Freedom of Religion, Respect, Tolerance, & Beyond?

Freedom of Religion, Respect, Tolerance, & Beyond?


The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

 

Some people prefer a more orthodox, dogma-driven, “Religion of the Book” to a more experiential, ecstatic, mystical, creatively expressive, emotionally-driven, eclectic, Erisian, entheogenic, unorthodox path.

Friends of other paths, religions, philosophies, folkways, beliefs, deities, and cosmologies…

There is room for all of us.

No single one of us has got it completely right. All that matters is that we do our best with the life we’re given. Even if you don’t believe in other lives, you’ve got to agree that your life right here, right now, is sort of your primary focus. Whether you believe it’s the works you do in life or the god you follow is what gets you to the Next Destination, or whether you believe life is the only destination there is… There is room for all of us. Do what works for the person you are, in this life. That’s all you can do.

My colleague Sweet-Dude(!) mine is someone whom I’d refer to as a “modern mormon”. His vocabulary is marked with enthusiastic exclamations shouting “Sweet!” “Hells yeah!” “AWE-some” and “Dude”. Most of us love the guy. Sure, he’s pretty traditional in his way, but he’s progressive in others. He’s said before  “I don’t really care what other people believe. People need to do what’s right for them. As long as you’re good person or at least you try to be, you’ll end up in a good place. Whatever that place is.” I expected him to be more rigid in his beliefs, knowing that he is very traditional in a lot of aspects. He gets irritated when people ask him how his “wives” are doing, or that it’s “hot” that he could add another lady to the mix. The “magic underwear” stuff irritates him too. It was refreshing to hear that he and I were more or less on the same page. He’s involved in his church and community, and goes out of his way to make others feel supported and welcome. I’ve never met a youngish mormon who wasn’t a genuinely  nice person who respected my beliefs, yet still had a sincere desire to help me and be my friend despite those differences. Sweet-Dude(!) is no exception.

I embrace the fact that even though my path is very different from his, we are lucky to live in a time and place where we can gladly work side by side as colleagues and friends, and are able to express and practice our vastly different spiritual beliefs however we choose.

There is room for us all, and we are lucky to be right where we are now.

Those of us who live in the West, we’re blessed to come together in this time and place.

We have a multitude of spiritual options awaiting us. If what you’ve been doing doesn’t fulfill you, if you look around a bit, surely something else will kindle that Divine Spark. The options and possibilities are essentially endless.

We live in a time of great opportunity. Others have toiled and suffered for us to have this freedom.

We have religious freedom, and the opportunity to choose for ourselves. This is a beautiful thing. It wasn’t always this way.

I may be one of those “yeah, I’m totally not religious but I’m like… you know… spiritual…?” in an upspeaky kind of voice.

I adamantly believe in preserving the separation between church and state. Others may disagree with me on that, but I’ll assume they practice a religion that’s more than just a bit arrogant. I try to embrace Christianity as best I can, as I know and love a great many Christians. Some sects are so dogmatic and closed-minded that it smacks of arrogance. So, your god is the only god, because it says so in a book written by some scholars hundreds of years after the action supposedly happened? Naw. Not for me.

I prefer a direct connection with my gods… It’s a bright divine bolt from the blue that warmly burbles in my belly like boiling cinnamon tea. My head swims swirly with all kinds of crazy strings of light. My chakras go crazy. I experience clairaudience. I experience very strong psychic flashes. I invoke the god that’s calling. I balance it out by doing some ritual work. It calms things down. Then I think about it. I write about it. I have a snack. I have a smoke. I have some sex. I contemplate it, and then I unravel the tightly woven mysteries wrapped up therein. The answer is seldom direct or simple, although lately the they come to me more quickly. It doesn’t take weeks of research and study to work out the message. It’s clear, concise, brief, and it’s just snaps. This is a result of my WTF KALI PURGE ’11.

YO B., I GOT THAT MAGNATUDE, yo! POP*POP!

I got to choose. Yes, my gods chose my initially, but I am totally rolling with this Shakti/Durga/Parvati current, and it’s slender ribbons of gold and pink Kwan-Yin influence wrapped around it, illuminated by White Tara. I am not arrogant. I walk a darker path led by Kali. This is not for everyone. Sometimes I ask if I am strong enough to keep going, but I always manage. No… You get what you ask for, but sometimes I ask if the price was worth it. The nice thing is that it always reveals something very empowering or healing about myself. This last purge showed me that through submission in some areas, I am actually more stronger and in control of others. Durga/Parvatu is more WANDS than any other god I’ve worked with before… Her different aspects feel at home within me. It’s a good place to be. I’ve earned it.

I watched Fall From Grace (a documentary about Fred Phelps and his family) a few nights ago. You know… The asshats who picket fallen soldiers funerals, and gleefully wield fluorescent-coloured “GOD HATES FAGS” signs?

They are also free to practice their religion. So are Scientologists.

I’m not a fan of either of these groups. I feel that both have a possible cult mentality, and it seems potentially harmful and manipulative to it’s members. I don’t respect that. If people are brainwashed, threatened harm, or controlled through a charismatic leader… I don’t agree with that. That is a good example of arrogance, power, and man’s inhumanity to man.

If anything, I have a strong sense of business, personal, and spiritual ethics. Pushing your beliefs on others is wrong. Expressing complete and utter arrogance regarding your own beliefs, paired with willful ignorance of other beliefs is wrong. Treating others unkindly in an intentional manner is wrong. Exerting power and control over others in a manner where you are the only one benefitting is pretty damn wrong to. In my opinion. In my spiritual path.

Sure, I embrace and respect most other paths. Some I tolerate. Some I don’t care for. I’m entitled to my opinion, and you are to yours. That’s another nice thing about respect, tolerance, love, and freedom. It’s okay to disagree. But the Phelps? Come the fuck on, that is all kinds of WRONG!

I am blessed to be free to practice my religion. It’s a path of discovery, and I have all the wiggle room I need to weave and unravel the mysteries.

I hope that you are blessed too, wherever you are…

Religion, philosophical beliefs about or against religion, or whatever your thing is…

Do it. Believe it. Celebrate it. Love it. Don’t be an asshat to other people. Don’t harm unconsenting others. Be respectful. Be tolerant. Be polite. Be progressive. Be open-minded. Embrace the differences, and celebrate them.

Or don’t… but…

You’ll have all my most beautiful and brightest blessings if you respect my right to do just that.

That’s Miss Jackson, if you namaste!

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