Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This is not my faith

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."
~The 1st amendment to the constitution of the United States of America.

Say what you will, but the important thing here is that his line, more than just about any other in the history of my country, had largely kept the body politic out of my religious life. Sure, it's hardly a perfect line, and yes, there are times where faith and religion collide like a pair of welterweight boxers on a trophy tare. But all in all, I'm not compelled to even embrace the trappings of a different faith like is still sometimes pushed on the people of other free nations like Briton and France or example.

Faith, no mater how you look at it, is a highly personal thing. Be you Pagan, Christian, Buddhist, Muslum or even agnostics or atheist, the choice to believe in a higher power, or no power at all, is not something that should be reached on a whim. Its one of the cornerstones of our humanity. Even in apathy, the decision not to care can shape how we interact with the world around us. I quite frankly hold the magnitude of this decision equal to that of choosing my spouse, and even now, I do not think that comparison is far off.

And to carry that metaphor a little further, like my spouse, my faith is, in many respects, highly unique. I generally call myself a Christian, and if asked, I identify myself as Methodist. but even within that relatively narrow and well defined field, I choose to apply the tenants of my religion in very specific ways, ways that may not line up with others in my church. My faith, like my wife, is a unique partner in my life, and one that compliments me fully.

It is with this in mind that I look with extreme sadness at the latest round of domestic and foreign legislation in various stages of process around the world. Uganda has effectively criminalized all same sex activity, with stiff and dangerous prison sentences awaiting those convicted. A american federal lobbyist has, under a banner of "save the children" and "force morals on the NFL", drafted a bill to illegalize homosexuals' admission into professional football (admittedly the document has next to no chance of making it to a point of consideration, but the fact it exists is point enough for here). And lastly, the state legislature and governor of Arizona are considering the final stages of legislation that would effectively province a "faith based exception" to standing anti-discrimination laws that would allow shop owners to turn away gay customers.

Lets be clear, there is no denying that the generic banner of "Christianity" has been a rallying point for ultraconservative bigotry since the colonial period, and in many instances, long before. That being said, the religions of today are mostly not the government endorsed, social institutions of generations gone bye. Faith now is about you and God, at least here in the US. Anything else beyond that is your choice.

While I do vehemently and ardently oppose all three of the examples cited above, what I need people to understand is that I am NOT opposing Christianity, I am not turning my back on my faith, and I am not embracing an anti-theistic agenda. I do not blame a religion, a faith, or even the concept of faith for what has happened here. I also do not consider this a fight along moral lines, and am hesitant to apply "morals" to this conversation. Also, when I call myself a Christian, I do not consider myself in the same group as any of the aforementioned politicos.

I am a Christian, but hate is not part of my faith. 

I don't want to take away anyone's right to call themselves Christian, and I don't have the moral, ethical, or spiritual authority to stand in judgement of another's claim of faith.

But I also am not beholden to the philosophies of another just because we both call ourselves "Christian". 

My faith is mine.

but please remember as we go forward in these conversations of religion and human rights, whatever I do call myself, hate is not my faith.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Something someone else said, and said well.

I have a friend who wrote something rather important today. And I would like you to read it. And to set the stage for this introduction, before I shove you out the door, I would offer a preface.

Mark Twain one chastised his readers by telling them not to seek meaning that wasn't actually intended in some of his works.

At the same time, "Through the looking glass" has often been rumored to be allegorical to a morally forbidden love felt by the author towards his teen-aged niece.

I once got into an argument with someone about the themes of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai", I held that the core theme of the story was the development of honor, and the plight of soldiers without a war to fight, or then their plight even when they had one. My opposite seemed rather fixated on the idea that whole point of the movie was the rise of the peasants and their ultimate victory over the bandits (with help of their hired guns).

I disarmed the whole conversation by saying "look, it's art, you cant take away from it whatever you want."

In the end, anyone effectively has the right to see whatever they want in art. I think it's safe to say we all take something unique away from most trips to the theater or the movie store.

But... what you take away from it also reflects on you.

I was not really surprised to find out that there is a demographic that saw more than just inspiration in the recent Pixar film "Frozen". In summary, a number of people (I am saddened to say) have accused the production team and writers of the film of forwarding a "pro-homosexual" agenda with the film. If you've seen the film, I hope you find that as painfully ludicrous as I do. One really has to wonder how paranoid and warped you are to watch a film like that and come to that conclusion above all others.

Yes, it is about accepting differences, and it is about the torment of being an outcast. I could go on for several pages about how you don't need to be gay to relate to those categories.

But I don't need to.

I would like you to read a friend's page for me. Not because I couldn't say the same thing, but because I honestly feel that in these few angrily composed paragraphs, Lisa comes to the point of the thing with all the painful, honest, heartfelt power needed to do this subject justice.

So, without further delay, I invite you to my friend's deviant art site, and ask you to read:

by Lisa Garrison