Sunday, 22 March 2015

Life that brings death

I had a rave/rant with (well "at" really) a good friend about some fundamental christian principals.

I've noticed more and more, with myself and with countless others who have ditched traditional christianity, one of the most fundamental flaws with the belief system. It's not just a theological concern - its a life or death concern.

Many people embrace christianity because they are broken, beaten, abused and rejected. They have a self image that only the promise of new life in Christ can rebuild. They have had experiences that say "you are useless, a failure and your only hope is in something greater than yourself to lift you up and love you".

This sounds wonderful, and it is! It kept me alive, gave me the endurance I needed to continue with this life and a sense of being loved, mostly. The thought prevailed that no matter how broken and disgusting I was, Jesus saved me - I'm a sinner saved by grace.

There's a lot of theological discussion going around these days looking at the different aspects of the theology of Jesus, the "sacrifice", the example, taking on the "sins of the world", becoming sin so we don't have to reap the eternal consequences etc. Heaps of alternative views, and all backed by scripture - of course - that's always the case isn't it! Endless arguments all backed by scripture and everyone having the correct understanding (creating even more denominations/sects etc).

But that's not the point. Scripture is not my concern any more these days. Feel free to toss it around and analyse it into oblivion, but it makes no difference in the end. What does make a difference is life now.

The most fundamental flaw with christianity is that we are born sinful - that we are born into sin. We are sinful and broken from the day we are born because of a "condition" that has been passed down through all mankind from, well, from the "fall" apparently.

Why is this a problem? Because no matter how much we love Jesus, defer our perfection onto him, claim freedom from sin because of him, stand in God's love because of his sacrifice etc, the fact remains that we are still faced with the most fundamental doctrine that we are useless, doomed to fail, born filthy sinners - unworthy, unable to face God, except through his magnanimous sacrifice of Jesus.

It means that our value as humans is only through Jesus. We can argue the semantics and subtleties of doctrines. Yes there are many views that say that God loves us totally for who we are, but only after we accept Jesus. Some even say that God only sees Jesus when he looks at us.

Here's the problem in a nutshell, no matter how you try to frame it. All traditional christian doctrine suppresses our intrinsic value, our self worth, into something worthless - worse than worthless! We are born enemies of God! The deep damage this does can easily be seen if we can take a step back.

I see so many people who no matter how much they know that God loves them, still think they are only of any worth because of Jesus. This is crippling! It brings death where life was intended. I see people struggling with depression, failure, suicidality, because the very thing that "saved" them is killing them! Self love, self value, at a deep level is not only unachievable, it's undesirable, and even sinful. To love ourselves is supposedly pride, which was the greatest sin of all.

But Jesus said it - love your neighbour as yourself. Do you love yourself, or are you afraid? How can you love yourself because you'll end up full of pride. It will trap you and lure you into a life of hedonism and narcissism! You won't be even interested in loving others because you will become the centre of your life instead of Jesus.

What a sad delusion! There aren't any terms and conditions on loving yourself. You know why? Because loving yourself means treating yourself as you treat others, as you understand love, as you embrace unconditional love and compassion for yourself, as you live loved.

Jesus was a cool guy, but we were not born sinful and needed saving by him. Even he never said that (yes, you can read John 3:16 with a different lens, as you can most scripture). We are perfect! We are loved - we are love. We have simply been taught the lie that we are broken at the most fundamental level, so we live our lives, coloured by that. The lie goes deep and creates a paradigm that we refuse to acknowledge - a paradigm that cripples our growth as humans, that causes us to do unloving acts, because we think that's all we are capable of without Jesus' magic trick with God.

I constantly see people who have been crippled inside, come to life when they let go of the lie and begin to see that they are perfect and loved exactly as they are, right now. They realise that the only thing that stops them living loved is how they see themselves. It's not pride to love ourselves - its life! And I mean really love ourselves. Look in the mirror and love what you see. Look into your heart and love the child in there - the child who has been squashed and kicked and abused and told they only have any value because of some mysterious spiritual transaction.

Repent - which simply means change your mind! Change your mind about who you are. You were never broken, you don't need fixing or saving. You have simply believed a lie, so repent.

You can throw scripture at me, argue theology, whatever... It changes nothing. The fruit of our lives is the test. If whatever you believe doesn't bring life and love to yourself and everyone around you, you are believing a lie. If you aren't "living loved", you have completely missed the point.

At best, traditional christian doctrine can keep us alive, bring comfort, and help us have compassion and empathy for others. But it stops short of real life, real love, and giving us the ability to live to our fullness right now.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Mansionland (a short story)

The land was expansive. Really expansive. I’m not really sure you could say it had a horizon, although it did, sort of. It faded away into immeasurable distance, and I mean a really, really immeasurable distance. Well that’s how it seemed.

But that was just one aspect, although I must admit a rather impressive one.

There was light. You know, just like in the movies and C.S. Lewis books, and near death experiences. That sort of light. But you breathed the light and it felt like air in a light sort of way.

Anyway, this place was awesome, in an over awesome way that transcended the awesomeness of any other awesome thing you could think of. So really, I don’t think I’ll bother even trying to allegorise it, let alone metaphorise it. Let’s just say it’s beyond metaphor, or language.

So there’s this place and I’m looking around, and there’s these huge mansions scattered around. Quite a few of them really, spread out way into the fading horizon that isn’t really a horizon.

There’s a lot of space between them all though, forests and gardens, beauty that’s disorganised in a non-minimalist crazy person kind of way. Wild but knowable, untamed but playable.

The whole place, the land, whatever it is, was complete. Nothing could conceivably or inconceivably be added or taken away. You just knew that the entirety of ‘all that is” is here, visible or hidden, searchable for sure, maybe not findable, but there none the less.

So yeah, it was just the other day, or maybe it was tomorrow, or did I dream it, or will I dream it in another life? Anyway, there I was, smacking my gob at this place and wondering about the mansions. So I set off to the closest one.

Not sure how long it took, maybe an hour or a week. Just can’t tell in this place.

As I approached I could see this mansion was huge, really huge! But it looked really strange. Despite the obvious ostentatiousness of the place it was really a hodgepodge of add-ons and extensions. So much so that I had no idea what the original might have looked like. The windows were boarded up, which I though was rather strange given how incredible the view was – and who the heck would want to block out this light?

So as I approached I met a couple of people wandering around outside in these outrageous suits – like diving suits. You know, all sealed up with air tubes going back to the mansion and an airtight helmet with tinted glass so I couldn’t really see their faces, and we had to shout at each other to be heard. It was really, really weird. Maybe they all had some medical condition?

Never the less, they invited me in.

The front door was very impressive indeed with very ornate symbolism in the carvings and pictures all over it. But instead of the whole door opening to welcome strangers, there was just a little door down one side – just like those big warehouse doors have a little one so they don’t have to open the whole thing all the time.

We quickly entered and slammed the door shut behind us while they took off their suits in the rather comparatively dim light.

Together they welcomed me to the “Mansion of Light”.

OK… it was rather dingy, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

I was then given a map of all the places to see, in the correct order with the correct viewing times and who would be leading the viewing sessions and their qualifications, along with all the correct protocols to follow.

They wanted to personally take me around to make sure I got it right, but I hate guided tours - you know how it is – you never get the time to really find out the whole story. It was a battle but I assured them I’d be fine and follow all the protocols, sheesh!

Of course I didn’t have any intention of following boring tourist guides and protocols so I set off exploring the moment they were out of sight.

All the boarded up windows were a puzzle, seeing as they had to rely on artificial light all the time and some corners, and even whole rooms, were really hard to see into.

As I went around the rooms I found endless groups of people mostly discussing what the land outside was like and the best ways to get around out there. Other groups were saying outside was a dangerous place and best not to venture out unless properly prepared, and proceeded to debate the best methods of protection. Many seemed to think that outside was actually evil and we shouldn’t even entertain the idea of going out there.

There were so many rooms some big, some small, some huge auditoriums, some little studies, but all with people discussing/debating/arguing, or just being told, how to deal with outside, or even if they should deal with outside in the first place. It was so confusing, even though each room seemed to basically agree amongst themselves.

Every so often though, I’d see someone sneak out and into another room, as if nothing had happened. But as I was going down one particular corridor, a whole heap of people suddenly ran out of one room down the hall and into an empty room, shouting wildly about the colour of the walls. Truly perplexing!

I began to wonder where I’d be if I’d taken the guided tour!

After a while I bumped into a quiet sort of guy walking slowly through a pillared gallery where some of the windows weren’t quite so well boarded up, and cracks let through small rays of light that shone on parts of some of the paintings and sculptures.

Thinking he might throw some light (as it were) on what the heck was going on this place, I straight out asked why the windows were boarded up?

He looked at me with a strange expression, as if I was either an idiot, or maybe it was a trick question and he was waiting for the other half of my question so it would make sense. After a few moments where he seemed to be trying to process the obvious absurdity of my question, he started on quite a long and eloquent discourse.

Around 5 minutes later he stopped to see if I was following, but alas, I couldn’t follow a single thing he was saying. It all seemed to do with ancient prophecies and traditions, and the elders of the ancient days who spoke of strange powers and beings and who knows what. I just wanted a simple answer as to why they didn’t like the light.

As he began his dissertation again I casually wandered over to a nearby window that was letting in a ray of light and went to look through the crack.

Well, what a commotion! He stopped in horror and began a tirade about respecting the light and having to wear special glasses, and you had to spend hours in preparation or be one of the elite before you could even glimpse outside.

This place was really beginning to creep me out. So I excused myself with many apologies and headed off for the stairs to see if I could quietly find some light and fresh air. After a while of wandering and working my way up, I found what seemed like a rather little used hall leading to a stair case that almost certainly went to the roof or a balcony, judging by number of flights I’d come up and the general layout as best I could figure it. As I reached the top of the stairs and began to look for a door outside, a very old guy suddenly threw open a door and light streamed in behind him creating a silhouette. He had been outside obviously, but was keen to come back in. He hesitated when he saw me and looked around, perhaps to see if I was alone.

He obviously didn’t know quite how to deal with my presence and stood there with the door half open, until he decided to ask what I was doing. I honestly stated I’d like some light and fresh air as it was getting rather oppressive inside.

Again he looked around and asked if I knew what it was really like out there. Well, of course I knew, although after being in this place for what seemed like ages, I was beginning to wonder if I did. All the confusion and different ideas that really didn’t make much sense to anyone who had actually been outside, were beginning to take their toll on me.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. I saw in the silhouette of his face that he was wearing dark glasses, but he wasn’t in the suits that others wore outside. It all seemed very conspiratorial somehow, but never the less he seemed to think I was an ally of some sort who was in the know.

He reached into his coat and pulled out another pair of glasses, saying I’d need them before going out. I could see it was bright outside but not harsh or glaring, still, I put them on just to humour him.

We quickly stepped out on to the roof and I was hit by the incredible view. Simply amazing. But the stupid glasses made everything look dull and all the colours were wrong, and I couldn’t even see clearly into the distance. I guess it was my previous experience of the land which allowed me to appreciate it still. I put my hand up to take off the glasses but he jumped in horror when he realised what I was doing and knocked my hand out of the way, declaring me insane.

I stopped and decided to humour him. He was shaken but turned to look out with me. After a few seconds I pointed to another mansion some way off and asked who lived there.

He turned slowly and seemed to be struggling with my question. He then started a discourse, not unlike the other guy downstairs, about the ancients and traditions and evil forces and battles and who knows what, until after a few minutes I gave up trying to follow him.

This was all too much really. I politely interrupted him and said I couldn’t really follow him, but that was OK, I was just curious. I thanked him anyway and as I could see a staircase that wound its way down the outside of the building, I said I’ll just go and see them myself and took of the glasses to give back to him.

That was obviously a huge mistake. Apparently it was inconceivable that anyone could/should/would even think about doing that! He then preceded to pontificate in a strange voice about the curses of the ancients and the dangers of venturing out on my own and being blinded and deceived by the light because the nature of the land apparently could only be correctly discerned with their glasses.

It started to get rather ugly, and even though I apologised for any offense, and tried to reassure him that I was fine because the light was actually a lot better without the glasses and I just wanted to meet the other people and hear their story, he just got more worked up.

Oh well, I smiled anyway and quickly went down the stairs. I could still hear him shouting from the roof as I walked on to the grass and out into the wild/tame gardens towards the other mansion. He wasn’t making any sense at all by that stage and his abuse faded into the breeze as I breathed in the light and lost myself….

Friday, 13 March 2015

Seek ye first... pleasure!

The meaning of life?
Our purpose?
WTF are we here for?!

I've probably heard every philosophical and religious answer under the sun, as most of us have, and they are all valid in some way.

Religion gives us the most succinct answers in terms of serving our deity(s) of choice. We are created to serve, learn and grow in wisdom, bring love, spread the gospel, conquer the infidels and brings God's rule to earth. All very tidy answers and for many, they are good enough to get on with life as best we can.

Others devote their lives to understand life within the confines of those paradigms, and are happy, and often ignorant of deeper truths, sometimes simply because here and now is too full on to give such things much thought. We perform the daily rituals of life and die hoping that we'll end up in the company of our deity unscathed.

But underneath all that, there is a driving force. A force that no matter how we wrap it up and disguise it, no matter how much philanthropy we throw at it, no matter how much love and sacrifice we struggle with, there is only one thing that we all look for, motivates us, and gives meaning:


Yes, Jim has lost the plot. All those years of being a passionate christian and serving God with all my heart have finally come down to this self-centred, egotistical, hedonistic cop-out!

But wait!! Of course I'm not going to write a blog as lame as that.

Here's the thing... everything we do and believe is with the ultimately hope of bringing contentment and happiness, which is pleasure.
I want to experience love because it's pleasurable.
I want to love others because it gives me pleasure when they respond.
I want a better world because I will experience more pleasure.
I give because it gives me pleasure.
I receive, because it gives me pleasure.
I help others in their pain because it gives me pleasure.

It's not dependent on the immediate response in any situation. The pleasure is derived from knowing that I have done something "good". I hope for "heaven" because there I will experience pleasure. I tell people they can also find pleasure here and now, because it brings me pleasure to do so!

The only thing that gives us meaning and purpose is pleasure. And yet we are taught that pleasure is "evil" or at least a "fleshly" pursuit that we must sacrifice to attain true holiness.

But even without the direct influence of religion, society has a concept of pleasure that is limited to sensual desire in some way, or simply having fun.

So where am I going with this? We cannot survive without experiencing pleasure in our deepest self. Our heart/spirit/soul craves it. Without it we become bitter and angry.

I'm not talking about the pleasure a psychopath experiences or other forms of severe mental illness. I'm talking about you and me, genuine people who mean well and want the best out of life. For us, love is the key - and why love? because it makes us feel good - it brings us pleasure, it brings everyone around us pleasure which in turn gives us more pleasure.

My greatest pleasure has been learning how to love myself - unconditionally. I'm learning that to experience that pleasure is central to me being able to love - on every level. I can't give until I have received. I can't give pleasure until I've experienced pleasure deep inside my heart!

Friday, 27 February 2015

New Book Website

My publisher has just launched the new publicity site for my book.

It's the focal point for all the marketing and I'll be updating the blog and media section regularly.

Check it out!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Losing our lands, gaining the world

I was talking to someone the other day about land rights, here and abroad, the middle east, all that stuff. You know what its like. The endless to and fro about who was there first, the injustices and horrors.

I thought about the ISIS stuff, the christians, and all the other religious wars and persecutions. I wondered about the Jews claim to their God given homeland, the cries of the Palestinians, the Ukrainians, and all the other eastern Europe conflicts. The aboriginals, the American Indians, on and on through history.

So much is tied up in national identity and its relationship to the land. Humanity has what I would call an obsession with the land being integral with their identity. The history of countless generations becoming an almost physical part of the soil they stand on. Every nation on earth has this.

Countless "superior" nations have invaded and conquered weaker nations and tribes, dislodging them from their native lands, often cruel, and even genocidal. Often those earlier nations did the same with even earlier cultures and tribes. It's a cycle that humanity keeps going through.

History proves that man learns nothing from history. This seems to be a prime example. People tromping over each other, claiming some superior reason or right - often a "reclaiming" of old lands that are their heritage, as if who they are is inherent in the particular patch of earth they "own".

Sure, there are nations that "get it" in the sense that no one owns the land. But they aren't that common any more. Many of them have been forced into the same "ownership" mentality.

How sad that humanity keeps thinking that anything outside of themselves - external to them - is of such value that they are willing to kill for it!

I understand the spiritual connections to the land, but as a species we keep elevating that connection to our personal and corporate identity. We think that if we don't stand together with our tribe on our "ancestral" land (and that goes for any country/nation/tribe/culture) we will lose all meaning and hope.

What a waste!

Seriously, it's a tragic delusion that focuses on the external, the material, as if that is what makes us who we are.

Patriotism - what an absolute ripoff! Yes, I love the country I live in and all the benefits I have as part of that culture, but patriotism is a deep "us and them" arrogance. It says we are better, stronger, nicer, happier, we have better morals, better government. It separates into tribes and build walls. It stands in defiance against humanity's unique unity.

My country is no more special than yours. I love where I live, but its not my identity. We hold ideals as if they magically make us better. We think our "rich" heritage actually means something. Sure its interesting, but its not WHO WE ARE.

America, the Middle East, ALL of us. We are humanity, we are one! This isn't some hippie drug induced dream - its the only way forward. No religion will ever provide a solution, no political system will make a difference. Only our determination to break apart those paradigms and actually see each other as loving beautiful people, will make any difference.

How do we do this? How do we actually get to this point? We simply start doing it. We stop being patriotic, one individual at a time. We stop looking for our identity in others, in our environment, in our culture, in our family. We still love them, but they are not US. It's not an unachievable pipe dream. Its as simple as letting go and choosing to see with eyes that love - exercising empathy and compassion, over and above our obsession for cultural identity.

It's simply living loved.

Monday, 2 February 2015

What am I?

I've been chatting with one of my besties about just tearing apart the traditions of religion, the bible, the church and even the basic premises of christianity, but not putting forward a positive alternative.

It's something that I often worry about, and I must confess there is a lot of satisfaction in attacking that which has caused myself, and countless others, far more damage than we realised.

I'm still a recovering fundamentalist with a lot of deep hurts and a lifetime of cognitive dissonance to work through. I have had to face issues of faith head on, and be (hopefully) honest and open enough to go wherever that leads.

I can only speak out of my own paradigm, and share what has been involved with becoming aware of that paradigm and all its implications. It's a long journey, and I've been encouraged to share that journey by many who have been inspired or can relate in some way to it.

So these days I get asked if I'm a christian... what are my beliefs... why don't you spell out what you are trying to say...

But I can't answer these questions, because trying to define who I am in these terms is a major part of the problem. We are so hooked on certainty, to the point that we will kill to maintain it; the idea of not having a clear label to categorise and assess everyone with is completely untenable.

I just can't offer another religious platform to replace what I'm tearing down. Unless you can call my bottom line of love a religion - which I guess it is in a way!

So here it is - you can label me with this if you want, if you can put a name to it, its the best I've got so far. Are you ready for it? Its really complicated and full of profound depth! OK? Deep breath...

Love everyone, no matter what.

Now if you can fit your own religious constructs and paradigms around that and maintain that bottom line, then we are doing well. Believe what you want! But if that's not the bottom line then your beliefs are detrimental to humanity. After 58 years, its all I'm left with. And you know what? It feels good! It's awesome actually, to be able to let go and let love be the ONLY "rule".

Some say its too idealistic and simplistic and doesn't relate to reality - that we need complex moralities, belief systems, legal systems... we can't be trusted, we are corrupt at the core, we are incapable of anything good, we always resort to our ego driven selfishness, and on and on with why love just isn't enough.

I call bullshit! Yeah, it means we have to stop, use some self control and take responsibility for our actions and thoughts. Sure its a process, its a journey. We can make it simple or complicated. Most importantly we can BE love to everyone else. And when we can't, we can receive love until we CAN give it.

Have we ever thought that instead of judging and condemning, demanding justice, rights, taking offense and wanting retribution, we should simply encourage each other to see love in everything? Seriously - if we simply challenged each other to live with empathy - if we helped each other to find a solution based in love - if we assessed every situation in life with "is it love?", "will it produce love?"...

Remember, its a process, we aren't looking for perfection - just a willingness to live loved.

Its friggin simple!! I care naught for religious constructs any more. If you think the bible can help you to live loved, and can be bothered spending years sorting through it all, then go for it, and I'll respect that. If you think the Koran, or any holy writings will help you live loved, then awesome - do it! But I'll keep challenging anything that crosses that bottom line of love. I care not for sacred cows and taboos. If any doctrine (no matter what "scriptural" support it may have) requires endless mental gymnastics to make it "love", then you can stick it where the sun don't shine.

Once we have that fundamentally rooted and grounded as the only basis for life, then we can ponder "greater" issues - not the other way round.

Yes, for me at least, there is a better way, a way that is so simple that we keep missing it, because we keep wanting the fruit from that old "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Yep, we have been duped by that tree for sure. The "Eden" life isn't some stupid ideal - it's already in us if we can be bothered to look for it.

Like I keep saying over and over, and will continue to say...

Live loved!!!!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Confession time!

I'm up to over 1200 friends on Facebook
Every time I look at my computer there are usually 50 or more notifications staring at me.
My Silent Gays page has about the same number.
This blog also gets a lot of hits!

Sometimes I think I'm only a few clicks away from disaster. I could post something that would over step the mark and lose all my christian friends. Or I could post something really christian and be subject to mocking from my atheist friends (although not very likely these day)

I feel like I walk a narrow line, of respecting and honoring people's personal journeys, and challenging religious paradigms. I have a christian heritage that I hate and love at the same time. I can relate to all the horror stories about religion. I know exactly how my atheist friends feel about the psychopathic God christianity has created. I understand and embrace the so called "new age" ideas of universal unity and love. But I also understand the validity of core chrsitian beliefs - I've seen how well they work for many, the psychological value as part of their journey.

And I still have my own journey to walk. Every day I discover more about who I am, my personal paradigms, what drives me, my reactions and passions, my impatience and deeper anger. I surprise myself some days, when I get angry with my son, or so easily judge that strange person in the supermarket.

There are people now looking to me as one who has insight. Hey - I've written a book and run a support network!

But I'm just me, still one click away from posting something really stupid, of offending someone who is genuine and simply doing the best they can.

Perhaps I just want to please everyone, to find acceptance. Not surprising given what I've been through. But I do feel the pain that so many others experience at the hands of religion pretending to be Christ-like. I feel the emotional and spiritual abuse that is dealt out to millions in the name of Christ. But I can't burn my bridges when I want to still reach into the church and love the unloved and abused.

It's my passion, and yeah, sometimes I'm just one click away from "fuck it".

So there you have it. It's quite a responsibility looking at all those "friends" and "likes", and knowing that people are actually reading my book. Please remember that I'm just a human like you. I question everything, make far too many mistakes (just ask my son), offend people, and don't ask me to organise anything bigger than a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I'm Free!

One of Christianity's greatest claims is "freedom". And rightly so! When we are caught in the endless cycle of stuffing up, guilt, shame, low self esteem, that leads to more stuff ups, we long for some sort of freedom.

The acceptance of Jesus as an external source (outside of ourselves) who can break that cycle by taking all those things onto himself by a mystical act of substitution is very powerful. I personally experienced that power regularly throughout my life, and was about the only thing that stopped me from taking my own life on many occasions.

The problem of course was the cycle was never really broken, just moved up a notch, just far enough so I could sense the freedom and the joy that it brings.

But over the years I had greater revelations of freedom. There would be deeper realisations of God's grace and love that would bring me to a place where I'd think "this is it - finally, I understand what freedom is!".

A few months or so later, another doctrine etc would unlock more of the hold religion had on me, and I'd see how bound I'd been by things like legalism, expectations, ritual and so on. But then the cycle would begin again.

Lately I've seen many preachers, who were very influential in helping me break out of religious deception, falling back into the same cycle, but in a way that is sickening. They are mocking and belittling anyone who believes there is any more to discover. They believe they have made it and if anyone continues to look beyond the limits they have set, they are heretics. And yet it wasn't so long ago they were the heretics!

But here's the point - all these exercises in struggling to find deeper truth, moving from one level of revelation to another, although they can be stimulating and bring personal joy and satisfaction, don't really bring freedom. Nor do they bring anything of real value to the table.

Like a broken record I'll keep saying again and again. Love is all that matters. It's not a doctrine, its not a philosophy, its not a mystical process or some gnostic ideal.

Love is also described as "goodness". The simple act of being good - to yourself and everyone else. Although the doctrines surrounding Jesus and general christian theology can be beneficial as I said, they are just stop gaps, solutions that require greater solutions.

The simple act of being good to ourselves and good to others is powerful in its simplicity beyond measure. The act of seeing the goodness in everything around us, in the air, all we see and touch, in the grumpy checkout girl, in the lonely guy at the bar, anyone anywhere - the appreciation of the intrinsic value of simply being a human, is the start of all wisdom. Not some esoteric belief system that requires detailed understanding of complex doctrines to be "saved". Of course, many will say we need Jesus as our ticket to heaven, but that is another story and not that relevant in the big scheme of things - yes, I can hear the screams of protest ;-)

God is all in all - He IS goodness/love. We simply choose to slow down and see it - everywhere. We take the time to be thankful for it. We nurture it, in US first, and in everyone and everything else.

Only love brings life - and freedom.

Friday, 9 January 2015

It's so friggin simple!

(Sorry, tried to find a picture for this blog but everything to do with love was just soo cliched and tacky! So just use your imagination)

Theology, doctrines, religions, denominations, cults and sects, eschatology, hermeneutics, etc...
On and on it goes.
Endless debates.
2000 years and christianity is even more divided than ever. Religions divide the world.
Complex doctrines abound that try to explain the basic tenets of the faith - of all faiths actually. Yet despite our best efforts its all really murky.

Sure, there are some basic ideas that persist, but really, it all comes down to putting our faith in a book instead of the source - instead of love - instead of that which is deep in all of us.

Jesus supposedly said that we needed to see all this with the eyes of a child. Our faith, our meaning for existence, has to be simple enough for a child. Sure we can ponder the deeper issues and embrace all sorts of philosophical views. But the most foundational issues of all we are and do must be simple.

Christianity as it's traditionally presented, simply does not fit this requirement. It is anything BUT simple. It involves every person believing a complex set of doctrines in just the right way so that they can be saved.

Now many of you probably know, I'm a bit of a broken record with the Live Loved thing. I'm forever simplifying everything down to that. And I get accused of being naive, simplistic, ignorant, idealistic etc, to say nothing of the shouts of heretic! (seriously - a heretic for preaching love?!)

I've writing many blogs about the bible and about our preoccupation with clear defined boundaries and rules, so no point in repeating all that. Suffice to say, the more I focus on the simple most basic concepts of who we are, the less importance the bible has. And the less important ANY religion is.

There is only one thing that is common to all mankind - every person everywhere, at every moment in time. Its deep within every heart - its the innermost cry of and expression of every soul. It's what every mind, whether through emotion, intellect or logical reasoning longs for.

It's LOVE.

It's not love defined by any religion. It's not love with conditions. It's not a set of rules and principles that make us lovable.

It's unconditional love. It's being accepted exactly as we are with no questions asked. It's something we all long for even if we have never experienced it.

There are no doctrines, there is no holy book, there are no wise teachers that can tell us any more than what is already in each of us. We are made from and for love.

So what do we do about that? We live loved!

We look for that deep need in each other. We nurture that need. We do all we can to find that point of love in every single person we meet. We BE love. And in being love to others we are becoming love to ourselves, and this, and this alone, is what brings change to the world, one person at a time.

When we "live loved" we are beyond all concepts of good and evil, right and wrong or sin. We have abandoned the need for endless doctrines and holy writings (although they can certainly be of value). We have simply embraced who we are.

The more I embrace this - the more I practice this - the more whole I become. Issues like trying to figure the correct doctrines, the way we should treat women in church, our attitudes to politics, social needs, gay people, all become completely irrelevant. Because love transcends all these things. they become red herrings.

God is not in any holy book. God never wrote a book that defines himself or what we have to do to be accepted by him!

God is love! That's it - and that is more than enough.

Although christinaity, and all religions, can show ways to see that love through their writings and traditions, they are not the truth. The only truth is love, and that truth is intrinsically part of every human being ever created.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Something bigger

I've always known that love is the key.
But its a carrot of idealism dangling just out of reach.
Yet the mere fact that I/we dream of it, long for it and momentarily embrace it...
   the fact that we are even capable of such ideas...
Shows it must be attainable - that we really can live loved.

Most embrace the concept that we are born broken as truth. We declare our sinfulness as inherent, the fruit of rebellion. We have accepted the biblical story that we are filthy and completely incapable of anything good without "repenting" and accepting the perfection of Jesus as a sacrifice that enables us to be welcomed back into God's fold.

There are so many doctrines that explain this process - so many subtle variations and nuances. There are huge disagreements as well. Some say God is angry with us and can't bear to look at us and only sees Jesus when He looks our way. Others say that Jesus took all our sinfulness on himself to allow us to be clean enough for God to live in us.
Many variations...
Many reinterpretations of scripture.

I studied the role of Jesus in this whole dilemma most of my life. Even in bible college, I knew all the right answers, but still nothing sat right. Every theory fell far short of my deepest experience with God. I mean, I wanted all the doctrines to be right. I really tried to make them work. But despite that, I couldn't make sense of the whole idea that somehow, God just couldn't simply forgive us for "missing the mark" and acting in unloving ways, without the whole Jesus thing.

I can see the psychological value of using Jesus as a point of identification, a scapegoat, someone we can dump all our crap on so we get to walk free of the guilt and shame. I can see the benefits of accepting that it's "Jesus in us" that is the point of perfection - the focus - that brings us to perfection and peace. I get that, and all the other doctrines built around everything he did.

BUT, it has always seemed like second best - a stopgap. In fact, most religions seem to just be bandages trying to cover a deep belief paradigm that is essentially flawed from the ground up.

Most of my life I believed christianity had every answer, that the bible contained the entire wisdom of God and was the sole source of all truth, and everything else was just deception or imitation. And yet I also had the niggling feeling that we were missing a far bigger picture.

What if we aren't essentially and intrinsically broken and flawed, born in sin? Suppose we are born perfect and what really happens is we forget as we grow. We become victims of everyone else who has forgotten until all that's left is a shell full of guilt, shame, fear and "missing the mark" of love.

Perhaps we've got it all backwards! Love is the essential nature of the universe. God is love, love holds everything together, it brings life, it IS life, it's universal consciousness, and our real journey in life is remembering that.

Just imagine if the "renewing of our minds" is all to do with simply focusing on that love and drawing it out of others - choosing to see everything else simply as the absence of love. We then choose to see each other as creatures of love, that are hurting and blind - blind to who they really are, and we can simply BE love to each other. We can be compassion and empathy, and look through the unloving actions and thoughts to the real person of love in all of us.

The only thing that brings real, lasting change is love. We all know this, despite our emotional reactions, we all know that if we were truly loved more, we would love more. We would be changed!

We can not bring love to each other until we love ourselves. We can love Jesus and defer all our identity on to him. We can say "I am nothing and Jesus is everything", but that's just a false image. It's transferring our true nature in an act of false humility, because we are afraid that we may actually be way better than we have thought.

I think that our unity with God is such that we are perfect at our core, that we are pure unconditional love in the deepest part of our being. I believe we can choose, as we renew our minds, to see this in each other. I think the stopgap of christian doctrine has had its day, and it really hasn't been a good day despite it's moments!

I look at scripture with a whole different lens these days. I see the layers of religion that have been overlaid and used to reinvent Jesus. I see a limited collection of documents assembled to reinforce a particular set of beliefs that had arisen after Jesus. I see these documents as records of the struggles of men trying to piece together a coherent religion out of something that was never meant to be one!

In saying all this, I risk being accused of being arrogant and patronising, of trashing 2000 years of tradition and the collective wisdom of thousands of biblical scholars and theologians. It's not my intention however, and I still respect the journey I have been on (and have hardly started in reality) and we are all on. I owe my continued existence in this world to my faith in Jesus that I clung to through thick and thin. I respect the value of the tenets of faith, and won't belittle or "talk down" to those who find life there.

I am however, finding far deeper waters. I've seen too much to confine myself to one set of doctrines and theologies. I've found God to be so much bigger, better, more loving and life giving than anything biblical christianity has ever produced, and I simply want to share that and encourage everyone to take nothing for granted - not the bible, not tradition, not teachers or wise men, not me, not anyone or anything! Question - explore - dismantle - assume nothing - and most importantly find the love that is at our core, because there lies our true worth and life.