Tag Archives: responsibility

Guilty by Association

I quit the Catholic Church when I was 13. Hadn’t really been into it for a few years at that point.

Just joined a Christian church, which is essentially alternative Methodist, a couple of weeks ago.

How much responsibility can I take for the horrors that have occurred in the name of Jesus?

My mother has been a devout and practicing member of the Catholic Church since she joined as a teenager.

How much responsibility must she assume for the horrors done by the decrees or the turned eye of the Pope?

The guilt of the individual as member of a religious group is something I hadn’t considered until recently.

First let me state the ways in which I feel I myself have been harmed in the name of Christianity (mostly by way of Catholicism):

  1.  soul-crushing guilt
  2.  a very dysfunctional and unhealthy view of sex
  3.  an image of a demented, angry, vengeful God who is an old man bent on tricking, coercing, threatening and bribing people to bow down before him. Or else.
  4.  the fear that truth comes from outside, that one cannot listen to one’s own inner voice, that one cannot trust
  5. the guilt and hopelessness that come from the belief that any negative/bad/unpleasant thing that happens is my punishment for being so wicked
  6. a focus on the negative, hell, the evil one, sin, the essential badness of humanity, etc.

I’m sure there are other effects I haven’t even thought of. But I have lately read enough about Jesus by people who seem to genuinely understand him to realize that throwing Jesus out with the bathwater is wasteful for me. For me. Allow me to emphasize, for me. I do not and will not subscribe to the belief that it’s my way or the highway. It’s my way for me, your way for you. If there is some kind of a judgment day, I’m going to have to answer for what I’ve done, and that’s going to be a big enough task without my having to answer for what others have done.

My goal in aligning myself with a Christian church at this point is to have an outlet for the deep desire I have for togetherness, for observable manifestation of Oneness, for the opportunity to serve the community at large through established channels. As much as I profoundly enjoy my solitary study and communing with the One, I know that I must at some point enter the world and apply what I have learned.

Just this morning I read this in the Hua Hu Ching as translated by Master Ni, Hua-Ching:

“My venerable teacher, should one spend all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation in order to remain above all worldly conditions and maintain absolute mindedness?

Kind prince, one who spends all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation for this purpose is establishing his mind to do something in a certain, definite way. By doing this, he clearly does not practice absolute mindedness, but instead demonstrates the narrowness and partiality of his mind. He cannot reach anywhere or become any kind of super-being. You see, the practice of absolute mindedness is not the practice of stiffness. That which is stiff belongs in the company of the dead, whereas that which is supple belongs in the company of the living. The mind should be like clear water that is always flowing smoothly. One should not designate a specific time or place in which to practice absolute mindedness, but should practice it in all aspects of life, whether essential or trivial.

My venerable teacher, should one intentionally and completely avoid all worldly troubles and activities for the purpose of practicing simplicity and keeping the mind clear?

Kind prince, if there are no worldly troubles and activities, where can one practice simplicity? Simplicity is the key to handling the troubles and activities of daily life. Simplicity is the law; the manifold, multiple forms are the events. Use the law to govern the events. This is the meaning of simplicity in the larger sense.

I want to expand my spiritual studies out from the realm of me, sitting in the early quiet hours of the morning by myself, reading and contemplating, and put them into action in the realm of Us.

Christ Church is, from my current point of view, my best option to achieve this goal.

But I recognize that by entering into association with a group, I am assuming responsibility for things done in the group’s name. Past things I had nothing to do with? Present things that I wasn’t in on the planning of? Future things that my input is not solicited for?

An interesting issue that I will revisit as more insight and information becomes available.

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Playing Their Game vs. Survival Mode

A few weeks ago, after we received our tax return, I came up with a very reasonable, responsible plan to pay off some of our credit card debt with a substantial portion of the amount. I even projected my plan into next year with the goal of eventually paying of our debt entirely.

I’m sure my current position as budgeting instructor has contributed significantly to my fabulous life strategy.

Playin’ the game to win, baby.

But here’s what happened.

Real life and the cyber world conspired to place within earshot one too many conversations about the end of civilization as we know it. Since making my brilliant plan, but luckily not yet sending in the check, I’ve heard lots of talk of global warming/peak oil consumption/terrorists getting nukes/ and other nail biting scenarios in which the fire pit out back becomes the hearth of our home and whatever seeds a person happened to buy for their garden lately is what they’re gonna eat for the next, well, forever.

My thought has shifted to: I’m gonna waste the bird we have in our hand on something pretend like a credit score?

A game changing world event could come along any second. And if it does, are the credit card people going to be banging on my door? No, they’re gonna be in their own corner of the planet, trying to build a fire pit in their backyard. Wishing they’d bought seeds instead of another yacht.

So I can blow a wad on paying them back, or I can spend that money on real items that might help my family survive in our own corner.

Even more than the actual money is how I FEEL about each decision. When I was in the mind frame of paying a lot toward credit cards: trapped, small, controlled, sad, resigned, low. I’m never going to win the game. It’s definitely rigged. Once you’ve agreed to play, you’ve lost. You can lose more or less, you have some control over how far you’re gonna bend over, but you’re gonna lose.

Once I entertained the possibility of continuing to pay a bit more than the monthly minimum (after all, I’m not out to default on my agreements) and invest the rest in our life and our actual future: alive!, powerful, engaged, real.

I’m sure the credit card companies would be thrilled with this plan. After all, the longer it takes me to pay them off, the more they get.

But if the ship goes down, I’m swimming away without looking back. They can keep their numbers and their scores and we’ll just call it good.

And even if it means paying more in the long run, it might be worth it to buy this feeling of control.

The Choice is Yours

I used to think that parenting was all about helping kids make their own choices. After years of experimenting with this philosophy, I’ve had to adjust so that I don’t let my kids slam too many doors before they’ve even had a peek through the keyhole.

Looking back on my own life, I realize how huge every decision was, whether I made it for myself or my parents made it for me. Even seemingly small choices become huge divergences on the path of life.

Yesterday I took my 15 year old son to sign him up at a new high school. He wanted desperately to stay at his old one, but for various reasons such as our having moved out of district, not to mention the price of gas, the new school is a necessary change.

I felt terrible about it until we’d gotten him his new schedule which includes drama and computer classes. I feel like he has something to look forward to and can meet some people with similar interests.

He has chosen not to continue to play football. This feels like an even bigger decision to me, just because there are so many benefits and good memories generated by participating in school activities. While I don’t care about the pigskin in particular, it is the only sport he has experience in, and at this level of organized sports it’s too late to start something new.

I knew I had to turn this choice over to him.

I know some parents would push, some would push hard, but I just spoke to him seriously, trying to impress upon him the implications of his decision. But I know, having been a teenager, that there is no way he can possibly understand how big every decision is.

At this point, even though he is choosing, the responsibility for the future consequences falls on me for letting him choose.

Some days, this huge weight feels too big to carry. But somehow I take another step and move on to the next fork in the road.