My Views on Religion* (Pt. 1)

*Another presentation in a KIR continuing series of articles of the Steppin’ On The Feet Jesus Washed (SOTFJW) Project-Mission!
[Click here to read MVOR* (Pt. 2)]
*******************************************************************************
I’m often asked why I have certain opinions or viewpoints regarding religion, particularly Christianity, and why I’ve chosen not to involve myself in a church membership anymore. I’m also asked why, for decades now, I no longer subscribed to certain “christian” (word lower-cased on purpose because not all TRUE Christians are assholes and judgmental) fundamentals and rhetoric… or worse, listen to or follow judgmental, hypocritical and the condemn-you-to-hell preachers and evangelists/televangelists like James Dobson, Creflo Dollar, Ted Haggard, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson and others. Well, I could start here but I won’t. It’s enough I’m even bothering to list some of the names of those people in this post! Anyway, here’s my answer to those questions.

I had a spiritual awakening at age 24 and I’ve never looked back. Let’s just say that certain events happened in my life up to that point which caused me to reconsider and revisit certain beliefs I had and which led me to turn me away from being a then semi-religious person. Years before, I had been a faithful Bible reader and researcher.Since childhood, I attended Baptist churches, had been baptized, taught Sunday School, sang in and with choirs in my church, participated in revivals, and retreats, and enjoyed a host of other good and fun things about being a good Baptist Christian young man. At 19, I left home in Philadelphia to join the Navy. For me, that was the best decision I’d ever made at the time.

In the Navy, I got to meet, work with, and befriend hundreds of people from all walks of life.  I got to travel to places on the globe I’d only read about. And I got to see – up close – the practices of other religions. It was all very enlightening! Somewhere between ages 22 and 24, I went through what I’d call, a “personal religious crisis” which, as mentioned earlier, woke me up… spiritually!  The events leading up to that crisis would take far too much time to write about in its entirety and frankly, it’s not really necessary for this particular post; however, I’ll touch on a few things. Keep reading.

During my religious crisis, it was as if a light was turned on in my life.  When people use the expression, “I have seen the light”, I know EXACTLY what they mean! The events of the crisis brought about my own significant AH-HAA! moment! And it was at that moment when I decided that as far as my personal religious position was concerned, things would be strictly between me and God.  I rejected any man, woman, and child in suits, dresses, robes or rags from ever again telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. I had decided to never again listen to nor accept any “word of condemnation” from other people, especially the hardcore, bible-thumping and extremely judgmental Christians I always met and/or had been listening to. Regarding the things I’d done, had been doing, or wanted to do in and with my life, I had decided to never again allow feelings of guilt or worthlessness to continue shadowing my life, like some dark cloud of gloom. And, at that moment, and as the days and weeks passed, I clearly began to understand and accept that God, who created me, did so without error, and thus would accept just me as I am.

I had always been taught, if not directly told by others that some of the things I chose to do or desired to do were sinful and/or considered to be “abominable in God’s sight”. How could this be, I’d asked myself? I realized that I wanted to be ME and that being ME was natural and it was good!  I cussed when I felt like it. I smoked cigarettes when I felt like it. I bought, sold, and smoked pot. I consumed beer and liquor – sometimes in excess (but never drove home or back to the ship shit-faced). And sex? Ha! Ha! Many hard-core Christians are immensely hung up on, if not outright obsessed with sex and everything about it. Other than for reproductive purposes or intimate relations with a spouse, they preach and act as if they abhor the many other “sins” which, they say, sexuality seems to cause, forgetting that sex and sexuality is NATURAL and is a gift from God. Yet many are hypocritical in their preaching for they practice the very same things which they tell others are “unnatural” and “sinful”. I shake my head at their hypocrisy! Whenever I hear someone give Biblical references as to what is “unnatural”, “sinful” and an “abomination in God’s sight”, I halfway wish one of those “uber-Christian” folk would give me a clear and concise demonstration as to what they mean. LOL! Anyway, since I was no longer subscribing to certain strict Christian virtues where sexuality was concerned, I took it all to mean that I’d set myself free, to a certain extent and within reason, sexually. No more lying about masturbation or feeling ashamed that I was “polluting” my body, the “re-born temple” of God’s Spirit when I masturbated. According to Christian dogma, masturbating meant that I was actually making my body “unclean” or dirty for God’s Spirit to “live inside” me. Really? Give me a fuckin’ break!  Next, I decided there would be no more hiding the fact that I liked, no… I LOVED looking at ADULT pornography or that I enjoyed visiting strip clubs, whore houses, and nudist beaches, either alone or with my fellow Sailors and Marines during my world travels. And sexual freedom meant that I could fuck and have oral sex with whomever I wanted, however I wanted. Damn; with all the sexual freaky-ness I’d come to enjoy over the years, my body must be EXTREMELY too filthy to house the Spirit of God!  Now I’m not some alcoholic or some sexual deviant. I simply sought to have fun in life whenever and wherever I could. I still feel this way today. As people say, “you only live once!” I did all those things… and more and was very happy!  Mind you, I happened to be a very strong and independent thinker! And I’m stubborn, too. It’s hard to convince anyone of anything with that combination of traits!  People who are like me decide things all on their own! As time passed, I learned that being ME was so much better than pretending to be or needlessly working hard to be someone or some-THING else!

Let me be clear about something: my new-found awareness and revised thinking on the religious or spiritual sense does NOT make me an atheist, nor does it make me agnostic. I was then, and have always been, a kind, honest and trustworthy person; one who tries to treat and respect others as I’d like to be treated and respected. That’s it, really. I’d give anyone the shirt off my back if it meant that person needed it more.  These traits and others I have are a natural part of who I am. They have nothing necessarily to do with me being or not being a Christian, nor with being religious. It simply makes ME very real and very human. I did not then, nor will I now, or ever apologize for being me. In fact, if I became spiritually aware nearly 30 years ago, then over the years, surely I’ve become much more aware of who and what I am than ever before!

Because of my humanity, I am expected to make mistakes in this life. I have always learned, and continue to learn from my mistakes. However, I believe that so long as I acknowledge God as my Creator, Heavenly Father, Guide and Judge, and so long as I do my best to treat other people with respect and dignity (no matter how bad they may treat me), I will be o-k with regard to my personal relationship with God. I said PERSONAL because my relationship with God is no one’s damn business! I do not need someone to “save” my soul or to speak to me about “working out my soul salvation”. I do not believe Jesus Christ saves all because all people do not subscribe to Jesus, nor do all people feel the need to be saved. I touched on this briefly in this humorous post and on Facebook.

I talk to God regularly as I would any friend. I am often frank, sometimes a bit crude, but always to the point with Him. I can talk to God far easier than any person I know! I get mad at God too, just as I would any friend. As far as I’m concerned, I’m being neither disrespectful nor blasphemous. God knows my thoughts and feelings so why should I hide them? Why look for some formal or correct way to speak to God? That’s not being real! God knows me and expects me to be REAL with Him! If anyone hates true hypocrisy, it’s God and hypocrisy in itself, is blasphemous!

I acknowledge that I am but a helpless child of God and under God. And as a child, I am just like any earthly child with earthly parents; I am filled with human temperaments, attitudes, and expectations. Yet, I know my Father and Creator sees and knows everything about me! I’ve learned to NOT be ashamed to do certain things or feel ashamed to talk to my Father about anything. This has made life so much easier for me! My rejection of others attempting to judge or “condemn me to hell” has also made my life easier! And my founded ability to be able to discern hypocrisy and bigotry in most people has greatly protected and prevented me over the years from ever again experiencing another personal religious crisis. Thank you, God!

Finally, I respect people who are TRULY Christian as well as those people of other religions (and those who happened to be non-religious) who are truly following their respective religious dogma… so long as they all realize that they too, are still only human. Furthermore, I can and will RESPECT any religious group or organization’s freedom and their right to worship and believe as THEY choose, so long as they do not force-feed or impose their beliefs and practices upon me or other people and if they can refrain from being judgmental and condemning of myself and others.
Keepin’ It…REAL!

[Click here to read MVOR* (Pt. 2)]
*******************************************************************************
PS:
The song, Shallow Be Thy Game, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1995 album, One Hot Minute, expresses much of my sentiment about my views on religion, at least as I understand the lyrics.
Shallow Be Thy Game (1995)
(Lyrics by: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Dave Navarro, Chad Smith)

I was not created
In the likeness of a fraud
Your hell is something scary
I prefer a loving god
We are not the center
Of this funny universe
And what is worse
I do not serve
In fear of such a curse

Shallow be thy Game
2000 years look in the mirror
You play the game of shame
And tell your people live in fear

A rival to the way you see
The bible let him be
I’m a threat to your survival
And your control company

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody

To anyone who’s listenin’
You’re not born into sin
The guilt they try and give you
Puke it in the nearest bin

Missionary madness
Sweep up culture with a broom
Trashing ancient ways
Is par for course
It’s fucking rude

To think that you’re above
The laws of nature what a joke
oh, Purple sashes feeding masses
Smoke on which to choke

I might be a monkey
When it comes to being holy
Fundamental hatred
Get down on your knees and

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody

I was not created
In the likeness of a fraud
Your hell is something scary
I prefer a loving god
We are not the center
Of this funny universe
And what is worse
I do not serve
In fear of such a

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody
(repeat 2x)

Honesty on Racism (Part 1)

This blog is all about being REAL. Straight-up. No bullshit.
So…in this one minute video, renown Michigan attorney Geoffrey Fieger IS being REAL, and is saying what many SENSIBLE people – both Black and White – have been saying over the last four to five years about Barack Obama .

Now, to be clear, I have seen enough YouTube videos actually protesting Fieger’s comments. They range from calling Fieger an “opportunist” to gain the Black [sympathy] vote for some future political office he wants, to the hoodwinking of certain ethnic groups, to actually denying the fact that certain people and certain political groups were “never really out to get rid of Barack Obama due to his race, religious beliefs, or his place of actual birth, but only for his political views”. What an outright lie! GIVE ME A FUCKIN’ BREAK!

Look, I’m not only a news junkie but I know damn well American history. And, one of the things about this country’s history which has always fascinated me is that of the American Presidency! I know, (and so do many of you reading this — don’t dare deny it), that until Barack Hussein Obama ran for, got properly vetted and nominated, and rightfully won the presidency, NO ONE ever questioned or challenged the natural citizenry or race of any other person who went through the same process and went on to serve this country as President of these United States. Now it’s true that for a few of our past presidents, there have been questions or concerns about the religious beliefs (i.e. JFK’s catholic upbringing comes to mind), military service, etc during the campaign and after entering office but never such to the level of that done against Barack Obama. And with all the political (and personal) differences the American people, members of Congress, and religious and political groups have had of the last 43 presidents, strangely enough (perhaps strange to everyone except maybe Black people) it was not until Barack Obama came along that all the bullshit questions and challenges of his birth certificate, parentage, religious beliefs, political, religious, and personal associations with so-called “controversial” people, his youth AND his race came to be of very deep concern. It’s shameful but the more we would like to believe that America is socially, ethnically, and ethically moving forward, the more many of us REALize that we still have a very long way to go.

I support Fieger’s comments in his video and in this follow-up news link where he addresses why he posted the video, clearly pointing out the video is NOT a support ad for President Obama’s re-election. Fieger says the video was posted to bring to light the racism that still exists in America, implying that RACE has been – and will still – be a factor to many in this year’s election. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Fieger’s direct and intended inflection of the words, “BLACK family occupying the WHITE House”. In the follow-up news story, Fieger uses the term “code words” to relate to the racist tactics used against Obama by many of his (Fieger’s) “white brethren”, today and in the past four years. (The same terms used particularly by radio pundits by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, et al).

I won’t sugarcoat it: Black people, particularly those in my general age group and older, have been, and are certainly sensitive to coded language used against us. Black people (and the Native American) practically invented it!  I find it refreshing, to say the least, to actually hear a White man of the fame and credibility Fieger has reached, calling out the obvious racism of the staunch Obama-haters. Thanks Geoffrey Fieger for…
Keepin’ It….REAL!