Humanism

My Journey (…still ongoing)

question2I like to say that I have always been a skeptic. But, I accept that sometimes our memories can be figments of our imagination. However, I did have questions growing up. I remember hanging out with one of my best friends when we were teenagers and questioning the things we were taught from the Bible. As a gust of wind would go by, we would laugh and say that God was going to kill us because we were asking questions about the secrets of his nature.

Yes, I had questions. But for most of my youth I was a devout Christian, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. My upbringing was pretty fundamental. I wasn’t supposed to go to the movies, couldn’t wear jewelry, no drinking or dancing and we basically became hermits between sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, only to emerge from into the light of day to attend Church and evening Adventist Youth (AY) sessions. All in all, however, I had a pretty good childhood. The comradery that is associated with Christian fellowship is a nice one at times, especially as a child and as I entered early adulthood.

Yet, I had questions.

I usually would ignore these questions or if I asked an adult, I was met with the cliché answers, “That is part of God’s plan” or “God works in mysterious ways.” As I watched people get sick and die, families being separated by divorce, and as things happened in the world such as war, famine and disease, I conjured up fantastic images of a loving god. One who was looking down and allowing all of these to happen so that we could look from the safety of our lives and somehow learn from these events. When they happened to me or my family, I just knew that everything would be OK, because I was cradled in the arms of a wonderful deity that had a plan for my life and these life events would somehow make me a better person and bring me closer to him.

Still, sometimes, I had questions.

I think the first time that I started to actually and seriously question my religious upbringing was when I went off to school at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL, USA. This was a historically black college and affiliated with the SDA church. Even though I was still following the dogma of my upbringing, I started to notice things. Hypocrisies, intolerances and untruthfulness on the part of the administration there ran rampant. Rumors of the women’s dormitory dean stealing money from the school. Pastors kids dealing drugs (my roommate) and personal incidents of theft of my property. I won’t even go into the black-separatist, black power (racist?) atmosphere of the campus. I was faced with a new question. If I was part of such a powerful, truthful and righteous way of life, why was I surrounded by such seemingly vile individuals (not all of course, there were some nice people there). Unfortunately at the time, still entrenched in religious doctrine, I quelled these questions with believing that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” and everyone was a sinner and….well you know where I am going with this.

Also during this time, I was really falling into a violent inner war with myself in terms of my sexuality. I went through some deep, dark depressed states, contemplating suicide and begging my heavenly father to save me from sin. My relief never came from above.

And now, I had even more questions.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

My bough broke when I was living in Atlanta. By this time, I had become disillusioned with my past SDA upbringing and had decided to “get saved” into the Baptist church. It was the easiest ticket to heaven I had ever received. All I had to do was say “Yes, I believe” and that was it. One Sunday, after listening to the Bishop, and during a musical selection by the choir, I was overcome with my questions. Why would God just love me for no reason, no matter what I did, who I hurt, or the like? I was so confused. I left church that day confused. I needed an answer. I was tired of living without answers. So, I did what any person should do, living in the 21st century. I went to the Internet.

Since then, I have learned that it is OK to ask questions and that if the answer is “Just accept it”, you need to look for a different source for your answers. Starting to look for real answers has wiped the mysticism from my eyes and I now see the thinks in a more puristic view.

I have given my story to let other’s out there know that there is nothing wrong with questions. It is when you ignore the questions and delay trying to figure out the truths or facts that you lend yourself to living with ambiguity and possibly never living your life fully.

Do not be afraid to always question!

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I’m so Blessed

blessed

I never really know what to say when someone tells me to have a blessed day.  Usually I just fumble out a courteous and obligatory, “thank you.”  On the inside, however, I really don’t like the term.  I know that sometimes people don’t mean anything by it, and it is just part of the colloquialism of the day, but it makes me uncomfortable. It also makes me uncomfortable when people say “I’m blessed” or when I see bumper stickers with the same sentiment or when I used to see it blasted all over Facebook.

One the contributors on my Facebook community page, Jayson Davids, made this statement, “We live in a world of duality. Where someone is happy, someone is sad. Where someone has abundance (Bermuda, N Am, Europe) someone has poverty (3rd world countries we exploit).”  This pretty much sums up how I feel about it.  Resources are being taken from others to create this comfortable, easy, every-thing-at-your-fingers world.  We see these “blessed” mega-churches, encouraging people to give their mortgage money, and promising more blessings.  Then the money is siphoned off to some larger organization or used to buy limos and private jets.  Why not pass your excess “blessings” on to someone who needs it? 

As stated above, this idea of being blessed usually is propagated by the people affiliated with religion.  They seem to believe that God has favoured them, because of whatever reason and has given them everything they need.  I often times feel that this is disingenuous.  My reason for these thoughts is that it feels like they spout this statement, while hiding the fact of the adversities and trials prevalent in their lives, and that happen in everyone’s lives.  Sometimes I feel like they only say these things in an attempt to placate their deity into giving them more things.  It is very egocentric and leads me to my next point.  How can someone feel so good about their God blessing them, while others across the globe say the same prayers, follow the same dogmas and beg the same God for “blessings”, yet are still suffering?

Just this week I read an article entitled, We’ve already used up the planet’s resources for the year In the article Lindsay Abrams states, “About 85 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that are overusing what they’re able to replenish, and 72 percent live in countries that are both in deficit and low-income.” So is this the plan of an all-loving, all-knowing God?  I would think that such an all-powerful being would find a more efficient way to dole out resources so that he can bless all his children.  Unfortunately, this imaginative way of thinking is more likely a way to exert superiority over another set of human beings. One must not forget that it just that one happened to be born on this side of the world, or to the right parents. Or maybe it is a way to forget that there are people out there that do not have, and allows one to go about their life living in a thin skinned bubble.  Will they still say they are “blessed” when their bubble bursts?  Of course we know the delusional answer to that will be yes.

I myself was born on the “blessed” side of the world.  I also live in a bubble, forgetting the other people in the world that are suffering.  This is my own personal item on my list of improvements; not to forget this reality, and to try and help the down trotted and overlooked.  I need to remember when I hear the words, I am blessed, that I need to work harder to help others with the resources that I have worked hard to accumulate.  Will you do the same?