i am grey

i am grey

You always followed the one drop rule so well, the slightest hint of colour turned all you water black. You made sure the house was full of corpses or newborns. We sang or we cried. No furniture sat in the middle. There was no room for grey in your mind but

I am grey. 

Black and white met; a forsaken love; an impossible bond – their battle birthed me. I am the product of distinct entities becoming one. I am the product of the gap between yes and no, the space between right and wrong. That is why your rules never seemed to work for me, they were always too tight, too lose, never quite fitting on my awkward frame. I preferred to tailor my convictions to my experiences; I wanted my beliefs to take my form, adjust to my shape, but you wouldn’t allow it; you made sure I wore ill-fitted frocks

You closed your eyes, you blocked your ears to my cries. You only heard the sounds that echoed your beliefs… my life could not do that for you. Your eyes only processed black and white but

I am grey 

So you killed me, but I never followed the rules so I didn’t die, I resurrected. but I never followed the rules do I didn’t resurrect, I died.

 

conversations with myself

What right do you have to creativity (joy)?

What right do you have to misery…

What right do you have to creativity (speak)? 

What right do you have to silence…

What right do you have to creativity (live)?

What right do you have to die…

What right do you have to creativity?

None

one picture has two stories

There are those pictures – we’ve all seen them – that show two things; optical illusions. Take that silly dress picture for example. Some people saw one thing, a blue dress, and others saw something else, a gold dress and, a few people were able to see both.

I think this provides a clear metaphor for fundamentalism, in all its forms. The fundamentalist is the one who sees only one picture, believes in only one picture and refuses to even consider that there is anything else to the picture apart from what they see, and we saw this happen clearly with the dress issue. As the debate started about what colour this silly dress really was twitter hashtags sprang up, one was team blue and one was team gold, and on a rather trivial level I think this demonstrates our human tendency to fall into fundamentalist thinking. What happened was people saw a particular colour, they believed in a particular colour, and as a result they separated themselves into camps to show their allegiance for their particular colour; both sides fundamentally holding to their interpretation of the photograph. And isn’t it obvious we tend to do this same thing with religion, politics, and just about everything?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about dualistic thinking, our need to separate everything into these harsh categories: good or bad, right or wrong, black or white. We are natural fundamentalists. Our ability to categorize ourselves and our world is impeccable but it is also something we all have to push back against, especially when it comes to matters of faith.

When fundamentalism finds itself joined to Christianity things get ugly. People simply refuses to have any conversation or dialogue that even remotely suggests the possibility that there is anything wrong with Christianity at all. Beliefs become fixed, rigid, and practically impossible to change. And this wouldn’t be an issue if our beliefs weren’t in constant need of revaluation. Do you know at one time it was considered hearsay to proclaim that the world wasn’t flat? Or that the Earth was not the centre of the universe? If we never allowed ourselves to examine our beliefs and adjust them as needed, where would we be? Where would rights for women be? Where would rights for minorities be? And more importantly we all know fundamentalism at its worst is incredibly destructive,. The horrible things we do to one another when we take one narrow interpretation of the whole world can be devastating. And while it happens within Christianity and religion as a whole, it can also take place on the outside; it’s important to recognize that fundamentalism can go both ways.

Just as you can narrowly believe in Christianity, you can also, and I believe just as narrowly, refute the whole thing. The people who refuse to see anything good that can come from Christianity or religion are also practicing a kind of fundamentalism. You really have to put blinders on in order to completely disregard all the good things that Christians, Muslims, Hindu’s and Buddhists are doing for humanity. To deny that faith can be a positive force on this planet is to deny the work of people like Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

I point these things out because it is my prayer that I never fall into any camp. It has become obvious to me that Christianity isn’t all roses and sunshine as I was raised to believe. I now know that are some serious questions and critiques that need to be addressed within Christianity and I’m not afraid to bring them up, but to throw the whole thing out and say it has absolutely no value is not a compelling story either. Neither extreme is true, and deep down we all know that, yet many of us fall into these fundamentalist camps anyone because their easier to understand.  To open up, and allow yourself to be awakened to the reality that the dress is both blue and gold, not either blue or gold, is challenging.

To admit that Christianity can be violent, repressive, and patriarchal, AND that it can also be beautiful, full of grace and overflowing with hope all at the same time is not an easy task, because it doesn’t allow us to ignore the reality that all these things are present and contending with one another. It’s not a simple picture and it will never be.

If you think I’m writing this blog to tear the whole thing you’re misunderstanding my mission. My goal is to show that the whole thing can’t be torn down because there are beautiful things weaved and intertwined within the ugly. So what’s the conclusion? That the dress is blue; the dress is gold; Christianity is perfect; Christianity is broken and that the reality of things tend to live somewhere within two extremes.

May your heart always be able to see the two stories within every picture.

the sinner and the saint

Knowing where you fit is comforting.

From the beginning of time humans have loved to divide themselves. Whether it be by age, gender, or belief, whenever there is something that we can hold onto to gain a sense of identity and build community with others, we take it. At the end of the day we’re all reduced to categories. You meet a new person and what do they want to know? your nationality, your birthday, your age, your height, your weight, and the list goes on and on, and why? Because being able to know where we fit in relation to the world around us provides us with security. Being able to click Christian when FaceBook asks you for your religious belief is reassuring. But now that I am deconstructing or rethinking my faith I don’t have a nice little box to fit into anymore and honestly, it’s been causing some anxiety.

At first I couldn’t figure out what was troubling me, but I think I finally understand why I’ve felt so unsettled, it’s cause for the first time in my life I don’t know where I fit! My views definitely don’t fall into the mainstream Christian narrative any longer, but they don’t really fit anywhere else either; it’s a strange place to be in. I feel disconnected from the world that I have known all my life but in a lot of ways I also feel like I’m fully connected to the world for the first time. Going from being a person who was able to neatly categorize the majority of my beliefs and my theology in a 15 minute presentation to genuinely having no idea what the hell is going on, has been a little disorienting to say the least.

The only thing I feel like I haven’t lost in all this is the Divine. I still believe that everything is pointing to something. Life is this constant ebb and flow of beauty and pain and joy and sadness. People die, but then babies are born, and there’s murder and rape and then there’s love and compassion. And there are aspects of reality that make me want to want give up on the whole thing and there other aspects of reality that bring tears to my eyes simply by their beauty. There are all these horrible things happening around us but yet there’s constantly this redemption that’s simultaneously taking place.

Everything is so multi-layered that it’s hard for me categorize things as simply being good or bad anymore because it’s all both both and neither. People so dynamic; in some ways I’m wonderful and amazing and in other ways I’m absolutely terrible, and I think that holds true for everyone. Somedays you curse out someone in traffic and then help an old lady with her groceries 10 minutes later. So what are you? The sinner or the saint? See those categories do nothing for me, maybe you’re both, maybe you’re neither but what I know for sure is that you are human. And this truth has been revolutionary for me because it’s helped me to finally stop dividing everything and everyone. Take away race, gender, religion, language, at the core of it all we are inherently the same. And that’s why I refuse to hold onto any belief system that tries to distort that, and create division among people. Everyone is struggling to fit in, everyone is struggling to make sense of it all, everyone is struggling to forgive, everyone is struggling to love, and realizing that makes it so much easier to have compassion for people.

An essential aspect of forgiving people is seeing yourself in them, realizing your own capacity to do the same thing they did. When Jesus caught the woman in the act of adultery what did he say? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?” When we stop seeing ourselves in others. When we stop seeing our capacity to do the good or the bad they have done, we start throwing stones, and that doesn’t help anyone.

Sometimes we gloss over the humanity of the people in the bible. David was an adulterer and a murder, yet wrote beautiful songs and poetry to God. If that’s not a juxtaposition, I don’t know what is. Before we are anything, before we fall into any other category, we are human therefore we are complex beings. Embrace that.