Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why is faith good?

Spousie & I watched the movie "Religulous" this past weekend. It was great. I had to pause it at one point I was laughing so hard; then I had to rewind it to catch what I had missed. It's filmed documentary style, portraying comedian/talk-show host/social & political commentator/author Bill Maher. He was exploring religious extremism.

He said some really good things. I had to watch parts of it again to get them verbatim.

The following struck me really profoundly:

"But why is faith good? Why is believing in something without evidence good?" -Bill Maher, in Religulous

As a Mormon, this question would never have crossed my mind. And I never would have had an answer either. Which means it's a really good question. It challenges your assumptions about life. Why is faith good? It seems like such a widely held belief that it is just assumed that faith is good.

This causes me to think and begin to question, what other things or thoughts are so common that we don't question them? For example, I think of Caroline Myss asking "Why is sacrifice good?" in her CD "Your Power to Create". That was very eye opening for me. I'll have to comment on that in another post.

But, faith, why is it good? I don't think there is a real reason except for generational and historical experience saying that it is so. I think there is a difference between (a) having faith (usually implying faith in God) and (b) trusting in yourself. The first, faith in God or a god is trusting something external to yourself, whether it's the Holy Spirit, revelation, or the people/pastors/religious leaders of your church. Trusting in yourself is very different. As a Mormon, I didn't trust myself. And I was taught not to trust myself. I was taught to trust my priesthood leaders. (oh the signs of a cult!)

And I'm sure you've heard that lovely catchy cliche, "It's better to have blind faith that to be blind." I heard it on my mission. Nowadays I would challenge anyone who said that-because youu're still blind after all!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

December Confessions

Ok, so here's why I didn't write much in November and December. True, I was trying to crank out a draft manuscript for my writing class. I also had discovered www.hulu.com a website from which you can watch a lot of movies or tv shows online.

My spouse introduced me to "Firefly" and I was hooked. Yes, I can say I'm a fan of Sci-fi, and this was probably the best I have seen EVER. There are only 14 episodes, but the gang got reunited and created a movie "Serenity" (the name of the ship).

Obviously, we were good enough this year that Santa got us a copy of the movie. (Spousie had already bought the series, better quality for our 12 foot screen rather than on a 22 inch computer screen). I watched the movie at least 3 times (probably all that long weekend) and more. I am telling you, this is good.

Sci-fi without all the high-falutiness. They are cowboys on a spaceship. Go check it out. The characters, concept, it's all great. The best I have ever seen. That's why I keep watching it over and over. Trying to glean more, and understand why it's so dang good.

Letting go of more physical clutter

Back to some "I let it go!" stories about physical clutter. I was thinking about this package of wooden skewers that I bought, hoping to make shish-kabobs. How long have I had them? through 2 moves! Out they went!

I've gotten rid of 20-50 lbs of old papers and old catalogs at work. I almost have my cubicle cltter-free! Almost! Paper comes in faster than I can get it out. But I am working on it. Having a messy desk, like I currently do, drives me crazy. I am asked to keep a lot of things, but I sure chuck stuff when I can!

I now have a desk organizer-type object for my desk. I currently am needing to print off a lot of things, and hold on to them for a day or two. In an effort to stay organized and prevent stacks of paper on my desk I ordered this object that holds papers/files vertically. While it is big and a bit clunky, I still love the fact that I'll be able to keep my papers vertical rather than horizontal! I also grabbed the clothes out of my closet that I need to drop off at Goodwill or Saver's when I get a chance.

Happy letting go and getting rid of stuff!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Commuter Kindness - Share the Love

As I've been driving to work this week, I've really been trying to focus on being KIND. I noticed I was getting too serious about my commute (i.e. stressed while driving). I don't want to be the type of driver that rides the bumper of the car in front of me, for the mere fact that I couldn't stand to have anyone pull in front of me.

So this week I've focused on being a kind driver. I've noticed other drivers being kind, and I want to continue and grow that feeling. I've been a little more gracious about letting others pull in front of me when they signal they need to change lanes, and I even got a wave of thanks in return once. It made my day.

I've had a very trying week at work. I realized how fortunate I have been that there hasn't been snow to add an hour or more to my commute (which is already 20 minutes longer that I care to drive). With that thought, I really tried to focus on being kind during my commute and driving around town. There's already too much stress and tension in the world. I don't need to add to my own levels, or contribute to it in the world. I'm trying to share kindness instead.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Danger of Absolutist Thinking

Ok. Last post I talked about absolutist thinking. In the following days I found 2 examples (unfortunately, both were religion/God-based) that set me off and have me writing trying to explain why Absolutist thinking can be a bad and potentially (very) dangerous thing.

First example: I was getting the oil changed in my car. In the waiting room I heard an ad on the tv that said something like, "The only real way to effect change in your life is to accept God's will for you. Contact Pastor Blah Blah Blah to learn how." Oh really! The only way to make change in my life. Well, that's nice for Pastor Blah Blah Blah. He can make money because through him, I can access God, and that's the only way to create change in my life.
Huh. Turning away from trying to live out God's will for me has actually been the largest change factor in my life.

Second example (later that same morning): I read an article in my local paper where they were talking up this new program called "Every Man's Battle for Purity". I guess I was put off more by the picture they used and how they wrote about the issue.

The picture is of a military camoflauge colored T-shirt (with a dog tag, to entice you to join their boot camp). On it, under the words "Every Man's Battle for Purity" is the phrase "Live Pure or Die".

Ok. I about puked when I read that. Not really, but I seriously swallowed hard and maybe almost choked. Maybe it's a gut reaction from growing up having thoughts like that repeated so often that I accepted them as truth. But, HELL!!! Live pure, or DIE??? Who defines "pure"? It sounds like one of those words with an absolutist ring to it: Pure--either you are or you aren't. If you aren't--well, I guess you might as well kill yourself. This is Shit! Sorry to be so blunt--but I've heard such things growing up Mormon. 'It's better to die than to lose your virtue.' I'm waking up and realizing that we live in a very TOXIC society that keeps sending out very mixed messages that are absolutist in tone, and are very unforgiving and brutle.

I'm not saying there can't be a time, place, target audience and purpose for this. I am not in favor of pornography, and I know there are millions of guys addicted to it. I guess part of why I was upset reading the article was that it didn't mention numbers, or the cost socially, financially, etc. that "impurity" causes our society. It was written based on a lot of assumptions that I guess the author assumed were widespread.

I also don't like the fact that it's a military theme. They need to use the term "battle" because then it sounds important, like there is a victory to be achieved. Purity (as I understood the article), meant sexual purity. I don't think sexual purity is an "achievement" or victory. It is something you deal with and face your whole life. And I also don't like the fact that "all men" (Every man's battle) need to be included in this war. Some men don't have this problem.

Don't we have enough wars going on? Maybe this is what that scripture was talking about "there would be wars and rumours of wars". Please. When are we going to hear some healthy (i.e non-absolutist, non-judgemental) messages in our society, especially about sex?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Absolutist thinking

Last night I had a 'shower epiphany'. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should either shower more often, or take longer showers. Be sure to let your mind wander rather than focus on scrubbing every grain of dirt out from between your toes, or obsessing about cleaning behind your ears.) It was a simple realization, but still kind of profound.

If you believe in sin, then you think in absolutist terms. (At least some of the time.)

Let me explain my line of reasoning. If you believe in sin, then you likely believe that you are a sinner. You likely believe that you need a savior to remove your sins. This is probably because you believe God is sinless, and if you sin (or have sinned) then you cannot dwell in God's presence, because God cannot tolerate sin or abide sin's presence (I'll have to find the scripture on that one. I'm not sure if it's biblical or book of Mormon stuff).

So if you believe in sin, and that God is sinless and cannot tolerate sin in the slightest, then either you're "in" or you're "out". Absolutist. There is no middle ground. You can't be a psuedo-sinner. You are or you aren't. That's why you believe in the need for a savior--to overcome the absolute of being sinful or having sins, to become absolutely sinless, and thus able dwell in God's presence. (I won't go into a discussion about "in God's presence" meaning in this life or the next.)

Hmmm. Makes sense to me. Maybe it's more Mormon-type philosophy I'm thinking of regarding God and sinlessness and how God and sin can't co-exist. But that's my background. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Feliz dia de los Reyes!

Ok, so I haven't lived in Spain for more than 9 years (it will be 10 this July!) but I still remember this holiday. Today is "el dia de los Reyes" in Spain. In English it would be translated, "the day of the Kings" which I guess in other Christian terminology is Epiphany, or the day that the 3 kings were supposed to have arrived to visit the baby Jesus and deliver their gifts. (This is where the 12 days of Christmas comes from--after Christmas day, not the 12 days before it! But I digress.)

So, I kindof like holidays. This was a fun one in Spain. I saw a huge parade with dragons and all sorts of things, loud music, and this was typically the day when people exchanged presents. I was told that it was a bigger holiday (in regards to gift-giving) than even Christmas.

So-enjoy the holiday, what's left of it. Maybe my gift to you was that I finally started blogging again! :^)

Word of the Year

Wow! Has it really been so long? October? Well, I had fun finishing up my writing class, and in December, putting in extra hours (to now total 40/week) at work.

Speaking of work, we had a work team meeting a few weeks back where we went off-site (which was nice just to get away; changes of scenery are important and necessary for me). We spent time digging through magazines and cutting out pictures and words so we each could create what is called (according to Christing Kane ) a "vision board". On this vision board are pictures, words, symbols (whatever!) that represent things I would like to do, accomplish, be, or have. It could be called a 'goal mural' or lots of other things.

Over New Year's break I started to assemble and sort my pictures further. I only had 8.5 x 11 inches of space, yet I had 3 or more square feet of stuff cut out. The space limitation was nice to force me to prioritize what are the things most important to me to be, do, accomplish, have this year. (Yes, that's more Christine Kane speak for those who are familiar with her work.) I slapped it together and in the middle is my "Word of the Year". Christine Kane advocates that rather than make a new year's resolution (which people often fail at or forget after a time period), to instead choose a word to focus on throughout the year. I like this approach.

My word for 2009 is: STRETCH!

My plan is to stretch my mind, my body, (as in exercise, or at least move and make my body stretch just a little bit!), my income earning capacitiy, my budget, my comfort zone, my writing abilities, etc!

I had originally been mulling over the word "complete" to remind myself that I am whole and without defect as-is, as well as to help me work on the 'get things finished' aspect of the word. But then somehow I thought of the word STRETCH, which is more inspiring and expansive. It allows, encourages, and nudges me to grow. And with a word like "Stretch" things don't have to be big deals. They can be little deals that allow me to strech my comfort zone, and grow in small ways that in time, lead to cumulative big things.

So I'm trying to stretch my body (did some yoga tonight [loved it!] which is on my vision board) and I am trying to write a little something every day. This may take forms as type-written stuff heading towards my memoir, short stories, articles for work e-newletters, blogging, or just hand-written journal writing. But I'm trying to engage in a little bit of that creative writing zone each day.

So we'll see when the next post pops up!