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Posts tagged ‘religious tolerance’

God Doesn’t Hate Me!

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Contrary to popular belief…and maybe to some recent evidence that might persuade me if I were an individual who would ponder such thoughts…

But yesterday’s New York Times ran an Op-Ed by Nicholas D. Kristof about Religion and Women.

Kristof gives a great run down about the various ways that the major world religions have spent their time over the centuries putting women in the place of second class citizens, from excusing rape to demanding their silence to teaching that it was perfectly OK to throw acid in their faces for the audacious act of going to school. He points out that it isn’t a doctrinal message, this violence and abuse that causes oppression to be carried out in the name of religion. Biblical scholars, Kristof says, even argue that Paul never really said that women should always be silent.

So who is it, then, that decided that women should be shunned, used, or abused and have it justified by holy sacrament?

The men in charge of interpreting the holy law, or waging the holy war.

That makes my Pagan/agnostic bones tingle (or maybe it’s the Topiramate, who knows), to read about a speech delivered by former President Jimmy Carter, (whom, apparently I fall close to on morality tests, who knew?), where he stated,“Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths, creating an environment in which violations against women are justified,” and I think that hits the nail on the head of what has alienated me from religion for a long time, at least until I found Paganism. Women have long been cast aside as less than.

It reminds me of being young and being involved in church for the first time, and like all things I take on, I threw myself in head first. I wanted to do it well. But I wasn’t allowed to serve communion, even though my friend was (because he was a guy, of course), or take offering. I couldn’t lead prayer. If I was older, I was allowed to teach Sunday School, but for now I could work in the Nursery, rocking babies, like a good mommy in training.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it at the time. I have always — and this is in no way a statement of femininity or innate nurturing instinct — enjoyed other people’s babies (and then, eventually my own, even though it wasn’t ever my plan until it happened). But I didn’t understand the divide, and because you are a girl never made enough sense to me. Why couldn’t I pass a tray of grape juice around during evening service? Why couldn’t I read a passage from the Bible or give a prayer? Didn’t God think that I was just as important? Wasn’t I told that I was made in his image too?

No, actually.

Of course, a lot of things didn’t make sense to me, and my Aries personality and a youth pastor telling me, a 17 year old girl who had been tossed from home to home, working and buying her own way at a minimum wage job, that she had a problem with money and was greedy and a bad person because she didn’t tithe, began my Great Schism. And no I didn’t want to talk about it, and no, I didn’t feel like having it Mansplained to me anymore, by anyone. Not even other Youth Ministers that I had good relationships with.

I bounced. I might have flounced, but I was 17*, and while I was mature due the nature of my situation, I had a stubborn streak to beat…well…Hell.

I had to reconcile it for myself, and figure out why I wasn’t good enough. No matter how hard I worked or how good I was, I was never good enough for God.

To me, some 12 years later, that speech from Carter is like a breath of air. That little quote, that one moment in time (even, again, coming as permission from a white man), gave me pass to feel that my feelings of frustration during my time in the church were validated (but never relieved, because my whole extended family is Catholic, and I was the wayward Other…so…hence, the Guilt).

This brings me to The Elders, which sounds like something out of some of my favorite fantasy works. It is a real thing, made of Awesome, in that it is a Who’s Who of former world leaders, and comprised of many religious and spiritual powerhouses, lead my Nelson Mandela. Among the ranks are Carter, Aung San Suu Kyi, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, and several others. They meet with a silent moment of prayer, and have many goals, including not attacking religion, but recognizing, according to Robinson, “if there’s one overarching issue for women it’s the way that religion can be manipulated to subjugate women.”

While I find myself mostly outside of religion, I love the way it works, and to learn about the different kinds. I’ve also live three major world religions from birth to now, and know much about them not just from a college intro class, but from life experience. I love how people who get to the fundamentals of what their religion is love their religion without hurting others. And The Elders do that, and more.

With the formation of The Elders, and my big crush The Dalai Lama naming himself a feminist, perhaps organized world religions haven’t failed me after all. Perhaps there is hope that they can foster a place where women will be treated with love and dignity and respect. As equal citizens, because that is all I have ever wanted.

*Teenagers are not a monolith. I was, sometimes, your stereotype, the moody girl prone to over reaction. But, I was also the girl who had to adapt to many adult situations. Many teenagers are like that. Do not assume that teenagers are not thinking, mostly adult-like people, worthy of respect, despite what you might read eslewhere.

Observed

Perusing the book section at the PX (with mah new CANE!), as we are wont to do, I happened past the religion section, which used to contain all sorts of goodies, and is actually where I found my Pagan Book of Prayer that I have grown fond of.  This time, all the Pagan books are gone, and are now two rows over and marked “Occult”.

Hmm.

It used to be a very diverse section, which I thought was awesome, for being a PX on a military post, and was very representative of the major world religions, and the ones local to Korea.

Not anymore.

It is now basically all Bibles, in every available version (LYFAO/eyeroll out of your head warning on that link), and all those self help books that Annaham loves (just think happy thoughts and Baby Angels will kiss your ooo-boos away!).  I counted one book on Buddhism (Zen, specifically, none of the others), and one on Hinduism, which is the world’s third largest organized* religion.  One book in the whole two shelf section.  I may have seen one on Taoism, which was totally random and maybe leftover from how awesome the section used to be.  Not one single book on Islam, ya know, the second largest religion in the world, probably because only good terrorist kids and the President are practicing nowadays, so no need to inform anyone about it**. /headdesk

*According to Adherents, Secular/Non-religious/Agnostic/Atheist is actually third, but Hinduism is the third major organized religion.

**OOH-HOOO if you didn’t catch the snark there you are on the wrong blog.

Happy Mabon!

Have a most beautiful Equinox!

sgc_mabon_adI love the Fall.  Autumn is without a doubt my favorite time of year.  This year, being in Korea, we are going to get to have the first proper Autumn we will have had in five years.  Both Central California and Hawai’i tend to be pretty much the same all year around, so it will be great to see all the colors.  A taxi driver told me yesterday that one of the mountains nearby (I didn’t quite catch the name, but I am working on it) is beautiful in October, and that since I like to take pictures I should consider a trip up there w/ my camera.  Perhaps a family picture in the future…

Mabon is one of my favorite Pagan holidays.  The First of Three Thanksgivings, I like to call it, but this year it will be more like four, with Korean Chuseok all around us, and we want to celebrate accordingly.

May your Equinox bring balance to your life.  May you have abundance this Fall and find much to be thankful for as we venture into the great sleep that is Winter.

For those of you so incline, and to debunk the myth that Pagans don’t believe in prayer, I offer you this Pagan prayer for the Fall Equinox, from A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith (I have long felt that the Earth is not an “it” but a “her”, a Mother Goddess, so when I use this prayer I replace Serith’s “it” in reference to the Earth with “her”.  I have changed it here.):

This is what I know, gods of the universe.

This is what you are telling me

and this is what I tell you:

the Earth prepares for a great change.

Light and dark are equal today, but that will not las.

The Earth makes her way around the Sun

and takes us with her into the year’s dark half.

We travel with her

not in calm resignation,

but with wild anticipation of what dreams may be dreamt

in the night of the world.

May they be good dreams.

Happy Mabon, and Bright Blessings to you and Yours.

Merry Christmas

We will be out having Chinese food w/ our Jewish friend, Mazeltov Cocktail, today.  I may get in a new Twilight post when I get home.

In the mean time, enjoy the only Christmas song I like, and I hope someone out there had the good sense to have Birthday Cake for breakfast*.

 

*Back when I was a Christian we used to have Birthday Cake for Jesus on Christmas morning for breakfast when I would stay at my friend’s house, who was more like a sister to me, since her parents always had a Christmas morning for me.  My mom and I were on the outs for years, and my dad didn’t have a lot of money accessible and lived far away, so they always made a place for me in their home.  It is one thing I still like to do, even though I am Pagan now.  I like to think that Jesus and I would get along, and even if his real birthday would be another time, I would gladly have birthday cake w/ him for breakfast (in a bowl w/ soymilk over it) on Christmas morning, just as I am sure he would have some ice cream yule log w/ me on the Solstice morning.

a pagan’s thoughts on halloween

I love Halloween.  I love Samhain.  I love combining the two concepts (meaning the “new”, and what it has become, and the “old” ways).  I love this time of year.

I wrote some thoughts last year on the way some people tend to view Halloween and how it makes me feel.  I still feel a lot of that.

But in recent years, I have learned to use it as a real New Year’s Eve.  I want to make resolutions.  I want to put painful things behind me and move on from them, and there are many.  It’s a time of year that I like to burn grudges (literally and figuratively) and try to find in my heart forgiveness and peace.  I am choosing to let go of things that hurt me, and attempting to actively move on in a way that will allow me to heal.  I have learned a lot of tough lessons this year, about myself and people close to me, and I have consciously decided that no one can allow me to feel anything w/o my permission.  I have a right to feel what I feel and to my emotions, but I also have a responsibility to own those emotions, and recognize them.  First and foremost, when The Guy asks me how I am doing, “OK” will no longer be an appropriate answer.

And I will not allow others to make me feel bad or shameful b/c of who I am or how I feel.  They are my emotions and feelings.  Mine.  I choose to feel them and how to deal w/ them.  I will make no apologies for them.  I make no apologies for the person I am choosing to be.

I will not do this perfectly, b/c I am human.  I have let things hurt me for so long that I will stumble in this challenge.  I am OK w/ that.  I am allowed to make mistakes.  Professionals have editors.  I have the strength of the Goddess to guide me.

Samhain is a beautiful time of year, and special to me in many ways.  It is a private time for me when all the festivities associated w/ modern celebrations are over.  It is reflection and introspection, and time for me to commune.

I offer up some links of interest for your Halloween/Samhain reading interests.

This is an open thread.  Add your own thoughts or links.

ETA: Petulant has a great Halloween themed link round up.  Yay!  My favorite is how Halloween came to Germany just a few years ago!  Sweet or Sour!  I think The Guy will love the Zombie lore.

And have a beautiful and peaceful, and fun holiday.

Warmth and Blessings to you all!

OYD.

Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger

Tip of the hat:

 

To Christian musician Ray Boltz, whose music I enjoyed during that chapter of my life now closed, for coming out happily gay.  It gives me great joy to see that someone can both be comfortable w/ themselves and love themselves and still find a closeness to their chosen deity.   (more…)

Mabon– The first of three Thanksgivings

Autumn is my favorite time of year.  Hands down.  When I am living in a place w/ four distinct seasons I can actually smell it coming.  I love changing leaves, bonfire, the first chill in the air, layering my favorite clothes, and other things that I took for granted living in Michigan that despite my all encompassing love of Hawai’i I miss.  Hawai’i is not w/o it’s fall splendor (especially having a school aged child– Hello!  Pumpkin patch!), but I do miss jumping in piles of raked leaves and scarves and hoodies. (more…)

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