Monday, January 2, 2017

Steps, Lava Lamps and My Faith Struggles

My shins are sore from all of the walking I've been doing (64 miles in the past week) as I continue to compete in the weekly Garmin step challenges. I've been doing most of my walks at either Mall of America or on our treadmill but yesterday and today I walked outside. The bike paths and sidewalks are very icy in spots so I was often walking on the shoulder of the road where there was better footing. Heavy rains more than a week ago followed by freezing temps left the mountain bike trails a ribbon of ice and unless you have studded tires, which I don't, the trails are unrideable. It hasn't been a good winter for studless fat-biking and I don't expect to be on mine anytime soon. I'll be firing up my CompuTrainer this week.

We had a low-key New Years Eve. We went out for dinner then came home and were fast asleep well before midnight. I was whipped and had a pounding headache that had been with me off and on for a few days. I was sure the fireworks at Buck Hill would wake me but I slept through them. This retirement gig with the decent sleep I'm getting is more than nice.

I'm in need of a new lava lamp. The one I have is probably 25 years old and there appears to be some etching on the inside of the glass that I can do nothing about. It functions fine otherwise. I also have a lava lamp for my desktop on the Windows side of my Mac. There's an image of it to the left. It's actually quite cool. You can configure it to small, medium or large and choose whatever color you like. I have mine set to random. Here's a link to download it if you're interested. I haven't found a good one for a Mac OS.

I considered buying a new lamp through Amazon but there's nobody in the U.S. that makes a quality lava lamp anymore -- at least according to what I read in the reviews on Amazon. I learned that the original company that came up with the idea for the lamp is located in Britain and for a variety of reasons they won't ship to the U.S.. From all I've read a Mathmos lava lamp is so much better than what can be found here and so I'm content to discontinue my search and look at my etched lava lamp for an occasional mellow vibe as needed.

I was lamenting on Facebook a few days ago about my struggles with my faith. I wrote:

I've been struggling with my faith lately and mostly it has to do with what I've seen from fundamentalist christians (intentional lower case "c") and their embracing of Trump. Faith is a tricky thing -- you have to really trust the people delivering the message -- that they're being straight with you and living the life they profess to believe in. Yet, how can I trust them when I see how they've rallied around this phony man who represents the worst in all of us?

I understand that God used lots of failed people to advance his kingdom and so there is that but this is beyond believable. It leaves me no choice but to question all that I've been led to believe by these same people who hold themselves up as the godly among us (Not all of you, but clearly a large majority of those who identify as evangelical). I can't do that anymore and still respect myself.

And so I struggle because I do believe in a higher power -- I'm just not so sure that the truth is what I've been taught because I can no longer trust that the message of too many of our churches hasn't also been corrupted along the way by those with an agenda similar to what we've just witnessed, and so it throws everything into question for me.

Propaganda is a powerful tool and I can only conclude that many of you have fallen victim to it. When you do finally come to realize that you have in fact been duped (by not only Trump but by the entire republican party and right-wing media) and you summon the courage to admit that to yourself, please know that those of us who have been where you're at welcome you with open arms. We will need your support in the future to fix what will most certainly need fixing before his embarrassing reign is through.

And no, I will not stand with you in support of this buffoon.

Yes -- I know -- very off-putting if you don't agree but it's how I feel. Watching Trump and listening to the ridiculous lies he tells, one after the other (and no, there's no comparison between Hillary Clinton and Trump in terms of lying) and reading the childish messages he tweets all leave me shaking my head that anyone could possibly think he's fit to lead our country; especially evangelical Christians. And let me say -- I don't hold myself out to be some paragon of virtue -- in fact, I'm far from it. But neither am I running for president or using my religion to marginalize others who don't share my beliefs or are different than me.

I also understand that this is about abortion and Trump's choice for at least one justice to that bench. There was a time not long ago when I was an ardent pro-lifer, so much so that I could even be found marching around our state's capitol in the March for Life. But then I realized that the party I was supporting wasn't so much pro-life as they were/are pro-birth. There's a big difference. If all you care about is getting the baby out of the womb with little regard to how it will be supported, your thinking lacks depth. Unplanned pregnancies are going to happen and when they happen to a woman who can ill afford to bring a child into the world or even carry it to term because she lacks a decent paycheck for her labors you're going to have people opting to abort a child rather than allowing it to live.

I used to be a frequent listener of some Christian rock artists but even they have lost favor with me as I recoil from the faith I once embraced. I still have the Christian fish tattoo on my ankle and I'd like to keep it but if this religion of mine keeps going in the direction it's going my tattoo's days are numbered.  But then I ponder -- leaving the tattoo as it is will show others that we're not all a throwback to a much darker time. As I've said here before -- the word "awful" used to mean awe-inspiring. The word "Christian" is currently being redefined and I need to find a way to distinguish myself from those who have hijacked the meaning of Christianity for their own self-serving and harmful political reasons. I won't go quietly because I do believe it's too important to simply give up and walk away.

I'm happy to say that in spite of how conflicted I've been lately about my faith, we're happy with our new church home at Family of Christ in Lakeville. I don't sense any of the judgement I witnessed at Hosanna and neither is there the conservative mob-mentality that was evident there which bared little resemblance to Jesus. It's sorta like I've been thrown a lifeline in an ocean of uncertainty.

There is one Christian rock band I can still listen to. Jars of Clay took it on the chin from conservative Christians two years ago when lead singer Dan Haseltine dared question out loud the harsh stance from many Christians toward same-sex marriage. He only asked the question but it was enough to cause a coordinated effort to have their music removed from rotation at stations around the country, hurting them financially. The love of Christ is too often missing-in-action from those who most loudly claim to be followers of Jesus.

Here's a video I recorded of them from 10 years ago before YouTube allowed for hi-def. They have my respect and continued support.


John Hill said...

I have raised plenty of eyebrows over the past few years by preaching that I don'r often refer to myself as a Christian because I don't like the negative connotation that is attached to it.
First century Christians simply referred to themselves as Disciples of Jesus or Followers of the Way. I like that and so generally refer to myself as a disciple or follower of Jesus.

Kevin Gilmore said...

I like that, John. I worry about the damage that will be done to the brand by the time republicans and their conservative christian supporters are through with their unimpeded march to a "better America". I've never been more disappointed in my fellow man for allowing this to happen to our democracy.

David Bryan Gilmore said...

Thanks for the lava lamp link. Nice to see I can install it on Linux... why not your mac? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Yes the fish... well you live in walleye land. More winks and a nudge.
My problem has been with the cross at times. The evil method of torture the Romans used almost on a daily basis to those that offended the ruler of those times. Yes Jesus suffered and so did others as well. Listening to the book, "Killing Jesus", a historical record of the times at his birth and death and after and the terrible extremes of those days. It isn't a book that promotes the Christian faith as an evangelical writing but if you are a Christian it will make you cringe at the description of the killing of Jesus.
My eyes were opened.
Abortion is a terrible option for any woman I think. And I doubt it ever comes with a nonchalant attitude. Planned Parenthood gets all the bad press from the right but the reality is they actually prevent unwanted pregnancies and counsel those women that are pregnant and don't know what to do. I don't believe they promote abortion at all but make it available as a last resort or for the health of the mother.
The "religious right" will have you believe you are of the devil if you support PP.
I tell people that care to listen or want to know where I am with my faith... I'm a very bad example of a Christian. I have so many doubts regarding what is written in the Bible and the knowledge we have gained in those thousands of years since the Old Testament was written by many ignorant men that belonged to that flat earth society and thought the earth was the center of the universe and dreams were something to be explained as a message from a god or some other entity. So yes I'm a Christian but I'll never claim to buy into all of the things others believe as a requirement to wave the flag of Christ.
I have changed churches to a Quaker church. I find it to be more open and unlike all of the other churches I have attended. I've even joined the Men's Group... about 7 or 8 guys that get together weekly... I'll give it some time to see if I can learn and share too. Sue is very happy that we are back at church together again. And that is more important than anything right now. Church's web site.
I just finished listening to Ted Koppel's book "Lights Out".
I highly recommend it. It is a very scary look at our weak link in our defense plan. Nuclear weapons are no longer necessary. In fact they are the worst way to wage war. Simply damage the electrical grid in a serious way and then walk in and take what you want if you are prepared. We are defenseless against a hack attack in so many ways and we are in a very bad way if our grid was damaged. It might be months or longer to get the lights back on and in the mean time, kiss our society goodbye. Anarchy will be the rule of the day. And yes there are those that will say it can't or won't happen but the reality is there are more people in the know that say it can and might happen. Anyway give it a read or a listen as I did. So on that high note I'll sign off.

Kevin Gilmore said...

I remember hearing about the book but honestly, considering the author and what a gasbag he is, I don't think I can subject myself to anything he's involved with. But I'll take your word for it. The Passion of the Christ gives a very gruesome depiction of what led up to Christ's crucifixion.

I agree with you about abortion. I wish conservatives would make sense about this. They want the woman to give birth but by their actions and the programs they cut in favor of tax breaks for the wealthy they come off as clueless as to why some women choose abortion. In a moment of weakness I can totally see why a woman would choose that option when faced with little to no help for day care or the basic needs of the child. It would be nice if all children were born into functional homes with a stay at home parent and another to provide for them but that ideal went the way of the buggy whip it seems.

I would love to be able to take the Bible literally but I simply can no longer do that and be true to myself. It's become a collection of stories to me and I seriously doubt the hand of God in all of it. Why should the Bible be any different in terms of being pure than our churches? Our churches are anything but pure. But having said that, I do believe in Devine intervention -- and I believe that we actually can be communicated with through our dreams. I had that happen for me the night before I attended Hosanna for the first time back in 1997. Here's a blog link where I write about it.

Ah, so you're a Quaker now! Do you have to wear a uniform -- funny hat and all that? :) Just kidding you -- good for you. I think the one thing I know about Quakers is that they're anti war. Is that right?

I've heard about Ted Koppel's book and the concerns he raises. I agree -- the next war will be fought with keyboards and not bombs.