Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"My Mom" or "Why I dislike the Bible"

As I said in my last post, I have a great relationship with my Dad. Not so with my Mom. We don't fight, but I almost feel like it would be better if we did. As soon as a conflict appears, she shuts down. Stops the conversation. Changes the subject or stops talking. She doesn't do this because she is just a sweet person, not wanting to bring angst to anyone. From my perspective, it seems she just doesn't want to listen to anyone else. Nice.

She is a very intelligent person. She has an unending thirst for knowledge. She just seems to enjoy driving me crazy with her black and white view of life in the world. sigh.

From what others define me as, I am quite liberal. I consider myself to be more common sense based, but whatever. I do believe that for people to work best in a society, we need to consider the probability that most of us do what we do because we think it to be the best choice for all involved. Too vague? I think it's best to be polite and friendly because it makes me feel better, and I hope it makes others feel better dealing with me. I know many people who are very conservative who believe the same things that I do, (ie. human life needs to be protected) but believe in different methods of doing so (ie. I believe the human lives currently on the soil of Earth should be protected through social services and laws; others believe that unborn human life should be protected through laws and "on the soil" lives are whatever they turn out to be).

So I try to keep an open mind when I speak to people about different issues and how they view them (in other words, I try not to immediately think other people are idiots).

My mom stopped over to our house yesterday to bring my husband a late birthday present and a couple of fun "just because" presents for our 2 year old. We chatted about completely mundane stuff for awhile, but I struggle doing that and ventured into deeper topics.

I brought up the struggles that my book club had when reading and discussing the book "The Faith Club" (the authors are three women, each of different religious faiths, who got together to find ways to create books or resources for children of all faiths when talking about how to live peacefully together). My mother, being who she is, said something along the lines of "that's just some liberal ideal that would never really work". My irritation started, but I wanted to learn more about what she meant, so I kept going, and asked her if she meant that they couldn't create a book resource for kids, or something else. She said that "people with different world views can never be friends, at least not close ones." The end. Oh great.

So I continued on. "Well, I think that most people I know are the faith they are because of the culture and family they grew up in - not because they searched around and chose a faith against all others because it was the one they thought was best." She agreed that was probably true. (What? She agreed I could be right?) "I think it's too dismal to think that no one can be friends because they have different religious beliefs - I mean, especially in this country where, though most of the culture is Christian, all religions or non-religions are welcome." She brought up the Bible. (Here's where I get my hardened heart against studying the Bible.) "Then you need to go to the Bible and learn what you should do. It tells you how to do everything needed in life: marriage, divorce, remarriage, neighbors, laws, children, everything." Oh good, I can't make up my own decisions, but need to consult an old book to tell me how I should live my life, each and every step. Ahhh!

I asked her about the beliefs found universally in all the main religions. "What about the beliefs in doing your best to be a good person and doing things like caring for those less fortunate?" She said, "only Christianity and Judaism hold those beliefs - Hindus believe in family killing." "I think family killings are more a cultural problem, not something found in Hindu religious writings." "I don't know about that." End of conversation. She wouldn't keep talking about any of this because I had gone too far into an area that she had already decided was impossible. I can completely understand why my parents' relationship ended the way it did (in abuse, argument, and a coldness that still persists).

I pray everyday that I can keep an open mind about religion and politics. Both my parents have such narrow views of what is possible that it drives me mad.

As a kid, I thought that it was my problem that I couldn't get along with my mother. Maybe that was true then, and still is now. But the thing that scares me the most today, is that I don't have that special sort of connection with my young daughter. Most times, I don't understand what she's thinking or why she does what she does. And I pray that that lack of understanding doesn't mean that I will also be unable to develop and maintain a close and open-minded relationship with her as she grows into a woman.

Monday, June 28, 2010

See the Good

I have a great Dad. We seem to think the same way; have a similar life view; are both mostly happy go lucky with a tinge of the macabre. I have always enjoyed being around my dad, okay, maybe for a few years during my teens neither of my parents were really on the top of my list of people to hang out with, but the forced contact was usually quite nice.

My dad was recently in a pretty serious car accident, and while the doctors were checking him over with tests and scans, they discovered that 1) he was relatively unharmed by the accident while his truck was totaled and 2) he had a cancerous tumor on one of his kidneys. What? I guess doctors don't usually discover this type of cancer until it has spread and taken over other areas of the body, so his car accident was really a miracle.

We talked on the phone tonight - mostly about my little family's trip to the U.P. of Michigan (WOW! So amazing! More on that later) - but we also talked about faith and religion. About how so many people in our world use religion to tear others down and spread hurt and fear. My dad is such a wise and loving person; such a good role model; such a great person to talk to.

The subject of hatred and fear through religion keep coming up for me lately.

I just read the weekly email from our church and this is what is read:
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

1 John 4:18

"Amor omnia vincit. This old Latin saying means, "Love overcomes all things." There is no obstacle or any destructive force so great that love cannot overcome it. I am reminded of the words of the old French carol, "Now the Green Blade Rises" - a song that speaks of Jesus as a grain of wheat:

In the grave they laid him,
Love by hatred slain,
thinking that he would
never wake again,
laid in the earth
like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

Hatred is one power in this world that seeks to slay love. The rest of the carol is equally vivid in its description of other destructive forces in our lives: grief, pain, and, as 1 John points out, fear. But the power of love is pure and indestructible. The resurrection was proof of that. Perfect love casts out not only fear, but hatred, grief, and pain. The final line of each verse of the carol offers vivid testimony: no matter what we face in life,
"Love is come again, like wheat arising green."
Love overcomes all things.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes the harsh realities of life make me fearful and anxious. Thank you that your love always springs up in my life and gives me hope. Amen."

I'm still not sure if the faith that I have, the love that I share or the prayers that I give truly define me as a Christian, but tonight I know that I don't care one lick about what I am defined as by others. I know that the peace I feel in my heart is the way I determine how well I am following the path the God I believe in has set before me. I know that everyone has the opportunity for that peace and joy - and by everyone I mean every single person on Earth. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Athiest, Agnostic, or in search of a flock.

However you see Jesus' role in human history, most agree that he was a great man who shared love and respect with everyone he came across in his short life. Man, that is so difficult! But it's a good example to strive for. See the good in everyone. A new mantra for my meditations. Especially when I find myself bristling against someone - see the good.

I hope others return the favor. (Thanks Dad)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Super Pause Power

I like to read about other moms who are very much "making it up as they go along" just like I do. Reading a "Writing Workshop" post by the author of Sleep Is For The Weak I have taken on the task of coming up with what superpower I would like to have. (Another thought on this topic was to write about what superpower you already have, but I don't think staying one step ahead of total chaos really counts.)

There are so many cool superpowers to think about. Super speed. Invisibility. Time travel. Super Strength.

I think, since I am in a constant battle to live in the moment, that I would really just enjoy having a PAUSE power. In so many situations, I would love to have a moment to collect my thoughts, clean up my house, take a nap, take a pee alone... the possibilities are endless.

I'm sure my husband would enjoy this new power of mine while we argue and I end up saying something hurtful, just to get a few moments to think through what I'd like to say.

My kids would love me to have this power so that, while they are requiring my attention, I could give it to them - instead of being like the dog, Doug, in the movie Up!, always distracted by whatever seems shiny at the moment.

Even my dogs would love it, since they might actually get a walk every once in awhile!

I could find time for myself as well as meet the needs of everyone who relies on me. Maybe I could even find time to get together with friends I seem to only stay in contact with on facebook; a sad replacement for actually talking to people who have made my life such a rich tapestry of experiences.

Ahh. Pause Power. What a cool dream.