Friday, October 31, 2008
I flew back from Ohio today. It was much nicer than anticipated and I am eager to return. On the flight back I was in a good mood and feeling a little romantic. I better bust out Pride and Prejudice!
After seeing a parade of 6 year olds in adorable Halloween costumes, I have decided I want to have kids someday. Well, I am least open to it. We will see what happens.
There will be much to talk about when I return (I assume), but in the meantime all of my energy will be redirected this month into a special project. I will most likely cheat and save posts to draft, but NO PUBLISHING. I must remain strong.
Goodnight and good luck.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Church of The River is located on the banks of the Mississippi and from the sanctuary you can see the river as well as the bridge trains use to cross (it's pretty darn impressive). The covenant of the church affirms:
"The purpose of this church shall be to promote the high ideals of a rational, progressive, and exalting religion, in the love of God and in service to our fellow human beings, and to hold regular church services in this community. To this end all activities of the church shall be conducted without distinctions related to race, color, or previous religious affiliation; and the right of private judgment and the sacredness of individual conviction shall be recognized in all things".
Unitarian Universalist churches do not subscribe to any doctrine or dogma. The goal is the growing of souls and to know in deeper ways what is good and true, beautiful and holy, and what they require of us in our daily living and service to others.
Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive. It sounded like it could have cult potential or at the very least be full of wacky, hippie liberals.
As I walked up I was a bit nervous. They had a welcome team that I passed by. They were chatting and standing next to a big bulletin board type stand full of nametags. Everyone at the church has a nametag. After exploring a bit I turned back and asked them if I should get a visitor's tag. They provided me one and told me where to go.
As I sat waiting I was struck by how old the people in the congregation were. At first I was afraid nobody under the age of 50 was going to be coming in. Even by the end of the service I saw only two people who may have been my age. At the church I am a member of, there are very few people over the age of 50. In fact, nearly all are in their 20's and 30's. Also, my current church is pretty diverse race wise, but the Unitarian church was a bit white.
I was not used to the hymns or the communal reading. Having last experienced that over a decade ago when we attended a Presbyterian church, the slow nature of the service caught me off guard. The actual sermon was short, but good. It was odd not hearing references to Christ and sacrifice, but it was a good message. It was uplifting and made me think.
Something very odd did happen while I was there. As I was greeting my neighbors, I asked the lady on my right how long she had been coming here. She replied "forever, I was born Unitarian". This blew me away. I must say, while I understand the concept of people having different religions (three of my best friends are Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu) a part of me still feels these are people who have rejected the divinity of Christ and are living with some inner conflict about leaving the one true religion. I know that sounds odd, but it's true. I suppose I assume everyone has had some extended dark night of the soul like me, and emerged with a new, albeit different, faith.
I don't know if I will be going back in the future. Next Sunday I am helping throw a gala! Therefore, I will not be attending church. I will be headed out of town for the remainder of the week, so I will post this coming weekend. Pura vida.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I know I need to leave my church, but I don't want to. I don't know where else to go and I don't want to be without a meaningful religious community. Also, we have not even had a falling out. The sermon on homosexuality was surprisingly moderate with an emphasis on welcoming those in the "homosexual lifestyle". I am the one who changed. I must move on.
Change is hard. I don't like it. At church I serve on the welcome team and set up the tables for coffee twice a month. I enjoy it. Everyone at the church is friendly and a dozen of my friends are regular attendees. The teaching is solid for a church that believes in a literal Garden of Eden and whose OT training spoke of Saul speaking to a ghost and the sun standing still as actual events. (They also stated the destruction in Joshua was God treating sin like cancer. It must be eradicated before it spreads.)
I have to tell the Welcome Team coordinator that I am leaving, but I have not worked up the courage. It's like when I had to tell my piano teacher I was quitting lessons. A sense of dread and guilt built up inside.
A part of me thinks I should keep going. I would not have to lie to my parents or provide some excuse when they ask where I went to church when we meet up for Sunday lunch. I also could still see my friends and not have to face the challenge and uncertainty of finding new community.
However, this is silly. I can't sing the praise songs anymore. I can't get riled up about the evils of "moral relativism" and pluralism. I can't keep pretending I agree with their doctrine. I can't keep skipping every communion Sunday.
I know this is kind of negative, but I assure you I will be working to keep it upbeat in the future. Soon I shall start chronicling my adventures in church searching. Stay tuned.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I really have the best intentions of delving into serious subjects but I keep putting it off.
Life right now is pretty grand but I am constantly struggling to be a better version of myself on a daily basis. I just take it a day at a time and realize it is not my job to save the whole world. I work to be a better friend, son, brother, neighbor, and employee.
Tonight I saw High School Musical 3. It was great. It's nothing Oscar-worthy, but it was entertaining.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" - Mugatu
Do you ever have conversations that make you feel you are the only sane person on the planet? The other person's views are so opposite of yours that you find it hard to fathom you are actually having the conversation?
I was having a frank chat about sex with a friend the other day. I am a very modest person and don't really talk about sex or even joke about sex with people. I never say, even in a joking matter, that I want to "do things" to a guy or that I want to have sex with someone. I don't mind commenting on someone's attractiveness, but I don't ever make crude, vulgar, or even "off-color" statements. Maybe it's just my Puritan upbringing.
Anyhow, chastity is very important to me and I think it goes hand in hand with fidelity (which I also value STRONGLY). The friend I was talking to considers himself a virgin, which I found very strange. I believe that if you have been in a situation where you feared you might have contracted an STD, you have had sex. Yet, this person firmly believes that they are still a virgin. I am trying to avoid being blunt, but forget it. I consider oral sex, sex. I also don't think a "hand job" is just a "hand job" (quote from same friend). I was appalled! How can you be so cavalier about something so serious? When you share this kind of intimacy with someone you connect with them on a very deep level (scientifically and emotionally speaking). Your body physically makes a connection whether you think so or not. Casual sex does not exist (at least from the limited research I have seen). What I am saying is that many friends who try casual sex end up realizing it can't work. You usually end up developing an emotional connection too. I certainly know a lot of promiscuity exists. I just can't fathom sex without love. I also can't fathom someone's view of chastity being doing everything except having anal sex.
I know this is a rant, and maybe I am just old-fashioned and naive. However, I don't think so. I am not looking for any vulgar or inappropriate comments, but I would like to know if I am alone in these convictions. I know at least some of my fellow bloggers are on the same page, even if they are firm believers in sex being exclusively reserved for marriage between a guy and girl.
I don't know why I am asking for answers out here. I know perfectly well what my convictions are and they are not going to change. I don't look to others to define my own morality (a trait I find lacking in contemporary society). I will find someone who shares my convictions, period.
I just had to share. This post may be taken down once the modest part of myself decides to reread it. Once again, I apologize for the soap-box nature of this latest update.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I am continuing to clear out my draft posts. I have love, humility, faith, and heresy coming up. Be excited!
This post will be concluded by some non-serious thoughts.
How come I can't get hit on by cute, intelligent, moral, funny guys with integrity? I seem to attract creepy old men and promiscuous "shady gays". I got a haircut tonight and the guy cutting my hair was definitely intrusive with his questions and touched me a bit inappropriately. It was completely disturbing! I should have left as soon as I saw him working, but I didn't. It is just time to find a new haircut place.
Why do people think it is okay to compare homosexuality with alcoholism?
How come nobody does any research when it comes to politics or anything else that matters. I get made at Democrats and Republicans who refuse to see the other side of any issue and are woefully ignorant of their candidates stance on things. Abortion and gay rights seem to trump much more important issues like THE ECONOMY (this is true for Democrats and Republicans, my gay roommate seems to think Obama's stance on gay rights is the only reason he should vote for him). Still, I don't see anybody reading up on their candidates plans for NAFTA or working to understand which policies are best when it comes to international trade. People love ignorance, it is comfortable.
Pride is so dangerous. I try so hard to not be full of myself, but when I observe the absolute ignorance around me it is hard not to become smug about my own "sophistication" even though I am terribly ignorant myself.
I love spending time with people who lived through the civil rights movement and have stories to tell. It is even more interesting when they marched with MLK before his assassination during the sanitation strikes in my city.
This weather is amazing.
I am blessed. I have been given more than I could ever, ever ask for. I MUST continue to realize that everything I have is on loan and that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I pray for perspective and an ability to get over myself when narcissism sets in.
The thought of sweater shopping delights me!
The Macaroni Grill is tasty.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I recently came to realize how cold I have become. It was a gradual process. I moved from finally tapping into my emotions this spring to gradually declining to my current state. It's as if I have a finite amount of emotion to expend, and I used all of it up in a matter of months. I don't really feel any more emotion welling up inside, instead it's just a lot of confusion. So many things have changed that I struggle to keep up. However, some days it is not a problem at all. I suppose it depends on how much time I take out of my day for introspection.
I don't know what I want out of the future, but I don't really want to think about it too much. I have some immediate goals, and a lovely goal of moving overseas for graduate school, but that is about it.
I am a bit weary these days. I have been trying to be better at building community, and it is exhausting. I find I don't have as much time for myself as I would like. I don't know if this is good or bad, it just is.
I will wrap this up with some other things that are on my mind.
Being a grown-up come with a heck of a lot of bills. It is a never ending onslaught. Also, why can't I say no when the magazine people call asking me to renew? I have a year's worth of Time, The Economist, Portfolio, and Business Week. I cannot read them fast enough!
Why, despite my best efforts can I never get to bed by 10:30?
How can my room always be so dusty?
* This is another one of my older posts that I felt a need to publish. I am not quite in the same place now since this was written over a month ago. I will work to give you all a bigger update on my current state in the very near future. Ms. Mills from the last post has helped thaw my heart a bit.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This fortune was in my cookie last week. Immediately my thoughts leapt to Edinburgh, Ankarra, Dubai, Barcelona...some strange, enchanting place that would bring me a renewed perspective.
It turns out the "strange place" was within walking distance from my apartment.
Last Friday I volunteered with Meals on Wheels. Before you think of saying I am noble or charitable, I will confess that it was through work and it allowed me to leave town for my Six Flags adventure early.
"Messick-Buntyn" is a neighborhood in decline. It's not really the ghetto or a rough part of town, just neglected. My coworker and I knocked on the first door and Ms. Mills answered. She was probably in her 60's and was delighted to see us. She could not really remember if she had met us before (she had not) and was taken aback by our bright t-shirts (part of the volunteer day). She proceeded to tell us how happy she was that we came because since she got sick her power got cut off and she could not cook anything. These meals and the ones from her church family were pretty much the only ones she had.
She did not say any of this in a manner to solicit sympathy or pity. She was in extremely high spirits and genuinely delighted to see us. Before we left for the delivery the volunteers told us this might be the case because many of these people don't get many visitors. We are the only human interaction many of them have all day.
Talk about a change of perspective. This woman was one among thousands in my city. People elderly and alone. Widows and orphans. Yet, she was thankful.
I decided to tack on an extra 5 dollars a month to my electric bill to help those who can't afford to pay. For a long time I stubbornly refused, thinking it was not my responsibility to give the utility company money for other people. However, nobody should live without electricity. Nobody.
I must never forget how fortunate I am.
Note: This is an older post, but I thought it deserved to see the light of day.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Humility and vulnerability are two things I struggle with immensely. I don't really know why. Tonight I am going to have a conversation with someone that will require both.
I just realized that my back-up drive has died. Ironic. I guess I will have to replace it this week. Please, if you don't get anything else from this post, please understand that it is VITAL to back up your hard drive. You are a naive idiot if you think nothing can happen to your hard drive. Have you ever seen one? Do you have any clue how fragile they are? Do yourself a favor and start backing up your data (at the very least documents and photos) on a weekly basis. If the day comes that your computer crashes, you will be very thankful.
The real point of this post was to get some of the weight off my mind by posting out here to the Internet.
I no longer consider myself a Christian. I know I have mentioned this before, but I mean it in the sense that I don't believe Jesus came to pay for for our sins, I don't believe in original sin (which is still okay if I convert to Eastern Orthodox), I don't believe in the resurrection or the virgin birth, and I don't believe in the Bible being the word of God.
Now, I know I have a small but diverse group of readers and many things are probably going through your minds. First off, this is an indirect result of me coming out. As you know, I have already tried atheism twice, but can't find contentment in that answer. However, this did not all start because I came out, but coming out did really force me to reexamine my convictions. I do not mean some half-ass reexamination where I watch a DVD or read a book or two to shore up my previously held assumptions, I mean a serious spiritual and intellectual search for truth.
I have not been wronged by the church or Christians. Most of my friends are Christian and I really loved my church. This is not something I announce gleefully or with a sigh of relief. This is not what I wanted to happen at all. I am not falling away to chase after the sinful desires of my heart. In fact, I am beginning to care more about my fellow man than I ever have before. Additionally, I am not going off to live a life of hedonism or get a boyfriend and start having sex all the time. I am still terrified of relationships and the prospect of sex. I am still working to overcome all the shame and hatred and fear of myself I harbored for so long.
This post may make me sound like a mental wreck. However, this is not true. I have honestly (after emerging from my existential crisis) become more happy to be alive than ever before. I look back to the days of depression from years past and wonder how on earth I was ever in such a terrible place.
This blog will not turn into some atheist/agnostic rant or one of rejoicing about throwing off the"shackles" of religion. That has not been what my faith has ever been about. In all honesty, much of my faith was already heretical and had been for a very long time.
There is much more to say, but I will spare you for now. Good night.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I will provide a few trivial examples, but this can apply to much bigger subjects.
My chapstick is always on the ground. I can never find it on my desk but sure enough it can be found on the floor. For months I have been thinking it must be because when I move stuff around I knock it off the desk. However, I just realized the problem is that chapstick rolls! It rolls right off the desk! All the time! Now, surely being the intelligent person I am, I should have put two and two together much sooner. However, it did not happen until this morning.
It took me until this spring to realize that "Kwikset" keys were called that because they can make you a "Quick Set". Now I understand the name of the company.
Because I repressed my sexuality so much and focused all of my energy on finding a girl to be attracted to and marry, I never realized how powerful sexual attraction could be. Chastity is not as easy as I once I assumed it would be. Especially since I am pursing individuals I am sexually attracted to. I should be more careful in my judgement of those I see as promiscuous or shallow in their convictions.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Anyway, on my way to see this apartment I passed by some condos that I have been wanting to see for quite some time. They are a little bit of a stretch for my budget, but they were having an open house. They are beautiful and the condo fee is quite affordable! She asked if I had an agent and I said I didn't. I told her my timeline and she recommended a mortgage broker and everything. She was so friendly and I did not pick up any sketchy vibes from her at all. I am ridiculously excited. I may be getting my very own starter home/condo this spring. You can come visit me (as long as you are not creepy or crazy).
This morning I went out to suburbia to rescue my parents dogs from doggie jail (a.k.a. the kennel). They were delighted to be free. As I was driving to the house I realized the suburbs are not so bad. Although I like to say that suburbs are where souls go to die, they are so very pleasant and enticing. The houses are big and clean. There is virtually no crime. You can hear birds chirping. They can really take you in. You could build an entirely false reality out there.
Like always my mind is constantly obsessed with weighty topics, but I have made such tremendous progress in enjoying life. It's pretty grand.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The weather today has been amazing. I love overcast weather and 60's-70's are ideal for me. My goal for the day was to run a mile, but I think I fell slightly shy of it.
Anyhow, I am the proud owner of a new inhaler. This has significantly helped my breathing this allergy season and is what enabled me to run this evening. I have been working on slowing down my mind and taking in the sights and sounds around me. I don't want to brush through life in a hurry. I want to stop and appreciate things.
As I turned the corner near the bus stop, the bus roared off leaving a cloud of exhaust. As I inhaled the fumes a cool breeze came in and I was transported to the Mall de Los Andes in Ambato, Ecuador. There the exhaust from the line of taxis can overwhelm you, while the views of the mountains make you forget the pollution choking you. The weather there is perfect, never oppressive.
Continuing down the street I passed the library and an odd perfume in the air shifted my thoughts to the Lilac festival in Rochester. I knew I was not smelling lilacs in Memphis, TN but inside my head I was still wandering the park with all of the purple plants in bloom.
Tonight I am going to hang out with a friend, buy a book, pick up the new Aqualung CD (hopefully), and watch PR.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I don't know how many readers I have out there, but you will have to prepare yourself for a flurry of posts. I am going to force myself to write something substantial (not counting today) at least 4 times a week until November. I need to get in the habit of writing. While I hope that what ends up turning into a novel will be better than my musings here, anything can help get the creative juices flowing.
You have been warned.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
For a long time I built a false God in my head, a bit of an idol. When I was younger he was a cosmic genie but as I grew older our relationship evolved. Still, I later found Him to be some unjust cosmic being, preventing me from having the one thing I thought I wanted. He was a Creator who messed up and derived some pleasure from my pain. Someone or something that got off on being withholding.
Now I see how wrong I was about this god and I am not certain where that leaves me. What kind of faith do I have? Should I believe the unbelievable? What do I give my heart to?
God is love, or so I am told. It's hard to find that message from the bible sometimes. I truly find reading the bible to be one of the most dangerous things a Christian can do, especially if they subscribe to any form of inerrancy or literalism.
When I care enough, I sometimes want to ask God why? Why do you allow poverty, famine, and suffering? Unfortunately, He might ask me the same question and I would be ashamed at my answer.
Despite my feeling of being lost and my constant fretting about whether I have a courageous enough soul, hope remains. It's rather strange and I don't know where it comes from. Is it God?
My faith has been changing and evolving and throughout I have been forced to throw out (at least for now) many of my previous beliefs. Ironically, I have become more committed to becoming a follower of Christ and it's not easy.
Love is challenging. Love is putting others first. Love and pride cannot occupy the same space. Love is loving yourself. Sometimes this last thing can be the most difficult.
I find it's easy to love people I like: smart, funny, attractive people with similar tastes to mine. However, this is not what love is about. You have to love the outcasts, the oddballs, the loners. The weird kid and the fat kid. The socially awkward and those who annoy you. You can't just write them off and go back to your little clique. They are humans too! For this reason alone you should love them. They have feelings and need love and attention just like you.
Recently I have had the words to a certain song rattling around my head. If you know me at all, you know posting song lyrics is one of the things I hate more than pretty much anything else in the universe. Therefore, I will only post a portion. Think of it as a poem.
"I have joined the long defeat
that falling set in motion
and all my strength and energy
are raindrops in the ocean
so conditioned for the win
to share in victor's stories
but in the place of ambition's din
I have heard of other glories
and I pray for an idea
and a way I cannot see
it's too heavy to carry
and impossible to leave
I can't just fight when I think I'll win
that's the end of all belief
and nothing has provoked it more
than a possible defeat"
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I woke up this morning to two voicemails. One from my brother, and one from my life coach.
My brother is getting married. My younger brother is getting married. I had no idea until two hours ago! It's crazy, exciting, and unexpected.
I have never met her but she is supposed to be beautiful.
Oh yeah, she does not speak English. Time to brush off 501 Verbs.
This will most likely result in several lengthy posts to come. Brace yourself.