Friday, July 27, 2012

Am I the most cynical person ever to have lived?
Well, I doubt it but I sure am one cynical old bitch.

There's a video going around of a Lutheran pastor named Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking to a group of Lutheran youth in New Orleans and I watched it and it did nothing for me. Nothing at all. And two people whom I really adore and love both posted about this video, one on her blog and one on Facebook and so I thought that once again, ONCE AGAIN, I would check out the message that people I care about think is important and yet, once again, I came away feeling like, Really? 

You can watch the video HERE if you want. Nadia is charismatic, she is beautiful in a striking good-looking-human-being way with tattoos that she rocks in a tight tank top and painted-on jeans and she has short, very stylish black hair and Clark Kent Cool glasses and yes, she used to be a drunk and she used to be a drug addict and then God's grace saved her ass and now she's a pastor and has a church in Denver called House For All Sinners And Saints.
She's got the street cred, all right.

I don't know. I visited her web site. She's available for speaking engagements. She collects belt buckles. She's very proud of the fact (and I gleaned this from the video) that she's grown her church from eight members in 2008 to one hundred and eighty members now. Also, how inclusive her church is. There are black and white and ex-convicts and soccer moms and elected officials and transgendered kids and...oh, probably about one hundred and sixty tattooed hipsters, I'm guessing.
I can just see her when someone else walks in the door...oh boy! a transgendered kid! WOWZER! I'm so inclusive!!!!

See how cynical I am?


I just do not.

I wrote to a friend the other day that there are times when I wish I believed in a god that listens to prayers. It would be so comforting.
I mean that too.
But I just can't.

It freaks me out when people go on Facebook and ask their "friends" to pray for random people we don't know. As if...oh, there's magic. Why do people keep believing in the power of prayer when there is absolutely no evidence that it has ever changed the course of any human or natural event? See- I think it's this universal religious belief that may rip it for me.
Do mothers who pray for their children's lives and who then lose those children to disease or accident or whatever pray the wrong way? Or not have the true faith in their hearts? Or...what?

I can see the benefit of focusing our thoughts on a particular outcome. Like meditation.
But I don't understand how anyone believes that there is any supernatural power going on there. I just don't.

I'm cynical. I want studies. Which they have done and which are, to say the least, extremely inconclusive and one such study showed:

Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.

And yet, people believe. It's like when I asked that very intelligent Catholic woman why she believed that when she took communion the bread and the wine turned into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus in her body when it was scientifically proven not to be so and she said, "Well, I know that, but I just believe it does. I have faith."

I don't understand it. And whether the person telling me that there is such a thing is wearing robes or tattoos, it still doesn't make me understand it or believe it either.

Listen- I used to have a damn Weight Watchers class in Thomasville, Georgia that grew from almost nothing to a hundred and something members in two years and yes, there were black and white and old and young and hip and definitely not-hip and gay and straight and I didn't for one second think that it was because I was offering up God's message of grace. It was because people wanted to lose weight and Weight Watchers has a really good program to help people do that. But I couldn't do it for them. I could give them the tools and then they had to use the tools and do it themselves. There was no magic involved whatsoever and I didn't ever once make the promise that there was.

And I cracked a lot of jokes and I tried to make people believe in themselves and I tried very hard to make it an enjoyable hour and I didn't shame anyone and I tried very hard to make each person there feel comfortable and welcome and I tried to help each person with their unique and different needs make the program work for them. And when they succeeded in meeting their goals, I gave THEM the credit. They'd done the work and changed their diets and exercise habits and if some of them prayed about it (and I'm sure they did) we didn't need to talk about it. I did not find the overly religious to be any more successful than those who were as cynical as I.

Hey-I'm available for speaking engagements. On almost any subject you'd like. I do not collect belt buckles. I am inclusive although I probably have some suspicion about ex-cons but I'd like to think that once I get to know you I'll judge you on your heart instead of your record. I am a saint and I am a sinner. I know glory and I know despair. I remember what it was like to be a child and I know what it is like to be older. 
I have been showered with grace in my life but it came from human beings who were grace-filled. I have no tattoos but again- I don't think I have the tattoo gene. I love many tattooed individuals. 
I am cynical as shit.
If I had a church, Keith Richards would be a saint in it because he gave us the guitar riffs for a whole lot of songs that make me dance. I may be cynical, but not when I'm dancing and okay, yes, I admit it- I believe the Beatles may have been supernatural.

In short, I don't have the religion gene and sometimes I wish I did but I don't and as such, I am just making my way through this life the best I can. A cynical old bitch who believes in love and light and fire and water and the course of the stars and planets through space and the great fishes who live in the sea and the tiny microbes which sustain us. 

It is all a holy mystery to me. But that's because I'm not smart enough to figure it all out. Not because I don't have enough faith or haven't found the right religion.

And that's all I have to say at this moment.

Love...Ms. Moon


    In fact, I have never wanted to join anything except the Poppycock club. And I only did that because I thought you would get free samples of Poppycock - I have jet to receive anything.
    So there you go.
    Although I think I am a "virtual" member of the CoftheBSC and I sure did enjoy this pre-Sunday sermon...never a dull moment here.

    Hope you are feeling better, you must be, as you were able to just bring forth the above jewel! And, btw - Happy night before the big day. I will be back to celebrate :))

  2. val- Really? Thanks.

    liv- Haha! No free Poppycock? There you go. Clubs AND religion- not for me.

  3. ...and that's why I'm a member of the church of the batshit crazy.

  4. No religion gene here either. I wasn't always that way, but have been for years, now. I believe in Mother Nature. I believe in love. I believe in my own better/best nature and that same capacity in others. I believe people can change. From bad to good and vice versa. I believe in ghosts and the eduring spirit of the dead as it is held in the hearts of their loved ones.
    If you had a church Mrs. Moon, I would attend to hear you preach, but I wouldn't put money inthe collection basket. I wouldn't consider you God's conduit, but I would drink your wine and eat your bread.

  5. I've tried many different flavors of God and none of them go down well. Perhaps it's a gene, like you say, and I ain't got it. Meh. Water doesn't miss oil, and I'm very happy with those scientific studies you're talking about.

    Actually, I think I have a shit ton of faith, but it's for nature and in-born extinct. That carries me pretty far. I like it that way.

  6. I don't have an external God gene -- religion in the conventional sense. There is no creator, no one overlooking us or directing our lives. We're at the mercy of physics and biology and chemistry and the mysterious machinery of the universe.

    But I DO believe we're all Buddhas, perfect and complete and impaired only by our own delusions -- greed, anger and ignorance. Is that religion? Some would say so.

  7. And here's another one who lacks the religion gene, Ms Moon, although I was brought up to carry one. And I too sometimes wish I could feel some of that old religious fervour just for once, especially when things are tough, but it never happens, even as I still sometimes dream of smoking cigarettes.

    I suspect there are as many non-believers as there are believers, so I'd take heart from that and keep on doing what you do to the best of your ability. At least you only have yourself to blame, and to thank, along with some help or hindrance from certain human others.

  8. I can only assume some people carry on praying and believe in the power of prayer because they have seen evidence.
    I don't have a religion gene . . . but I do have a God gene. As in the simple power of good.
    I believe there are dark forces too and surely there is enough proof of those, out there.
    I don't think religion has much to do with God really. More to do with money and corruption.

  9. i dont have the religion gene either. i am satisfied in believing in myself and the people i care about and actively doing what i can to help out my collective instead. beasically, this means i am out getting shit done for myself and my peeps instead of sitting at home and praying on shit that needs to be changed.

    i find the first comment interesting. i took a look at the blog and it brought me back to being a kid again and learning verses. i could always go there to refresh in case i need to out argue someone on religion i guess- the author certainly did a lot of the legwork on that.

    anyways, been thinking of you, i loved the tidbit about owen's too much mustard sandwich. i want a mom like that ( and think, she learned that kind of creative and active parenting from you so give yourself props!)


  10. I am pretty fed up with religion too, although I do find some traditional rituals so beautiful, I can't help but tear up. Still, I do believe in God and in the power of prayer, and I have faith in something greater than I am.

  11. I disagree that you are not smart enough. You are a very smart woman.
    I believe that faith and a belief in god, and religion, are dependent on your ability to divest yourself of some part of your intelligence. I know that some people who are religious are also very intelligent. We don't know if they would be more intelligent if they didn't believe in the whole fantasy that is god and religion. I think that when we step back and look at what most religious people do, it becomes evident that they are in fact lacking in intelligence

  12. Lulumarie- Maybe we should be a revival center like the place next door. Revival Center of the Batshit Crazy.

    Denise- I'm with you, babe. And there wouldn't be a collection basket. Might be rum though.

    See Kate Run- The Divine? That I believe in. I have no real idea what it means but there is something in me that says it is there. I do see it all the time.

    Steve Reed- Yep. I love that- the mysterious machinery of the universe. I think religion can pretty much be however you define it.

    Elisabeth- It drives me crazy when I see people achieve amazing things and then declare that it was god, not them. Say what? No way.

    Bugerlugs- That's the damn truth.

    Mrs. A- Yeah. It's good to know the Bible so that you can use it in arguments because let's face it- you can prove or disprove anything you want from the Bible. I loved that mustard thing too. Yeah, I would have done that.

    Angie- It's okay, girl. If it is real for you, then it is real. Amen.

    Robyn- You do have to let go of logic when you get into the religious realm. I agree.

  13. Prayer for me is about channeling some energy out of me to others. It isn't religious as much as speaking out or thinking out good thoughts for others. It has helped me to visualize energy entering them, helping them. Maybe it is like a mantra for me. I do think that meditation and mantras have helped people to work through troubles and to reach a good state of mind. I don't have any scientific studies though.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.