Tag Archives: Christian

I am the Devil (and you might be too)

 

We all know this story.

 

Lucifer is hanging out in Heaven, acting as captain of the cherubic hosts. He (male pronoun used here for simplicity) is basically the worship leader in Heaven. With every movement he makes, there is music. And it is beautiful. But Lucifer becomes jealous of God, gathers up a third of the angels and tries to overthrow The Great One.

 

Lucifer and his “army” lose and God casts them to either Earth or Hell (interpretations vary) and now Lucifer is The Devil and the angels are the demons that we know today.

 

This would be considered a literal translation of Satan’s origin story.

 

But what else can we pull from this story? What else is happening that we are not acknowledging? There are pieces in this simple paragraph that the church (as a very general body) tends to ignore.

 

Based upon this telling, if I am a Literalist (to believe the Bible is word for word accurate with no symbology) I am to also believe that there is such a thing as jealousy in Heaven. Correct?

 

If you are a Heaven-Is-A-Perfect-Place-Where-No-Pain-Exists type of person (which most Literalists are, please correct me if I’m wrong), please do not shut off to this. Based upon the telling from the Bible, Heaven is a place where jealousy exists. And not only jealousy, but hierarchy. Lucifer stood above the other angels.

 

And not only jealousy and hierarchy but hatred, violence, rebellion and punishment.

 

In Heaven.

 

This is not what we have been taught.

 

But this is what is written.

 

How do we come to terms with these two contrasting worlds?

 

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

 

There is, without question, a darkness in the world. There is evil in the world. There is selfishness and greed and hatred. You can turn your TV to any news station, fire up social media or peruse the papers at your local grocery store to see it.

 

Darkness is real.

 

But is The Devil?

 

Have we pinned our every shortcoming on this singular being? Is he our universal scapegoat? Is The Devil responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are demons responsible for tempting us at every occasion? Are there so many creatures of darkness that each of them lingers with each of us, constantly tempting and whispering words into our ears? Is that how we think we exist? And does that sound medieval? Demons whispering in our ears.

 

Do we believe that we are inherently good people and it is only by the temptation of dark forces that we do evil?

 

Or… is that evil inside of us?

 

Is The Devil inside of me?

 

Am I The Devil?

 

Could the snake in the garden that tempted our perfect heroes be nothing more than symbolic of our own wants and desires?

 

What is the first sin we commit as humans? We disobey.

 

“Rory, clean your room.”

 

“No.”

 

Just like Adam and Eve. Or “Adam and Eve”.

 

Does darkness and light, good and bad, God and Satan, exist within me and you and everyone at every moment of every day? Are we each, as individuals, capable of doing what is right or wrong with our free will at any moment?

 

Here’s a personal confession that isn’t really a personal confession at all.

 

I love pornography.

 

Love it.

 

I could watch it all day long. Just sit down with a bowl of popcorn and let it rip. Video after video after video. Non-stop. 24/7. Weekends and holidays.

 

Now, it should be noted that I do NOT do this.

 

I do not watch pornography.

 

But I want to.

 

I choose not to. It is my choice that creates my actions. And it is my actions that define my character. Same for all of us.

 

We are each, as men, addicted to pornography.

 

Our male brains are hardwired, like magnets, to draw us to those images. We are born with that compulsion. Ladies, if your fella is telling you that he doesn’t like pornography, watch out, because you have got a liar on your hands and he is telling you things just to keep you satiated. If a man produces testosterone, he wants naked women. As many as possible. As often as possible.

 

This want is not a threat to the sanctity of your marriage or the commitment of your relationship. This is a burning in his very human nature. And it cannot be shaken.

 

And now you say, “Nah, my husband is not like that.”

 

And then I say, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he does not exist.”

 

If you don’t think that darkness is there, it’s because you are being fooled. There is darkness in each of us. But it is our choice to be swallowed by it or to shine light on it. Light in our thoughts. Light in our actions. Light in our words.

 

Now I’m going to take that popular phrase a step further and say that the greatest trap we, as humans, ever fell into was believing that we were not subject to darkness. That we were somehow above darkness.

 

You are not above darkness. You are not above selfishness. You are not above greed.

 

Nobody is.

 

Liking something. Wanting something. Being drawn to something. And actually indulging in that something are very, very different things.

 

Now, without going off on too much of a tangent, I do want to quickly acknowledge that there are various schools of thoughts on pornography – some people think it’s fine and some people find it repulsive / sinful / harmful. I tend to be of the latter group because, even though the act itself is being committed by two or more consenting individuals, the people experiencing it in the privacy of their home are, at the very least, being brainwashed to believe that sex is a certain way. And I believe this is very damaging to the individual.

 

This is my opinion. You are obviously free to disagree. (High-five for respectful diversity!)

 

That said, I am opposed to brainwashing in all of its various forms – cultural, religious, sexual, analytical, creative, etc. We should not be told what or how to think. If given certain data, the truth should be self-evident.

 

For example, does extended exposure to pornography affect the way in which a man views a woman? Does it alter our opinion of what women should be capable of / interested in? Does it alter our expectations of our wives?

 

If the answer is yes to any of these, then it’s brainwashing.

 

If you were raised in the jungle with one woman as your partner, you would still desire her sexually but your wants and actions would not be formed by things you had witnessed. We choose to be victims of our environments.

 

The devil is not tempting you.

 

You are fighting your culture and your human nature. And it is a difficult uphill battle. But we must admit that we are fighting a battle. And we must admit that we are fighting a battle with ourselves. It isn’t until we know who our enemy is that we can begin to overcome them.

 

We need to adjust our cultural perspective on darkness – what the church likes to call sin or what humanity calls immorality. Being drawn to the darkness is not immoral. We are each drawn to the darkness in our own way. We are each selfish in our own way and, ultimately, doesn’t each sin come down to a form of selfishness? To sum up sin would be to say, “Putting oneself before another.” Murder, envy, lust, greed, lying, stealing, etc. It’s all really different forms of the same thing. But these are natural human traits. Survival at all cost came with us when we arrived in the universe. Batteries included.

 

Being drawn to a thing does not make you a bad person.

 

Making a decision to be a part of that darkness is where things spiral out of control.

 

I don’t believe that’s Satan whispering in our ear. That’s us.

 

That’s our own wants and desires.

 

You’re sitting at a dinner table and you’re stuffed. You’re so full. You’re going to puke. But then dessert shows up and you take just a couple more bites because it looks so delicious.

 

That’s gluttony. Your body is begging you to stop poking food into it and you just keep on truckin’. You think a demon is sitting at The Cheesecake Factory, prodding you on, encouraging you to have one more bite? Does that thought sound silly? It should.

 

That’s you.

 

Those are your decisions.

 

The Devil is not in you.

 

The Devil is you.

 

And you create the darkness in the world. When you choose not to share. When you talk about someone behind his or her back. When you insult someone, whether in his or her presence or not. When you choose to ignore a hungry person. When you pressure your wife / girlfriend to do something they’re not comfortable with. When you steal something, even a tiny thing that nobody will probably ever notice is missing because really, they weren’t using it anyways…

 

That’s you. That’s you creating darkness in the world.

 

Don’t worry about the splinter in your brother’s eye until you’ve removed the timber from your own. That’s a biblical truth that I think anyone, regardless of faith, can apply productively to their lives.

 

Maybe stop worrying about The Devil and start worrying about yourself.

 

Start thinking about each moment. Each day. Each word. Each decision that you have to make. You bring either darkness or light with every action that you make.

 

If The Devil is real, he only exists within the temptations themselves. He does not cause the temptation but is the temptation.

 

Likewise, I don’t think that God causes the kindness. God exists within the kindness. God is the kindness.

 

And we choose to cast light or we choose to cast shadows.

 

Go forward.

 

Cast light.

 

And thanks for coming to church on a Wednesday 🙂

 

***Subscribe for updates. New blog every Wednesday – friends, family, life, death kids and adventure. And on Mondays we’re currently releasing a fiction in 10 parts called The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender. Part one linked to the left and the intro is linked here. It’s a tale of evolving consciousness through many different plains of reality. If that sounds weird enough to check out, you should.

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 2 – 3]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is a 10-part series of fiction. Below is part 2. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything. 12Two doctors converse and stop speaking when I approach. 13I feel as though my presence makes them uncomfortable. 14No words are spoken. Instead, we stare at one another and have a conversation of thought. 15Because I am a creature comprised of emotional experiences and every experience shapes me differently, like a fist hitting plaster, every other individual’s experiences make them uniquely who they are and, even if our experiences are identical, we will process them differently based strictly upon our natural birth bend – the organic recipe of our brain bubbles. 16I will try to transmit my pure, raw thought which I apply emotionality to, and I will churn it out into raw and savage words for you to then process through your ear and get filtered through all the bullshit that makes you uniquely you. And so often what I say is not what you hear. 17So much is lost in our primitive grunts. 18The greys speak through emotions. It is not the hearing of an audible voice in your head. It is the feeling of justice. It is the feeling of wrongness. It is the feeling of love. They are able to transmit the very essence of the thought to one another. The very pureness of the emotion. The core. 19Nothing is lost in translation. 20And because of this they cannot lie and in fact do not understand what a lie is. A lie is beyond the fence of their mind. 21I also sense that they don’t know that they don’t know. 22The knowledge of the unknowable does not exist to them. I don’t sense a hole wherein something is missing from. I sense that there is nothing there at all. 23A loud but warm and not altogether unpleasant alarm begins going off. It seems to radiate in the very air itself. The siren is not audible. There are no speakers but rather a general consistency in the air quality that shifts. The local energy wavers and quivers. 24The greys all knew what the “sound” meant by the sensation it gave them. There was no need to make the feelings abrasive. The good feeling gave them the knowledge for what was needed to be accomplished. 25This made me wonder why fire alarms on Earth are always screeching headaches. Especially when you want everyone to remain calm. Would the same effect be created if the powers that be simply played loud but pleasing music that encouraged people to run? I always have a more difficult time completing a task if there is a person screaming in my ear as loud as they can. It’s difficult to concentrate. 26When I realize that I’ve been lost in some stupid rambling thought I suddenly acknowledge that [SEQ. III] 1I am standing in the field again and there is a rainbow that arches across the little stream. The grass is tall, the sky is blue and the clouds are white. 2I can see the day moon sitting in the ocean above me and it is so beautiful and I know that I am in a computer-generated image. I know that I am still on the ship or on another planet or in a machine in a small room or I’m on Earth and everything is being projected onto us but this is not real. 3I know it like I knew the feeling of their lies. I know because I can still feel some kind of emotional residue. 4None of this is real. 5Why am I here? 6What are they doing with me? 7A moose walks to the rivers edge in the distance and takes a sip. It’s weird because he drinks it with his lips and not with his tongue. 8A couple of blue birds fly past me and I feel like a child again. 9On the other side of the stream I see a scarecrow and I wonder who put him up. I do not feel concerned that I haven’t seen any people or that I don’t know where I am. 10The world feels real but I don’t know what I’m doing here or how I got here but it all feels okay. 11This is where I was before they took me but this is not when I was before they took me. 12I hear a large boom and then another and I become fearful. Very fearful. 13My stomach rolls and my knees begin to shake and quiver and I find that I’m having a very difficult time walking or thinking appropriately. 14It is awful. 15I fall to my hands and knees, my stomach washing waves of panic over me. My brain feels like it’s crying. 16With one hand I pull myself to a large rock that is nearby and hide behind it. 17BOOM. What is that noise? Is it a giant? Is it a bird? My mind begins thrusting images of giant birds at me, making me stare at them. Look at this bird with its enormous beak, pulling you apart and splattering your blood against the soil! Watch your neck break and your body become consumed. This giant blue bird with its feathers chasing you through an empty field and squawking. 18Where are these thoughts and feelings coming from? 19I look around the rock and I don’t see anything. I don’t hear the noise anymore. 20I turn and crawl up a small hill where I find a fence that is made from posts of wood and barbed wire. I crawl between the top and middle wire and approach the scarecrow. 21Its face is brown sac cloth and its eyes are made from plastic buttons. One is red and one is blue. Its nose is made from a tightly wrapped fresh condom and its mouth is made from rotten banana peels. It’s wearing a tracksuit that is gray with white tennis shoes. The brand is expensive. Someone has put something in its pants to make it look like he has a comically huge boner. Someone else has smeared mud all over its ass to make it look like it shit its pants. 22At the base of the scarecrow are two small chairs – lawn chairs. There are also some cups, a fire pit made out of rocks with ashes in the middle, a tea kettle that looks like it’s lived a busy life but has never actually been used here, at this spot. It is gray and covered in rust. It is tall and narrow and looks like something you’d find on a camping trip and not in a kitchen. There are old metal forks. A red compass. A stack of pornographic magazines and a pack of cigarettes. I notice that there is no lighter nearby but then I see a box of strike-anywhere matches. 23I see a trail that cuts through the corn where it has been trampled down a number of times by repeated use. 24Then I notice a second path. One leading somewhere and one leading somewhere else and which one will I choose? 25I look up and I see the day-moon and the sun both in the sky, both right next to one another and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. 26I feel a strong vibration in my body but I don’t know what it means. 27I push towards the path on the left and it winds through corn that is taller than I am, a mouse in a maze, an Earthling in a labyrinth. 28We are all observed and studied. 29How will I react? 30I feel like a child. 31I am lost and I am not afraid and not fearful but I feel like something terrible is going to grab me. I don’t want it to grab me. It will touch me. The black sleeves and the green hands with cuts and warts. And what are those hands attached to? What is on the other side of those hands? Is it a witch? No. It is faceless. 32A hungry, lusting darkness that lingers at the fringe of the peripheral. 33And where are you? What are you? Why do you make me feel like this and do you like it? Is my fear necessary to the world? Does my fear feed a creature that needs it the way my breath feeds the trees? Is my fear powerful? 34When the path ends I see that there is a small white farmhouse but I also see that it exists in a tiny little community. There is a small community playground with a swing set and a merry-go-round and a tractor to sit on and dig with. There is also a water fountain inside the head of a giant inanimate lion. There is an old barrel that is very tall and lying on its side – kids get in and run. It’s a human gerbil wheel. I see children running in it now. Four of them. Five of them. A girl in overalls tries to stand on her hands as the barrel spins, taking her in a full rotation, spinning her a day into the future around their imaginary sun. 35An old woman sits on a swing by herself. I notice that the other swing is empty and I know that she used to be married and that she used to have a husband and that she is very sad that he is gone and she misses him terribly because they were together their entire lives. Their whole life. 36They were together when she was fifteen and he was sixteen and they’ve now been together for sixty years. 37They don’t remember life before one another. 38The memory of their individual lives before their counterpart existed has long ago been washed away off the placards of remembrance. 39They were together for so long that she considers him a true extension of herself. 40He had the authority to act on both of their behalves because they had achieved such simpatico that they had become the same person in two bodies with two separate interests. 41They understood and achieved true love and compassion for the other person until they understood what the other person wanted perfectly. 42Her husband has been dead for three years and she doesn’t have any friends. She has people in her life but she would not consider them friends. They are okay to eat lunch with but she couldn’t share these thoughts and emotions with them. 43They don’t understand and none of them has ever lost a husband and she wishes she could speak to someone about it. 44And because I know I am supposed to, I approach her and ask how she is and she looks at me because the question is very straightforward. Her face crunches up and then becomes very kind and she says she is alright and I tell her that the day is beautiful and she agrees and I see the foot marks in the ground where her wooden shoes have been dragging back and forth in the dirt. 45Her skirt looks homemade. It is white and comprised of chicken feathers. She wears a pilgrim style bonnet that is white and her chest is covered in purple sheen although it is completely transparent. It projects a perfect twenty year old chest onto her body and it deceives the eyes in order to look as real as possible and this is what these people do here. 46It is okay and acceptable because it isn’t a question. 47She tells me that she is fine and I ask her if she knows which one of these buildings is a schoolhouse and then I hear a loud BANG or BOOM and it’s the same sound as before and she tells me to run with her. 48She gets off the swing and starts to strain towards a home. She is old and moves very, very slowly but I stood by her and I helped her as she hung onto my elbow. I notice that her back is quite hunched over. 49She takes me to a small plot of land that is filled with doors – just regular house doors – but they all appear the same. 50Identical black doors. 51There are no numbers on any of them. Just handles. 52She approaches one in the front row and opens it. Inside I see stairs spiraling downwards. 53I don’t ask if we are going underground because I know that we are not. 54The doors are vices that hold the fine fibrous Fabric of Feich open like surgical clamps hold open a wound. 55These doors lead to Someplace Else. 56It isn’t on this Earth but it also is not off this Earth. It is a kind of side-step to a higher perception of reality that exists on top of us, an overlay that we cannot perceive. 57We have not yet discovered where this other place is in relation to our world or planet or solar system or existence. 58Scientists have gone through and acquired samples and have found strange molecular patterns, sacred geometry and interesting fruits and flowers but still no people and the doors are too small to take any major tool through – like an astro-scope or bio-splitter. 59But I also know that scientist is a very loose term because the people in this village are the only people on this planet. 60There is no one else. 61The moment I heard the bang I knew. It was like the vibration alerted me. There are no others but these. 62I know this to be true. 63But what is out there? What is beyond their city? 64I need to know. Do I need to know? Do I want to know? Why does it matter? Why does it matter what is beyond their city? Why do I care? 64Is this my human nature? 65Is curiosity just an advanced form of the house cat and the laser pointer from the future of my old world past? Is my entire life someone’s stupid video? Am I the punch line to an advanced joke? 66Are alien children watching us and cooing, “Oh! He’s becoming curious! Watch him play with his curiosity! Hehe! He is going to see what that scratching noise is! He’s going to go investigate the odd auditory stimulation! Tee hee!” 67I have my life happening right here and I have problems at hand so why does it matter if there is a desert or a mountain or something else entirely out there? 68Right now I have to deal with this problem and that’s how I need to live my life. I need to appreciate the now and right now I need to get to safety and this old woman is walking very slowly but finally we do get close to the doors but before we do I see in the distance a great metal rod stamp out of the clouds and slam into the earth. 69BOOM            !! And then another. And another. And another. BOOM   !! BOOM          !!BOOM           !! The sound hits my ears seconds after the vision does. 70I ask her what they are doing and she says that they are collecting and I say, “For what?” because I already know who. 71She says that they are fixing them – hey, Chuck! – but I don’t know what she means and I also know that there are other people out there. 72Why was I so certain there was nobody else out there? How could I have known that? 73How could I have been so certain that it was true but now here I am being proven completely wrong? What else am I wrong about? What else is sneaking up on me? What else am I living with that I need to re-examine and release? 74She opens the door and enters first.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 30th for part 3 of 10 as we visit a prison at the center of time, witness the mystical collection of energy and fall into complete oblivion.

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WHAT IS The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender?

Dear Audience,

Today is Friday, May 13th.

On Monday, May 16th, the first part of my novella The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender will premiere here, at JohnnyBeBald.com.

The book is broken into 18 Sequences (or chapters) which will premiere here over the next 10 weeks, roughly 2 Sequences at a time. Mondays will see the release of Pale Lavender. Wednesdays will continue to be regular scheduled programming of the more traditional content.

The majority of work that I write here is non-fiction and based upon my life, whether that be my experiences as a father, husband, son, friend, stranger, road tripper, camper, adventurist, spiritual explorer or inhabitant of this planet / universe. I like to think that I write about the human condition in all its glory, both good and bad, from a multitude of perspectives, and I like to hope that we all, as a group, grow together through it.

It is my goal that you see some of yourself in some of my stories and that we can all re-examine our lives through group illumination.

That said, Pale Lavender is something completely different and please consider this post the back-of-the-book or inside-flap read to prepare you for what is to come, in case you’ve decided to take this journey with us.

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender opens on pre-time, pre-existence, pre-life of any form, and follows a single entity from before the dawn of time, through its journey across various plateaus of reality, consciousness and spirituality in a variety of bodies and identities, in its quest for Ultimate Truth.

It is told in one continuous paragraph and, due to this, the Sequence breaks will appear at random. This is the nature of the piece.

At the end, on the 11th week, I will post the book in its entirety from top to bottom in a single post. Beyond that, I would love to release it as an e-book.

This is the first time that I’ve released something of substance that is fiction – and especially fiction that is so far removed from my traditional wheelhouse – and so am experiencing a certain sense of nakedness, exposure and vulnerability. But to grow as people, I believe that we must leave our comfort zones.

I’m very excited to present this to you and it is my hope that, in some way, by reading it, it also makes you feel naked, exposed and vulnerable.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you all on Monday.

Johnny

 

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TEARING OFF THE GIANT HOLY PENIS OF GOD

 Do we put God in a box?

 

The word God is a very heavy one and so let’s break it down a little before we move on. If I say the word dad to someone, they may get fuzzy feelings because their dad was amazing. The word dad has very positive emotional baggage for them.

 

Now, same word, different person. Dad can mean something vicious and upsetting to an individual that was sexually assaulted or abandoned by their father.

 

Let’s simplify this even further.

 

Wine Glass means something positive to an individual who enjoys the intricate tastes and aromas of the drink. However, I have a personal friend who sliced his hand so severely while cleaning a wine glass that he had to undergo extensive surgery and physical therapy before regaining the use of his tendons. He can’t hear the word without shivers running up his spine.

 

We each apply personal emotional baggage, whether that be good or bad, to every word.

 

For someone that received his or her first kiss in a movie theater, it’s a very pleasant thing. For someone who survived a mass shooting inside of one, the word elicits a very different emotional experience.

 

These are all very simple concepts that bring forward very complicated emotions.

 

Let’s try another word.

 

God.

 

Oooh, that’s complex. There are quite a lot of feelings coming to our minds right now and based upon the context of the last few paragraphs, you understand that someone else reading these same words is having a very different thought than you are. We are each experiencing God, in this moment, in very different ways.

 

Let’s mix it up a bit more.

 

Let’s take that idea you have in your head of God, whatever that is, whether it makes you feel nurtured or abandoned, and let’s add another layer onto it.

 

Bible.

 

I’ve written a couple paragraphs here that have made you, with your unique experiences, feel certain things. Just through a simple handful of words you and I have each come to different conclusions and emotional reactions. Now let’s look at a book that is filled with thousands and thousands of words. Some of them are poetic. Some of them are literal. Some of them are parables. Some of them are historical.

 

Now let’s apply each of our personal understandings to those words and you can see how this idea of God quickly spirals insanely out of control.

 

Should we complicate it further?

 

How about a multitude of holy scriptures? The Holy Bible. The Book of Mormon. The Apocrypha. The Gnostic Gospels. The Dead Sea Scrolls. The Torah. The Qur’an. This is to say nothing of the hundreds of scripture that exist outside of the Christian / Jewish / Islamic faiths.

 

Layers upon layers and words upon words written by people in different cultures in different eras that were influenced by different elements and then translated to other languages.

 

In fact, scholars believe that the pronoun Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit in the original Aramaic was feminine. SHE. And then it was lost in the Latin translation.

 

The image that I have in my mind right now is the world’s largest ball of yarn that has been knotted up to such a degree that it can never be untangled.

 

And perhaps that is exactly what God is. Something that can never be neatly laid out in front of us, dissected and examined.

 

How do we reconcile ourselves to this and find the true meaning behind anything? If I don’t know what you mean or feel when you say wine glass, how am I to know what you mean and feel when you talk about God?

 

The words of the Bible, even if you believe that they were inspired by the perfect hand of God, are still limited based entirely off of our unique interpretation of them.

 

Let that thought linger for a moment.

 

Even if the Bible is without flaw, our own unique flaws create problems where none existed because each of us interpret the words differently.

 

BIBLICAL MIC DROP.

 

So how do we come to know The Truth of God? How do we get to the pure emotion at the center of the words? An emotion carries so much weight. Explain love or fear in simple words. Use those grunts that tumble stupidly from your mouth to tell me what love does to your soul.

 

Perhaps we start this process by removing our labels. When we call God HE, we are applying thought and feeling to God based on our understanding of the word HE. Do we really believe that God is a male? That He has a giant holy penis? I mean, I’m being serious. Let’s talk this out. When we use the word HE, we are talking about a he / she scenario and we’re not ONLY saying that God is a HE but we are ALSO saying that God is NOT a SHE.

 

We have now placed a box around God. We have created parameters for God to exist within. Rather than God being big enough to exist outside of human sexuality, we have placed Him in a box that is human sexuality and then put Him over on the baby blue half. If we call God HIM then HE cannot, by nature of sex, be HER. We have now limited God.

 

Holy sausage party, Batman.

 

By doing this, we limit God through our label. And labels form expectations. When we call God HE we expect a certain type of individual. If nothing else, we immediately picture God as more of a father figure than a mother figure. That alone sends us spiraling into, what may be, a completely inaccurate understanding of The Immortal.

 

Just by the word HE.

 

Just by two simple letters pressed against one another.

 

Now let’s apply that understanding to something slightly more complex. Let’s try to understand The Holy Trinity. This idea that God The Father (male), Jesus The Son (male) and The Holy Spirit (once female, now neutered) are all single but different units. All separate but all together.

 

If that is our understanding of God, what word do we apply to it in our language? How do we describe that idea of three-in-one? A word must be attributed to it.

 

Alright guys, we are monks and we need a word to describe our understanding of God. God is all knowing and all powerful. God is within everything, dipped in our very existence. God is inside you and me and the air and our food and our thoughts and God has seeped into every nuance of our existence. God is both mortal and divine. God is both physical and spiritual. God is above and beyond our comprehension. God is outside of time. God is beyond form. God does not exist in many forms. God is above and beyond form. What word do we use to convey this sophisticated understanding? How do we convey a being that is above our understanding of shape? We need a word that means both all form and no form simultaneously.”

 

Trinity.

 

You can see how that word sort of works to convey that complex thought. You can see that they were trying to boil this very deep and sophisticated understanding of God down into this simple label. And you can also see that it’s a very bland word used to describe a very impressive idea. You can also see that the word Trinity is never found in the Bible and the concept was not created until well after the death of Jesus.

 

Another idea that was pitched and followed by the Christian church for a while was something called Adoptionism. This was the idea that Jesus was born a man, just like you and me. Absolutely no different. This is the belief that he was NOT born as the Son of God and that he didn’t become “divine” until his baptism later in life. An actual promotion from regular human to a God-figure.

 

And right now all the Christians are gasping at the heresy of… the Christian church’s early belief in the interpretation of the bible. This is our heritage.

 

These are just a few of the real beliefs that real Christians really followed based upon their very real personal interpretation of words. My, oh my, how we can pull so many conclusions from simple letters that have been mashed together to form words that are trying to explain emotions.

 

Words.

 

And so we start labeling God.

 

Even the word God is somehow limiting as to what we actually feel GOD to be. We see time and again in the Bible where it is clear that the authors were trying their absolute best to explain how massive this idea of God is while their words fail them miserably.

 

God is the Alpha and the Omega. Beginning and End. This guy is trying to say that God exists beyond and outside of time. He’s saying that God is not bound by our watches and calendars. Time has no bearing on God and means nothing to God. Time is a unit of simple measurement that creatures of this dimension are bound to. The way we can hold a film strip at arms length and examine both beginning and end simultaneously, God is not bound by our moments.

 

Whoa.

 

When Moses asks God what his name is and God responds with “I AM,” the author is NOT saying that God’s actual name is I AM. He’s saying that God cannot be bound by a name. God cannot be limited by a label. He’s saying that God IS. God is not a singularity with a face. God IS the breath of existence. The fabric of reality.

 

And perhaps through this understanding we also realize that even words like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, etc, etc, are all just more labels that we use to further ourselves from The Truth that is The Truth. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran. Just more splinter cells that are drifting further and further away as we carefully craft more and more labels to dissect God, placing him inside smaller and smaller boxes.

 

By our labeling of God, we are limiting our own understanding of God. We come to the wineglass and we apply ourselves to it. We decide whether it is good or bad based upon our personal experiences but not upon a truth.

 

We come to God and we limit the absolute magnitude that is The Eternal. And by doing so, we choose to live in a muted world where we intentionally sell ourselves short.

 

We must remove the labels and forget the simple grunting words. God is more a piece of art than a diagrammed sentence. Or, as Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet ponders, “Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.”

 

If we put God in a box, we are putting God in a coffin and eventually He will become so sterilized and clinical that we’ll kill Him, bury Him and then kneel at the graveside and continue to mumble our empty prayers which are just words without emotion.

 

It is our overly simplistic, two dimensional understanding of God that destroys Him.

 

But maybe our understanding of HIM should die. Perhaps that spineless understanding of The Ever Present Always should be both castrated and killed. It is not until we tear off the giant holy penis of God that we stop picturing The Nameless Infinite as He. Perhaps The Real Truth is waiting for us to turn away from this mannequin we’ve been worshipping and come to understand that we will never understand.

 

Accept that the search is the answer because The Timeless Conscious has no end. God is not a math equation meant to be solved or a ball of yarn that is meant to be unknotted. We are meant to expand ourselves and mature our existence by experiencing God in our very lives.

 

We find God in kindness and compassion. We find God in empathy and sympathy. We find God in friendship and giving. We find God in a phone call or a smile to a stranger. We find God in holding a door for someone. We find God in helping a charity or doing dishes at a friend’s house.

 

That tingly sensation under our skin when we help an individual? That sorrow we experience when we see someone hurting? A high-five. An orgasm. Laughter at a birthday party. Tears at a funeral. Holding a new baby. Hugging your child. Laying in grass. A day off from work. A day at a job you love. A job well done. The smell of coffee beans.

 

This is God.

 

God does not exist in a box.

 

God does not belong in a coffin.

 

God is not a word. God is a poem.

 

God is the very beating of our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Talking to Strangers: Mormons

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I’m lying on my front porch, the sun is beating down on me and I’m sweating. It feels good. Like a certain popular creation story, I’ve been working for six days straight with late nights and early mornings. I’ve finally hit a resting point and I’m taking advantage of it. My eyes are closed and my mind begins to wander. I let it go – I think it’s healthy to put the noggin on auto-pilot from time to time.

While my brain slips away, I open my eyes and stare into the blue, cloudless sky, wondering if God is staring back at me – if his Great Eyes are boring directly into my soul right now, reading my thoughts and seeing me naked. And then my brain wanders a little more and I imagine the big blue sky being completely and entirely empty and Nobody staring at me. I imagine my wife and I sitting on the porch and God nowhere in sight. Nowhere in existence. Nowhere.

I start to slowly turn over these questions, rolling them like a cigarette over the fingers of my soul. Is it possible for me to be sitting here and for God to not exist? Is it possible that God does not exist? Is it possible that I’ve spent my life chasing an empty faith? Bigger yet, if as an individual, I am full of love and compassion and kindness, is God necessary?

Is God necessary? That is a really big question for someone of The Church Culture. To put it into perspective for anyone NOT of The Church Culture, it’s tantamount to a male with children saying, “Is my dong necessary? Sure, I use it from time to time and I certainly like it’s company. It gives me a certain feeling of who I am and I have a good time with it – makes me feel good about myself. I would even say that I have a pretty nice relationship with it, albeit kind of a secret one that I don’t fully indulge the rest of the world to. But do I need it? The way I need food or oxygen? COULD I get by if it suddenly fell off and rolled down the leg of my pants?”

That’s a very crude analogy but I stand by it and give it my stamp of approval.

That is, for most of us, our relationship to God. It’s quiet. It’s tucked away. We don’t expose it to people. We only use it when it’s necessary.. like when we’re really sick or need money we unzip the church and say a prayer.

As a Christian, faith is so frustrating. It’s frustrating for two reasons. The first is that the large majority of people who claim to have faith, don’t treat faith as faith. They treat faith as fact and those are two very different things. Your faith is, by it’s very definition, an act of trust in something that you cannot prove exists. People approach God in the same way that they approach Mount Rushmore – like they can get in their SUV and drive there – get their photo taken with it.

The second thing is that I don’t understand WHY faith is important. I don’t understand why the Great and Powerful God of the Universe and of All Things Everywhere doesn’t tear open the sky, reveal himself to all of us and say, “HERE I AM! I EXIST! NOW BE EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER ALWAYS AND FOREVER! I’LL BE BACK IN TWENTY YEARS TO REMIND YOUR KIDS!” and then the sky stitches back up and there is zero doubt about the existence of a celestial being that oversees our alien ant farm.

I stare back into that blue sky and now I’m thinking very clearly – my mind is no longer wandering – I’m thinking very intentionally to myself, “I have seen and felt the existence of God in one thousand small ways throughout my life. Little signs that could have been coincidence, things I’ve written off as well as things I’ve held onto. I’ve been very sick in my life and have felt the closeness of a divine being that I can’t explain. I believe in God. I have faith in God. But I’m always circling around it and poking at it and turning it over and trying to figure it out because… it isn’t tangible and I can’t prove it and it is a cause to wonder. But why does God have us dancing around with this faith issue? I don’t understand why it’s necessary to live my life in absolute blind belief. Maybe there’s a purpose I don’t understand. Maybe God keeps this from us for a reason… But I’m still going to ask and I don’t think there’s harm in asking so here we go!”

And then I pick up steam and really get on a roll.

“Why? Why? Why is this necessary? God, if you’re there, why aren’t you tearing open the sky and showing yourself to me? Why aren’t you making yourself known to us? Why aren’t you giving me a sign, something? Something that is more than the wind blowing or a bird chirping? Why does our relationship have to be like an affair – where I sneak away to talk to you and then you never call my house? If you’re real, I want to know it. I want to know that you’re real. I want to know that you’re looking at me and watching me and -“

I guess you could call this a prayer.

Jade cuts me off mid-thought.

She says, “Hey. Look who’s here.”

I sit up and glance over my shoulder.

Walking up my sidewalk are two Mormons. I lift my hand in the air in greeting and say, “You have got to be kidding me.”

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The guys are both nineteen years old and one of them is definitely a virgin. I don’t say that in a derogatory way because I believe that virginity is a shiny token that is very important… however, he did have this kind of gloss about him that made me think he’d never unsnapped a bra. The other one was the team leader but I suspect only because he was forced to be. It was clear that he didn’t like to hold the reins.

I offered them each a sparkling water and we sat on my porch for an hour and spoke. Mormon missionaries are truly fascinating creatures. Can you, Reader, imagine something that you’re so passionate about that you go door to door to share with strangers even though you know people cringe when they see you approach? Even though people run and hide in their bedroom closet when you step onto the front porch? Even when the doors slam and the porch lights go out, you keep going. Can you imagine having that kind of passion? For anything? I have a difficult time telling friends about a good book I’ve recently read.

We talk about a great number of things, spanning various topics. They tell me about how “disheartening and kind of humiliating” it is when people slam doors in their faces. Actually slam doors in their facesAH! Why do you have to do that to me? Give yourself human emotion? And such a strong one! You tell me that you can feel humiliated? All those times I’ve ran away and hid my children in the dryer to shield them from you. “But why, Daddy? Why must we be quiet?” Rory asks. “The Gestapo!” And then I slide the bookcase over the laundry room.

These guys are no longer just flat characters. They’re people. They’re humans. With their own stories. Their own faith. Their own lenses to view life.

I say to them…

“I was born into a middle class, white American Christian home – I’m about as super vanilla as you can imagine – so it’s not surprising that I’m a Christian. You’re born into a Mormon home so you’re Mormon. We’re products of our environments, right? Had any of us been born into an Islam nation, I would place a solid bet that our faith would be quite different. Now, I know you two don’t bet, so I’ll put enough down for all three of us. This is a sure fire thing and I’m taking it to the bank.

“My concern, guys, is this… Have I / you / we been raised up in a culture to believe a very specific thing and have we ever actually lifted our heads up to look around at anything else? I’m sitting here and talking to you today and I’m telling you that I don’t believe in the teachings of Joseph Smith but… I can’t say why. I don’t even know anything about him. And it concerns me that I’m so quick to put on blinders to something I know literally nothing about. The same can be said of my knowledge of all faiths. A couple of my friends are Jewish, I have a cousin who is a Muslim, and my best friend from high school actually joined a Hare Krishna commune where he dawns an orange robe everyday. I’m 110% certain that they are completely wrong in their beliefs and I am also 110% certain that I don’t know why I think that. And I hate that. I hate that I have such blinders on and I can’t seem to shake them off. What if I am being blinded by my culture and The Truth is just outside of my peripheral and I can’t see it because I am unwilling to look? WHAT IF the One True God isn’t the one that I subscribe to and WHAT IF the One True God is waiting for me directly outside my field of vision just waiting for me to shake off everything that man and culture has taught me and just look up.

“And so I’m sitting here right now talking to you two, not because I’m interested in the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith. I’m interested in The Truth. The Great Truth of The Universe. So here’s my question to you two… if a deity shows up to you one day – purple skinned woman with six arms and an elephants head – and she tells you that you need to leave your Mormon faith and come and follow her because she is Ultimate Truth and the god you’ve been following is built by man and completely imaginary – if that happened – if an actual Divine Celestial Entity came down and spoke to you and called you to a new religion… could you leave your faith? Could you leave behind the faith that has you so passionate that you knock on strangers doors? Could you leave it all if you knew it was built by man and was an imposter religion and that your belief was empty?

They both stare at me. One of them starts to say something about Joseph Smith so I put up my finger. “Why are you here?” I ask.

“On Earth?”

“No. At my house. There are a lot of houses on this street. Why are you here? Did you start at one end and work your way down?”

“We prayed about it.”

“You prayed about La Crescenta, California?”

“No. We parked down the street and we prayed and we felt The Spirit guide us to your house. Specifically this house.”

I take a drink of my now warm, now flat sparkling water and I say, “Here’s what’s happening to me right now, guys… I’m on a little bit of a Quest. I’ve been out looking for God and I want Truth. I’m not saying you have it and I’m not saying I’m interested in what you’ve got but I am saying I think knowledge is imperative to a successful quest and so I want to hear everything you have. Get out your pamphlets. Get out your book. Tell me everything you can.

They both dart to their backpacks and satchels with clumsy and nervous hands. Virgins.

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To wrap this up, there are no answers here. I didn’t have any hugely enlightening moment with two strangers and I’m not going to be knocking on your door to tell you about Joseph Smith. But I am looking for God. And while I look and while I pray and while I speak with people of all faiths and manner of upbringing, I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. I want to be kind and generous with my time, attention and resources. I want my family to know that I love them. I want my friends to know that I care. I want strangers to know that I will not slam doors in their faces. I believe that whoever and whatever God is, at the center of His / Her / Its being is Love. And more than anything, I want to strive for that heart.

Amen.

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KID COUNTDOWN: DAY 6

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It’s Sunday night and I’m driving to church solo.  With everyone we know being sick, we’ve decided to try and quarantine our children into the house and Bubble-Boy them from any diseases.  Six days pre-baby would not be an ideal time for the two kids to come down with the drowsy, coughing, dripping, sleeping, scratchy throat sickness.  Welcome to the world, new baby!  GERMS!

After serving in the Info Center and directing people hither and tither, “Water Baptisms this way, New Believers Packets down stairs, Sign up to Volunteer here,” etc, etc, so forth and so on, I make my way to the balcony and stare down at a man named Robert who gives a sermon about faith and obedience and about going out into the world.

How do you become those disciples in the Bible?  DO YOU become those disciples in the Bible?  How do you go from the person you are now to the person you are called to be?  Well, like everything in life, you take it one step at a time.  You wake up this morning and you pray on your way to work.  You read a chapter from your Bible.  You let someone slide into traffic.  You hold a door.  You reflect the love of Christ and you go out into a dark world completely fearless knowing that God has his arms around you.

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On my drive home I speculate about what I could be doing; what are my next steps.  I don’t pray enough.  I don’t read my Bible enough.  I pray with my kids at night and over meals and I read them stories from the children’s Bible but am I raising them to invest in faith or am I merely showing them what a Christian going the motions looks like?

So I have to question myself and wonder, when people look at me – maybe not just the quick sideways glance – but when they look at me, do they know that I’m a Christian?  Do my actions and deeds in my public life reflect someone who cares?

I come home and sit down for a late dinner with the kids and I say, “Let’s pray,” and both kids shut their eyes and Quinn even curls her hands beneath her chin and I think, “God, please let me do this right.  I’m not just trying to raise operable adults.  I’m trying to raise children who love You and feel compassion for The World around them.”

I pray for our food and the children repeat, I pray for a small list of sick people we know and the children repeat, I pray for protection over my dad, who is currently oversees with the military and they repeat.  I say, “Amen,” and we eat.

After dinner Quinn asks if we can go swing and, it’s pitch black out and well beyond her bedtime but I figure, “What’s ten minutes?”  We go outside and I sit on the swing and she in my lap and as we rock back and forth, she looks up at the stars and says, “Dad!  Look!  Stars!” and I say, “Yes, that’s right,” and then she says, “Dad, give me a kiss,” and so I do.

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Thirty feet away, through the darkness of our lawn, over our patio and on top of the steps leading into our back door, I see a small figure shyly emerge and look around.  It speaks.  “Daa-haaad??”  It’s Rory and he suspects we’re out here but can’t see us way out in the back, his eyes not yet adjusted to the light.

I shout, “We’re right here!” and his face follows my voice but I can tell that he still can’t see me so I say, “We’re swinging!” and he jumps off the back steps and runs, fearless, into the darkness, positive that his father is out there.  He runs straight to me and says, “Let’s swing!

As I push he and Quinn I wonder how I can be like that; how can I run into the darkness, believing my Father is out there, waiting for me with some ethereal and eternal swing set.

The first step, I suppose, is to jump off the back steps.

I get into my car in the morning and listen to a chapter of The Bible on my iPhone, hoping and praying that concentric circles ripple out from every decision I make and affect those around me in positive ways.  I pray that my decisions influence my children, who influence the world.

Remember, every free thinking world changer had a dad.  And remember, if you’re reading this and you are a dad, it is your responsibility to create and inspire change, not only in your family, but in your world.  You are a guiding light, a beacon and the Make-Or-Break point for each child in your life.

There are no excuses for being a bad example.

Grab your children, embrace them, and send them out into a dark world that needs compassion.

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