Coming out of the closet to our pastor.

EMil Wentzel:

The right way to accept a person for standing for their beliefs

Originally posted on teal tomato:

attic-112267_1280“Hey, can we meet you for lunch sometime this week?”

“How about tomorrow at 11:30?”

Tomorrow came.  As I pulled into an empty parking spot, Silver (my husband) was unlike himself.  “You okay?  You seem really nervous,” I asked.

“Yeah, I just.. this is a big deal, you know? I’ve been the poster child for the success of our church, so this will be devastating to Jon [our pastor],” Silver’s voice was unstable.  But he was right.  Silver’s transformation validated and legitimized the ministry of our darling Christian church.  His story out of darkness, into light, and then into ministry as a missionary was one that many within our congregation shared with others to help generate momentum.  Totally with his permission, our church and individuals’ ministries within it capitalized on Silver’s story as a means to help raise finances.  “What will my unbelief say about them, now?”

We ordered…

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Being a moral human being…

(Originally posted on Recovering from Religion South Africa)
Morality is not understanding RIGHT from WRONG, it is knowing what the right thing to do in a situation is. Think of it as the difference between being told “It’s wrong to hit your brother in the head with a cricket bat” and having compassion to know you should use a sponge bat. Morality is more than about learning the rules(laws) of a society, it’s about being able to discern what is the most correct action. This practically means that you will at times choose the wrong action or words or emotion, but morality is a practice of humanity, not a final state.

Morality is about being compassionate and having empathy.

Compassion is often misunderstood as offering forgiveness or letting it go, even if you are angry and filled with rage. Compassion is about feeling and understanding that your actions have results, some which can not be undone. Saying an unkind word, or hitting your brother with a cricket bat because he ate your cup cake, without thinking and feeling about how you’re going to influence the other person’s emotional and physical state, leads to immoral actions.

Compassion is when you empathise before inflicting hurt.

Empathy on the other hand is when you can feel and relate to another person’s emotional state. It doesn’t matter if the person is hurting, or filled with happiness, what matters is that you can share that feeling without needing to explain or validate or move the person beyond it. It seems strange to say that a moral position when someone is hurting, is not to do anything to make them happy or solve their pain, but by doing this, your compassion grows and your understanding of pain (real or not) is clarified.

Empathy is sitting with the deep emotions of being human and not moving from it.

Religion often tries to own morality, but morality is a practice – not a possession or final state. You can not put morality down in a book of laws and rules, even hard guidelines are impossible to implement and get a positive result in every situation. Religion also demands that it knows more about right and wrong than you do. So you are trained to ignore your own feelings, ignore your compassion and empathy, and dismiss you humanity, even when you feel something is wrong about what you are doing that your “religion” says is “right”. The more you trust yourself to KNOW the right thing to do in a situation, the more you practice your compassion and empathy, the better able you are to solve problems in life in a positive way.

Morality is about connecting with your humanity, with or without a belief in a god/s.

As non-believers we accept responsibility for our actions. There is no confessional, no prayer, no nothing that will forgive our acts of unkindness, it makes you more thoughtful of how you go about living. Owning your life in a more connected way, understanding the humanity within you, and practicing compassion and empathy without the need for a reward is not just an arbitrary set of rules, it is a choice and a way of life… And without an afterlife to correct any wrongs, the moments in life where you choose to practice morality are more immediate and important.

We have one life to do good.

Practice your humanity.

 

GooD be with you.

13 Months. The hardest year I will ever face. (*fingers crossed*)

Originally posted on teal tomato:

It’s been a hard year.  I’ve dealt with several major life changes (moving overseas, losing faith, having a change in my very worldview, and having a baby) along with extreme psychological and emotional strains (Seasonal Affect Disorder, Postpartum Depression, and coming out to my family feeling a totally void of support from them).  Allow me to collect my thoughts and present some order to the chaos as I briefly sort it out.

My life starts getting out of control. So much movement, new place, I'm relocated.

My life starts getting out of control. So much movement, new place, I’m relocated.

Months 1-3:

  • Our overseas missions assignment was changed on us multiple times, so we were nowhere near what we were told we were going to be doing when we left to go there.
  • Nutrition was a big problem for me (being pregnant), and there were many nights I went to sleep hungry.
  • I desperately needed friends so we started attending a local church.  We finally connected…

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Revealing Truth…

This is a comment I made on TealTomato’s recent post. Teal is facing the difficulties about revealing her atheism to her family. It seems like the typical outcome when someone is brave enough to begin truly living their Truth. I wanted to share Teal’s and my friends story, and also how it has affected me.


 

Over the last few days I have been tormented by the memories of my own revelation (YES, I hate that “coming out of the closet” crap). Not only here in the digital space, but in my own real life, where a friend is being made to suffer for her revelation, or other friends who have to put their Truth in the cold dark of secrecy and pretence.

My heart is broken…SHATTERED!

I wish I could do more. Give all of you hugs and whisper to you “Even this will pass. As everything passes out of existence.”

When I revealed my Truth, that I was leaving the church, I was isolated from everything I knew. Friends from the church stopped wanting to be around me, in case they ‘caught’ my disbelief I guess. My brother knew about my doubts before, but he became more distant. My mother, even though we lived in the same house wouldn’t speak to me for 9 months, she’d leave the room if I stayed there too long… I was suddenly inundated by visits from ministers of all sorts, uncles coming to talk me into coming back to the “RIGHT path”, even though they had never taken anything but a cursory interest in my life before.

They denied me access to the love I needed. I wanted their assurance that, “You are still part of us.” They betrayed their own hearts, their love and for something that would not affect their beliefs, or harm them in any way.

It was a cold place to be. I would never wish it upon anyone… atheist. theist…anyone.

I survived that. I stood in the light of my Truth and showed the world who I was. To turn back and have to hide my Truth again was an intolerable choice. To succumb to the lonely agony of dishonouring my soul, my spirit, and become my own enemy…I couldn’t do that.

Not for them.

They showed me that their love was flimsy, based on “You are either with us, or against us”. The only way to convince someone you are not a threat, is to stand with your hand out in a gesture of welcome. So I stood in the radiance of my revelation… I held true to my core…I honoured my Truth and love for them.

Today, I can share my support, give my empathy and live as an example. That experience helped me grow, made me strong enough to stand with others in their fire. To empathise with my entire being and still be open to being kind to those that are trying to do harm.


 

I’ve also started writing what I’m currently calling “Letters of Light” – I know it sounds all Hippie and stuff, and my cousin will remind me of the days I had hair down passed my shoulders – They are simply letters of encouragement to anyone who is having dificulty with their beliefs, and particularly when they reveal that they no long wish to follow the path of their family, friends, society or just struggling to find their way. It wasn’t fire that gave humans an advantage and protection over other animals, it was the light that fire provides. Allowing us to see into the dark night, and know where the danger lay.

To anyone who has experienced the pain of exile, rejection for revealing their truth, you know how much a kind word can mean… even from an empathetic stranger.

 

GooD be with you all :)  {I thank Secular Chaplain for this, its a great way of signing off letters}

And yet… (response)

EMil Wentzel:

Please read the original “And yet” post by Pascal. The love and respect these two friends share in there dialogue, reminds us that differences aren’t meant to be overcome, but an opportunity to share the wonder on life and celebrate our variety.

Originally posted on russell & pascal:

Hi Pascal,

And yet… was a great post, my friend. You perfectly captured something I’ve considered many times.

I see some differences between your contemporary friend and myself, but I love the way you respond to each of us.

I think, at its heart, the “and yet” really represents our doubts about any belief position we hold (on any subject), but it is especially potent concerning religious faith. I felt the “and yet,” on some level, when I was a theist about my theism (e.g. perhaps I’m praying to the wrong God or there really is no God). I think we each should feel some level of doubt concerning our beliefs about eternity. We’re limited people living for a very short time making decisions about an eternity for which we can have no absolute knowledge, and the beliefs we come to could potentially impact our outcome. However, after having…

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