Saturday, February 12, 2011

FAQ

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that people like to ask me. Please note, I tend towards sarcastic humor so please don't be offended. And if you are offended, then do not read my blog. You are free to change channels. I do it all the time with the t.v. when I see things which I find offensive.

FAQ:

Q: If you are a Christian, how can you be into heavy metal? Isn't metal evil and from the devil?
A: No! This is one of the devil's most successful and insidious lies. The fact is, "God gave rock & roll to you/ gave rock & roll to you/ put it in the soul of everyone." Metal is spiritual in that it talks about life & death and ultimate meaning and the deep disturbing questions that everyone has but many are afraid to ask. So, rock on & give God the glory! Make a joyful noise.

Q: How can you belong to a patriarchal religion which oppresses women and denies the Divine Feminine?
A: I don't. The Episcopal church recognizes the feminine aspect of Divinity, e.g. the Holy Spirit is referred to as "She" in the Old Testament as "Holy Wisdom." (a truth which most fundamentalist churches do not like to acknowledge). Also, the importance of Mary, the mother of God, and Mary Magdalene, one of the first and foremost disciples, cannot be overlooked. While it is true that Christianity has historically and to this day, in some denominations, continues to oppress women, in fact nearly ALL religions and all cultures, with a very few exceptions, have oppressed women, even those which have goddess worship such as Hinduism, where Ma Kali and Sarasvati are worshipped while women remain second-class citizens, or the ancient Greeks who worshipped Athena, Artemis and Hera while the women were treated like broodmares at best. Certainly Jesus Himself was considered radical for speaking with women and treating them as equal human beings in a culture where women had essentially the social status of livestock.

Q: Why then do you refer to God as "He"?
A: Simply because our language does not offer a neutral personal pronoun. If we were to use "She" or "Goddess" then it would be equally unbalanced. Writing "He/She" or "S/He" is awkward.

Q: If God really loves us and is all powerful, then why does He allow all kinds of bad shit to happen?
A: That is the million dollar question! Nobody has ever really answered it successfully. You should ask Him yourself. Certainly a large amount of evil in the world is related to free will, i.e. our inhumanity to each other. However, that cannot explain the suffering by natural causes such as earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, famine, diseases, birth defects, etc. The only thing we do know is that He did not spare Himself the suffering. By being born as a human and living among us and suffering and dying, He "took our pain into His own hands" and somehow transformed it and "by His death He destroyed death" and changed the karmic balance in our favor. It has been said that suffering is necessary on some level of reality in order for us to have free will and full experience of the joys of life. It is also possible that this life is a sort of Purgatory in the Catholic sense, or in the Hindu sense of reincarnation, and we believe that in the next life we will be healed and happy, but this of course is speculative and can only be a matter of faith. Meanwhile, in this life it is up to us to be ministers of reconciliation and do our best to manifest Heaven here on earth.

Q: If you are a nun why do you have a partner?
A: Good question. I didn't really want a boyfriend. I was very happy living alone with God since about 1991, but in recent years I began to realize that I could not manage the farm on my own and I could not afford to hire anyone to help me. I was bitching and complaining to Him, "You know I only want You, but You aren't mowing the lawn or making money fall out of trees, what am I supposed to do?!" I didn't date, although I have always had lots of guy friends. But then one day my friend Hawk (a.k.a. Ivey Blount), after several beers and with the encouragement of a mutual friend at karaoke, got up the courage to confess that he loved me. Hawk was a good and consistent friend, my animals adored him and he shared my love for the land (he's a Seminole Indian). He was always over here helping me and my dad with stuff around the farm. We found that we had a lot in common – we both have a twisted Monty Pythonesque sense of humor, we are both Trekkies/SciFi nerds, we love the same music and enjoy singing, surfing and snorkeling, and above all, we share a deep spiritual connection. Eventually when he lost his lease on his apartment in 2005 I asked him to move in with me. Episcopal ministers, except for those living in the monasteries, are permitted to have relationships and marry.

A: But since you live in the same house and are unmarried, aren't you technically living in sin?
Q: Technically, yes - according to the ancient standards. But please keep in mind that Biblical morality originated in a time and place where slavery was normal and women had approximately the same social status as cattle, except there was a limit as to how much you could beat the cattle. A girl belonged to her father until such time as she was married off around age 12 and then she became the property of her husband. So there were no "free and consenting adults" since women were not free, could not live on their own, or enter into relationships as equals. (I will do a separate blog on this topic later.) Like many Episcopalians my understanding of morality is more "do unto others as you would be done by" and treating each person with respect and dignity and honesty, as opposed to adhering to ancient behavioral codes designed to ensure the obedience of women as broodmares, and/or to prohibit sexuality apart from reproduction. (See Bishop Spong's book, "Living In Sin.")

Q: How has being in a relationship with a man affected your ministry?
A: Well on the one hand, St. Paul was right - I have less time for ministry due to the time and energy required to maintain a relationship. Time that I might previously have spent in prayer and meditation unfortunately now is often spent arguing whose turn it was to do the dishes, or discussing financial planning, or some pointless dispute. On the other hand, being with Hawk has helped in my ministry because guys used to constantly hit on me, but now that they know I am with him, they rarely do. Also, Hawk is really kind, sensitive, good at talking with people and loves to help people, so we work together well in ministry. And when we do have time to spend together in prayer and meditation it is really awesome.

Q: You say you practice your ministry in bars. Isn't that contradictory?
A: Not at all. Bars are a really good place to meet hurting souls who need someone to talk to. Way better than church.

Q: If there is really one Truth then why are there so many different religions and why are they all so full of hypocrites?
A: Because religion is a man-made construct. Religion is man's attempt to reach and influence or manipulate God, and from a social standpoint, to control people. The basic idea is that if we behave and follow certain religious laws and perform sacrifices and flatter God in just the right way, He will give us what we want in terms of prosperity, protection, and power. That is the human way of looking at religion but it really has little to do with spiritual truth which is God's grace. There are as many religions/ denominations as there are different kinds of personalities. God is the Truth which is beyond religion and yet you can see glimpses of the Truth in various different religious mythologies in their deeper or mystical aspects. Each person can go beyond the dogma of religion to experience spiritual truth for him or herself.

Q: But isn't the Bible the Truth?
A: The Bible was "inspired" by God and written down by fallible humans in their own cultural contexts as they attempted to describe their experience of the Divine. The truth is in there but not always obvious to our modern understanding. For one thing, the Bible is not a science textbook and was never intended as such; it is more like poetry or literature. In addition, while every Christian denomination claims to believe in the truth of the same Bible, in fact they each have their own interpretations of the Bible which differ drastically from each other. I believe the Holy Spirit has spoken through the Jewish and Christian scriptures as well as the scriptures of other religious traditions, such as the Bhagavad Gita. But the Truth is the eternal Word, not a book per se, and cannot be fully grasped by human understanding.

Q: Why bother with religion if science can explain everything?
A: Religion and science are completely unrelated. The purpose of science is objective, to understand facts about the physical universe, e.g. what is the origin of the elements? How and when was the earth formed? If I mix these 2 chemicals at a certain temperature and pressure what will happen? Science identifies, quantifies and analyzes physical objects. The focus of religion is metaphysical, which by definition is outside of the realm of physical science. It pertains to matters of the soul, e.g. what is the meaning of my life? What is true happiness? What is my spiritual relationship to all other living beings? Religion is a subjective experience, like enjoying art or music, or being in love.

I've probably managed to confuse and/or piss off a bunch of people so I think this is enough for now. Will write more later! Feel free to send me any questions you many have.

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