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My time on Mars [Part 2] [Jan. 25th, 2010|03:30 pm]
My inherent cynicism is not born from disbelief. It is not a product of an unwillingness to simply believe. It thrives on the intake of religious hypocrisies and agenda setting.

During Sunday's sermon we were told to ignore the mysticism or religion. God was not Santa Claus. You couldn't Ask. Seek. or Knock for a Mercedes. You couldn't sit on Jesus' lap to get that night out on the town.
This is a fair assessment. God is not some mysterious being that arbitrarily delivers gifts based upon your "good"ness.
That task was left for a Catholic Saint with a team of "Moores". Who stole evil little children from their beds at night.

Oh wait wait... I'm confusing dogma's again. The Dutch have some strange traditions.

The point being that you cannot ask me to ignore the mystical nature of Christianity. Your entire belief is based upon a teaching that the Jewish son of an omnipotent being was born a human, killed, and brought back to life.
Where do things like that occur? Mysticism.

So Sunday, as the ... leader of the religious congregation told us to ignore the mystical aspects of Christianity I couldn't help but ask why.

Paganism is imbued within the very traditions of our faith. Easter, Christmas, Communion. All were adopted to allure in the nonbelievers.
Even after the many... many... many... many... reformations within Christianity-MOST (at least a lot of the obvious ones) Pagan-isms were continued.

So, to wrap this all up in a pretty box with a big bow... Don't tell me to ignore the mysticism. It's there. It's inherent. Parting the sea. Lazarus. Magic tricks with fish and bread.

It's not up to you to tell me which parts of religion I should adhere to or dismiss. I can make up my own mind.

That's right though. The sermon went on to demonize individualism.

I get that it's easier to preach one message to an army of clones. Though, unlike Dolly, people aren't sheep. Yes, they are looking for direction (even guidance). Just don't say the right way is group think.
Just as a many forms of the same "faith" exist. Every person is allowed to decide for themselves what to believe.

Read through Herman Hesse's "Siddhartha" and you will get an image of a culture that outwardly appears to enjoy group think.
Hesse writes, "The river is everywhere," That rather than seeing the people we meet as blips on a screen; we should see them as streams that connect and leave our own. Always flowing in the same direction. Perhaps gone, but not forgotten. We leave a bit of ourselves as they leave a bit of their own.

They are their own streams. They aren't parallel lines. They aren't one ocean. Individuals moving together. Sometimes separate. Sometimes together.

Somewhere in here is my opinion of the sermon itself. Let's save my overall view of Mars Hill for part three of this post.
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My time on Mars [Jan. 25th, 2010|01:37 am]
Recently I told a friend that throughout my life I have been told I aptly fit my namesake.

The joke, that my piety (or lack there of) was a reflection of "Thomas the Doubter". The Apostle who refused to believe the resurrection until he touched the wounds from crucifixion.

Jesus appeared to Thomas privately, and proved his resurrection. Jesus then tells Thomas that those who believe without seeing are blessed. Thomas understands.

Thomas never abandoned his faith. Nor did he act as a skeptic in front of true believers. He voiced his concern, an honest account of what he felt inside.

Recently I asked the same question my namesake had nearly 2000 years prior.
----
For the sake of brevity I will omit the course of events that led me to Mars Hill Sunday morning.
----
I will say that I arrived on my own feeling utterly conflicted. Church had always been about the dogmatic approach to worship. Practices I accepted, but openly questioned their purpose.
Why do something if it does not bring you closer to whatever deity or belief you adhere to? Why repeat something if it bores or confuses you?

Needless to say, a progressive church like Mars Hill is not immune to its own flaws.
The first half hour of standing felt like a Christian rock concert. I am not a fan of Christian music in general. I find it to be both simultaneously trite and bombastic.
Why sing about your faith through the words of another? Why memorize a melody if your church intends on cutting out the antiquated traditions of old?
Maybe "Majesty Majesty" is the new "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."?

To merely replace one act with another without justification seems irrational. Remember that Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Einstein didn't limit this observation to just quantum physics or the scientific process. It holds true for all aspects of our lives.

Once the actual sermon began my cynicism flared once more. "Be fruitful and multiply," he called out to a chuckling audience.
"Rats function under the same philosophy," I thought to myself. "At least rats have the decency to admit its encoded in their DNA and not a message from God."

I breathed a deep sigh, and shifted slightly in my seat.

Immediately to my left. A gentleman sat by himself. He continuously flexed and extended his digits. Arthritis perhaps? Stress? Boredom? I couldn't quite figure it out. He continuously checked his cellphone. I glanced down as he was quickly thumbing a text. I saw the words, "IT'S YOUR AUNT..." before I guilty shifted toward my left.

Just prior to service a young woman, perhaps just slightly older than myself, asked if there was room for two. Unlike the innkeeper I obliged her request, and shifted down several seats.

Back to the request to act like Christian rabbits, and I watched as this young woman's arm shot up to stroke the back of the man she was sitting with. Her arm acting with the same direction and force applied by a driver who quickly brakes, and reaches across to secure their passenger from impact.

From between the strands of her long brown hair I saw a man most likely just her age. He was blonde, and leaned forwards as her hand caressed his back. "What was he leaning on?" I thought to myself. Adjusting once more I moved forward to see both of his hands on top of each other on top of a wooden cane. His chin resting on the back of the top hand.

I had questions, but I stopped thinking all together. The sermon had moved on to something slightly more pious.

Ask. Seek. Knock.

My mind raced to memories of the stain glassed windows in my own church. Jesus, holding a lamb, knocking on a door without a handle. The message, I had learned many years ago, is that you must let Jesus in.
Instantly I felt as if I were betraying my church.
My +100 year old sanctuary in place of an abandoned strip mall.

Where was the dogma? Where was the drafty windows and tradition?

.............

I am cutting my own post short here. It is far too late, but I had to get part of this down. I doubt anyone will read this. Appropriate. It all comes back to my namesake.
-Thomas
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2:25am [Dec. 29th, 2009|02:25 am]
I am entirely scared and thrilled at the prospect of this being the beginning of something completely new all together.
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(no subject) [Dec. 28th, 2009|01:50 am]
I don't know where I see myself in five months. Hell, I don't know where I see myself in 24 hours. Either way, whether it's today or in a few months I know both days will find me with this lingering feeling of uncertainty. The doubt that grips my stomach, and butterflies that steal my deep breathes. With sweat down my back, and licking my cracked lips through a dry mouth.

I sometimes fear this constant saying hello and goodbye is harder than just saying goodbye forever. You come to visit, but never stay. You have things to do. You have things to fight for. You have people to fight with. Even if you're told your training is telling you to pray for peace, but you plan for war.
You'll be spending the next few years of your life fighting for something that's bigger than both of us. The least I can do is swallow my pride and smile. Not because I have to, but because I know you go, but I can't wait to see you again. Because knowing you've gone again means I have time to better myself for your next return.

You leave again, and I whisper, ".... fuck...." into the cold Michigan air. Standing alone in a parking lot. Thinking I see the tears well up at the edges of your eyes. Hoping you didn't see mine.

I don't know where you'll be in five months. I don't know where you are right now. I just know you're gone, and friend I'm going to work on myself for a while.
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Pathfinder [Dec. 5th, 2009|11:23 am]
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