Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Counting My Blessings

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I’m feeling a bit blue for some complicated, personal reasons. It’s nothing I won’t be able to get over in time with my usual grace and aplomb. It really is a First World Problem. Nevertheless, I find it helpful to count my blessings. Well, blessings is the wrong word, since I don’t believed that anything is blessed. Count my perks? Enumerate the things about my life that I enjoy. We’ll go with that.

I have a loving wife. Somebody who’s there for me, even when I’m being bone-headed or pig-headed or just screwing up. The best part is that she’s my best friend, and I still get many years to find more reasons to love her. And maybe even create a few new lives with, to mold in my own image (stop reading this over my shoulder while I’m writing, darling&hellip)

I have an awesome family. And most of them are nearby. Almost every parent out their believes that their kid is the bee’s knees. I know my parents are. I feel very blessed to have (not-so) randomly wound up with Mom and Dad to raise. Throw in an awesome kid sister and baby brother, and it just sweetens the deal. Plus I have so many other fun, supportive, kind, caring relatives around. Then, I get to count my in-laws, too!

I have a fantastic set of friends. So awesome that they broke into my house on my wedding anniversary to leave Carrie and me a cake. So awesome that they’ll drop what they’re doing to play a few board games or go to the pub. So awesome that they’re willing to lend their singing voices to my latest hare-brained recording projects. So awesome that they let me help them move… well, I’m sure they’ll reciprocate someday when Carrie and I find some other place to live. And I’ve got plenty of opportunities to make new ones, too.

I have a job I love. I like what I do for a living, and am compensated fairly for it. I like the people I work with, and look forward to seeing them each morning. I get to write software for a living; that’s pretty cool. And it’s used by lots of people every day. I don’t work unreasonable hours and I don’t have an inhumane boss and I don’t have a dehumanizing commute. I have a say in what happens day-to-day.

I have a hobby that keeps me interested. I love listening to music and making it. If I get tired of playing or if I get blisters on my fingers, I can listen to records for a while. There is a nearly endless supply of the stuff to keep my ears occupied, and there’s a nearly limitless wellspring of creative energy inside me to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. This is also something I’ll be able to pass on to my kids someday, and that’s something to be excited about, too.

I live in an awesome city. Aside from marrying Carrie, moving to Seattle was probably the best idea I’ve ever had. I love living here. There’s so much to do, so many people to meet, and so many sees to see everything. Want to touch the ocean? The sound’s right here. Want to get away from the buildings and commune with nature? Half an hour to the east. Want to see a show? Pick from hundreds. Want to go to a bar? Close your eyes and turn in a random direction. The only thing I’d change is the luck of our baseball team, and even then I’d have to think about it. It’s kind of nice having underdogs to root for. Plus there isn’t anywhere else to go but up, really.

I live in a free country. Sure, I’m not satisfied with everything that happens. I really hate that civilians in other countries are killed in the name of my safety and security. I really hate that we won’t grow up as a country and allow loving, consenting adults to marry whoever they want. I really hate the bickering and infighting that I have to be exposed to in order to participate in politics. But aside from those complaints, it’s a nice place to live. And these things give me something to work toward to make my country even better.

I have my health. And it’s getting better every day. I’m eating right, and exercising, and I have no major complications or history of medical problems.

I’m satisfied with my place in this universe. It’s just staggering, really, the odds against me being here. And I don’t need a personal deity to make sense of it all. I’ve got a nearly boundless sense of wonder about the universe, and adding some supernatural factor just cheapens the experience for me. Instead, I believe in love and curiosity and peace, and that’s enough for me. I don’t have much time here, cosmically speaking. But that’s okay, because I can still do so much over this little chunk of life that my parents have given me.

I have a strong desire to make things better. Not just for myself. For everyone I know and love. I’m paid enough that I can spare some of what I earn for helping others, and believe I can really make a difference this way. I’ve got the urge to improve myself too, which means I am improving myself, bit by bit. I’m becoming a better husband, brother/sister/son, friend, coder, musician, Seattle resident, and passenger on Spaceship Earth one day at a time, slowly but significantly.

Not everybody has as much to be thankful for as I do. When I think about things this way, my silly little sadnesses feel a lot less significant. That’s the whole point.

Religion and Politics

Thursday, January 30th, 2003

My earliest memory of religion was, when in sixth grade, I lost my Social Studies book. The cost to replace it was $20, which was, in my adolescent world, a king’s ransom (it still is… heee heee heee). So I remember praying to God each night that I would find the book by the end of the year. And find it I did, close to the end of the year. That was the only time I can recall when I’ve called upon God. Needless to say, it did not do much to my religious perspective.

I grew up believing that there was a God because that’s what you’re supposed to do, as a Christian in this blessed-by-God nation of the U.S. of A. It’s kind of like the Economy: everybody is always taking about it, so it must be there. Even though you can’t see it. I remember having a catholic friend in Walla Walla who lived down the street from me. The crucifixes hanging in his house, replete with a crucified Jesus, scared the shit out of me (pardon my French). I remember thinking of being put up on that cross as a punishment, maybe for not believing in God. So I thought, what the hell, everybody say’s he’s real, if I’m right, golden ticket, if I’m wrong and there is no God, no harm done. This is called Pascal’s Gamble, and it’s a very cowardly way to go through life.

Now, somebody might say it’s awfully crummy to have one’s only religious experience be to have prayed to avoid a fee for a book, and I can’t agree mmore. By eighth grade, I had become an athiest. There was no resistence from my parents because I believe they both are athiests or close, at least. I have never been to church a day in my life, but I have no regrets. I had to keep quiet about my leanings at school, because I think pretty much every kid in Corvallis is some sort of Christian, with the exception of a few friends. I stayed that way for quite a while.

During my senior year of high school I realized that flatly stating that there was no God, no matter what, was almost as ignorant and pig-headed as stating that there was a God, no matter what. I changed my absolute stance to one of question; I do not believe there is a God, but if I see something to convince me otherwise, my mind is open. My views even evolved a little during my last year of high school to allow for a tiny bit of spiritualism. If you believe there is no God then it’s really hard to believe in free will, for example. I believe we have free will, so there’s got to be some sort of mystical or spiritual force somewhere. I just don’t believe it has much pull on our lives. Perhaps there is no “God”, but we are all our own Gods. If I could pick any religion, it would probably be Buddhism, as evinced by the presence of the Bhagavad-Gita on my bookshelf and not the Holy Bible.

The only thing I am fervent about when it comes to religion is that people should leave everyone else alone. It’s flat-out wrong to try to force somebody to switch religions or to call someone else’s religion wrong (paradox time: was it wrong of me to say that, since someone’s religion may be based on making other people switch? The mind reels).

I mention this because I read an article in the Independent today about a bill some Dems in the Montana legislature want to pass which would legalize same-sex marriages. It should come as no surprise to anyone that this bill will, quite frankly, piss a lot of people off. But I want to know why?

The usual conservative response is that legalizing gay marriages will endanger the family. How? These people are already gay. Gay people in love are probably going to be living with each other. Many people can attest to the relative worthlessness of marriage today. What difference is a piece of paper, besides a few tax reasons? (Note: I’m not saying that I don’t believe in marriage; I want to marry someday. I’m just pointing out the facts. Please don’t take me for a heartless cynic!) And what difference is it if a marriage liscence says ‘Mike and Tim’ instead of ‘Mike and Judy’?

A long time ago, marriage was the business of the Church. This was to, among other thing, keep blood ‘pure’ and to keep people from having sex. Nowadays marriage is the business of the state. And church and state are supposed to be separate. So what’s the big deal? As far as I can tell, gay marriages would hurt nobody. There might even be benefits. I’m not sure about the facts when it comes to adoption, but it seems to me that a child is better off with two parents than one. Still with me? An unmarried gay couple probably can’t adopt, but a married couple is more likely to be able to raise a child. Now, if they weren’t married, there wouldn’t be a straight couple to to take their place. What I’m saying is that there are not a number of possible marriages. So, a child is raised with two parents of the same sex. He will probably grow up to tolerate the beauty of love, regardless of its form. Trying to keep gays from marrying is just a form of spite, equivalent to putting up a huge fence on your lakeside property so that your neighbor, who lives closer to the shore, cannot see the view.

Let me put it this way:

I would rather see a child raised by a tolerant, gay couple than by a close-minded, bigoted, “normal” family.

But don’t listen to me. I’m a hellbound, godless agnostic. 😉