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Posts Tagged ‘secular’

There’s been a lot in the media lately about sacred versus secular, faith versus fact. The public debate continues and since I’ve already made my stance on those issues clear (Zealots at the Door), I don’t feel the need to continue bashing on that poor, long mummified equine.

No, today’s ramble is far more important. It’s still about faith, but a more ethereal and cherished version, a version we can all agree on.

Dictionary.com has the following definitions for the word “faith:”

Faith [feyth]

noun

1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.

2. Belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

3. Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

4. Belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.

5. A system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

You’ll note that the religious version doesn’t show up until the third definition, and appears in only two of the five. The first definition, the one we can all understand and accept, is the definition we need to be following, regardless of our actual political, religious, or sports team affiliations.

My circle of friends encompasses a wide range of ideologies, religions, political viewpoints, ages, job descriptions and hobbies. With some of them, I’ve made a pact: there are topics that we have agreed to disagree on, and usually don’t talk about. I’ve even done this with my husband, that Kansas-Redneck-Republican-Marine-Christian-PC using albino gorilla who tends to be almost as stubborn as I am. That is the faith that goes with friendship, that “confidence or trust in a person.” I may stand on the opposite side of the protest line from some of my friends, but when the shit really hits the fan, I know each one of them would do their best to be there for me.

Looking back on the high points of my life, I realized that faith played a much larger part in things than I had previously acknowledged. My parents always supported me in my creative endeavors, even as it seemed they didn’t really understand why I needed to do those things. They gave me the leeway to explore and allowed me to take the opportunities presented. They let me be me, having faith that I would be a good person and make the right choices, and being there to help pick the pieces up when things didn’t go as well as planned.

When I chose a college half the country away for my undergraduate degree, they weren’t all that keen on the idea and made me defend my choice. Given that it was one of the best schools in the nation for the degree I wanted, and even paying out-of-state tuition there was cheaper than the in-state schools I’d looked at, it wasn’t really a hard argument. Once done, they supported me. Not having my own children, I can only imagine how hard it must be to see your first-born go off into the cold, cruel world, but they did it, because they had faith in me.

It was a similar situation when I was accepted to the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Back in the mid ‘80’s LA was experiencing a lot of negative press because of regular smog alerts, gang violence, racial tensions and corruption. Okay, maybe not so much different than now, but my family had never lived in a “big city” before, and the seedy mystique of LA plagued our minds. My mother really didn’t like the idea of me living on my own in La-La Land, especially when I was going to be involved with the entertainment industry, long a bastion for free-thinking, boundary-shredding, rules-breaking hedonists. I had to convince her that the opportunity was more than worth it, that the fact I had won a spot over hundreds of other applicants to one of the most prestigious film schools in the world (the Hollywood Reporter has it listed at number one these days) meant I had something special and I would always regret not at least trying. It took some convincing, especially given the cost (twenty years of student loans, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant…), but she finally agreed.

She visited for a week during the year I was at AFI. She sat in several classes with me, listening to Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner discuss how they worked on The Bill Cosby Show, which they were executive producing at that time, and watching me nearly run over Michael Landon in the hallway between lectures. She left that week realizing I had made the right choice, that the opportunity did indeed far outweigh the price. Her faith in me had been affirmed.

There have been other times when such support has been forthcoming from family and friends. The most recent has been from my husband. When we finally sat down and had that talk about what I really wanted to do and how I just couldn’t handle going back to an office environment, I was all set for a lengthy discussion. I had all the pros and cons already weighed out, had the financial battle plan drafted, even had job listings at the ready if he just couldn’t see it my way. What did he do? He said okay. Right from the beginning. Nothing like being ready for a fight and not getting one.

His only explanation is that he knew I could do it. He had FAITH in me. He accepted me for what I am and gave me the unconditional support to go be that. It is because of him, and the fact he goes off to bust his butt at work every day, that I can sit here with my bare feet up, typing away on my wireless keyboard, sipping hot tea and blathering on to whoever will read about the things rattling around in my head.

So everyone around me has shown me what faith is, what believing in someone despite the lack of proof to their abilities can do for their world. Just imagine what could happen if I had faith in myself…

© 2012 Cheri K. Endsley. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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The USA has gone crazy.  Instead of dealing with the spider web that is the national economy we have a bunch of smarmy old men (and, sadly, some women) trying to tell me what to do with my own body in my own home on my own time.  Get yer fuckin’ hands off me, you perverts!

Maybe it’s just smoke and mirrors because they can’t figure out how to fix the big problems.  There are no easy answers for tax reform, job creation, deficit reduction, military spending, and all the myriad other pieces of our great economic construct, so they’re distracting us with a shock and awe campaign of homophobia, bigotry, misogynistic rhetoric, and religious fervor the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Crusades.

WTF???

Here in California one of the biggest hot buttons is “gay marriage.”  A couple years ago the (slim) majority of voters said it was perfectly fine to not allow gays to marry.  A perfect example of the majority making a decision for the minority.  Sure, it happens all the time in our society, being a democratic republic, but the thing that those who oppose gay marriage don’t seem to understand is how their own (unfounded) fears have revealed their true weakness.  Fear is the mind-killer as a great philosopher once said, and the fear of that vocal majority is only showing the rest of us how small and scared and ignorant they really are.  What if they had decided that left-handed redheads weren’t allowed to marry?  Would this even be a question any more?  That same “majority” would be all over me for even suggesting such a thing.  Okay, at least publicly, but, shamefully, there are still those who would quietly applaud such legislation because they don’t think left-handed redheads are really human…

Anybody remember that whole Civil Rights thing back in the ‘60s?  You’d have thought we’d learned then.  The same basic arguments that were used to fight equal rights then are being used to fight equal rights now.  They didn’t work then, either, so wake up, would you?  Why are you wasting so much time on a non-issue?  For a group of people who appear to be so homophobic, it’s rather ironic for them to have their heads so far up their asses.

And then there’s the whole birth control issue.  I’m not even sure I can put into words how flabbergasted, frustrated, appalled and dismayed I am that this is taking up so much of our collective time.  My body, my rules, my decision.  Get over it.

The same group of people that want to run our country while railing against big government and the loss of personal freedoms wants the government to control what I do with my body.  That seems pretty intrusive to me.  I know it’s all about tax money and where it’s spent, but let’s get one thing clear:  we can’t get everything we want.  There’s this thing built into our nation’s soul from the first days – it’s called the separation of Church and State.  By forcing your ideals of marriage and birth control on me, you’re forcing your Church into my State.  There’s plenty of things I’d rather my tax dollars weren’t spent on (I worked five years at Social Services, so don’t get me started), but I accept that because there’s plenty of stuff I DO want my tax dollars paying for.  I don’t want government to take care of me, to make my decisions for me – I’ve seen and read way too many films and books that show just what can happen when they do – but I do want government to make it a level playing field for all of us.  And that means compromise.  You have to take some of the good with the bad.  Our founding fathers made us a secular nation for very good reasons, but these last few years have seen a steady attack on that.

Another real irony is these same people that say rape victims should just deal with it, or that they don’t care about poor people, or that strip funding away from health organizations who cater to a disenfranchised poor just because they might have a condom around, these same hypocrites will scream about how badly women and gays are treated in other nations.  Hello?  Anybody home?

While I’ve long been out of the genetic pool, my reproductive health is not separate from my overall health.  That’s something huge swaths of people (men in particular) haven’t seemed to figure out.  Women aren’t modular – you can’t just take us a piece at a time and solve the whole problem.  So stop trying.  In the case of birth control, I respect that there are religious differences in opinion, and I whole-heartedly accept and support a person making their own choice for themself based on their own religious beliefs.  But don’t make it for me, too.

A church (mosque, temple) is sacred space and even though this Wiccan doesn’t agree with many of them, I do support their right to make their rules within their own sacred space.  But once they’ve moved out of that sacred space and are now opening businesses to the public, offering employment to the public, lobbying for public laws, they are now subject to all the scrutiny and rules and expectations of everyone else doing the same.  That part of their organization is now secular and it is the secular law that must be followed.

Once upon a time the world was thought to be flat, and humanity was convinced destruction would be upon anyone who dared travel to the ends of the earth.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  Then we declared that the earth was the center of the universe, and anyone thinking otherwise was doomed to hellfire and brimstone.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  When trains were introduced, people were convinced that traveling that fast would crush our lungs and we’d die a horrible death.  We discovered that was wrong and we survived.  It’s impossible to break the sound barrier – wrong, survived.  There’s no way we can leave the planet – wrong, survived.  The Large Hadron Collider would create a black hole and we’d all be sucked into nothingness – wrong, survived.

Getting the idea here?

To paraphrase the immortal Bard, methinks thou dost protest too much.  The louder you scream, the greater the silence when you realize how small our world really is, and how little your religious fervor really matters in the grand scheme of things.

There are six billion ways of practicing religion, six billion ways of creating, six billion ways of loving, hating, laughing, crying.  Let each have their own way.  Let me make my decisions for myself and I’ll let you make your decisions for yourself.  Much like the thermostat in a cubicle farm, the temperature needs to be set at the point where everyone is just a little bit outside their comfort zone, instead of a majority being too cold or too warm.  The role of government is to set that thermostat.  It is up to the rest of us to put on a sweater or flip-flops in accordance with our comfort level.  Just because we use a common ground doesn’t mean we have to all take the same path.

So the next time you’re screaming at someone about gay marriage, birth control or left-handed redheads, stop and examine why.  If your self-justification begins with “I’m afraid that…,” then maybe you need to look at why what somebody else does in their own home to their own body on their own time, with no direct quantifiable affect on you, makes you afraid.  We can only control ourselves.  Trying to control others is just another exercise in futility, and I have plenty of other things to do instead.

© 2012  Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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