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RESIST!! … how?

May 25, 2017

Here is something I posted to facebook that I’ve been thinking quite a bit about lately.. figured what I wrote would be good to post here on my wordpress blog too.

I see a lot of anti-Trump posts that say “Resist!” The question is.. how? Posting a lot of anti-Trump stuff might make you feel better, but does it do any good other than that? I don’t post that stuff because I want to keep my page positive, and post good things that will improve people’s moods or expose them to unique music.. that sort of thing.

But, I am extremely concerned by what I see in the news, what I read in the paper, and by what my dad tells me.. he follows the news much more than I do.

Are marches effective, or just another way of blowing off steam? Something fun to do? I don’t know. I guess if it helps people to vent their frustration, then marching and protesting does some good, but I don’t know if it helps other than that.

Shouting down politicians at town halls.. not helpful. Speaking instead of shouting at town hall meetings is better.. like the nurse who stood up to Raul Labrador recently.. to which that horrible moron of a congressman replied, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare.”

That’s like saying, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to air.”

What actually works? Writing our congress-persons? That probably won’t help here in Idaho. All of our people in Congress are Republicans. I doubt they’d take letters from concerned citizens seriously.. but writing them might just do some good anyway, if enough of us write. Maybe?

One good thing to do, if you have the time, is volunteer. I help out with an adult ESL class once a week, sometimes twice a week, if they need a substitute. Not all the students are refugees, but many are.

The teacher I assist told me yesterday that, since the election, more and more people are signing up to help. There aren’t enough spots in classes for all the people who want to be tutors to get involved. However, There are other agencies here in town that help refugees. Helping people in general is good!

If the astonishingly drastic and immensely cruel healthcare cuts go into effect, there will be a LOT more people needing help.. pretty much anyone who is not rich or upper middle class might need help. And that includes me.. and probably you as well.

Hopefully, more free or very low cost medical clinics will open up. Maybe people with healthcare experience will be able to volunteer a bit of their time to set up and staff these clinics.

I’m not sure what the rest of us can do to help. I can find some other volunteer opportunity, I guess. I can send emails to our senators and representatives too. But what else?

Even improving one’s attitude can make a difference. If I spend all my attention and emotional energy hating Trump, that doesn’t make me very effective. Better to make sure to take good care of health so I can help, and also put the focus on helping others somehow.

Even posting positive things here on facebook is a way of resisting evil. Sharing something funny or beautiful can really lift the spirits of your facebook friends.

I do want to resist Trump in other ways, but I’m not sure what effective ways there are for doing that.

If you’d like to find ways to volunteer, check out the website I’m including in this post. Wherever you are in America, I think Volunteer.org is a good site to check. I’m posting a link the the page for those of us living in Idaho. If you live in another state, just type in Volunteer.org, and once you get there, choose your state. Then use the search and sort features to find ways to help.

If you are a religious person, ask around to see if your church has any volunteer opportunities. Some churches do, (and all should) but many do not. If your church doesn’t, maybe talk to your pastor, priest, etc., and get something started. Or, ask your friends and family members if they know of any ways to get involved.

If you have even a bit of money you can spare, consider donating to Feeding America, or other reliable charities. Contributing locally is good too.. Boise Rescue Mission, Interfaith Sanctuary, or some other agency that helps poor people here in Boise. Even $5 a month helps.

Religious or not, you CAN make a difference.. if you want to.

Anyone who has great ideas on other ways to resist that you think are actually effective, please let me know.

Thank you.

http://www.volunteerunited.org/need/

labels, being yourself, and one unlucky night at a cafe..

May 22, 2017

Here’s another little, carefully crafted essay. (Seriously. I put a lot of work into these). This one is about labels, an unlucky night at a cafe many years ago, and appreciating our own weirdness.

The perils of the Urban Dictionary website.. I look up something innocuous, and on the right margin, all this horrible stuff. The term I looked up might offend some people, I don’t know.

“Chapstick Lesbian” – why did I look up this term? My favorite show is a rather creative and mostly politically incorrect sitcom called “Community.” One of the characters called another a “chapstick lesbian.” I hadn’t heard the term before, so I looked it up. Top hit with google was Urban Dictionary.

Want to know the definition? Ok.. “A lesbian who cares more about practicality than image. She really doesn’t gravitate to the traditional images of “butch” or “femme” — she does what she wants, and doesn’t really care how she’s seen.
‘I prefer Chapstick over lipstick because the former is actually useful. Chapstick Lesbian, baby.’ ” – Urban Dictionary.

(I won’t list any of the stuff in the right margin of the screen of Urban Dictionary. I’m still a bit traumatized).

Ellen’s TV persona was given as an example of a chapstick lesbian. Ok, fine with me. I like balance in various aspects of life.. Ellen strikes a nice balance between a masculine style and being very feminine. Most lesbians I’ve met, both here and back in CA, have tended to be like this. Rachel Maddow is also something of a chapstick lesbian, in my opinion.

I once met an intensely sexy, feminine lesbian, back in the ’90’s.. that was a VERY frustrating experience.. she was hotter than most of the straight women I’d met in years.

Instead of going for me, she headed straight for the also attractive bi-sexual woman I was sitting next to at the time. The bisexual woman would only date women, or men who were overly masculine cowboys. I had no shot with her either. And that too was frustrating. I liked her. Besides being attractive, she was unique and funny.

Although straight, I’m not very masculine, and definitely not a cowboy. It wasn’t the best night for me down at J Street Cafe (in Modesto).

Most of the gay men I’ve met have been somewhere in the middle too, not overly masculine nor overly feminine.

Was the character on the show in fact a “chapstick lesbian?” Probably, but that was left unknown. Which is fine. Not like we can always figure out people instantaneously anyway, right?

What labels could be applied to me? Creative, neurotic, friendly, eclectic, anti-social, odd? Sure, why not.

Wear your weirdness with pride. I don’t just mean wear weird clothes, although if you feel like it, why not. If you want to walk around town dressed like one of the characters from “Downton Abbey”.. which is something I’d do if I could afford custom-made clothes.. that’d actually be really cool.

I mean this metaphorically also. Ya know, enjoy your weirdness Maybe you horde vinyl albums of obscure prog and jazz fusion bands from the 1970’s.. if so, check out a band Phil Collins was in called Brand X. Or, perhaps you spend an inordinate amount of time juggling canned fruit. As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do your thing. (Try to be careful when juggling canned goods, please).

Don’t worry if not everyone likes you (and don’t get mad about this either.. I’m preaching to myself, folks, not just you).

Not everyone will agree with you, like you, or support you. They don’t have to. Who cares. You can’t have diversity without disagreement.

Be yourself. Enjoy being yourself. And, if you can manage, don’t forget to appreciate others for their weirdness too.

“just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)”

May 15, 2017

Yes, that is a real song title! Awesome!

I used to listen to a strange radio program called Coast to Coast AM. It’s still on the air, and continues to feature such topics as UFO’s, remote viewing, conspiracy theories, ghosts, and other aspects of the paranormal. (My dad still goes to sleep while listening to this program. yeah, we are a weird family).

I first heard this song while listening to that radio show. Great tune.

The song was first recorded by Teddy Hill and the Southern Soul (no, I’d  never heard of that band either, just learned about them a few seconds ago when I looked up the song) but later became a hit for Kenny Rogers and The First Edition.

According to Wikipedia:  Though he has been most successful with country audiences, Rogers has charted more than 120 hit singles across various music genres, topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the United States alone and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.[3

Who’d a thought by watching this performance that Rogers would be so successful? This is quite a strange song, but then, the ’60’s were quite a strange time.. so I’ve heard.. I’m not old enough to have remembered the ’60’s. But then, people who are old enough say, “if you can remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there.”

I’m bettin’ the guys in this band probably developed some drug-induced memory troubles! I think you’ll be alright if you refrain from dropping acid or popping some ‘shrooms, and just listen to the song.. then again..

Orthodox Christianity?

May 13, 2017

Tonight’s topic is the Orthodox form of Christianity..

There’s one form of Christianity I have not yet explored (ok, not technically true, there are probably over a thousand different Protestant denominations out there, but most of them are quite similar to others, and I’ve been to many different types of Protestant churches).

The form I have not yet explored is Orthodox Christianity. From what little I’ve read so far, and have learned from youtube videos. their style of worship is the most ancient still in practice, having not changed in over a thousand years, except to make the change in language of the service (for example.. services in English and other languages) and the most challenging. The services last for 90 minutes, and almost everybody stands the whole time!

Also, the Orthodox churches have the most strict dietary laws of any I have encountered in Christendom: about half the year, Orthodox Christians avoid certain foods on certain days.. fasting is an ancient spiritual discipline that pre-dates Christianity.

Almost the entire liturgy is sung, but there are no instruments. I tend to like services with both instruments and singing. I like hymns and liturgical singing (I do not like praise bands that most Protestant churches have.. not saying praise bands are bad, just not my thing). Also, I like to sit down some of the time.

Catholic services, as well as high church Protestant denominations, such as Episcopal and Lutheran, also have the same style of service, as far as I know.. With some variation.. stand up, sit down, kneel, liturgy, etc. I am drawn to a high church style of worship. Very formal, dignified, ancient, and with some beauty, pageantry, candles, incense, liturgy..

The Orthodox churches are divided amongst ethnic lines, though they all believe the same things, and practice the same kind of service.

In case you are wondering where these churches came from.. for over 1,000 years, there was one Christian church. Then,in 1054, there was The Great Schism, and the Church split in two.. Catholicism in Western Europe (including the nations of conquerors of the New World, such as the French, Portuguese, Spanish, and even the British, until 1534, when Henry VIII split from the Catholic church, because the pope would not grant him a divorce.. so King Henry formed the Church of England.. also called the Anglican church.. or Episcopal Church, in America.. there’s an American-Anglican splinter movement too).

Wonder why there are so many Catholics? The European conquerors, who spread out to the Americas, Asia, Africa, etc., mostly were from Catholic nations. They brought their religion and their priests with them.

The Orthodox went East.. Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Yes, there are Christians in the Middle East. They are a persecuted minority, and tend to go to Orthodox churches. I know a guy from Iraq who is an Orthodox Christian. He was raised speaking Aramaic.. same language Jesus spoke.. fascinating, I think. I thought Aramaic was a long-dead language. Nope.

Ok then..

Here in the Boise area, there is an Antiochian church (Middle-Eastern ethnicity.. though people not from that area of the world go too. This group has a great and very helpful website. It is located in Meridian, and is called Holy Transfiguration.

The two Orthodox churches in Boise are located less than two miles from each other.. in the Whitewater Park/Westside Drive-Inn neighborhood. Neither of these have very helpful websites.

I think a helpful website with lots of information for newcomers is a good sign, and kinda the opposite if the websites are minimal.. but the people in these two other churches might be very friendly.

The Russian church in Boise is called St. Seraphim of Sarov, and the Greek church is Saints Constantine and Helen.

Here’s a concern I have.. I am not part of any of the ethnic groups .. I’m of Dutch descent. Not that anyone would know that by looking at me, I guess, except for people who are aware that Dutch folks tend to be tall.

But once I get to talking with people, if I go, it will soon become apparent that I’m not a part of the particular ethnic group the church is affiliated with. And that could be.. awkward. I’m sure some of you have seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”

Why not attend a high-church Protestant service? I read up on a Lutheran church nearby.. went to their denomination page. It is the view of the particular Lutheran denomination I read about, one based in Wisconsin, that the antichrist is not a person who will show up during the end times, but rather is an institution, the Roman Catholic Church.

I live with Catholics (my mom, dad, and aunt are converts. Mom and Nancy are very much into Catholic teachings and practices. My dad has gone back to having a more Anglican-style appreciation of Christianity) I don’t want to be taught that the RCC is the antichrist.. and besides, I don’t believe this.

The Episcopal church is very progressive. I”m somewhat liberal, but not that liberal.

The American Anglican denomination, which split off from the Episcopal church due to the Episcopal church becoming more and more liberal, is tiny.. the one is Boise.. that church meets in a building downtown.

I’ve been to the American Anglican service twice.. pretty good, except it lasts for an hour and a half. Liturgy plus a Protestant-style lengthy sermon.. I don’t like Protestant-style lengthy sermons. I like short, pithy, Catholic-style homilies. Maybe I will try the American Anglican church here in town again.. maybe not.

Why not just go back to attending mass at Catholic churches, like I did off and on for awhile last year? (No, I never converted).

Good question.. I really like Catholic services. I especially like two parishes out here, St. Mark’s and Sacred Heart.

But the more I’d read about the Catholic church, the more I didn’t like.. no offense to Catholics. I did some serious digging into old manuscripts found online, read about all sorts of rules most Catholics don’t likely follow, or even know about.. I’m concerned about so much doctrines and teachings added through time..

And things that seem very weird to me, considering I have a Protestant background (of course, this will also be an issue for me if I attend an Orthodox church).. relics.. do we really need finger bones of saints put into special compartments of church altars?

Pilgrimages some people go on so they can shorten their time in purgatory, the sex abuse scandals, the shockingly brutal history of the Catholic church, the celibate clergy (which for quite awhile was not a rule), the astonishing opulence of the Vatican.. (Jesus was born in a stable and spent his time of ministry homeless and wandering.. I don’t think he had the Vatican and all its finery in mind), yeah I got some serious concerns regarding the Catholic church.

No Vatican-type extremely opulent headquarters of the Orthodox church that I’m aware of, no belief in purgatory (at least according to what I’ve learned so far), nothing mentioned about relics or pilgrimages or all those apparitions of Mary.. but again.. I haven’t learned much about Orthodox churches yet..

So far, I’ve not been able to be like many Catholics.. they don’t sweat things like a lot of the rules or teachings.. they go to mass, some try to stick to at least some of the rules (though some Catholics I’ve met certainly DO NOT). Could I become an average Catholic who likes going to mass, takes communion, but who doesn’t bother much with confession or the mile high pile of rules and doctrines?

So far, no.

Perhaps the Orthodox Church is closest to what the ancient Christians practiced? If so, does that matter?

(Interesting side-note for Protestants.. Hank Hanegraaf, Mr. Bible Answer Man himself.. one of the most popular personalities of Protestant radio, became an Orthodox Christian, and was booted off the air).

I don’t know if I’ll ever go to an Orthodox church, besides the food festivals. (I love food festivals!) The Russian church has one coming up on the 19th, and the Greek church has one early next month.

The biggest things stopping me from attending? Worrying about not feeling welcome.. doesn’t help that these churches are really really tiny, and perhaps quite insular.

Like Catholics, Orthodox Christians are expected to go to confession. As a former Protestant, that really really bothers me.. not the tradition in which I was raised.

Also, I usually can’t get to sleep until at least 5 am (here I am pounding away at my keyboard and it is almost 4 am). If I get up at 9 am or even earlier the next morning to go to church, I might not even be functional enough to drive, due to lack of sleep. So this is perhaps a non-starter.

One great thing about Catholic churches is lots of services, including evening services. I can get to those no problem. Another great thing about Catholic services.. ethnic diversity.. I very much like seeing people from many parts of the world at Catholic services. Highly unlikely I will see such ethnic diversity at any tiny Orthodox church, especially since ethnicity is part of each church’s name!

But, I am curious.. maybe I will attend at least one service at each Orthodox church this year.. maybe.

Your thoughts?

I’m now going to include a video about some differences between Catholic and Orthodox teachings and services:

And lastly, a rather interesting comment I found on youtube.. pretty balanced:

“Some differences include: 1) Roman Catholics only allowed Latin for a long time, while the Orthodox allowed the scriptures in native languages from the beginning. That’s why Catholics score low on religious knowledge tests (Pew Research). 2) In Orthodoxy, dogmas have to have scriptural backing, while in Catholicism the pope can declare non-scriptural elements dogma, like the immaculate conception, purgatory, etc., without Biblical backing. 3) Orthodoxy allows for mysticism which is natural for what is fundamentally a mystery. The Catholic scholarship, while excellent, gives rise to legalism and all kinds of protestant claptrap. 4) Geographically, the Roman see backed oppression from the Crusades to WW2 to today against the East, and generally has a condescending attitude towards them, while the Orthodox have reacted by making the religion into a nationalist past-time. 5) Before Rome made Christianity the sole legal religion, several Orthodox states had already adopted it as the state religion (Armenia, Ethiopia), so Catholic claims of being “first” are weak. Saying early Christians were Roman Catholics is similar to Muslims claiming all prophets starting from Adam were followers of Islam. Kind of absurd. 6) The Roman Catholic church ignored the agreement not to make statues of the saints and stick to two-dimensional icons. They also ignored the convention of always portraying St. Mary with her son Jesus, as that was her function in the Good News: being the bearer of the Savior. They elevated St. Mary to such a level that it confused the Muslims to the point where they claim we worship the Father, Jesus and Mary. The Orthodox are also guilty of this excess. Many kids believe she’s semi-divine at the very least. 7) The Orthodox are often guilty of aligning themselves with nationalism, while the Catholics usually align themselves with fascists. It’s a good thing God will judge us and not them. The schism only goes to show that neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Orthodox churches, as they stand now as institutions, are the exclusive claimants to the universal catholic church that Jesus founded. “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, “Look, here it is,” or ‘there is is.” So all of you claiming the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church is the only “true” church are trying to tell God who Christians are. He knows who’s who. If the churches unified, then I would support their claim of exclusivity, but that would require setting aside their sin of pride, of which there is an abundant supply, so I won’t hold my breath.” – from a person with the user name hect190-909.

Alright then, as always, thanks for reading! Goodnight. Or good morning.. or whatever.

Beginning to follow our dreams..

May 7, 2017

Why is beginning to follow our dreams so scary? One reason might be that we have followed other dreams we’ve had, and after so much time and effort, nothing has turned out. So we follow other dreams, but do so more trepidatiously (and yes, that is a real world).

So what’s my dream then? Make money.. (hey.. how ’bout LOTS of money) by publishing books.. maybe short stories in magazines too.. not sure yet. I am thinking and hoping this is a good dream.. the right dream.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy to have this dream, and actually pursue it. But then, lots of authors are a bit, or more than a bit.. nuts. Hemingway, for example, did not exactly die of natural causes. Actually, many many authors have, or have had, shall we say, issues.

(Damn, I’m incredibly superstitious. Just by writing this post, I feel like I’m jinxing myself, but then.. maybe if I write about how I feel that I’m jinxing myself, I’m taking away the jinx. Or should I delete this post.. would that make the magic work? hmm…)

I’ve been writing nonfiction as an amateur for many years. However, I’m not interested in journalism, because I’d actually have to leave the house and talk to people.

Apart from having some social anxiety troubles, maybe I’d be a good interviewer..? Perhaps I could interview people via computer? Eh.. I’m not nosy enough. I like minding my own business. (Except on FB and other social media sites, including this one, of course. On these sites, we mind each others’ business). And I’d probably have to go to sleep before 5 am, so as to be awake during times when most people are not unconscious.

There are other ways of making a living as a nonfiction writer.. maybe I should explore those avenues, but mostly, that is not what I am interested in.

Except.. I might enjoy and be good at writing a human-interest column. That could be a pleasant vocation. And what about being a biographer? How does a biographer get a first gig?

Fiction writers (those who can support themselves solely by writing) can keep any hours they want, be as anti-social as they want, and drink as much as they want, as long as they stay home and don’t drive. Sounds like a good life to me. though I don’t drink much at all. Maybe I should work on that.. drinking is a writer’s tradition. Nah.. alcohol mostly just makes me sleepy.

But why so scared? Most people who find success as writers spend years working at their craft before they see a dime. Many more spend decades writing, and make no money at all.

Though I’ve had the dream of writing fiction for over 15 years, apart from very few fits and starts (and stops), I’ve just begun writing fiction.. might have years ahead of me before I get paid.

Would be nice if I’d started writing fiction while I was in my early teens, or even younger, but I was not interested in writing then.

Getting older.. I worry about spending time on the wrong things.. and the trouble with trying to turn any hobby and/or dream into something at least somewhat lucrative.. we cannot predict the future.

It’s a terrible thing to put a ladder up against a very high wall, climb the ladder, and then notice the ladder is up against the wrong wall. And there’s nothing on the other side of that wall, and I feel like jumping off that wall..

(Tom.. stop it with the ladders and walls.. think a happy thought. See.. I got issues. I’m being sincere, folks).

Still.. best to take a deep breath and think positive. I have time. I have some skill as a writer (and I’ve been writing fairly regularly since 2009). I have some vague ideas that I plan on turning into stories. Or at least one story.. ummm…

Even though I’ve not read huge amounts of science fiction, that is what I want to write. However, I do NOT want to write standard, cliched sci-fi. (How do I get the little accent mark to go above the “e” in “cliched?”) I like fiction that is genre-bending.

Best example of genre-bending fiction that I can think of is one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels. The Night Watch (not to be confused with the very cool Russian action/horror film of the same title) series (did you know the plural of “series” is “series?”) is set in a humorously Tolkienesque world, with lots of fanciful creatures and people (mostly humans, dwarfs and trolls), but the stories are not sword and sorcery (which I tend to find dull), they are police-procedural mysteries set within a fantasy context, which I think is awesome.

I believe it is still possible to be at least somewhat original.

Thing is.. lots of people apparently don’t want originality. There must be many thousands of thriller novels about detectives chasing serial killers, horror novels about evil supernatural beings from the buried past returning to haunt or destroy the living, and romance novels in which, well, people find romance.

(Actually, I do feel like having a drink right now, but it is 2:33 am.. too late to buy some, and I have no liquor in the house.. probably for the best, wouldn’t sleep for long if I had some hootch at this time).

Would originality even sell?

I hope to find out that the answer is yes.

Are you pursuing your dream or dreams? Have you yet to make any money? Let me know what you are working on.

Thanks for reading. I’ve been writing and revising for hours (hope I didn’t miss any typos or other mistakes..). I’ll stop now.

a choice to be made..

May 2, 2017

Should I become Wiccan?

 

Part I: Troubles with Christianity..

I was a Christian for over twenty years. It’s been just over twenty years since I stopped practicing Christianity.

I stopped practicing this faith for a variety of reasons.

  1. I was verbally abused for several years at two different Christian schools.
  2. During high school and part of college, I was treated quite poorly by Christian mentors, some of my Christian peers, and Christians who were my supervisors at two different Christian conference centers where I worked.
  3. The more I read I read the Bible, the less I believed.
  4. I developed severe OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) symptoms which made practicing Christianity to be terribly psychologically painful.

During the time in between when I stopped and a few years ago,  I sometimes read about other faiths. I explored Buddhism for awhile, and learned enough about Buddhism to know I would not become a Buddhist.

I read about paganism, including Wicca. Wicca is by far the mostly commonly practiced form of paganism in America.

These past several years, I have suffered greatly from obsessive-compulsive disorder with a religious fixation/scrupulosity (feeling like I must obey all rules, and that I never can and driving myself crazy.. religion being only about rules, judgement, punishment).

I have found that no matter how much I feel compelled to be a Christian again, I cannot.

The way the illness has been operating on my mind.. I feel a terribly strong compulsion to become a Christian, while at the same time, have horrible taboo blasphemous thoughts about Christianity.

Most recently, these past several years, I’ve been exploring Catholicism. This is a particularly horrible form of Christianity for someone with my illness.

I have been trying for three years to become a Catholic. I have caused myself immeasurable suffering.. not intentionally, just could not get better, could not get free.

Except once in a rare while.. maybe fore a couple weeks, maybe for a couple months.

As soon as the Catholic fixation stopped, I would head over to a store where Wiccan groups meet, and talk to one of the leaders of the group. I spent a lot of time talking with him.

I have been going back and forth between Catholicism and Wicca for these last several years.

This past year, 2016, I hardly ever went to the store, and spent a lot of time going to mass, even though I felt horribly miserable about Catholicism, and realized that every time the fixation wore off, I found I had no faith in Jesus, and didn’t believe in Old Testament stories of God either.

I feel I could not pick a worse god than the “holy trinity.”

“5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”  Genesis 6:5-7.

What sort of God, who I was taught is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, knows he’s going to do an astonishingly awful job of creation.. such a bad job that he wipes out almost all life on the planet, and knows beforehand that he’s going to do this?

And what about hell?

The absolute worst concept ever created, whether by god or man.

There is no worse an idea than a place where one goes where one burns forever and ever and ever.

Think on that for a moment.

Can I believe? Not consistently, no.

Can I become a Catholic? After three years of trying and suffering from this illness, even going to a priest for help.. and not receiving spiritual help..

Absolutely not.

Can I go back to being some kind of Protestant, like I was when I was younger?

No. I cannot believe what is in the Old or New Testament. I’ve attended a few Protestant services in these past years and have felt horrible.

So.. I cannot be a Christian.

I feel that even though I can’t, if I don’t become Wiccan, and remain as I am, not practicing any faith, God might have mercy on me, and not send me to hell.

This, of course, contradicts Christian scripture. I am an unbeliever, and therefore, according to the Bible, I’m already damned.

The only reason I think God might have mercy on me is that I tried very very hard to be a Christian, and honestly wanted to be one, and could not.

Maybe he will have mercy on me when I stand before him after I die.

Assuming any of this Christian stuff is true.

Part II: Why Wicca?

Wiccans often have a very bad reputation for some very bad reasons. Many try hard to be creepy, dress in certain clothes and wear makeup in such a way as to look intentionally frightening and evil.

Many Wiccans practice the Craft, as it is called, in very selfish and manipulative ways.

However, there are many Wiccans who are very good people and are practicing their faith in a very kind way that I truly believe is good.

How do I know?

In the city where I live, there is a small Wiccan group led by wise people of very strong moral character.

I spent many many hours talking with one of them since 2014.

I really like this group, and the people in it, not just the leaders. After living in this city for over 6 years, there is only one place I can go to where I know I will be welcomed by people who know me and care about me. That is the store where the groups meet, and where some of the Wiccans work.

Another reason I want to become Wiccan..

Since I was a child, I loved fantasy stories. My parents raised me on “The Chronicles of Narnia.” They read them to me, I listened to audio-books, and I read the Narnia books myself.

Yes, in several of the books, there is obvious Christian allegory. Yes, Aslan the Lion is the Narnian version of Christ.

But, there are many many pagan elements in these stories. C.S. Lewis, who wrote these stories, and who was close friends with J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the Middle Earth stories, was, like Tolkien, enthralled with early pagan stories and myths.

Lewis put a lot of characters from Greek mythology in his stories.. tree spirits, fawns (half man half goat creatures) and centaurs (half human, half horse). The pagan god Bacchus (also called Dionysus) and some beautiful maidens accompanying him made an appearance in the second Narnia book.

I did not read much of Tolkien’s works when I was young, but many people in the Christian communities I was a part of were Lewis and Tolkien enthusiasts.

I did watch “The Hobbit” cartoon several times when I was a kid and read the book. Tolkien’s stories are, in my opinion, even more pagan than the Narnia stories of Lewis.

It’s no wonder, that since I loved these stories, I’ve been curious about magic.

When I was in late grade school, and early Jr. High, and I played games similar to Dungeons and Dragons, I wanted to play a character who had at least some magical powers.

When I played the 1980’s video game “Gauntlet,” I always wanted to be the wizard.

Who is my favorite Tolkien character? Gandalf.

I also enjoyed the book “A Wizard of Earthsea,” by Ursula K. LeGuin, which I read when I was in 8th grade. I loved reading many other fantasy stories as well, including those by Lloyd Alexandar (the Taran series), and the Spellsinger series (not really for kids due to some adult content) by Alan Dean Foster.

I’ve read many of Neil Gaiman’s books. All of these deal with magic, magical beings, gods, etc. And for years now, Terry Pratchett has been my favorite author. He writes British fantasy stories that are satire and social commentary.

Do I watch “Game of Thrones?” No I do not. I strongly believe that what we put in our minds matters a great deal. There is FAR too much extreme violence and pornographic content in those shows (I read about the program, and watched an episode and a half).

When sex and violence are combined in one show, I believe this is especially dangerous.

Still.. I like fantasy stories. Many people who like fantasy stories become curious about Wicca and other pagan paths.

Ok then.. besides wanting to be part of a caring community, and having an interest in fantasy stories, why else am I interested in Wicca?

When I am not suffering from my OCD symptoms, I tend to have a spiritual perspective that is nature-based, and vaguely polytheistic. I think I would appreciate practicing the Shinto religion, but I am not Japanese, so that is not an option.

I have read a little bit about Native American spirituality. I think the Native Americans get a lot right. But, I am not Native American, so being trained in this form of spirituality is not an option either.

The Wiccan priest I spent time with said a big reason he became Wiccan was because Wicca was the closest thing that he, as a person of European descent could get to Native American spirituality.

Another reason I appreciate Wicca.. flexibility. Wicca is not a dogmatic religion. I can be Wiccan in whatever way I want to.

Also.. much much more moral flexibility than is to be found in Christianity.

I already have a strong moral code of my own. I don’t need one dictated to me by practitioners of a dogmatic religion, whether it be Christianity, or Islam or any others like these.

Do I believe in magic? (Sometimes spelled “magick”). Yes, I’d say that I do,

Do trust the leaders and teachers at the store where the groups and classes meet?

Yes.

So, why not become Wiccan?

The biggest reason why not? I am afraid of hell.

For decades I did not believe in hell. However, because I spent a lot of time in a Catholic church, and talked with a priest, I have become concerned about hell.

I am also concerned about problems with demons.

The priest I met with is one of the priests or maybe the only priest in the diocese who practices exorcisms. I met with him to try and find out if what I was suffering from was due to OCD, or something demonic.

I had to fill out some lengthy paperwork.. many many questions about my past. So many of these questions asked whether or not I had ever been involved with the occult, whether or not I had practiced witchcraft etc.

Apparently, according to the Catholic Church, and according to most Protestants as well, getting involved with the occult and witchcraft is probably the best way to attract demons, become harassed by demons, and even possessed by demons.

These are my biggest concerns.

A minor concern I have is practicing Wicca in the home where I live.. my roommates are my relatives.. two hardcore Catholic converts (my mom and aunt) and one semi-serious Christian who no longer considers himself to be Catholic (my dad). I don’t that great about trying to work spells in my room or out in the backyard. This minor reason is not a deal breaker though.

Another concern.. uneasiness with relatives. My brother’s wife is strongly Christian. If she found out about me becoming Wiccan, I’m wondering if she’d still let me spend time with my niece and nephews. I am an important part of their lives.

I think I’d still be allowed to spend time with the kids (they are 12, 14, and 16, in case you are wondering), but I think I’d better keep my views to myself.

Also.. if there is a hell, I don’t want to separated from my relatives for eternity. But the worst part of course will be burning forever.

Part III: What should I do?

I know I cannot practice Christianity.

It is possible I cannot practice Wicca either, because I worry too much about hell.

I do not want to be held back spiritually.

I so often so strongly yearn for a spiritual life, practice, and community. And my natural spiritual orientation is pagan.

And finally, I have found a group of Wiccans who I trust and can learn from.

But I am still worried.

Can I ever get over this worry?

Pat IV: Let’s review..

  1. I’m not a Christian. According to the Bible, I’m likely destined for hell whether or not I practice Wicca.
  2. Christian teachings from the Bible and other sources might not be at all true. Maybe there is no hell. Maybe there is a hell, but Christians will still go there, and some other faith group will go to heaven.
  3. Maybe even if I practice Wicca, God will have mercy on me, and not send me to hell (I doubt it).
  4. Maybe there is no life after death and we all just die.

Do I have an immortal soul?

Am I endangering my immortal soul by practicing Wicca?

There’s no way to know.

I don’t like the thought of taking the biggest risk a human can ever take.

I would like to become Wiccan, but not sure if I can.

I have an option to join the local group. The beginner class has started recently. It is a good time to join.

I don’t have to make a lifetime commitment. I don’t have to commit at all.

I could go for awhile..

But I’ve been going back and forth for several years. I want to be consistent and make a commitment.

But I worry.

What should I do?

 

 

run to the hills.. for 26 seconds.

April 30, 2017

Tonight’s music selection.. very brief and very strange.. some of you may remember it.