Let’s Have a Gay Parade (and get off my float!)

I am actually having a really hard time with this. It seems cut and dry to me. You can believe what you want, but let others be free to live their lives.
Yet I see some of my “friends” on social media railing against the supreme court decision to legalize gay marriage on the federal level, in all states. People who I know to be basically good-hearted, decent, nice people, are spewing intolerance, claiming to stand for what’s “right.” I can handle them not agreeing with the ruling, but to actually support and/or laud others’ efforts to undermine it and keep gay people from getting married goes too far.  
Who are you to decide what’s right? Don’t tell me “God decided” because we don’t all follow your God, and marriage was around before your bible anyhow. And if you are going by your bible, are you going to ask the courts to stop granting divorces too? Because that’s also a sin according to leviticus…that and about 75 other things these same people probably routinely do, like eating pork! Quick, defend God, ask the supermarkets to stop selling pork!!
 
But I am not here to change anyone’s mind.  I actually have a question.  Basically, I am left with the question to unfriend or not to unfriend? As I said, some of these people are otherwise some of the nicest people…but the fact that they support taking away other’s rights really does not sit well with me…
Opinions? How have some of my like-minded friends handled this dilemma?

Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

Angel on my Shoulder

A combination of two things has lead me to this post.  1) Some of the silly things that people say to others who are grieving and 2) Conversations between my husband and I, brought on by — what else– the binge viewing of our latest series, Supernatural (yeah, I know, we’re a bit behind the times.)

Suffice it to say, I’ve had angels on the brain.  What they are.  The nature of angels.  Especially the paradox of an angel, who presumably has not been given the gift of free will that humans enjoy, yet nonetheless is able to choose to defy or oppose God, and thus, fall.  I don’t really have a full enough knowledge of the bible to be able to reconcile this.  Perhaps the answers are there, perhaps not.  But what really piqued my curiosity was something my husband said while we were watching our show.

Sometimes his wealth of knowledge still surprises me.  Don’t tell him, because we don’t want to swell his head all up.  But what he said was that one of the biblical descriptions of an angel alluded to a creature shaped like a wheel, and covered in eyes.  Something about that just really intrigued me.  My regular readers would probably be not at all surprised to learn I almost immediately thought of the Alex Grey art for the Tool albums.

Lateralus artwork- Alex Grey

Lateralus artwork- Alex Grey

Well, that, and in my mind’s eye, I also saw a more traditional “wheel”, the circumference of which was runged like a ladder and studded with stylized eyes. Something about the image was just so intriguing to me.

So I did what I always do in situations like these; I googled that shit.  First and foremost, I wanted to check the accuracy of hubby’s memory–  hey, he’s impressive, but his memory has been known to be, eh…selective…and I’m a natural skeptic.  But in this case, he didn’t let me down, and I found some basic information on the angels to which hubby was referring.  Wikipedia describes Ophanim as:

The ophanim or ofanim, refer to the wheels seen on Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot (Hebrew merkabah) in Ezekiel 1:15-21

“The Ophanim…are creatures that function as the actual chariots of God driven by the cherubs. They are characterized by peace and submission; God rests upon them. [They] reside in the area of the cosmos where material form begins to take shape.  They mete out divine justice and maintain the cosmic harmony of all universal laws.

I love this image of angels– the mystery of it, the otherworldliness and distinctly non-anthropomorphic visioning of one of God’s creations.  Something not based on a purely xenocentric imagining of some man, with a man’s motives.  

Granted, this description was likely written by the same person or persons who initially transcribed the rest of the bible, but it is a far cry from the Renaissance era imaginings of angels.

Anyway, I’m not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but I do consider myself spiritual, and this image speaks to me in a way that makes me almost wish I did have a dogma that included creatures as awesome as the Ophanim.

Things Not To Say to A Grieving Person (Me, At Least)

Obviously, when it comes to death, everyone handles it differently.  Though the stages of grief may be similar, every person’s individual experience with grief is unique.  Differerent people find comfort in different things.

Death can be a touchy subject for many, myself included, and that means finding the right thing to say to a grieving person can be hard.  In the wake of losing another acquaintence from high school, I have been reflecting once again on society, people, and the role of social media in the grieving process.  Many people are clueless when it comes to tact, even in their everyday life, but especially in times of other people’s sorrow. Often, even well meaning people unwittingly say the wrong things.

My personal policy is ‘when in doubt, keep your mouth shut.’

Unfortunately, a lot of these people don’t have any doubts about the stupid things that may come out of their mouths.

As I said before, everyone finds comfort in different things, so to say that all grieving people would be annoyed or insulted by these things would be presumptuous of me.  But I will say, when I’m grieving, I do sometimes want to smack people who say certain things.

So here are a few things I try to make it a point not to say to someone who has lost someone else.

1) Who died? – Especially with the emergence of social media sites and “smart phones”, people seem to have forgotten some very basic manners.  If you must look in on your friends’ grief when they post about losing someone, there are waaaay more tactful ways to ask about their loss then “who died?” (Yes, I actually saw someone say this, this morning.)

2) They’re in a better place-  Oh, really?  That’s nice.  Personally, I prefer being above ground to below ground.  Oh, you meant Heaven?  Well, that’s sweet of you to say.  Really a nice thought… except, I’m an atheist, so…yeah, that doesn’t comfort me a bit.

3) At least they’re not suffering- Yeah, you may be right.   Maybe their long battle with cancer is over, or they no longer have to fight their addiction…  Or maybe they were just out with friends last week, having a grand old time, smiling and laughing, enjoying their life until it ended, perhaps suddenly and unexpectedly.  You know… not suffering.  

4) She/He’s lived a good long life-  Yup.  In fact, their life was maybe so awesome and good that they (and the people who loved them) will probably miss them like crazy, and wouldn’t have minded them sticking around for a bit longer.

5) Heaven has another angel- Um… like I said…atheist.  But even if I wasn’t, humans don’t become angels when they die, do they?  I thought angels were created by God before humans ever existed.  Maybe I’m being ungracious, and people are just saying things like this to find comfort in what is likely a very confused and upsetting time. But, again, to me at least, these types of sentiments ring a little false.  They offer me no comfort, and in some cases, not a little bit of annoyance.

6) The good die young- Yep.  But, then again, so do pimps, drug dealers, and, often, rock stars.  Chances are, the deceased was none of the above.  We all have light and dark.  The fact that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who lives and who dies is part of what makes death so hard to accept.  And please, don’t say

7) It was part of God’s plan

Not to me, anyway.  I might not be able to restrain myself from smacking you and then telling you it was in God’s plan.

I have also heard some people say that they hate it when people say “If you need to talk…”

I personally don’t think that would bother me, unless the person saying it never seemed to notice my existence before my grief.  Some people just thrive on other people’s drama.  And maybe grieving people get tired of talking.  If you feel you must say something else, asking your grieving friend or relative “what can I do (for you/ to help)?” may be reasonably safe, and then leave them the option of what telling you what it is specfically they need (and it may not be someone to talk to…)

Basically, unless your grieving friend opens one of these avenues of conversation (for example: indicating they believe in Heaven, or mentioning that they are glad their loved one’s suffering is done) the best bet when addressing someone who is in mourning is to just say, “I’m sorry” and not much else.

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                              In Memory Of Greg Knapstein (1981-2013)

In Which I Bitch About the Duggars

Happened across this article on People about the Duggar family; apparently they’re considering adding to their already ginormous family of 19 by adopting.

While I think it’s lovely for a family to open their hearts and their homes to orphaned children, and while supposedly there is no question of the Duggars being loving parents, I can’t help but be a little annoyed.

I know, I know.  I’m generally a proponent of the mind your own fucking business theory and practice, I can’t help but wonder…

At what point are these people considered child hoarders?

What is this pathological need they feel to “collect” children ?

They say they have to make sure God wants them to adopt first.  Do they have a direct line to God? A toll free number maybe?  If so, I wish they’d share that shit with the rest of us.  We could maybe clear up some of these pesky questions about same-sex marriage and prayers in school…and meat on Fridays during Lent.

At least we don't live with the Duggars...

At least we don’t live with the Duggars…

“Death is a Door…”

“… we all acted alone, we were caught alone, and every one of us will have to die alone. But that doesn’t mean that we are alone.”  (Hans Fallada, 1947)

“Every living creature on earth dies alone.”  (Donnie Darko, 2001)

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

Donnie Darko and Roberta Sparrow

“Everybody dies alone.”  (Firefly, 2002)

“Son. Everyone dies alone. That’s what it is. It’s a door. It’s one person wide. When you go through it, you do it alone.”  (Dead Beat, 2005)

Are you afraid to die?  It seems like a simple question, but it requires you to be brutally honest with yourself.  What are your beliefs?  Are you religious?  Do you actually believe your religion’s tenants on death and afterlife?  

I suppose it could make a difference to you if you genuinely felt God will be with you when you shuffle off the mortal coil.   But I imagine some people clutch to their ideas of an afterlife specifically to keep at bay the terrors of death.  What happens when we die?  Do we just cease to exist?  I for one can’t conceive of not being aware, not being able to think.  

Have you ever had a serious illness or injury and felt that black stab of panic?  Am I going to die?  Maybe you’ve just been in a significant amount of pain and felt like you would die. (If you’ve ever had a migraine, you might sympathize with the thought of wishing for death, or at the very least, a long narcotic induced oblivion.)  I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks sometimes as well, which can make even a non-life-threatening situation feel exponentially worse. Suddenly, you think that migraine may actually kill you…just give you a stroke or something.

In these moments, that’s when our true feelings about death surface.

I’d like to think if my family was on a plane and it was going down, I’d be okay as long as my last moments were spent with those dearest to me, my husband and child.  But it’s been my experience that when you are in that moment of fear, panicked, you are completely alone.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Not every death is untimely or traumatic.  You may die of old age, going peacefully in your sleep, or surrounded by loved ones, but death is a door and it’s only one person wide.  We all walk through it alone.

Why Do We Seek God?

In bed the other night, I was thinking (as usual) about my search for God, or answers anyway.  And I stumbled upon an idea that seemed like a mini epiphany.  Before I get into the meat of it, this is a call to my followers and all who might happen up this post to perhaps help me answer a couple of questions and thus move myself further to finding my god.

My question is addressed to people who were raised in a secular or non-religious environment.  However, if you feel you have something to add to the conversation that does not involve the usual rhetoric involved in discussing religion or random and lengthy bible quotes, by all means please comment.

The idea I had, and what I want to ask you gentle readers is sort of a two part question:

What is the source for the desire to search for God or a higher meaning?

and

If we are raised in a completely secular or atheistic environment where it is never suggested, inferred, or taught to us that we need or should have a god, do we still inherently feel a need to seek one?

Perhaps now you can see why I specified readers raised in secular environments.  If as children, we are in any way introduced to the idea that religion should be a part of our lives, especially if the introduction comes by way our our parents, who have a heavy influence on our thoughts and feelings during our formative years, then that idea may always be a part of us, even if our intellect bucks it (like mine does.)

This is specifically my problem, by the way.  My brain tells me there is no way there is someone “watching over” us;  if there were, our world would not suck so much.  Yet  there is a part of me that likes the idea of a gentle father-figure who loves us unconditionally and keeps a place for us by his side.

Although I don’t relish the idea of him watching me while hubs and I have the “sexy time.”

I suppose this question could work in reverse, but I know the story of  disillusionment and lack of faith on a more personal level.

I have long considered myself someone who is reverent of nature, and even dabbled in Wicca for a while, but in the end, even ideologically pleasing  religions like Wicca, Hinduism, and Buddhism still incorporate deity worship, in many cases multiple deities.  Moreover, embracing nature alone means embracing the idea that  everything is essentially form and function, part of the circle of life, and there really is no higher meaning, aside from survival and continuation of the species.

So, as I said before, though this post may be another one of my introspective and theological ramblings, it is also a call for interaction.  Please feel free to (respectfully) share your thoughts.

RELATED: http://ayearandadaywicca.wordpress.com/what-is-wicca/