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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rest in Peace Andy

I'm playing this one for you, Andy! Don't You Wish it Was True by John Fogerty.

I am Andy’s sister. He took great pride in saying I was his favorite sister, of course I’m his only sister, but that didn’t stop him from saying that each time we saw one another.

I am here for Andy, to celebrate his life. He had a hard life, but he had many joys, too. He has two wonderful children who he absolutely adores.

The thing about Andy was that he judged himself harshly. The past few years he looked at himself in the mirror and he saw himself as “broken.” He looked at each of us. He looked into our eyes and he could tell if we loved him unconditionally. The message from our eyes and heart told him, “I love you and accept you just as you are. I see you as a beautiful and whole person.” Love is simple. I speak from my heart now and say, “Andy, I love you because you are my brother. I love you and accept you just the way you are. You are a beautiful being, filled with love and light.”

Indeed, Andy was filled with love and wonder for life, he loved nature and the outdoors. He had a bird bath in his back yard and told me — and everyone I’m sure — how the robins would cue up on the garage roof, waiting their turn in the bird bath. And if one bird would take too long, the ones in cue up on the roof became impatient, leaning over the edge in anticipation of when their turn would occur. He learned about the birds because Mom had given him a book of birds. He spent many happy hours studying his beloved book of birds. If he was anything like me, one reason for his fondness of that book from Mom would be just so he could feel close to her, who left the planet in the year 2000.

Andy was generous. He would help anyone in need and never asked for anything back. He loved being surrounded by friends and family. I loved that he could let himself feel the full range of emotions. He could laugh and he could cry. We laughed and cried together sometimes. He knew it was okay to let himself feel what others felt. Sharing feelings allows for healing of emotional wounds. Like Andy would say, “And that’s a beautiful thing!”

We are all one, we are all connected. We are all human, each with our challenges. Andy always knew what place we were coming from because he was a beautiful, sensitive soul filled with love for all of us here.

Andy, I bless you to your path. There is no harshness where you are now. Only love. Pure love. Here's one more song for you, beloved brother.

Wildwood Flower made famous by the Carter Family. Andy played this many times on his guitar. He learned it from Uncle Don and Uncle Dewey.

Visit "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Disillusioned by Religion

"In the past I thought religion was all about 'belonging' and 'Jesus loves me.' But when I attended church we felt so terribly judged," my friend explained how she felt about religion.

"I know exactly what you are saying," I heard myself respond. "I could never measure up to their standards of 'righteousness.'"

Religion tore our family apart." Ella* is like a sister to me. Perhaps a "soul sister." We have had a similar religious journey in some ways.

Before Jesus or God could love me, I had to be a certain way, act a certain way and behave a certain way. They could not accept me as I was. And in the end — apparently — I was judged as unlovable.

In Ella's case, she and her partner were engaged and living together. They felt no urgent need to get married. The love they felt for each other was pure in their eyes and that was enough. But throw religion in the mix and suddenly all kinds of rules applied. Suddenly guilt and shame were painted all over them. They were judged harshly for being unwed.

"Is all religion so harsh and judgmental?" One might ask the question, and validly so. Someone asked her at work, "Are you a Christian?" Her explanation was very much the same as mine.

Let Them Eat Cake

While I feel a sense of spirituality, I would rather not identify myself as anything in a religious sense, because as soon as I make some religious declaration, I paint myself into a box in which I don't rightly belong. So, like her, I would rather not call myself a Christian. Look at the example of Christians in the United States. Look at who is running for US presidency lately: right wing Christian fundamentalists without heart or soul, owned by corporate interests. I keep looking in them for the "consciousness of Christ." I recall a scripture where Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. Would he — or would he not — throw out the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum? Mitt Romney recently declared that he is not interested in poor people. He would give them food stamps. That's their safely net, according to him. Another instance of religious love in action: "Let them eat cake." Perhaps Mr. Romney might try living off food stamps.

Is your marriage protected from religion?

Who Owns a Woman's Body?

I question why religious groups think they have the power to control women's bodies? Why do they think it's okay to dictate what goes on in the bedrooms of America? It occurred to me that perhaps some women are conditioned to enable this behavior and belief.

The Jehovah's Witnesses appear to believe that a man must "lead his wife" and "dominate her". I wonder if it is healthy for women to let men make such arbitrary choices for them.

Religion and Sexual Abuse of Children

Bishops want "unmarrieds" to abstain from sex. Yet, some among them are forcing sex on children. Where is their abstinence? Is that their level of their emotional intelligence — forcing their "authority" over dis-empowered, vulnerable children? Would Jesus behave that way?

I remind myself that they themselves are unmarried. I remind myself that the raping or sodomizing of children is illegal. I remind myself that justice for the wounded children will eventually occur, since what comes around goes around. I observe that some of the present governments are enabling the sexual predators to continue their attacks on children by turning a blind eye. I remind myself of how Jesus would have viewed the behavior of those religious and government leaders.

Jehovah's Witnesses and Honor Killings?

All over the world religious people are killing one another. It's not just the Muslims who do "honor" killings, like government propaganda might imply. American religions such as Jehovah's Witnesses are perfectly capable of violence against their own, too. All in the name of their God. They even treat living relatives who have left their religion as dead. Such treatment might be considered as the Jehovah's Witnesses' version of honor killings. That's abusive.

I have a conscience and consider myself spiritual but non-religious. Perhaps what we observe around us is all happening for some higher purpose. Nevertheless, I keep reminding myself to let go of judgment and just keep sending love and light, and trust the spiritual process. Sometimes I struggle with what I see in the news. Again, I remind myself that perhaps people's observations are creating awareness of religion's place in civilized society.

* Ella is not her real name.

Visit "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Residues of the Bible

Without a doubt, the Bible is a most influential book, and not in a healthy way. As a child, the Bible was used by my parents to teach me obedience and subjection. It was a book that instilled fear — a book of oppression filled with harsh, punishing beliefs. My parents used the Bible to produce compliant children who were easy to control and manipulate.

Now, as an adult, I still see the influence of the Bible by authority figures. Being biblically conditioned, I subsequently — and most unfortunately in my ignorance — used that same book to brainwash my children. I produced compliant, obedient sheep, rather than people who might think for themselves.

The Jehovah's Witnesses Bible
Translation was a tool of oppression
my parents used to keep me
obedient and subservient
as a child
As a mature adult, I examined my life when it fell around me in ruins, only to realize I had been lied to by my parents, by religious leaders and by our governments — all in the name of god. I came to realize that religion uses the bible to produce bigots who are incapable of seeing that they are indeed bigots. Their religious leaders have told them they are superior to every other religion. Persecution of others different from them became a natural consequence of such an oppressing belief. In the USA we have some of the leading bigots currently running for the presidency. Who recognizes this? I can see the influence the Bible has brought to their political situation.

I see a government in Canada currently in power who claims to be "Christian," yet it enables the destruction of our planet through greed. In truth, Big Oil is Prime Minister Harper’s god. He is complicit while the First Nations self-sovereign ways of life and livelihood are being destroyed and the people are being demoralized. The oil industry is polluting the planet, even though we are supposed to be caretakers and stewards of the earth, according the Bible. We have a so-called “Christian” government that cares more about money than the habitability of the earth. Oppression of the many by a few. Governments use the Bible to propagandize the population — to dumb us down and subjugate, divide, and conquer entire populations. It is a book that teaches poverty for the common folk and riches for the bottom-feeding elite. It teaches patriarchy as a way of life, where women and girls are subject to male domination and oppression.

The time has come for me to reject this book that enables such an unprecedented level of corruption by patriarchs. I would not have seen this if I had not read the Bible and fallen under its influence. Now I realize it is time to take my power back and reclaim the earth and protect it from greedy governments and soulless corporations. Corporations have no soul, and neither do the politicians who have been bought by corporate money. Our government leaders are bought and sold to the highest bidder these days. Now I see the Bible as a book written by men for men to oppress humanity in the name of their god.

Without a doubt, the book used to influence me the most was the Bible. Today, it helps me to see where people in power are misusing their power in the name of god. It is patriarchal book used to control and manipulate people, all in the name of god.

Now, the bible is nothing more than a reference book for me, reminding me of a time in history of immeasurable evil.

Visit "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2012.