I spent my morning energy writing the letter below to a cousin. It may not be coherent, but it is what I seemed to have for the morning:
Bea -- I have a hunch that the same-sex discord in your
church, while perhaps sharper than others, is about par for the
organized-religion course. On the one hand there is an implied or
expressed open-heartedness -- a wide and wonderful everything-ness --
that draws adherents towards religion. On the other hand -- or perhaps
together with it -- there is a recognition that spiritual endeavor
requires discipline and discipline means doing what anyone might prefer
not to do. Without discipline, spiritual exercises remain frothy
doo-dads ... cozy and warm, but thin as cotton-candy and essentially
self-referential. Is either of these positions or religious lenses
perfectly correct or perfectly incorrect? I doubt it, but others may
not. As far as I can see, individuals are forced, to the extent they
want to plumb important realms, to make up their own minds, fish in
their own ponds and stop relying on others ... a thing that is pretty
hard to do: Let's face it, social support is important both in human and
'religious' terms: How the hell is anyone supposed to stand alone with a
group? Is this a blessing or a curse ... but ... what other choice is
there? Sometimes I think the Quakers were onto something ... at least
they take the trouble to shut up.
I purely love the "Thought
Moments" video for exactly the reason you point out. It makes me wonder
at my own assured constructs of what is beautiful, loveable or whatever.
In the realm of assumption, I just know these things. But when
asked point blank about them, I falter and squirm and doubt. It may be
unpleasant, but squirming has the virtue of being honest: Where are the
hand-holds when the hand-holds dissolve?
I saw a TV documentary (or anyway that's what I half-remember... I suspect it was this program) about Atul Gawande.
I haven't read his book. I remember him as an attractive guy doing what
I think of as important work ... pulling back a carefully-constructed
curtain around the practicalities and factualities of death and dying.
It's not as if he were 'right' in some sense ... it was just that he
opened a door for others to walk through: That's a kindness from where I
sit. But the Buddha wasn't whistling Dixie when he observed, "All fear
dying; all fear death" so it is understandable if Gawande's matrix and
outlook would scare people... me too, perhaps ... no one's exempt from
being scared, no matter how many fairy tales are told.
remember in my Zen travels when I stumbled accidentally across the
bone-deep appreciation: Death is part of life. It smacked me upside of
the head. This was nothing fancy. It was simply true. No need to ask
anyone else: Look around at the roses and milkweed and oak trees and
beloved kin. And since it is true, it is clear that fearing death is
fearing life, though those who fear death sometimes create symphonies to
the wondrousness and beauty and blessing of life. Praise-mongers are a
dime a dozen. It's a small and very human hypocrisy (a thought moment
perhaps?), but hypocrisies have a way of nagging and nattering and
taking the shine off the realms of an imagined heaven. I'm not quite
sure what I'd do with "77 virgins," but I can imagine desiring such an
afterlife scenario. It may be easy to praise the blessings, but
addressing the 'curses' is part of any real-life agenda that seeks peace
... and each (wo)man does so on his/her own terms. What a pisscutter.
On the other hand, what other choice is there? How much self-imposed
bullshit can anyone swallow? Belief implies doubt and doubt is not very
Oh well, it's early in the day and it's my time to
prattle. I hope you are well and not too discomforted by the recent hot
weather. The older I get the hotter 'it' gets and humidity is a
hands-down victor in my life. Bleah!