Sunday, June 30, 2013

Love is patient

Back in March, I wrote about Marriage Equality and made some guesses about how the Supreme Court would rule on DOMA and Prop 8.  (March 29 - "The issue of Marriage Equality".  I wasn't far off about the ruling but I am surprised we are not seeing as much immediate right wing backlash as I was expecting.
Maybe it's because the court ruling did not go so far as to say that same sex marriage was a constitutional right.  They ruled on the side of states rights and that the Federal Government cannot discriminate when someone is legally married.
There will be many more court battles ahead.  One that I have not heard discussed is if one state has the right to say someone married in another state is not recognized.  The next is if someone is married in one state but the state they are living does not recognize their marriage, does the federal government recognize the marriage?  Do they file joint taxes?  Do they pay inheritance taxes?  Are they eligible for the many Social Security benefits offered married couples?  Does their employer have to recognize them as married for insurance purposes?
Those against marriage equality will double down on the states.  They will continue to work to overturn marriage equality in states that now have it and they will continue to to try to have more laws passed in the states that don't to triple ensure they will not pass marriage equality legislation. 
A lot of attorneys on both sides of this issue are going to make a lot money.  A lot of legislative time will be spent in states and in the US Congress arguing both sides of this issue.  Many churches are going to continue to be torn and focused on this issue.
In the end, people are going to love who they are going to love.  No amount of fear mongering, Bible banging, legislation or other forms of retaliation are going to change that. 
For centuries the world tried to turn left handed people into right handed people.  It was not acceptable and certainly wasn't considered something that people were born to be.  Now science is proving that being gay is as natural to some as not being gay.  But once a whole lot of rhetoric has been built around a notion, it's a long time changing.
The reason will be ultimately decided in the courts, is that courts are somewhat more geared toward logic and reason.  But even Judges have their own fears to overcome.  So, hang onto your hats folks.  It's going to be a long and interesting ride before we see marriage equality.  But it will come.  It will come because love always wins over fear.  Love is patient.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our awesome connection

Often I am touched with a powerful sense of awe.  It's an overwhelming feeling of humility and at the same time a great connectedness to that greater force.  It can happen when I'm singing and hear another sweet voice harmonizing with me.  It can happen when I stare at the stars on a perfect summer night.  It can happen when I see Molly Mutt Paws cock her head as I tell her some odd thing.  I feel it when suddenly words and music dance in my head that I must write down.  I just know that my spirit has been connected to something more.  I feel small and large at the same time.
When I travel to foreign countries, I marvel.  I see ancient things and wonder.  Why was I born now?  Why was I born in Franklin Pennsylvania?  Time and space are so large.  We are so small.  Our life on earth is so short.  And yet, I am a part of all that ever was and all that ever will be.  I am a tiny speck in the universe but I am part it.
Everything we do leaves an impression that carries on somehow.  Everything - every thought - every deed - every word.
We are part of one giant continuum.  It does not matter what you call that.  You may call it God or nature or Woooogaaa if you like.
It is the alpha and the omega - The omnipotent, omnipresent.  It is part of everyone and everything that ever was and ever will be.  It is the simple, universal and undeniable truth.
Everything we say - everything we do - everything we think creates something in the universe that carries on somehow.  We may never know how - good or bad.
I believe that understanding needs to be at the core of everyone's personal spiritual journey.
For me it is very humbling and comes with a feeling of great awe and great responsibility.
We are at the same time a tiny speck and part of something endless.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Learning about Chinese Philosophy
Two of my favorite places in China were Laoshan Famous Mountain with the 3000 year old Taoist temple and Lingshan where the Grand Buddha overlooks the mountains and lake in the distance.

 While sitting at the foot of the Grand Buddha with my host group, Mr. Peng asked our interpreter, Jacey to explain Buddhism to me in a few short sentences. As she told me his request, she expressed that she wasn't sure she could. I said, "Let me try to tell you what I believe Buddism is about. Buddhists believe in respect for all things and all people. They believe that it is each individuals responsibility to find their path in life and that we should always be seeking to be better in all we do." As Jacey relayed, the group nodded and smiled. Mr. Feng, my local host, said, "You understand Buddhism well." Later that evening over dinner we all had a wonderful discussion about eastern philosophy.
Their written language is steeped in philosophy. It's fascinated me for many years. For example, the Chinese word for crisis is two symbols. Apart the symbols have their own meaning - danger and opportunity. Together, they mean crisis. It's the idea of yin and yang - that two seemingly opposite things are interconnected. It is deeply rooted in Taoist teachings.
In western philosophy, teachings and religion we tend to think black and white, good and bad, right or wrong. Meanwhile, the eastern thought will seek greater context and is not so quick to pass harsh judgement. As in the example above, a crisis is not necessarily bad - there is an opportunity if you seek it. Our job is to seek and learn.
During my time in China, I saw that, just as in the US, not all follow and take these philosophies to heart. But I spent a great deal of time with people who really do. I saw it in their actions and felt it in their spirit. They were humble, kind and gentle always watching for an opportunity to be the best at whatever they were doing at the moment. I saw it in how they were treating the people around them, how they were treating me and how they were approaching their work.
One day Mr. Peng said, "Our Buddha taught much the same as your Jesus Christ." It is true. And as I have thought of Christians I most respect I can say the same of them as I say about my new Chinese friends. They are humble, kind and gentle - always watching for an opportunity to be the best at whatever they are doing at the moment. The biggest difference I see between the two religious philosophies is that Buddhism is centered on self actualization. Buddha won't save you. He teaches you how to reach God. You must learn it. It's inwardly focused and works outward. Christianity is outwardly focused. We are powerless to find God and must be saved. No matter how we act or behave, it's the salvation that is the key. Overcoming the external force of sin is only accomplished by submission. There also tends to be a focus on pointing out and combating other people's sins - many seeing that as their responsibility as Christians.
As my hosts asked my thoughts on philosophy, I told them I am not a typical Christian or a typical American. I wasn't sure they understood. So I said "I think I was Buddhist in a past life and was born into a Christian family so I could try to understand Christians." That - they understood and it brought much laughter.