Skip to content

Archive for March, 2014


Finding Diamonds in the Dirt


Diamond Miner


I found something today, buried in the ruins of my so called life, I found something that has identified a slow and steady change.

I’ve been a man without a mystery, it was only recently that I began to wear my little wooden cross around my neck, strangely it’s the one cross that I own that has not been blessed by a priest, so in some respects it’s ornamentation. But as of late it’s with me more than not, I wasn’t sure for a long time, but I got a startling clue this afternoon.

We had to move again, it wasn’t something we wanted to deal with, but circumstances forced our hand, and so we packed it all up, sold off a bunch of stuff we didn’t need. Today I’m working on my office, unpacking memories, and trying to give myself a place where I can be fully me.

In my stack of papers I found some cards, one was a sympathy card from my former team at work, expressing their compassion at the loss of the matriarch of my Mothers family, the year before I lost my hero when my Grandfather passed beyond his mortal remains. It’s a touching reminder of loss, and how we all share in the grief of living and dying.

But in that same stack was two cards, one from a little lutheran church in Corpus Christi, it is signed by a group of volunteers who knit prayer shawls, and give them out to those who desperately need hope, the shawl is prayed over constantly. It was given to me by my aunt during the time I was healing from my concussion, and with it came a second card signed and written by my aunt.

This little act of mercy touched the heart of a man who lost his faith, still recovering from the loss of someone close, and dealing with the brutal, maddening, unfairness of life. Inside the second card is this inscription:


We are praying for you. I hope you will heal fast.

God Bless You!

Auntie Dulce

I stopped my unpacking and sat down to reflect, the last few months have been emotionally draining. Michelle has given me room to breathe and mourn, and I needed it, I had a very emotional talk with Fr. Mark about what I was feeling. The parish has not treated us any different, which for an old Baptist is something that I really have a hard time coming to grips with.

When the implications of a group of women who I have never met, would take the time, and skill to create a prayer shawl, for someone they never met, settled on me. Well, I consider it a diamond in the dirt of my being fallibly human, it touched something deep inside, it’s going to hasten a change that I have seen coming for a while now.

Around my neck is a small wooden cross, it has no monetary value, it’s simple and plain. I wear it because I like it’s simplicity, and it doesn’t irritate my skin. It sat for a long time on my night stand, I wasn’t sure if I would ever wear it again, but in the last few weeks it has started to hang around my neck more and more.

It’s part of a change, a metamorphosis if you will, starting deep within where the hurt and loss once ruled supreme. Overshadowing all parts of my life, that endless darkness is now being replaced slowly and steadily by a new light. I even considered going to service tomorrow, which surprised me. I’m not ready, but the fact that I even thought about it, and could feel the warm embrace of standing in the grandeur of the Divine Liturgy in my mind, tells me that the change is picking up speed. I still need some time to process everything, as Michelle and I settle into our new home, it will only accelerate the change.

There are other questions that will have to be dealt with, but those will have to wait, I’m not going to force the change, I’ll let it happen naturally. But happen it will.

Divine Providence, or Random Occurrence?

Maybe, just maybe, that Shawl was meant for a different type of sickness, and only now is it’s true intent coming to light.

Only time can tell at this point…


The Really Hard Part – Part 2

I was driving home with a friend the other day, and we started talking about Church. He was raised Lutheran, was an acolyte, and went through the whole confirmation process. For years they attended a large Mega Church, but lately they started to grow tired of the endless war on morality, and now spend weekends at home, and watch Olsteen to get their uplifting message every week.

I have challenged him before about ‘Why’ they go to church, and pointed out that for the Ancient Faiths, church is about US worshiping God, and for most evangelical it’s about US getting something FROM God..

Big Difference..

That stuck with him, and now his question is why even go anymore? It’s a valid question and I’m glad they are working through it, I would love to warn them about Osteen, but eventually they will figure it out.

But what struck me, was that even in the safe and happy confines of a mega church, the moral wars are starting to take more and more victims and are turning them away from their faith. I see it in the dialog of our elected officials who are more and more becoming the vast right wing conspiracy every time they open their mouths. I’ve been shocked at just how much hate and vitriol is being poured forth in the name of Christianity and morality.

I’ve been highly critical of the Church’s reaction to homosexuality, we have reached a tipping point, where we are beginning to lose the argument and are playing the very role that our detractors are charging us with. It’s especially heinous, when elected officials step in, and let their ignorance and hatred show in how they declare laws. Who in their right mind, would support Arizona’s lawmakers, Brewer did the right thing, but I’m not sure for the right reasons.  On the other hand, a private business should have the right to refuse anyone service, we should not be legislating morality, which is essentially what is happening in our day and age. So those of use who think Civil Unions are fine, and don’t have a real problem with anyone who is LBGT, are left trying to pick up the pieces.

I’ve begun to question the whole take on morality and societal norms. Humans, by and large are drastically unique individually, but tend to be monochromatic when taken in large populations. The church, in it’s war on anything and everything it sees and sinful, has lost the touching grace of our Savior, and has become a scourge that is afflicting mankind. As much as I dislike Dawkin, we are becoming characters in his dissertations against religion, which is a sad statement to be sure.

Last week we finally met with our parish Priest and his wife, it was time, I held out as long as I could but I knew at some point I would have to discuss where I’m at. It was honest, brutal, tearful, and in the long run something that I think I needed. I could not describe my feelings of abandonment without breaking down, the brutality of life, the hopelessness of being human. Their response was gentle, and loving and finally his wife commented that maybe, instead of divine planning, it was simply something physical that took Weston’s life. That forced me to stop and re-consider, I had not put it into those terms, and if she’s right it has deeper impacts philosophically. I can see where a Sovereign God would set the wheels in motion, granting true and utter free will, with both it’s gift, and it’s terrible consequences. Only stepping in when prompted or necessary. Being finite, I cannot fathom the infinite, but it does put things in a different light.

What if free will is the ultimate, terrible prize? How far adrift would any of us let the gift go? that is an interesting question, I need to wrestle with, it certainly doesn’t lesson the loss of a dear friend passing, but it could put it into perspective. Of course there would have to be a mystery element, as I am only clay.

From dirt I am made, incomplete, corrupt and corruptible, in the likeness of an image that I don’t understand, or can’t comprehend, at least in this existence.

Sitting on the shelf above my bed, is a small wooden cross. I bought it years ago in a little Catholic book store, there’s no gold, no silver, no fine craftsmanship to denote it as special. And yet it held deep meaning for many years, and I would wear it over even crosses given to me in my confirmation and illumination. I saw it as a form of a very simple faith, unadorned, unassuming, and utterly devoid of worldly value.

It sits there because I no longer are sure what I am, who I am, or why I believe like I do. It’s a constant reminder that even simple faith can become complicated in the face of tragedy. It will continue to sit there until I either give it away, or once again let it hold the center of my faith.

Only time can answer that question…


The Really Hard Part – Part 1

Since the passing of my best friend, I’ve been at odds with my faith. Forget Theodicy, I’m not interested in playing that game, rather I’m stepping back and taking another look at everything that I’ve learned.

It’s hard not to be somewhat jaded by what I see, I am after all a creation of my past experiences, and no matter how hard I want to let them go, they are part of my fabric now.

I read a blog post from a young man who grew up in the Baptist Faith, and who’s family fell into the trap of us versus the world mentality. No movies, no television, only church music, you could only read the bible, everything out there led to hell. The family adopted a very plain lifestyle, and lived a sheltered life, in fear of everything being tainted. It finally led the young man to try suicide out of utter despair, which was then of course blamed on his lack of faith (which in my opinion is pretty close to one of the most evil things you can say or do, especially to young people who you have trapped in your stupid moralistic worldview). In fact he said something in the article that struck a nerve with me, “if you would just let God break your heart, you could get past all this”. I heard that line for years, and yet no one could really explain it to me in a way that made any kind of sense. After his suicide he gave up on his faith, and is now asking questions about the possible non-existence of God, and looking to finding the truth of the matter, no matter the cost. I not only felt for his position, but wanted to encourage him, not to go back to church, but to keep digging until he found what he was looking for, because at least he’s taking an honest look at the issue. And the answer, theistic or not, is something he wrestled with.

Michelle and I spent the entire holiday season at home, we did not enter the doors of a church once (and still haven’t). Not that I’m mad at anyone, or the Church, it’s not that at all. Rather, I don’t know if I believe anymore in Church, in ceremony, in prayer, in any of it. I’ve wanted to reach out more than once and discuss all this, but I’m not sure our priest is open to a brutally honest conversation about this, and in point of fact there are only two people I know who I can talk to about it.

I guess in the long run, I’m just not sure *I’m* ready to have that conversation yet.

The hurt runs so deep now, and the questions remain largely unanswered, that I feel unable to bring myself around to dealing with them. On top of that, Michelle and I are still going through changes, nothing from the last year has been fully settled so that adds to the unease.

None of this is to say I’m looking at atheism, that’s a road I have no interest in going down, I think it’s intellectually a bad proposition. In many ways the Atheist of today are really no different than the Theist, neither side has conclusive evidence, and all they do is argue all day.

For myself theism is the only viable answer, there are simply too many factors to ignore and declare that there is no God. However,  I’ve been on a long slide to being Agnostic, meaning that I’m not sure *anyone* has the right of it any longer, including the ancient faiths. While I reject the tenants of modern day evangelicalism and the protestant movement, I still think that some of their questions and concerns about the Ancient faiths have merit, and on that alone I can’t simply dismiss everything they say. On the other hand, while I think tradition is important, I’ve too often run into situations where tradition equals or in some cases overrules scripture.

But given my theistic leanings, the role of theodicy is almost inescapable. The world is hardly a fair place, in fact it’s rather brutal at the best of times. I read and article today about children being beheaded in the war between Muslims and Christians, one of my co-workers just found out that his wife has a very aggressive and fatal form of cancer, denying them any hope at a long marriage. Our own government who was supposed to protect our freedoms, is now run by crooks, con artists, and power hungry thieves. Their greatest gift to us this year is a completely botched health care system, that if not addressed soon will begin to take innocent lives, and even with form of evil on our doorsteps, they continue to push on as if nothing bad is happening. It would be easier to deal with if there was even a shred of honesty in our elected officials, but there’s not, and especially this president who doesn’t seem to understand what truth is.

I’ll be honest and tell you that if given the option, I would move my family to a remote island, arm up and let the rest of world rot away in their filth and hatred. Look at what we have done not only to the planet, but to each other. We look back on ancient times and consider them so barbaric, but we have people today who are beheading children because they hold a different religious belief. In my own lifetime there have been wars, genocide, atrocities that boggle the mind.

And now we have a new evil coming in play, the next generation is only concerned with the fairness of everything, damn the consequences, or the lessons of history, it has to be FAIR. Because why can’t someone working at McDonalds or Wal Mart make as much as someone who is getting paid more for a much more technical job?, ignoring the fact that in my own career I spent literally half my life learning my craft, and honing my skills, and my pay scale reflects those efforts. Certainly I had some opportunities, but I also worked menial jobs, I cleaned toilets, washed dishes, scrubbed floors. Nothing was given to me for free, I put in long hours and sacrificed time with my loved ones to build my career. So how is it fair if I get paid less for what I do? or if someone who has little or no skillset gets paid the same as I’m making, that’s not a sustainable model, and anyone with a brain knows that.

Why are they so driven to make things fair?, well partly because the previous generations let them down, we promised a world of modern answers, and then walked away. I’ve long held the opinion that the Church modern has made more atheists than any atheist group could hope to recruit, because on our stages, with all the lights and powerpoints, the struggle of faith cannot be tolerated. There is upcoming a debate between Bill Nigh the Science Guy, and Ken Ham the creationist wackoid, who wants to take the book of Genesis as literal science. Guess who’s going to win that little contest of stupidity? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not going to be anyone holding up a bible as their source text). Although I don’t really care for Nigh, and find that he’s as religious about science as any modern preacher, Ham is fundamentally arguing the wrong point before the debate even starts, he simply has no chance of winning.

I”m tired of it all, I’m sick of the church and the poison that it has been spreading through the world. There is some good, I’m not going to deny it, but for every good, there is just as much hate, evil and fear generated by good church going people. We’ve taken the Gospel and twisted it into an abusive form of subjugation for anyone who dares disagree with our tightly held views (especially anyone who is GAY!! (Gasp)). There’s a saying in my line of work, that we talk globally, but act locally. The same can be said of our religious institutions, we talk about love and obedience to God, but instead we honor conformity to the status quo.

That is partly the influence of man, but I can’t help but wonder on the other part if God has just taken his hands out of the mess, or if free will is really a terrible gift? It’s a question I no longer am sure I can answer…