Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Grape #20: A Reintroduction

I began this blog a few years ago, but it kind of fizzled out much quicker than I'd planned. The thing is, I still have a lot I want to talk about, and here's why...

We should all be able to rattle off our sins to a priest, our failings to a psychologist, on a moment's notice, and if we can't, we aren't spending enough time really thinking about the ways in which we're fallible, and in real need of spiritual growth. We're all living here in the same playground of life, yet some of us are playing more than we're grounded in the reason we're here. Some of us aren't keeping our darkest thoughts and deeds in check at all, in fact, and guess what? Everyone knows. They talk about us behind our backs when we keep doing those things we always do, and saying those things we always say.

I don't write this because I'm some morally superior leader in your life, but actually because the complete opposite has always been true. Sure, I consider myself lucky to have gotten the kind of education in theology, and years of experience in a monastery to postulate on religious, spiritual, and life topics of all kinds, but I've also got a fairly good handle on my own moral inferiority, and I believe that's the kind of knowledge any preacher worth his pillar of salt really needs to have.

I'll put it plainly. If you knew all my so-called sins and sinful thoughts, you'd know I have no right to judge you for your own, and I won't. Spiritual discussions aren't judgments, either. They're simply diving boards into the pool of growth. (But I know diving boards scare some people.)

So here's what Grapes on Divine will be about. It'll be me writing about topics of all kinds with the hope that you comment and occasionally share my entries to help us get a conversation going online. One week it might be an esoteric church discussion about what the Trinity means, but a few weeks later I might go on a spiritual rant about the Kardashians and Kermit The Frog. The topics are all just starting-off points. It's the conversations we build together that will matter more.

I'll keep things real, I'll keep my ego in check, and I'll consider your time as I do so, keeping most of my entries to a brief, bite-size vitamin of verbal virtuosity. That's the long, arrogant way of saying I'll keep 'em short.

So stay tuned. The conversation begins next week.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Grape #19: Grapes To Pick

The phrase is usually "bones to pick", but I think grapes to pick fits better for this blog. I've got a few random grapes I want to pick, so I hope you'll appreciate at least some of what I have to say here.

Bobbi Kristina: May she rest in peace, although I believe she was already trying very hard to "rest" in peace, except for her family insisting she would recover. The poor girl was kept "alive" by machines, and I just don't know why. If there was some significant progress, I understand not turning off the machines, but if all indications were clear she was brain dead, it saddens me to think they kept this going so long. Let the poor girl be with her mom again (maybe she already was), I kept thinking time and time again these past few months. Thank God (or the doctors), she now is.

Satanic Statues: I believe in the separation of church and state. I don't want any church or religion to have anything to do with the government of all the people, and I don't want the government to have anything to do with an individual organization or precepts of any particular faith communities. This is why there should not be a statue of the 10 Commandments on church grounds. Are they very good rules to live by? Absolutely! And I don't have to declare myself a Jew or a Christian to think so. But they don't belong on state grounds. Period. That said, neither should these horrible statues of Satan some folks are trying to put up. I simply refuse to believe there are that many people out there who really believe themselves to be Satan worshipers. I think most of them are just trying to make a point, and to that end, I understand. However, you cannot make your point valid with an invalid message. If you believe as I do that the religious statues don't belong on state grounds, then you ought to also believe that anti-religious statues don't belong there either.

Confederate Flag: If you truly believe this is a representation of the South, and not a representation of hatred or racism, that's fine. We'll leave the history out of it for now. You can't leave the truth out of it though. Black folks stay away from businesses flying the Confederate flag in the south. They don't feel welcome, nor should they. For a whole lot of people, it represents hatred and racism, even if it doesn't do the same for you. To that end, if a flag is known by that many people as a negative, even racist symbol, why would you continue to champion it? Love the South and want to tell the world? Great. Then fly an Alabama state flag or something.

Caitlyn Jenner: I'm not transgender, so try as I might (and I do), I don't fully understand what it means, or why people feel so strongly in their heart of hearts that they need to be someone other than who they were born to be. I just don't get it. But why should my ignorance or yours try to change someone's mind or heart? Why do we even think about criticizing the heart of someone else who is just trying to be who they feel themselves to already be? Caitlyn and so many others who identify as transgender or similar are screaming out to us in so many ways over so many years now that they know themselves better than we do, and they just want us to try to understand. So that's what I think. I don't get it, but why the hell should I use my ignorance as a weapon on someone else? Why can't I just be happy for someone who is chasing after their own happiness? I can.

Anti-Muslim hatred: I've seen this so much for so long now, it's starting to really make me angry. I got an email this morning from someone close to me who was passing on a story about a Muslim woman trying to kill her doctors who saved her. I read the piece hoping to understand why it was sent, by the person close to me but also by whomever created the e-mail in the first place, and all I can see is hate. People speak about every Muslim everywhere as if they are all terrorists. It's sick and evil thinking, and it simply must stop now! There are over a billion Muslims in the world--1.6 billion in fact, based on a 2010 figure I just saw. That's approximately 23.4% of the world's population! Not the population of Asia or Eastern Europe...the whole world! Close to a quarter of the whole world's people are Muslim! So anyone who spreads this kind of hate needs to wake up and stop it right away! I'm sick of it! Wanna hate on terrorists? By all means, go ahead. There are evil-doers out there who need to be stopped. But to hate on all Muslims, even coyly, even subtly, is just plain wrong.