course of about 6 months. I read nothing else. I didn’t watch much TV. I straight up just packed it into my brain. I still have that Bible. It’s kind of beat up, but thanks to its patent leather cover and the nylon outer cover (with extra pockets and space for a notebook and pen) it’s still in one piece. I don’t use that NIV Life Application Study Bible anymore, having moved on to electronic versions that are freely available thanks to the Internet. 

But I was so zealous in those early days of my faith that I felt I had to do that, I had to read the Bible and I had to believe it word for word.

Literally days after I was baptized we moved from Iowa to Colorado. We took the recommendation of our pastor in Iowa and looked up a church in Littleton. Like our ‘home’ church in Iowa, it was a non-denominational Christian church of the Restoration Movement tradition. (A denomination that doesn’t call itself a denomination.) While there is a broad spectrum within that tradition, our new Colorado church was of the strict Biblical literalist variety. All the Bible is true, it’s all history, it’s all literal. 

And so I just accepted that view. And I too was Creation Guy. 

I took to the Internet and I shared that point of view and I debated people in online forums and chat rooms (these were the days before Facebook and Twitter) and I felt I was doing God’s work by telling people that if they didn’t believe as I did then they weren’t really saved.

There’s something about that position, that feeling, that you have this inside information that only a few people have, and therefore you and those few are the only ones that God really likes. And it’s therefore your mission to save everyone else with your inside knowledge.

And for that time, for those actions, I am truly very sorry. I doubt anyone will truly remember talking to me specifically, but I was really, truly, an a**hole during that time.

I wrote all that just to tell you that I understand Creation Guy’s point of view. And I can’t fault him for doing what he thinks is God’s work. I don’t blame him for buying into the Ken Ham creation science worldview. With hindsight being 20/20 I feel nothing but respect for him. He’s just been sucked into the cult and all I can do is hope he can get out.

I did. I moved beyond a face-value reading of the Bible and started to really dig into it. Into the original languages, the culture and politics of the original audiences of the writings. The archaeology and anthropology of the region of Israel and Babylon and Egypt and Rome.

I started to get a real sense of what the Bible really says. There is so much that can only be understood through the lens of the history of it’s time of writing. Genesis was ‘written’ by bronze age people with no concept of our 21st century. You can’t use modern eyes to understand 4000 BCE writings. Especially when the language was so very different from today’s languages (even modern Hebrew is different from ancient Hebrew). So you also have to look into translations and the techniques used to create them.

Only then did I get it. Or start to get it, I don’t think anyone will ever fully get it. And I began to move past being Creation guy to being Thinking guy. And thinking guy knows that God gave us brains for a reason. We aren’t meant to take the entirety of scripture at face value and throw out everything we can see and observe in the world we live in. God never intended for us to reject science and data in favor of stories about talking snakes and giant boats. Jesus told parables to teach lessons. This was a language the Israelites of the first century would understand. Likewise earlier Israelites told stories. 

And the thing about stories? They don’t have to be actual, historical events to be true. There probably wasn’t an actual prodigal son. There probably wasn’t an actual Good Samaritan. There probably wasn’t a mustard seed or lost coin or Rich Man entrusting his Talents to his servants. They are fictional stories that tell real truths.

If Jesus told stories, why would it be such a stretch to believe God the Father tells stories? The tales of forbidden fruit and a boat full of animals don’t have to be historical and literal to be true.

The Bible is true. Every word of it. But not every word is history. And the Bible contains the word of God, but not every word is the word of God. It tells the story of God’s dealings with the humans He created, from the point of view of the humans. Every word is inspired, but not every word is meant to be taken as inspiration. Every event is an example, but not every example is a good one.

The Bible exists in this world, but the Bible doesn’t define it. Don’t check your brains at the church door. 

On a quiet morning in January

I had made a resolution to write every day. To get back into the habit, to rekindle my passion, to study more and share my findings so I may learn from others.

Every day. I said I would write every day.

But then life happened. Or more specifically, the flu.

And my promise to myself got broken.

But that’s OK.

5 years-ago me would have said “well, I f’d up again, guess there’s no point in trying.”

But today me is saying, “every day is a new day, no one else really cares, so don’t be hard on yourself.”

 

So today I’m here, starting again. Not trying to push myself to write something deep and theological – much as I would love to do that – but rather just sliding back in and letting my fingers express what’s in my brain.

And right now what’s in my brain is…. contentment.

I’m not kicking myself for what I haven’t done. I’m not angry at myself for what I’m not doing.

I have 80s music on the speaker, I have coffee that I haven’t been able to drink since before I got the flu. I’m having some prayer time. I made a meme to post. I have my comfy spot on the couch.

I’m practically at church. And I feel amazing.

 

We all have rough times. If you’re at a place in your life where you feel you need to push yourself to do anything, where you feel like a failure because you’re not writing or creating or working or cleaning or whatever, please PLEASE don’t beat yourself up.

You can’t fix the past by beating yourself up in the present.

You aren’t going to go in the direction you want to go if you punish yourself for not doing it today.

Breathe

Rest

Try again.

 

Enjoy a quiet January morning.  Try again tomorrow. Or in an hour.

Thoughts for today

I am getting in the habit of sharing with you every day. Don’t know how many of you are reading these posts, but I am enjoying writing again. I promise they won’t all be this free-form mind-dump kind of posts. I have some ideas (and some long-abandoned drafts) to share in the coming weeks and months. But for now I am just trying to get into the habit again and sometimes that means just opening the editor and see what comes out.

I always want to be encouraging here. But sometimes it’s really hard not to go a little negative when talking about the stuff going on in our governments and our churches and cities and even in our homes. The world seems out of control. And to be honest, for most of us, it really really is. I have no control over what the President of the United States does and says (tweets!) I have no control over the guy who admitted to sexually assaulting a young girl in front of his church and instead of being fired he was applauded. For breaking the law, he was given an ovation.

So what can I do? It all seems so hopeless.

I’m not going to lie, for a lot of that stuff, it really is hopeless.

But that’s not the point. The point is: How do I react to this pile of things?

I don’t have an over-all one-step fix. All I can do is speak from my experience.

And experience tells me this: Find peace. Create peace. Be at peace.

That sounds cliche’ and new-age-y, but it really is the best thing no matter what else you believe religious-wise.

Inner peace.

(What does this have to do with Christianity and the teachings of Jesus?  you might ask. Well, to be honest, I could probably put in a bunch of verses from the New Testament to support this position, but honestly, it’s how we’re built as human beings and I am speaking from my own experience, so take that as you like.)

Inner peace.

Peace of mind. Peace in your heart. Peace in that inner being, your soul, that is your real self.

But Allen, how do you get there? What’s the formula? What should I do to get this peace?

Well, again, I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard. It’s really hard and a lot of work to get true inner peace.

But it’s not the destination that is the important part, but the journey.

 

Before I get too far, let me clarify something…

I am more than fully aware that many of us, myself included, struggle with some very real mental health issues. And while we should still strive for inner peace, I understand that the way our brains are wired makes it hard sometimes. If this applies to you, I hope you are getting the medical attention you need, if not, please see your doctor right away.

 

That being said, it’s the journey, the attempt that matters. Even if you never get there, you will learn so much along the way.

 

So where to start?

My first, best suggestion is solitude. Not a lot, just a little. If you’re the praying or meditating type, you’re already on the right track. A few minutes, just to yourself. And if you’re praying or meditating then you’re already on your way! If not, if you don’t think you can pray or meditate, that’s OK. Just find a few minutes alone.

And quiet.

That’s the important part. At least to start with. No phone, no radio, no TV, silence. Or at least as quiet as you can get. If you have kids and pets and spouses it can be hard to get any real quiet, but as quiet as you can get.

 

I’m just off on a ramble now. We’ll talk more in the coming days, but let me throw this out to you – how do you seek inner peace? How do you achieve some quiet alone time in your life? How would you like to do those things?

Staring at a blank page?

I opened the editor this morning and spent a long time just staring at the blank page.

What should I write today?

And I’m looking at the news and the things going on and I’m tempted to just close it.

What can I say that will be helpful or educational or inspirational when there’s just so much…. ugh.

So I continue to stare at the blankness.

And it’s not just the page, it’s my life. Or so it seems sometimes.

My life is just a blank page.

Those of you who know me know that this community is pretty much my reason for being. I am unable to work due to chronic health issues. I have a pretty much constant headache that most days is a full blown migraine. It’s difficult to walk and if it weren’t for some help it would be hard to write or use the computer.

So I feel like life is blank, I don’t have a purpose. So I need to create one.

So I built a facebook page and a bunch of you joined.

And that’s awesome.

But there has to be more to life than this, right?

And maybe you feel the same way.

There has to be more than raging against a system that seems intent on keeping you down. There has to be more than dealing with bills and money and people and stuff.

There has to be meaning.

What is my meaning?

What is the meaning of life?

 

It’s taken me a long time to realize that there is no meaning to life

No meaning.

No reason.

God made us and put us here for no reason at all.

The theology is more complicated than that, obviously, and maybe someday we’ll get into that, but for now we’re just…. here.

So with no meaning what should we do?

 

Make your own.

Make your own meaning to life.

Make your own purpose. Create your own meaning.

Be your own being.

Find something that gives you purpose and do the crap out of that thing.

Yes, you still have to deal with bills and money and people, but with meaning, with purpose, those things won’t seem like such a mountain. They’re just chores.

 

Find the thing. Do the thing. Be the thing.

That’s your purpose.