Sunday, May 08, 2005

Step 6: Live in the Moment

For most of my childhood I was a worrier. I never really worried that something terrible was going to happen, though. It was more like a constant fear of what direction my life would head next. I always viewed decisions in the span of years -- how what I chose today would effect the way something would turn out next month, which would, in turn, effect where I would be in five years. And what if it turned out that I didn't like where that was?

My dad would always try to tell me: "Just take it one day at a time." To which I would respond: "But I can't! I have to know what I'm doing next year in order to make the right choice today!"

It took a long time, but there finally came a day when I could just live in the moment. I didn't stress about the future -- I just took things as they came, and figured the future would take care of itself.

Lately, however, I've been faced with some pretty big life decisions, and I've reverted back to that old worrier in me. I'm having trouble enjoying the amazing things that are going on in my life right now because I'm so stressed out about my future. I keep trying to tell myself to just live in the moment and enjoy the now, but I can't stop thinking about what's waiting for me around the corner. I've always enjoyed change, but this time I'm afraid of losing something really great. The hardest part is knowing that I'll be losing something great, regardless of my decision.

I've learned not to live in the past... now I just have to work on not stressing about the future. Otherwise, I won't have much of a present, either.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

To Hell, or Not To Hell?

I am in love with the show Desperate Housewives and try not to ever miss an episode. One of the characters on the show, Bree, is supposed to be a devout Christian. A couple of weeks ago, her son confessed that he might be gay, and she told him straight up that if he didn't talk to the reverend and repent, he wouldn't go to heaven with her.

That just pisses me off. Do people actually think this way?

Part of the reason I ended up taking a step back from religion and re-evaluating everything was because I just couldn't stand how so many Christians had this nasty habit of painting people into hell.

Last summer, I flew out to Utah to visit some friends after spending a number of months overseas. I was most excited to see my best friend of 2 years who I hadn't seen since the previous fall. I spoke with him shortly before I left and he told me he couldn't wait to see me again. When I got into town I gave him a call to make plans to meet up with him. I got his voicemail, so I left him a message saying I would call back at such and such a time.

When I called back later that day, his mom answered the phone and told me that he had died.

I was COMPLETELY devastated.

I started calling all of my friends to let them know. I figured if his mom hadn't called me, she probably hadn't called anyone else, either. Everyone I talked to cried with me and chatted about what a wonderful person we had just lost.

Then I called a Christian friend of mine. And he made sure to inform me that since this friend of mine was a Mormon, he was now in hell.

Did you catch that? He told me that my best friend was in hell. ON THE DAY I FOUND OUT HE DIED. HELL!

Why would I ever want to be a part of that?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Interesting, Indeed

So I've been reading a lot on Buddhism lately. Not that I suddenly think Buddhism is "The Way" and at last I have all the answers. I just love to learn and to read all kinds of different things.

I'm currently working my way through a book called The Teaching of Buddha. It's interesting to see how many similarities there are between Buddhist and Christian legend. And isn't it funny that Buddhism began about 500 years before the birth of Christ. Interesting, indeed.

For example, though the Buddha's mother was not a virgin, as she had been married for 20 years, the Buddha was not conceived as a result of sexual relations. His barren mother had a dream one night in which a white elephant entered her womb and she became pregnant.

After his birth, a hermit predicted that the Buddha's life would take one of two paths -- he would either become a great king and rule the world or he would forsake the palace and become the Savior of the world.

And so it continues.

I had to chuckle when I read a parable of Buddha about a wealthy man whose son left home and fell into a life of poverty and debauchery. After years the son wandered back to his father's house, and as his father watched him walk back to the house, he sent his servants running out to greet him. The son became a servant in the house until he was advanced and could at last recognize his father. He was then given all of his father's property and treasure.

Perhaps this sounds a bit familiar to anyone who knows the parable of the prodigal son?

Not that I'm saying one is right and the other is wrong. But maybe no religion is really original. Indeed.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Step 5: Don't Make a Commitment That May Be Too Big to Keep

Like promising to come up with 12 clever steps for a recovering mormonholic. :)

Not to worry... they'll come in time. But in order to post more frequently, I think I've got to break it up a bit.

I usually have a pretty hard time with commitment. I'm so scared of settling and getting stuck in a rut that after a short time I start to get antsy and have to move on to something new.

I remember my health teacher my junior year of high school telling us that her mother had gone to that same school, then she went that school, and was now a teacher there. Living in the same neighborhood, shopping in the same stores, taking the same route... everyday... for far too many years to count. I never wanted to get stuck like that.

So I move all the time and avoid relationships. Is this normal? Probably not, but it's me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Step 4: Coffee Can Be Very Liberating

Back when I first decided to leave mormonism, I still carried with me most of the rules and opinions of the religion. Most of all, I still believed that following any diet beyond the limits of the "word of wisdom" was a terrible sin. It wasn't until five months later, while I was living in Russia, that I decided to take the plunge out into the world of "sin" and try my first cup of coffee. Someone else ordered it for me... it was black, and I think a little burned. My eyes winced every time I took a swallow.

My next cup was a vanilla cappuccino, topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. A much better experience. I dumped in a cartload of sugar, and it was almost tasty.

After that, I ordered coffee anytime I went out with Mormon friends. It was more out of spite than from any desire to actually drink the stuff. I sugared up my cup and in my head thought, "Ha! I can drink this and you can't!"

It was quite a new feeling to know there was nothing out there telling me what I could and could not think, drink, eat, say, wear, and on, and on, and on.…

And these days, I can’t get enough of the stuff. Starbucks, here I come!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Step 3: Learn to Laugh to Yourself

Because, well, laughing in someone's face isn't very nice.

As I've grown quite a bit more liberal and less close-minded I've begun to find humor in some of the more conservative thought. Especially when people express those thoughts to me with that same vigor and passion that the religious right is prone to possess.

Sometimes it's all I can do to keep from crying.

I am a student of history. I'm fascinated by a number of different periods in time, one of which being the more recent history of the US in the 1950s and 60s. Thank god the groups of religious fanatics of that time were NOT able to convince the rest of the country that having dark skin was somehow evil. That their heritage or the color of their skin was somehow a result of their sins, and that anyone who mixed with them was committing a grevious sin of their own. What a different world we would live in today if they had prevailed in repressing the minority groups in this country, all in the name of God and religion and purity and righteousness. Thank god the voice of reason was not allowed to be stamped out.

But I look around today and it's like we've gone back in time 50 years. Or 150 years. Or 1000 years. Once again, the "Moral Majority" is scampering about, trying to tell us what is evil and how we can protect ourselves and our poor innocent children from destruction. It's like they're trying to secure for themselves a safe little bubble in which to live, where everyone looks the same and talks the same and acts the same.

Just because somebody disagrees with you doesn't mean they're wrong.

So when one of them confesses to me their disgust over something they deem appalling, I just have to sigh, shake my head and silently chuckle to myself.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Enlightenment

"Question:
"You certainly think highly of Buddhism. I suppose you think your religion is right and all the others are wrong.

"Answer:
"No Buddhist who understands the Buddha's teaching thinks that other religions are wrong. No one who, has made a genuine effort to examine other religions with an open mind could think like that either. The first thing you notice when you study the different religions is just how much they have in common. All religions acknowledge that mankind's present state is unsatisfactory. All believe that a change of attitude and behavior is needed if the human situation is to improve. All teach an ethics that includes love, kindness, patience, generosity and social responsibility and all accept the existence of some form of Absolute. They use different languages, different names and different symbols to describe and explain these things; and it is only when they narrow-mindedly cling to their one way of seeing things that religious intolerance, pride and self-righteousness arise. Imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, a Chinese and an Indonesian all looking at a cup. The Englishman says, "That's a cup." The Frenchman answers, "No it's not. It's a tasse." The Chinese comments, "You're both wrong. It's a pet." And the Indonesian laughs at the others and says "What fools you are. It's a cawan." The Englishman gets a dictionary and shows it to the others saying, "I can prove that it is a cup. My dictionary says so." "Then your dictionary is wrong," says the French- man "Because my dictionary clearly says it is a tasse." The Chinese scoffs at them. "My dictionary is thousands of years older than yours, so my dictionary must be right. And besides, more people speak Chinese than any other language, so it must be a pet." While they are squabbling and arguing with each other, a Buddhist comes up and drinks from the cup. After he has drunk, he says to the others, "Whether you call it a cup, a tasse, a pet or a cawan, a cup is meant to be used. Stop arguing and drink, stop squabbling and refresh your thirst." This is the Buddhist attitude to other religions."

Amen.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda01.htm

Step 2: Religion Is Not The Answer

I'm finding that there are a lot of religious nuts in my life. They each have very specific, and often very conflicting, opinions about what is right, just and holy. But I'm also finding something else... religious nuts are just that -- nuts!

After going to a Mormon church every Sunday for the first 20 years of my life and a number of varying Christian churches since then, I've decided that these churches don't solve anything. While some people may find comfort or fulfillment in these rituals and songs and weekly affirmations -- and good for them -- I don't. And, though some sing hymns while others prefer more contemperary styles and still others stick to dancing in the aisles, they're really all the same. After all of the arm-raising, hand-clapping, foot-stamping music, we're still left with a man, standing in front of a trusting group of people, telling them the rock solid TRUTH of just what exactly the Bible says. As told to him by GOD! Then, after a few "Amens" and "Hallelujah, brothers," everyone goes home, AND THEN WHAT?

"Well, I read this and this in the Bible and I think it means this. But Pastor Humbleman today said it doesn't mean this; it really means that. But if it means that, then I'm totally wrong about this and all of those. But Pastor Saved on TV yesterday said it means the opposite. So how do I know who's right? Do I ask God? But I though Pastors Humbleman and Saved both already talk to God, so why didn't they just ask Him? And if I can just ask God myself, what's the point of bothering with pretentious pastors and congregations and songs and people? And how do I know which is the best and which I should believe and who knows the best way to heaven? He says I have to live a righteous life, and he says all I have to do is say a special prayer, and he says I just have to be nice to people, and he says nobody makes it anyway, and he says..."

How can everyone be right at the same time??

And where does this get me in the end?

No. I say religion is a crutch. A man-made way for us to try and reach up to God. Since the beginning of time, societies have had some form of religion, some need to worship a being mightier than themselves. What makes you so sure that all of them are wrong and now, suddenly, you have the key?

Stop telling me what to do, stop telling me what I need, and stop believing that you hold the only right answer to the question the world has never ceased to ask.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Step 1: Stop Thinking That It Actually Matters What Other People Think

Growing up I was always such a "people-pleaser." The worst punishment for me was when my dad would look at me and tell me he was disappointed in me. Disappointed. Ouch.

So trying to gather up the courage to tell my sisters, my roommates, my mom, my dad that I was leaving the mormon church was a bit of a struggle for me. I was so scared of becoming a disappointment to so many people.

Well I had to get over it... I'm still trying to get over it. Who cares what everyone else thinks? Why should it matter if I disappoint someone if pleasing them means I'm making myself unhappy?

I'm so sick of people judging me!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Morma-wha?

A recovering mormonholic? What the hell is that? Glad you asked... Basically, I grew up Mormon... 21 years in the business. I was addicted, and I was a good one. Then I realized it was all a farce, and I left the business. Things have been pretty okay for me since then. I dabbled awhile in evangelical christianity, but after a bit, I felt like I had jumped from one cult over to another. That's fine, believe in God, don't believe in God. But what I can't believe in are all those hard-core, Bible-thumpin', condemn you to hell for not living their way and saying their prayers and listening to their music kind of bullshit people. What? You don't believe that George W is a messenger from Jesus sent to rid the whole world of evil and restore peace and democracy to this bless-ed world?? You heathen! I'll pray for your wretched soul!!

Bull.

I've had enough of this Holier Than Thou bunch. They're just Mormons that speak a different language.

But I digress.

I'm just working on discovering life after mormonhood. Maybe I should start my own 12-step program...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Tai Chi

So I'm following the crowd and joining the blog scene. Maybe I'll be better at blogging than I am at emailing people! And... that's about all I have to say on that one.