Thursday, April 28, 2011

Giving Utterance

You can look at my thoughts from the past few years in a few ways. You can see them as meditations on ambition. My desire to do triathlons, marathons, kick boxing, novels and finding love can be seen as a desire to stand out and accomplish. In refusing to sit back and live a "King of Queens" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" kind of blue-collar life of beer league sports and reality tv, you may see me as a pretentious hipster. My jeans are certainly tight enough.

You can see my thoughts as preposterous navel-gazing. Just why is it that I think about my own biography so much? There is a limit to how self-absorbed one can be, no? Just how often do I need to think about my past relationships?

But really, in my own eyes, this blog has been about life.

Writings like this one encourage me and help me think that I haven't gone insane. The body and the soul have a deep, intimate connection. Traditional Chinese Medicine sees it this way. Their embrace of psychosomatic treatments have profoundly changed my worldview. Reductive anatomical medicine has conditioned me to think that a psychosomatic problem was somehow a lesser issue. The body is not physically wrong so there's nothing wrong. It's all in the person's head. My first steps into TCM (thanks to my wonderful girlfriend) have changed my views completely. A psychosomatic problem just means that there are two problems and reductive anatomical medicine has no means of treating one of them. If a house has problems with both the wiring and the plumbing, shouldn't both of them be addressed?

Western Christianity taught me that souls are real only when we're talking about death. Souls are only real when we're talking about Jesus and his atoning, substitutionary work on the cross. What I've been fighting for these past few years was my soul. I wanted to take it back from the butchers in the pulpits. Eternity is longer than your mortal life so spend your life to further the glory of God. What does that mean? Win souls. What does that mean? Tell people about Jesus and then get them to tell others about Jesus. Your suffering in doing this is glorious.

The practice of Western Christianity as I have seen it contains a deep line of hypocrisy. We teach the reality of the soul and the impermanence of the body. We live the reality of the body and the low value of the soul. Was your flesh martyred for the cause? Excellent. You have a reward in heaven. Did you give up soul-nourishing activities so you could give out tracts? Stop whining. Did a body go beneath the waters and emerge a Christian? Excellent harvest. Did your soul experience renewal and life when you heard an aria, read a passage, saw a photo, watch a ballet, spat a flow, played a riff, or breathed the rarefied air of purer worlds? Better talk about Jesus or we'll talk about how small your experience was.

I heard my soul echo in life's empty darkness. These blog posts of the past 3 years have been an attempt to give utterance to the institutional, doctrinal violence I suffered. My joys, my heart, my passion was crucified on a cross of evangelism and mission. If it doesn't manifestly lead to conversions, then what I do doesn't matter. If I don't apply my talents to racking up conversions, then I'm living in rebellion.

Their words affirmed that creation was made for joy, for our relationship with God but when I wanted to meditate on nature, on beauty, I found their hypocrisy. C'mon, hurry up! Get to the Jesus dying part! They have to know about that! What's with all this sappy crap about your own soul's experience? Joy? Joy without meditating on atonement? Blasphemous. That's not important. Quick before they leave, tell them about Jesus. Every time you talk to someone, you have to mention this!

The soul is real and it can die while a person lives. Rob a person of their means of joy and you do worse than kill them. Take from me my races, my words, my ability to spread my wings and you fetter me with chains of adamant. I feel alive, I feel nearness to God when I run, climb, swim, jump and free the body to do all it can do. I feel affirmation and confidence when I can write and create. Why don't I evangelize and be more plain with my Christian affiliation in my writing? Because that's exactly what stifled my spirit for so many years. I have little love left for movements of missionary zeal. I still support them selectively but they don't have the carte blanche on my heart they once did.
It may have taken me 3 years, but now I can give my heart utterance. It may have taken me two heartbreaks, and a number of hard journeys, but I know who I am. I know what I'm fighting for -- nothing less than my own soul.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad that you've reached this conclusion; I remember (briefly) touching on this issue with you a year or so ago and your response seemed to belie an inner struggle that perhaps you were only just beginning truly to understand. You were focusing on what you felt was right for you--YOUR personal truth, if you will--and yet your spiritual mentors were admonishing you for wasting your time on non-missionary activities. Like you said, they were waiting for you to get to the Jesus part.

    As a lifelong Catholic, I have struggled almost from the very beginning with the core tenets of my religion. There is so much that is good but there is also a great deal that is rigid and seemingly contradictory. My personal battle was harmonizing the type of person that I was and am with what I felt I was supposed to be. The deeper I journeyed, though, the greater the hypocrisy I perceived and the more confused I became.

    My personal conclusion is that there is an element of truth in EVERY major religion but it should be taken at arm's length. Ultimately, organized religion is as much a corporate affair as Pepsi or PWC, the primary difference being that the marketing centers on a key figure (e.g. Jesus, Allah, Buddah) and the product is a way of life instead of a soft drink or personal finance plan. It is a battle between the powerhouses, quite literally, for our very souls. I have resolved the seeming hypocrisy among and between all of these religions by determining that there are divine elements of each (e.g. the idyllic aspects) as well as practical HUMAN ones (e.g. the very specific breakdown of proper dowries outlined in the Qu'ran depending upon the individual divorce case). They (the religions) can't ALL be right but it's entirely possible that NONE of them are.

    Ultimately, if one lives a good life and seeks to better oneself, others, and the world at large, while minimizing negative or evil behaviors, habits, or perspectives, then shouldn't that be enough? I am a Catholic Christian by choice and thus I attempt to be as Christ-like as I can be in my life...but, naturally, I fall short far more often than I would like. Do I proselytize at every opportunity? No, because it's not MY concern whether or not my neighbor shares the exact same religious views as me; that is the church's concern as an organization. Truth be told, I'm having a hard enough time finding my OWN personal truth and balancing that against my religion...and I'm going to go and try to convince someone else to follow my path?

    Everyone should come to their preferences of their own volition and should be championed for so-doing. It's a shame that there will be detractors, Stan, who will shun you for the way that you live your life but, for at least one person, you're an inspiration.