Monday, December 31, 2018

Let's Dig In: Religion Part II (where my existential crises and limited philosophy skills play together)

These are some of the rabbit holes my brain goes down when I'm off on an existential crisis. A majority of times I'll stop myself from going down the rabbit hole because I don't want to think about such things, and because there really aren't answers to the questions, at least not satisfying ones. But it is important to think about such things... sometimes. You just also have to stop yourself because it could drive you bonkers. So for me, maybe writing these things down will help me to stop before I go completely bonkers. Also it's important to stop oneself because these thoughts often get dark and can lead to dark corners of the mind that house the negative voices. And giving them a voice can lead to bad behavior and wrong choices and ultimately harm others or oneself. So on THAT lovely thought, here are things and concepts I struggle with:

One of the first things you learn in church is that god created the heavens and the earth. *He created the world in seven days, and created "man" in his own image. I know as an enlightened individual that all the earths creatures were not made in a week, but what a day is to god is probably not the same to us humans. We equate a day as a single revolution of the earth. So if god is sitting up there in the universe looking down at our little spinning ball, it's probably spinning pretty fast in his eyes. Basically I'm saying time and space are irrelevant here. So yes, I think those who take the "god created the heavens and the earth in seven days" thing literally are a bunch of ignorant fools. Now if I take the stance of only science and that gasses and quarks, atoms, and space dust floating around and banging into each other and slowly over billions of years making planets and stuff, I can understand it to a point. I get evolution and the slow creation of plants and animals. But you cannot create something from nothing. So where did those elements come from? Okay so there is stuff out in the universe. But where did it come from? The worlds religions answer that with a being who created the stuff of which we and the universe is made of. Ta Da! This is how many people of science are also religious. The god got it all started. But do I believe that? I can't wrap my head around that concept. So if I can't even believe that fundamental element of faith of pretty much every religion in the world... am I just screwed? I can't explain the something from nothing.

Second thing is the concept of a soul. Humans evolved over billions of years into the species we are today. And if we don't ruin the planet or blow it up in our stupidity we will continue to evolve. So if god created us, at what point in our evolution did he decide this is the point in our development where I give them a soul? We as a species, religious or not, kind of accept that we are conscious beings, the smartest species on the planet, and have something in us that sets us apart from all other species. Conscious thought, a soul. But is it a soul? Is it evolutionary instinct? Intuition? Something happened the day my mom died. And everyone in the room saw it. My mom left her body before her body stopped working. She was still breathing, heart beating, but she wasn't there. Her "soul" was gone. We looked at her and said she's already gone. Just the outer shell was there. Science cannot explain my mom leaving her body prior to her body dying. But religion can. Religion gives an explanation of a soul and what it is. So did her instinct, intuition, and brain (whatever it is that makes us the unique species that we are) stop working first and that's what we saw or did her soul leave first. Did god take her soul prior to her body completely stopping? I don't know. I can go see my mom at her grave. I know that her ashes are under her name plaque. But I "know" she isn't there. What made her her isn't in that urn in the ground. But I don't think she is out floating around in the universe as a conscious being either. And I don't think she is a conscious being in heaven either. I understand that it makes us feel better to think that after we die there is something else. That we continue on in some way. It makes us deal with people dying around us easier to accept. To "know they are in a better place" or whatever. I kind of like the idea that we just cease to be. The brain switches off, the body stops working, and our consciousness just goes to sleep. The end. There's no judgement. No purgatory. No heaven. No hell.

So does this mean I believe in nihilism? Eh..... not really. Because I want my life to mean something. I want purpose. I want meaning. I want to be on this planet for a reason. If I believed that life in general is meaningless and my existence means nothing, then there would be nothing holding me back from just ending said life right now, because what's the point. I don't want that, and I don't think any of you want that either. I need my life on this planet to mean something, to have an impact. I need a reason to live, to keep breathing. I'm not done yet.

If interested, here's some other interesting/funny things I find on the internet:

Here's an 18 year old kid, who at 16 had an existential crisis and his conclusions: NateIsLame My Thoughts on Religion

And here's a collaboration of a young animator (TheOdd1sOut) and a musician (Boyinaband) poking a little fun at living a balanced life: Life is Fun

Lastly for the day, I take issue with religious leaders who play politics. On second thought, I don't want to talk about this. Lets just say that these people are utter shit heads who are horrible, idolize and worship false gods, are power and money hungry (the exact opposite of what a religious leader should be), and give religion and believers a bad name and image to the world.

*In the earliest versions of the bible before being translated into English multiple times, god was not masculine or feminine. God was just god, a being. But in our so called modern culture, god has been given masculine characteristics and prefixes. So growing up in the church, god was always male. And therefore males were better than females. So I always felt this underlying resentment toward the church because I, as a female, was somehow deemed a lesser being. Because Eve was made after Adam and from Adam, she therefore belonged to him. Was less then. That may not have been the lesson intended, but that's what I learned. And no one ever said, "no, no, that's just some dickhead mansplaining bullshit. What god actually said was all humans are created equal and in god's image." Period. End of debate. Male, female, equal. Lesbian, gay, trans, equal. Black, brown, white, equal. Native, immigrant, refugee, equal. Rich, poor, homeless, equal. Autistic, genius, dumb as a doorknob, equal. Whatever you are, you are not more than or less than any other human on this spinning blue ball we all call home in gods eyes. That is what should have been taught in Sunday school. That is what should be taught in Sunday school.

Let's Dig In Series links: Religion Part I     Depression Part I      Obsession Part I

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Have you tried rebooting? I hear it's all the rage

Just turn it off and on again. Instead of New Years resolutions, and yes I know I'm posting this before Christmas, I'm rebooting myself. Every single New Years resolution I have ever made, I've broken. It doesn't work for me. And I'm not saying making them is bad. I think for some people, maybe even many people, they are good. They are suppose to motivate you, to make you want to become better human beings. So be a better human being, dammit! sorry

I've decided to reboot instead. Like clearing your web browser. Or cleaning out your cache and deleting your cookies (your web cookies, not the real ones in the cupboard). Or hitting reset on that game. But more like actually rebooting your computer after it crashes right before your auto save saves so you loose all the work you just did. Yeah, that. So instead of punching my metaphorical computer (myself) or going all Office Space on it every time it crashes (fails at something), I'm going to reboot (start over) it.

I'm also not waiting till next week either (why does everything new have to start on January 1st? It's just another day, it's not like some super awesome most amazing person was also born on that day or anything). I hesitate to say I've had a sucky year because I know that many have had WAY worse times than I, but it wasn't all sunshine, butterflies, and rainbows. Not even a single unicorn.

Part of my reboot was getting help for my depression. Yay. I started journaling, which has helped in pulling the writer part of me out of her dark dank hole (hello blogger, nice to know you still exist on the internet). And today I got a haircut. May not seem like such a big deal to you but I haven't cut my hair in well over a year. I did cut my own bangs (so I could continue to see out of my eyeballs) and I did shave off the back (that was sort of liberating), but still, going out and having some stranger try to make small talk while cutting my hair is a big deal, okay? Geesh. I think I did good though. I think I said enough random mundane things to not make her think I was too much of an awkward, slightly pudgy, crazy cat lady freak show. There were only a few long drawn out silences. I call that a win. Also the "blowout" part where she pulls your hair with the brush thingy and the hair dryer bit felt good. Yeah, I'm not weird at all.

Also today I bought a new shower poof. So out with the old and in with the new. Apparently you're suppose to switch them out every 30 days????? Seriously?? Yeah, I uh.... well... *cough* I have a new one now. I should switch to a new toothbrush while I'm thinking about it.

With the journaling thing I mentioned above, I've been writing three goals for the next day. They are by no means monumental goals. Not trying to save the rhinos or anything. They are usually quite simple, like do all your work assignments, make dinner, go for a run, do laundry, or shower because you stink. Small things. And some days even these small things are too monumental for me to accomplish, but I can usually do one or two. So I am finding that even though some days I can only manage a shower, I've accomplished something that day. I wasn't a failure... at that. And guess what, I ran twice this week. Don't mind that that was last weeks goal, but I did do it. I'm learning to celebrate the little accomplishments. I got out of bed today and put on adult clothes! Woo Hoo!

So yeah, please stand by while I reboot... it may take a little time... you may want to go get some snacks.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Let's Dig In: Religion Part I

*Trigger Warning* We're going to talk about organized religion and why I don't like it.

I started going to church in utero.  The church I grew up in wasn't the strictest, but it wasn't the most open either. There were rules, and you were suppose to follow them. There were certain things you were suppose to do and certain things you were suppose to say and if you didn't do those things, you were told you were wrong, and you were living in sin and you were not going to heaven because of it unless you asked for forgiveness and changed and conformed. I never felt bullied. There was pressure, but I never felt threatened. I never felt comfortable though either. I never felt like I belonged there.

Being gay was wrong. Being transgender was wrong. Dating or marrying someone outside the faith was very frowned upon. A former pastor was kicked out and his license was taken away because he and his wife got divorced. So growing up in that environment was at times very confusing to me. My grandparents got divorced but my grandma was still a church member. At first, as a child, I just accepted what I was told and taught. But I was at odds with what I was told to believe and do and be and what I thought and felt I was and who I wanted to be. I can remember when I was very little, maybe 5 years old, and my mom or dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. A simple question asked to many a 5 year olds. I distinctly remember saying, "I want to be a boy when I grow up". I don't remember what my parents thought of my answer or what was even said but I vividly remember saying that. I was standing in the hallway at our old house outside my then bedroom. I meant it. And I remember feeling the peach fuzz on my upper lip and thinking when will this grow into a mustache? How old will I be when it starts to grow? (The answer is early 20's) Of course now when I see any random hair that isn't fuzz on my face I yank that sucker out. I also remember thinking when I was in my late teens and 20's, thinking that because I wasn't into dating or boys or having sex that I was maybe a lesbian. But then I thought, I'm not really into girls either. So what was wrong with me? I did figure that one out. I am heterosexual, but I'm also asexual and if you don't know what that is or means, you should go figure that out, go learn something and broaden your horizons on what the range of human sexualities and genders are (there are more than two). This was always a conflict within the religion I was brought up in. There were two genders, there were men and women and they had certain roles to play and if you deviated too much from those roles then you were deviant and sinning and hurting god. Well fuck that shit.

It was okay to be single... as long as you were still looking for your mate. "That poor lady. She must be really sad and lonely. She hasn't found her other half yet." So sorry, that you think I'm only half a person for not marrying.

I know that many of you who read this know me personally from the church, but you also then know that I swear a lot in this space and many of you also know I don't go to church now as an older adult. I finally stopped going every week by around 19-20, and completely stopped by age 21. I only go now for special occasions. When my mom was still alive, she wanted the family to all go to Christmas Eve service. So I went because she's my mom. But I wouldn't participate. I don't pray. But out of respect when my dad or other family or friends do, I bow my head.

I'm just uncomfortable there. I've tried other churches, other denominations, and other religions. I'm not at ease with any of them or within any of their walls. I feel like I'm being manipulated there. They use music, lighting, and the way the leader speaks to invoke certain emotions within me. I don't like that. But that's what they are suppose to do. It's suppose to be a "religious experience". How else are they to do it? I don't know, but I don't like it.

So now do I call myself a christian? No. Do I call myself an atheist? No. Do I call myself agnostic? No. I don't know what I believe. Do I think there is an afterlife? Usually no. But then I find myself in conversations with people and I say things like, "well my mom is happy now, she's with Jesus." When I die, will my soul/spirit go somewhere? I don't think so, but then I think that's kind of sad. Aren't we suppose to think about how great it will be to be reunited with all our loved ones again, like my mom? If there is an afterlife, will I go to the "good place" because as a child/young person I "accepted Jesus into my heart"? Well, that depends on which religion you believe.

I start to question myself and doubt myself and think there might be something wrong with me because I just don't feel or believe in it. And I see these amazing and brilliant people around me like my dad who is super smart and has a very emotional and analytical mind who whole heartedly believes in god and heaven and who knows with every fiber of his being that when he dies, he will see his wife again. How can I then, in my own mind believe that that is all bullshit? That religion is just man made stuff made up to make people feel better about those unanswerable existential questions? Does he feel like a failure because his children aren't necessarily religious? Do other's see him as a failure for it? You better not, because we're freaking awesome!

Then I think well I'm a good person. I try to make the world around me better than I found it. So then if I'm wrong and there is a god and the religion I was raised in is "the one correct" religion will I then go to hell? Because I chose not to believe or do I get to go to heaven because deep down, I'm a good person. Are all the other religions wrong? Because if you look at the majority of the earths religions, the big picture and over arching themes are all the same. It's only in the details where they differ. So then are all religions the correct religion? Or are all these people who believe such things stupid for believing? There are some very intelligent people out there who are religious. They can't all be wrong can they? Then I think well then why do I have such a hard time with the concept?

I was religious for half my life so far. I tried. I tried to fit in. I tried to conform. I was in the scouting program. I was in church musicals, youth group, bible studies, worship team member. Even went to church summer camps and conferences. Listened to christian music, went to christian concerts and festivals. I was never comfortable. I couldn't be who I wanted to be. I couldn't be my true self. I couldn't say what I wanted to say. I was never comfortable in my own skin there. Why would I continue to go to a place week after week, year after year, if I was uncomfortable? That's like a slow torture.

Again, this is mostly about organized religion and churches. I have a long list of issues I have with organized religious institutions. Which is why I won't go to church services. (and that goes for protestant, catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc.) Maybe at some point I will delve into some of them, but not now.

People always tell young people or anyone to "just be yourself". Well I can't do that with these walls and rules and judgement.

So am I a christian (religious in general)? No. Am I agnostic? No. Am I an atheist? No. So what am I then? You have to be something. Everyone has to be something. Well, if you have to have an answer now then, the best I can do is, I am human. You may think that's a cop out or lame or a way to avoid the question and answering it but that's all I got right now. I am human.

Is my dad wrong for believing in a higher power? No. Am I wrong for not believing? I hope not.  What you choose to believe is right for you. What my dad believes is right for him. Everyone's beliefs are individual and specific to each. No two people believe the exact same thing. So what I believe is very different than my dad and neither is incorrect. Both are valid. And belief and faith evolves. It grows and adapts and morphs just like we do. We as individuals grow, learn, forget, adapt, and morph our entire lives. My beliefs will change. And so should yours.

Let's Dig In Series links: Depression Part I      Obsession Part I