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Aug. 2nd, 2030



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Mar. 29th, 2009


Small ritual

Today I was sitting in on a Presbyterian church service for professional reasons. I haven't been to a church, particularly a non-Methodist church, in quite a while. The church my parents attend tends to be pretty cuddly-wuddly, and I had doubts that this Presbyterian church would be that liberal. I was correct -- the minister made a point of deriding liberal Christianity and inclusivist views of salvation. It was a little upsetting.

Mostly it was upsetting because I am not sure if I was meant to take anything from that message.

You see, before the service, I did my Universal Rosary for the first time. I didn't really have any set prayers or mantras for it, I just used them as a guideline rather than a counting tool, to guide my praying and my thoughts. I lit a white candle and closed my eyes to pray for a while before I left for the church service.

In the 'listening' portion of my rosary, I was a little disappointed at the silence with which I was received. I don't know if it's because no one was listening to me or because God had nothing to say? Or perhaps I am wrong to seek in this way? I don't feel like I'm doing something wrong, in fact, I really feel that I'm on the right track... I hope that if I stick with it I will feel like I'm more engaged in dialogue than in petition.

Talking to my boyfriend just now, I was reminded of this portion of St. Francis Xavier's prayer, which I will post here:

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well:
Not for the sake of winning Heaven,
Or of escaping Hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught, not seeking a reward;
But, as Thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord?

E'en so I love Thee, and will love,
and in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God
And my eternal King.

I hope that my small ritual will continue to reveal the love and worship in my practice, and that my fear of escaping hell and my desire to win heaven will not become the sole motivators in my religious journey.

Mar. 18th, 2009

pink blossom

Visited a "new age" shop

I visited a new age shop yesterday. It was strange to see so many things that were forbidden and 'evil' right there in plain view, in a place which overall felt happy and calming.

I picked up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita that was in the free books pile. Reading it has been interesting, but I don't have the energy to post about it yet. I've got an ear infection and I'm  not feeling too well.

I've also been looking into Chinese Astrology -- interesting stuff.

Mar. 6th, 2009


Prayer is magic?

I went to hear Rabbi Rami Shapiro speak, and while he was speaking, he made the interesting point that magic was a part of early religions -- human actions that are meant to change the will of the gods or the way of the universe.

And then I sort of thought that prayer is a lot like that -- we pray to God in order to change the will of God. Admittedly, we frame it in different terms: we hope that God will hear us, that she will have mercy and change her ways.  (I'm trying out female pronouns, by the way.)  But isn't that essentially the same?

Just some thoughts, as always.

Mar. 5th, 2009

god was here


While I've really always been interested in the idea of spirit/power animals, it wasn't until sort of recently that I felt one animal really making an impact upon me.

When I began this journal, I was having a lot of turmoil and angst over the thought that I might be becoming agnostic. I don't know if now I am more at peace with the idea -- it's been such a short time, and I don't know if I'll ever really abandon Christianity -- but I think I can say I'm very glad to have started down this path that I'm on.

When I was still so full of fear, I felt really visited and haunted by crow. My experiences with corvids have mostly been good, but at this time, when I thought of them, I was disturbed that such a creature might be guiding my soul. They eat carrion, garbage and roadkill, they are black and ugly, they carry bird diseases, they pick the eyes out of living animals, they make ugly noises. Add to that the fact that I am afraid of the dark, and crows are often associated with dark things and night-time... even though I think most corvids are not nocturnal.

However, as I began to read more and think about crow, I started to have a different image of crow and what it meant to me at this time. Crows are also associated with wisdom, with knowing things which are spiritual or infinite. Crows care for their families, and will attack en masse owls or hawks that threaten their young. They are good parents, and some sources say that corvids will also care for their elderly parents. From my experience, I know that crows don't always caw, but they will gurgle and 'purr'. They are associated with intelligence, and yes trickery, but also creation and giving. The faceless crow that had haunted me for several days was suddenly a feminine entity, guiding me and urging me to look past not only her own exterior, but the exterior of my beliefs. To look beyond my dogmatic understanding, to face with courage that which fears me and threatens my happiness. She was caring, providing, guiding, giving me comfort in the darkness by keeping me under her sable-and-obsidian wings.

Crow still seems near, but is less prevalent in my consciousness. I think that the days where crow seemed so obvious and threatening were there to get my attention -- like a mentor who intimidates so that we will be mindful of what they are here to teach, but becomes kind when it is needed.

I don't think that crow is my spirit guide forever, but is here to sustain me and keep me thinking in my shifting faith.

((mostly unrelated thoughts on my pet crow: I did have a pet corvid in middle school, who was well-loved and sweet-tempered, and despite his deformed feet and our kindness to him, several times he attempted to escape. Finally my father let him go in a canyon near our home while I was away on a trip. I suppose it was the most natural thing. Although my father told me that Edgar tried to land in a tree, but couldn't because of his deformed feet, and the thought of him hobbling around and being easy prey for a coyote has bothered me for some time. I suppose I might still feel a little bit betrayed, although I try to remind myself that it is the way of the world for animals to be eaten by other animals, and that I showed Edgar what kindness I could.))

Mar. 4th, 2009


A verse

The gospel  of John is an iffy source as far as Biblical scholarship goes... But it is considered canon and holy to the Christian faith. For this reason I think that this verse is relevant to my spiritual searching, because it is not so much the authenticity of Jesus' message that causes my fear, but the religion itself.

If anyone hears My words, yet does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. John 12: 47

Taken out of context, this verse seems remarkably comforting for a person who is considering the Christian faith as not-the-only-way. But you have to read the rest of the section. Ugh, context!

Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."

So Jesus won't judge you, but God will? Is the word that Jesus spoke a word or <i>the</i> word? Perhaps I should discard this because it comes from John and therefore is quite far removed from the real Christ? No matter if it was considered canon hundreds of years after his death?

More questions than answers right now. :\

Feb. 24th, 2009

white blossom

Is Jesus the only savior?

Is he?

Is explicit belief in Jesus necessary, or might we be included for our earnestness and goodness?

More thoughts on this to come.

Feb. 23rd, 2009


Fear of death; random thoughts

I am utterly afraid of dying.

Tonight I did a bit of reading on Near Death Experiences, experiences of the afterlife or of being disembodied from people who have been dead or rapidly approaching death and then resuscitated.

I found this slightly comforting. I have, in my memory banks, a small collection of comforting sayings about life after death. There is no death, only a changing of worlds. Death is only a passage to another life.

Tonight I saw a book entitled 'Life after Life', which I found strangely comforting. I think the idea of death is scary to me because I fear change, abandonment, or not existing at all. I do believe that we go on after our lives on this earth have ended, but where do we go? To another plane?

Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes In Heaven, may be totally full of crap or may have never died at all, but I read the opening portion of his book some years ago and found it slightly comforting as well.

I find that I am most comforted in my fear by those who have reported meeting people they once knew in the afterlife -- loved ones who have passed on. Even one reported:

I saw a man who looked at me lovingly, but whom I did not know. [Later] ... At my mother's deathbed, she confessed to me that I had been born out of an extramarital relationship, my father being a Jewish man who had been deported and killed during the Second World War, and my mother showed me his picture. The unknown man that I had seen years before during my near-death experience turned out to be my biological father.

Is it true? Does it matter? In the end, I think that what I choose to believe can be valuable to me in this life. Dying is inevitable, and  there is nothing that I can do to avoid it. Like believing in fairies or unicorns or the other curious things which I cling to despite evidence to the contrary, perhaps life after life is something I can choose and embrace.

Perhaps I can erase the word 'death' from my vocabulary entirely. To see dying as an event, rather than death as a state of being.

As a beloved English teacher once told  me: "You only have two options: You can think that it's all in your own head and not know the answer, or you can kill yourself to prove that it's all in God's."

I'm praying for guidance on this matter. I know my boyfriend has been giving it thought lately, too.

Feb. 20th, 2009


YHWH and his consort?

"Elitists organize religion, and they like it organized around a temple.  Around them.  And what do they exclude? Folk religion. And in their criticism of folk religion ... They're the bad guys of the priestly, Deuteronomic tradition.

And yet, what's  going on there? The elitists are excluding folk religion, which is not the religion of the temple, not the religion of official clergydom, it's the religion of the people in the village. 

And whose religion is it in particular? It's mostly women's religion. They're  a voiceless group -- it's a man's world -- the priestly caste is entirely male. But wait a minute, she's the one who bears  the child, she's the one who nurses the child, she's the one who helps to bury the dead -- all of those hearth and home issues.  [...] These are women's issues... [...] And we now know archaeologically -- [she] had in the house images of these female earth goddesses. [...]

But I, the priest, in downtown Jerusalem, I'm going to condemn these kinds of practices and call them unacceptable [...]  But we have archaeology excavations near Hedron where there is YHWH and his consort. And she's that female Canaanite goddess." - Thomas Sheehan

I have been listening to Thomas Sheehan's lectures from a class at Stanford on the Historical Jesus. While in general Sheehan seems like a person who makes his contempt for Christianity so obvious that it almost detracts from his professionalism and his scholarship, he makes some interesting points about the historical climate of the developing Christian and Semitic faiths. 

I was quite struck by this quotation in particular. Something about the idea that the Judeo-Christian God could exist alongside the other images of folk religion ... It just hadn't occured to me. I suppose because the first commandment YHWH gave to Moses' people was, "You shall have no other gods before me."

While I suppose that particular commandment has been twisted about to mean various things to various people, it seems to be so unambiguous that I have a hard time believing that anyone would place another god or goddess beside him.

Did these ancient people whose belongings were unearthed truly keep a consort beside YHWH? How did they justify this with what YHWH said to the Hebrew people in the most basic laws he gave?

I don't understand this at all.

Feb. 18th, 2009

little zebra

The world so wide...

Since deciding I wanted to explore other belief systems, other pantheons, I am finding myself absolutely overwhelmed by the volume of information and belief that is present in the world. Folk religions interest me a great deal, but they vary so much over so many different locations, it would be boggling to attempt to understand them all.

I've been reading the blog Goddess A Day which is the project of one lady who has made it her goal to list ten thousand names of the Goddess. I love the idea, and I have no doubt that she'll easily come up with ten thousand names, but it is this that I find so overwhelming.

How am I to find what I believe, in whom I believe, or what my personal vision of God is with so many things out there in the world to muddle through?

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