On Second Thought

What I think God looks like sometimes.

A friend posted on her own status in response to my previous post on religion.  We had a conversation there, which when I woke up the next day I felt needed to continue.  Mostly because from her perspective, since we don’t share the same friends, it appeared she was being personally attacked on Facebook by my posts.  I didn’t tag her and it was specifically something on my heart.  We talked it out on her post.  She made some great points, that made me ask her why she deleted her initial response on my post.  I think conversations are important to be had and witnessed.  If you know more than me, I want to know what you know.  Anyway, I want back to talk to her on her post.  When I went back, she’d deleted the status.

I thought about letting it go, but I think it’s important for religious people to know one, they are in the majority and two, they are privileged.

Everywhere I go someone is offering to pray for me.  People knock on my door and leave pamphlets pushing their religion and their God with fear mongering.  I don’t actually mention God or faith as I’m subjected to other people’s beliefs.  It’s weird to have someone tell you a grandparent is going to hell for being in a faith.  It’s even worse for someone to say you are condemned because you don’t believe exactly what they believe.

Sometimes, I’m moved to say what’s on my heart and I post.  I respect people’s right to believe however or whatever they want, the problem is this isn’t reciprocated.  I was minding my own business at a family church, when my cousin did an entire sermon about me while I was sitting there. Man, he tore me down.

Whenever people do well and I say congratulations, you really worked hard and deserve it. The person will stop me and say, “all praises to Jesus I can’t do anything without him.” Which is cool, but then they take it a step further.  There is a shaming that they are use to in their faith/religion that must happen if they take any ownership for the good that has occurred in their life.  So they tell me, I’m wrong for acknowledging them.  There is always this denial of power.

We are all powerful.  I am not sure how acknowledging someone’s sacrifice or hard work could be offensive.   Still, I’m often told, because I don’t believe what they believe I don’t understand how God works.  Maybe in their mind, God will punish them for being responsible for their own triumphs and failures.  I don’t really understand their faith.  See, I’ve read the book they are basing their lives on but a lot of what they say and practice doesn’t actually come from the Bible.

A great example of made of scripture was the definition of marriage law.  There was fight to keep marriage defined as ONE male and ONE female.  Biblically, a man can have as many wives as he can buy and afford.  A man can even have concubines.  So I’d argue, I have a pretty good understanding of what the Bible says, but not what people who claim to follow the Bible actually believe, or where they got their belief system.

In the past, I’d try understanding what someone believes by swapping scriptures. Eventually we’d reach the conclusion the person hadn’t actually read the Bible in its entirety and then, they didn’t actually know what to believe or what they believed.  Which just made things worse.

I am always seeking to be connected.  Debating religion with a closed minded person afraid of going to hell is the best way to make someone angry and end a relationship. People who are open to learning and evolving are usually already on the same page with me.  If they aren’t, they are NOT debating to win or reaffirm what they know… They are debating to test what they know.

I’ve abandoned some ideas I’ve had and I’ve helped people change perspectives, or clarify a point.  We are more comparing notes to see who has done more research in a specific area.   Most people who are spiritual like me, say they’ve never read the entire Bible.  They’ve read enough of it to understand it isn’t real and that satisfied them.  They are moving in their spirit and allowing God to inform how they should live.  Funniest thing, spiritual people tend to believe the same thing without a shared text.

I believe I’m open minded.  My friends span the spectrum.  Some are religious zealots while others are atheists.  I had atheists join me in blessing and saging my house.  They took it very serious and I felt honored.  I don’t make assumptions.  I say the same shit to my atheist friends I would to believers.  I’ve found them to be very spiritual people too…

And about atheism… One of my friends who is Atheist said he hoped God would forgive him for not believing if there is one, because it doesn’t make sense to him.  I told him God isn’t changed by our perspective.  I told him about the sham of condemnation.  He’s a good person and a lot of people argue it isn’t enough to be a good person.  I’d argue, you aren’t actually a good person if the only reason you are doing the right thing is because you are afraid of going to hell.

So I post about religious superiority, just like I post about racism. I don’t talk about racism to harm white people and I don’t talk about religious superiority to harm religious people.   I post to have conversations.  I post to share what I know and to learn what other people think.  I post for support because a lot of my friends are pretty open minded.  I post to test my theories.

When I was eating in Barnes’ Hospital’s cafeteria, while my dad was in surgery, a really sweet older woman joined me.  She said my respect was refreshing then invited me to her church. I wasn’t in the emotional space to get into why I wasn’t interested. She was so insistent she asked me to take out my phone and look it up.  I respect my elders.  I did.  And honestly, I’ll go at some point because I gave my word.

I know her heart was in the right place, but I always have to deal with being gay.  I worry about rejection because it’s real.  I fit societies social norms for how a woman should look.  If I don’t come out, people perceive it like I’m living a lie or hiding things from them.  So I always have to decide if I am going to come out, which is a very vulnerable thing to do with a stranger, so I don’t.

On occasion I use my fem gender privilege.  I don’t  worry about folks staring me down at church.  At the same time, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to church with a masculine presenting woman and people just sat staring.  On one occasion a woman made a huge show of  going back out of the bathroom and checking the door to make sure it said women’s.  Then the other woman on seeing her, told my girlfriend at the time, this is the women’s bathroom.

We joked about it.  But we were at a funeral.  I’m sure it was painful for her, but she says it happens all the time.  Another time, I want to a church a gay singer invited me to.  After we sat down, a woman placed herself two rows up on the opposite end of the aisle and just sat looking at us the whole service.  There were others staring too, but unlike them, she didn’t pretend she wasn’t.  She didn’t look away when we stared back.  We were trying to figure out if she was down and trying to hit on my girlfriend or trying to fight us.

I talk about it because it is happening daily. It’s been a struggle to find a therapist who isn’t put off by my orientation. My last therapist said she was ok with LGBT folks.  Then in our therapy session she confided she struggles helping lesbian couples.  Explain, she knows they are having problems because their relationship is against God.

What I didn’t understand is why she was helping lesbian couples in the first place.  Or why she was talking to me for that matter.  Especially after I specifically asked if she had a problem with LGBTQ people.  When I confronted her about this, she said she doesn’t have a problem with gay people, she doesn’t judge.

I personally don’t believe you can assist someone getting to a healthy space, when the majority of what LGBT people are dealing with is rejection and abandonment.  Like why would you even take lesbian couple’s money if you don’t share their relationship goals? How is that level of dishonesty “Christ like?”

People don’t respect my position. They tell me I’m atheist because I know the Bible is myth. They can’t separate the Bible from who God actually is. In fact, a lot of atheist friends use the myths of the Bible to validate their disbelief.  I kind of see that as a different side of the same coin.

Most atheist say they don’t believe in God because God doesn’t meet the expectations they think God should, based on myths.  I often wonder if they don’t believe in God or don’t believe in the Bible but having got to a place where they can separate the two.  I went through a period of atheism, but God was still being God and talking to me.

If a church is not affirming I’m not going. I don’t want to deal with the fall out when I come out.  I want to be in a space where people are accepting and loving.  Not looking for reasons to condemn others.

I am not joining any church where the Bible is NOT being taught in proper context. Proper context is… This is a great book to learn some life lessons.  Like, let your yes be yes and your know be no.  You don’t have to validate your position.  You don’t have to swear.  Let your word be your bond.  Not to mention, the Bible has some of the best poetry I’ve ever read.

Howzeneva it’s racist, elitist, genocidal, patriarchal, sexist, victim blaming (raped women are actually killed), fear mongering, rape condoning, incestuous, hypocritical, contradictory and outdated. Oh, and it condones slavery.  I’m black. Nah, son.

Sometimes, I’m like why am I even going.  Then I remind myself I am allowed to feed my spirit however I choose.  I remind myself that it’s ok to go to worship services.  I mean, I’ve gone to Buddhist sits. I love all kinds of religious practices.  Meditating helps me get centered, clear and free of over thinking.  Prayer allows me to be in a place of gratefulness.

I miss gospel music. I miss the energy of church and congregating with people.  It soothes my spirit to hear a choir.  I love people all singing together and feeling their connection. I love the rhythm and energy of seeing someone holy ghost dance.  I love seeing my elders playing their hand instruments, singing and clapping.  If I want to worship in a church setting I’m going to go.

I’m tired of people asking where I attend church, or if I have a church home.  I find that to be a really intrusive question on an initial meeting.  When I tell people, I’m not interested in church they start trying to save me. I don’t even believe anyone is going to hell or heaven. There are nine planets, none name heaven. There are earth boring machines being created.  They’ve already got some in operation.  They travel long distances, in shorter times than planes, right through the center of earth. So there is no hell beneath us.

They tell me I don’t understand what’s going to happen to me. I abhor fear mongering. I don’t want to be GOD FEARING. I don’t want to love anyone I’m afraid of. I don’t believe anyone loves me who uses fear to control me. I don’t think anyone loves me who seeks to control me. Come on somebody!

When my Buddhist and Muslim friends announced their religions, the person interrupting our lunch focused on me. I’m spiritual. I’m ok with it. They proceeded to tell me I was going to hell.  You don’t have a monopoly on God because you choose suffering and fear. You are not better than me.  You are not going anywhere I can’t go eating pork.

God is always God, no matter who I am. The God I know is unchanging. The God I know isn’t petty or insecure. The God I know, isn’t a narcissist always concerned about me loving someone else. The God I know, would never ask me to abandon or kill anyone I loved to prove my loyalty. Loving self includes acknowledging God. Acknowledging a spiritual reality calls me to make decisions based in that awareness. When I make decisions in spirit they don’t always work out well in the flesh.

Think of the people who freed enslaved people and were caught.  Think of Jesus if you believe in him or Paul, both killed. Didn’t they deserve FAVOR? Think of the people who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement. Doing what you are compelled to do because of your spirituality doesn’t always lead to a reward. You may lose your life. Your life might be a living hell. So this idea that if you are favored by God, life is awesome is ridiculous. People compelled to walk a spiritual path may find that path more challenging, illegal, alienating etc. You are not spared you are often given a greater responsibility.

My calling feels like this, writing right here.  Having to speak uncomfortable truths. Mine feels like, having to create safe spaces for spiritual people.  Which just so happens to give me a break from the craziness of false teachings. Mine feels like respecting that God will be God no matter what you believe, but knowing you will be freer knowing the truth.

My task often feels impossible, but I have faith.  My faith is challenged by people who only respond to threats and fear.  I’m loving, saying God is loving and that no one is condemned.

I am saying there aren’t any set rules but what is put on our spirit.  What is put on our spirits is as unique as each of us.  We all have  different struggles, callings and gifts.  God hasn’t condemned any of us.  Many of us are choosing to condemn ourselves and others.

Hell is not a place, it is a way of being after transitioning.  I pray people forgive their own selves and walk in their light.  Because I’ve seen that suffering and it is real.  Without flesh as a distraction, you can’t over or under eat, medicate, overwork, workout or all the other ways we escape the spiritual work.  Some spiritual work is required to transition in peace and exist in peace in whatever is after this.

LOVE IS LIFE. LIVE.

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