Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Unchanging God

One of the great tenets of Christianity is the "unchanging god" - the same yesterday, today and tomorrow - his character is solid and is never indecisive, always full of love, mercy and justice. We can count on him because he is always constant, in every way.

The truth though, is a bitter pill to swallow, a pill that most christians refuse to acknowledge.

For those christians who see god as totally loving and full of grace, they have had to shed the idea of the "monster god" of the Old Testament, and to do that, there's a large problem. 

To make god really as good as we say, we have to cherry pick the bible. God should be good of course, and we know that, however fundamentalists and traditional christians are trapped in the idea that you have to adhere to the entire bible, which is impossible, so you end up like the Jews - creating a god in your own image, and a nasty one at that.

Even the new testament has a lot of the old nasty god in it, which we have to tiptoe around to make a much better religion than the bible presents.
In reality, the christianity that most sane people like is one we have constructed out of morals and ethics far superior to those of biblical times.

However we don't see it that way. We use the term "doctrines" to describe the new beliefs that we stitch together from these cherry picked scriptures. I spent years doing this myself, and could justify it all with "scholarly exegesis".

I think this is actually a good thing, as we outgrow the primitive tribalistic god of the bible, but lets just call it for what it is - we are creating/modifying god into our own image - an image that reflects our evolving spiritual understanding, morals and love. 

The day will come when we see the bible for what it really is rather than worship it as a god actually speaking to us. Perhaps the only hold that traditional christianity will have over people is the fear of the unknown - what happens when we die. This is the last bastion of fear that we can be threatened with, and the last thing we need to come to terms with before shedding the old and walking in real love and unity as the beautiful creatures we really are.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Meme Me

Memes everywhere - silly, ugly, bigoted, ignorant, wise, profound, cats, you name it.

It seems our world is slowly being reduced into simple bite size chunks of information. This can be a great way to attract our attention and provoke us to read, research and ruminate, in order to grow and become better humans. On the other hand, it does little to expand our knowledge and broaden our perspectives, as most people either give it a quick glance, instantly decide if it agrees with their current paradigm and perhaps click the appropriate emoticon.

I've resisted the urge to create my own for this reason. It's too easy to be taken out of context and for people to put their own spin on it. However, that's exactly what we all do with just about everything we are exposed to - we see it through OUR eyes and interpret it through OUR paradigm.

It's only when we take the time and are really willing to hear and see, exercising empathy and a willingness to be open to change and growth, that the barrage of memes can be of any real use. Sure, they can help as little reminders to things we already know and agree with, but not when it comes to something that needs to be assessed and processed before passing any judgement on.

We see political, religious, philosophical and social memes, and quickly judge based on the rhetoric that we are already embracing, rather than looking at the deeper story, the context, trying to put aside our biases. But the meme is not designed for that. It's designed to be a fast and often aggressive tool to fire up emotions, divide and polarise.

I am constantly finding myself pausing to reflect on the endless meme stream, making an effort not to judge and allow myself to be swayed by unfounded claims, unchecked "facts', fear-mongering and hate speech. It's not easy!

I now usually post memes with the intention that they will be pondered and perhaps used to inspire further research. I always hope that people will realise that one tiny meme does NOT constitute the entirety of my intelligence, wisdom, experience or biases and react accordingly.

Except for cats. There's always cats.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sup Jim?

I've been posting some confronting stuff lately and getting flack for my attitudes - so here's the story... 

I've slowly been leaving the fold of christianity, and in the process, posting heaps of stuff online (Facebook mostly) about the journey. I get very provocative, poking holes in doctrines and theologies as I continue to process, and get lots of "hate mail" because of it.

I make fun of stuff, I present radical views, controversial ideas, even some pretty offensive stuff. I stir up the pot of religion, no matter what's in there or who gets offended by the smell.

I've been accused of being arrogant, rude, judgemental, (and heretical of course) and I can't deny any of that. Sometimes I look at my comments and think "Jim, you really stuffed that up!". But hey, I'm human, fallible, growing and learning to "live loved". I am who I am, and I'm accountable, open, honest and strive for complete integrity in every area of my life. You can correct me and challenge me, and I'll always listen. And I've even admitted to being wrong and apologising (at least once I'm sure).

But what the heck am I on about? Be assured that nothing I say should be taken as personal offence (yes, I've been pretty hacked off with individuals who should know better, lol). I know all too well that each of us believes what we believe because of very real personal experience. No one picks up a belief system because it just seemed like a good idea at the time (well, hopefully).

So here's my biggest dilemma in terms of christianity (and religion in general). Do I simply say "believe whatever you want, it's all good". Or maybe "believe whatever you want, but if it affects other's negatively, then you should be aware of that and examine what you believe closely". Or perhaps I should present the whole underlying psychology and spirituality of christian theology as nothing more than a construct that meets deep human needs, being neither good or bad in itself, as long as we are aware of that fact. Maybe I should be brutal and stuff the consequences. Or maybe I should just quietly post pictures of dinner and cat memes.

The problem is I see the validity of each point of view. The thing that influences me the most, of course, is my own experience with the abuse that I and countless others, have experienced because of our sexuality. But that isn't the whole story by any means. Aside from that, millions
 of us have simply seen a far bigger picture than the one christianity paints. A picture that can't be "unseen" and that makes the christian world very small.

As many of you know, I loath dogma in any form and see it as one of the most destructive elements of human thought and behaviour. Even the philosophies and science I explore for bigger and better answers are always open to change.

I will not fit into any box anyone tries to label me with. And I hope for the day when all of us refuse to join a system of dogma that is in any way exclusive, denying our intrinsic oneness and unique individuality.

If you don't like what I say, then fair enough. But don't be surprised if I challenge you, and possibly be offensive in the process. If you can't handle having your beliefs questioned then they aren't worthy of your acceptance in the first place.

Life is tough and we all look for comfort, safety, security, love and acceptance - but this should never be at the cost of reason, logic, integrity and honesty in everything. We are worth more than that. We are love incarnate, but a species who, over countless generations, have lost sight of that, and have ended up creating endless religions to understand what went wrong and how to fix it. It's time to grow up!

And believe it or not, I do love you all - even you fundies who get up my nose!!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Infinite Paradox

Religion keeps it tidy
The questions
The future
The reasons
The past
The passions
The problems

Life is infinitely bigger
The questions
The future
The reasons
The past
The passions
The problems
Gloriously paradoxical
Beyond comprehension

And in the centre of the paradox

Monday, 22 August 2016

Bless me Jesus!

(I'm "testing the water" with this article - still tossing around the deeper implications and refining. It's almost part of my "theory of everything" lol, although any sane person knows that may never happen)

I was reading an article about Usain Bolt and his deep christian faith. It reminded me of so many other celebrity christians who give all the credit to Jesus for their achievements and praise God for his blessings when they achieve a victory in their chosen field.

I'm not discrediting Usain's faith as such, or any other christian who believes the same way. But I'm looking at the mechanics, as it were, of this faith and blessings business.

Every religious belief system has some aspect of this idea built into it - the idea that God "blesses" us we we give him thanks/praise, and that we should thank him when good things happen. Its a mentality of gratefulness, thankfulness and joy in what we have or achieve. Its waking every day to thoughts of gratitude etc, whether they be directed to the christian god or any other god. All the self help movements, "new age" philosophies, eastern religions etc, embrace the same idea in some form.

Why? Because it works!

It really does work! When we look for the positive, and live with that underlying "attitude of gratitude" (sorry for the platitude), we invariably live life better, fuller, more joyfully, and with more peace. It's just how we are wired.

So lets just put this fair and square where it belongs. It's nothing to do with God. He's not blessing us and answering prayers, he's not guiding us, or looking for our praises, or asking for our obedience in return for a better life. When we adopt an eastern philosophy or new age methodology, it's not the spirit or energy or vibrations or whatever, it's just the simple, practical way our brains are wired. Sure, maybe there is something about energy and consciousness and some deep god thing, but there zero proof for that - it's all just good ideas based on a few hints and theories - nothing more. And to say otherwise is simply proclaiming your beliefs as a religious dogma, rather than one possible way of applying universal principles.

Yeah, say it - I'm a party pooper - a killjoy! I'm on a mission to take the wind out of your most precious beliefs in the hope that we can see spirituality for what it is, remove all the vestiges of religious dogma, and work together in a way that makes us all better, loving people.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

I'm Angry

I'm struggling with anger.

If you are familiar with my journey, it may come as no surprise.

Here's some of what I'm angry about:
  1. Having to hide who I really was all my life - conform to a heterosexual norm
  2. Having to use every ounce of emotional energy I had to appear "normal" at the cost of everything else in my life
  3. The journey through christianity in the hope that it would "cure" me
  4. Investing 45 years of my life into a belief system that brought nothing but shame and guilt
  5. Realising that same belief system is nothing more than a man made set of doctrines
  6. Realising I've been manipulated and controlled by a religious system that did the exact opposite of what it claimed - and being completely blind to it all my life
  7. Deprived of ever having experienced a real mutually loving romantic relationship for 45 years
  8. Seeing the same belief system cause untold pain and suffering in millions of others
And that's not the half of it!

I thought over the last 5 years I've been sorting it all out pretty well, and on a intellectual level I certainly have. Even emotionally I've processed a lot of stuff. But lately I've discovered the anger is deeper than I thought. It's that incessant feeling of "I've been ripped off all my life and it's too late to do anything about it".

Of course I know all the valuable lessons I've learned, all the clich├ęs, platitudes and truisms, and intellectually I can reassure myself that it was worth it all. But I've unconsciously tried to suppress the anger - and even thought it was done and dusted and I could move on to a better life.

Nooo, I was deceived! As I research more about religion and its impact on not only LGBT people but humanity in general, I feel an anger, and a repulsion towards christianity (and ALL religions) in a way that's hard to describe.

Sure, I know there are millions of good loving people who bring their own love into a doctrinally bankrupt belief system and turn it around for good. But I'm still angry at the whole thing. I never want to set foot in a church again.

Yes, my understanding of spirituality is now so much bigger and all embracing and loving than I ever would have thought possible.

But I'm still angry - deep down angry. And I think that's ok. If I suppress it I'm really doing the same thing religion always wanted me to do. If I explode with it all, I risk damaging others. So I'm learning to express it, being aware that others could get hurt, but also aware that in sharing my hurt and anger, others will realise that they too have lived lives of abuse and deception that need to be opened up and drained like an infected wound.

Being "real" is something very few of us are good at. It's scary - to ourselves and everyone else. But I'm beginning to think that the world will be a far better place when we all understand what being real actually is, and we can do it "safely". (and that's a whole other blog).

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

5 Years On

It was 5 years ago today that Min died.

For those who haven't read my book or aren't familiar with the story, my wife, Melinda, died of cancer, nearly two years after her diagnosis. It left my son and I deeply affected in many ways.

Today we finally took her ashes to her favourite beach. It's taken a while for both of us to feel comfortable enough to do this. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but of course the memories all come back and I could see my son suppressing his feelings as only 22 year old guys can!

So in a sense I'm finally free from that part of my life - that whole era where religion reigned supreme. Where we struggled to make sense of our christian paradigms. Where we never spoke of the "elephant in the room" of our sexuality - at least not in any sort of reality. We were both victims of ex-gay therapy and the delusions of religion.

We both battled with our faith over those 2 years, as we sought greater anointings, deeper relationship with God, greater faith in Jesus and God's desire to heal. We fought hard and faithfully.

In the end Min just resigned to the fact that she really had no idea how this God thing worked, and I began my journey of deconstruction.

But meanwhile, life goes on. I believe her consciousness has passed on to a different realm of awareness. I have no idea what that looks like, apart from a few smatterings of stories we get from NDEs, and even then we have no real idea. But every soul has this sense that we are bigger than this flesh we inhabit.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Relationships With No Agenda

This is a great comment on love relationships. So simple and yet deeply profound, and more difficult to live than we would care to believe.
Full article here...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The danger of the "grace" movement

If you are a christian you have probably heard of the Grace Movement.

Of course, as with all doctrines, there are different versions, but we'll stick with the basic concept -  that Jesus died for our sins once and for all. This might not sound like a big deal, but the implications are that sin is no longer an issue, we are always "saved" and are free to live in a state of constant love and approval by God.

As an ex-fundamentalist I found the idea the only thing that made any sense. There were far too many holes in christian logic and reasoning, and the mentality of most christians I found to be one of wilful ignorance based on fear.

The Grace "revelation" (based on the writings of Paul) revealed a gospel of love - real love. Not the ridiculous conditional excuse for love that the church has pedalled for so long. I was presented with a God that made sense, one that really did care for ALL humanity.

The problem with this doctrine however is it requires us to rethink parts of the bible and how we interpret them. This has caused division and cries of heresy (of course) as people immediately forget the struggles of guys like Luther.

In the end, traditional christians can't handle the new doctrines because they are too good. They make a mockery of centuries of self sacrifice in an effort to be holy. It destroys the need for obedience to "the law". It negates the desperate cries for annointings and favour from God. In general, it creates havoc with nearly all traditional doctrines other than the basic idea that Jesus died for our sins. Beyond that, everything is up for grabs!

The big danger however, is that the grace movement leads us straight out the door of christianity forever! And that, my friends, is as it should be!

Christianity became superfluous, simply because apparently Jesus fixed up everything for everyone for all time, so nothing to bother about! From there it was an easy step to seeing that it was all ridiculous - centuries of manipulating a religion to make it work. And work it did!! It hit a niche spot in our psyche that cried for acceptance from a higher power, to find meaning and purpose. It worked like magic as it supplied a scapegoat saviour who fixed up everything for us as long as we obeyed the rules.

At that point, the entire structure crumbled for me. The emperor really had no clothes. We were all walking naked down the street, with those who had the eyes to see, laughing at our gullibility.

Sooo yeah, as I often say, I understand the needs that Christianity meets in so many, but for many of us it becomes redundant - just another religion that provides one perspective on the issues of life. Sure, you can pull gems of wisdom from the bible, and many christian "mystics" have helped us see greater truths that keep the ball rolling.

But its time to grow up. Not in an arrogant way that says I'm right/better and you're wrong/stupid. But in the simple fact that we are far bigger and better than any one religion, and its time for us to look beyond the narrow confines of ALL religions and begin the real journey of life and love.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Masculine vs feminine

(This is a repost from my Silent Gays blog)

One of the most confusing and misunderstood areas about sexuality and gender are the core concepts of masculinity and femininity. Even amongst LGBT people there is often confusion!

The general stereotype says you are either an effeminate gay or butch lesbian, and the other stuff is just too hard to understand.

One of the confusing issues is how we relate the body (physical gender) with the psyche (the mental aspects). Masculinity and femininity are fluid concepts that are not confined to one particular body. We all know guys who exhibit feminine qualities to some degree and women who show some masculinity.

We could define the typical masculine psyche as tough, decisive, pursuing achievement and status, self reliant, aggressive etc. The feminine could be defined as gentle, thoughtful, caring, nurturing, sensitive etc (Wikipedia gives a very thorough breakdown of masculinity and femininity).

So for LGBT people there is a heck of a lot of stereotyping in all this, especially as far as the heteronormative understanding is involved. Traditionally gay guys are supposed to be very effeminate and lesbians are supposed to be butch. Of course the reality is nothing of the sort, but obviously it’s easier to differentiate an effeminate guy from the crowd and assume he’s gay, and the same with macho women- they stand out.

The problem is that its a continuum (sliding scale) – everyone on this planet has a mix of the masculine/feminine psyche, irrespective of their sexual attraction or gender identity!

So just because you may be attracted to the same sex doesn’t mean you are obliged to behave a certain way. There are gay guys who are really macho – fitting the classic masculine psyche, and there are lesbian women who are 100% feminine. You would never know they are “same sex attracted” from how they appear or act.

Even transgender people can be somewhere on the masculine/feminine continuum. For example, a guy could identify as a female in terms of gender, but still have a high degree of masculinity, and the inverse with a woman. Basically I’m saying everyone is different.

This can become a problem when, for example, a young guy “comes out’, but due to his exposure to the stereotypes he assumes that being gay means going to gay bars, watching drag shows and acting feminine. This can be hugely damaging and cause a lot of deep conflict for a guy, who may simply want to live an average male life with an average male partner. Sadly, even the pressure from within the LGBT community itself can be a problem.

We need to let go of every stereotype! We are ALL somewhere on the continuum of sexual attraction, gender identity, gender expression, and even physical gender attributes (Intersex)! There simply isn’t the “gay or straight” box that people get locked into.

We still have a lot to learn, and we need the freedom to find where we fit in. That freedom needs to be from society as a whole and just as importantly, from within the LGBT community itself. Fortunately times are changing, and fast! Let’s give each other the freedom to be our true selves.