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Posts Tagged ‘love’

The Illogicacy of Christian Homophobia

December 19, 2013 4 comments

Used with permission from WikiCommons

Ah, it’s that time again. That magical time of the year when conservatives can unite around a cause in order to circle the wagons against a phantom onslaught against conservative values and perhaps Christianity. No, it’s not the annual war on Christmas, but this has to do with the supposed war on Christianity. Recently Phil Robertson, of the Duck Dynasty Show gave an interview to GQ magazine, in which he went on an anti-gay tangent. (Click Here to Read it)

After receiving a negative backlash from the public, and advertisers, A&E has suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely. Now the airwaves and social media pages are filled with people from the anti-gay and pro-gay camps weighing in.

I think it is odd that the same people who called for a boycott of Macy’s when they hired Ellen Degeneres, are now up in arms about Phil Robertson being suspended for anti-gay remarks. So when Macy’s hires a gay person as a spokesperson, the anti-gay crowd feels the need to exercise their God given right to free speech and expression by boycotting. However, when advertisers threaten to pull advertising from Duck Dynasty (essentially an advertising boycott), then the same anti-gay crowd cries out that Robertson’s free speech being violated? Yes, Phil Robertson had a right to say whatever he wants under the constitutional right to freedom of speech. He’s not going to go to jail over it (that’s what freedom of speech means: you can say what you want, but it does not preclude social or economic forces reacting). And yes, A&E and advertisers also have the right to pull advertisements, suspend him, etc. And yes I know the pro-gay crowd has done boycotts in the past. Freedom of speech goes both ways.

What disheartens me the most, is that much of the anti-gay crowd is made up of Christians. Christians who say that they love everyone, and don’t judge, yet for the LGBT segment of society, they openly judge and seek to have prejudicial and bigoted laws enacted and/or enforced. Many Christians cite to the Old Testament to provide validation that homosexuality is a sin. However, if you are going to throw around Old Testament laws to justify inequality, then you better also be following the other 613 Old Testament laws (Mitzvot), yes there are more than just 10 commandments… (Click Here for the Complete List) So if you eat pork, shellfish, meat and cheese together, touch a woman who’s on her period, have a tattoo, etc. you are going to hell as well. You can’t pick and choose, either you take them all, or you take none, to say otherwise is illogical.

I am also flabbergasted that I have friends who are clinging onto the “traditional marriage” and “slippery slope”  (we will start marrying animals, our sisters, etc.) arguments to justify inequality when it comes to LGBT marriage and relationships, when they themselves are in or have had interracial relationships. The Bible was used to justify slavery, and the Bible (specifically stories about God punishing the Jews when they intermixed), and the traditional marriage and slippery slope arguments were also used to uphold laws against interracial marriage and relationships.

For Christians, I think the choice is clear, either all of the 613 Mitzvot are still in place, or Jesus brought about a new order where the only important laws were to love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself, or he didn’t. (Matthew 22:34-40).

Love is the true message of Christianity, not bigotry or hatred. During his ministry Jesus taught to, blessed, and healed people of all races and religious and social backgrounds. He did not discriminate, and so long as Christianity continues to discriminate and promote bigotry, people who identify as Christians, and church attendance as a whole, will continue to decline.

However, I think that if Christians will begin acting Christ-like, by showing love and compassion to all people, in an honest fashion (don’t just say “we don’t judge” while in the very act of judging), then Christianity can not only fulfill its true mission, its true purpose, but it can actually start growing again.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this piece, please subscribe to this blog, and share it with others.

Also, please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click the Book Cover to view on Amazon.com)

Letting Go of Perfectionism

November 8, 2013 5 comments

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net (c) Daniele Pellati

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net
(c) Daniele Pellati

Everybody strives to be perfect in one way or another. We strive to have the “perfect” friendships, family, job, hobbies, etc. We also strive for perfection in our actions.

As a society we encourage and even demand not only perfection, but also that individuals constantly “reach for the stars”, and have “go big or go home” attitudes. However, the problem with this type of mentality is that many of us end up constantly feeling as if we are failures because we haven’t reached the stars, or we didn’t “win” somehow.

At its core, perfectionism is rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy. While we may strive to appear perfect to the external world, what a perfectionist is really doing is putting a nice façade on inner wounds, insecurities, and feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. This is why so many perfectionists have a hard time keeping friends, dealing with criticism, or even taking advice from other people without thinking that it is a personal affront.

The truth is that there is no such thing as “perfect”. If we constantly strive for perfection, we will just end up being a perfect mess.

Everybody makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret. I can’t tell you how many times I have came down too hard on my son, said something stupid or insensitive to my wife or a friend, lost my temper, or just flat-out failed at something… all in the past week. The key is to not dwell on the mistakes or imperfections of life. We should strive to learn from our mistakes or missteps, and try not to repeat them. Beating ourselves up over stumbles and missteps only contributes to feelings of being a “failure”, or somehow “not good enough”. Read more…

From the Archives- The Application of Shakespeare’s “To Be or Not to Be”

October 7, 2013 2 comments

In Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from the play “Hamlet”, the main character, Hamlet, is racked with despair, and is questioning whether or not the unknown world beyond death will be easier to bear than the current life. Hamlet is in such despair that he is contemplating whether or not he should continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, or if he should “take arms against a sea of troubles”, by possibly committing suicide. However, Hamlet is unsure of whether or not he should act on his wish to end the pain he is suffering, because he is unsure what will await him in the afterlife in that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”.

While every sentient being suffers in one form or another, it appears to be a uniquely human characteristic to wish, or at least look forward to death. Many people turn to the concept of the afterlife presented in their religion to such an extent that they cease to truly live in this current stage of life. For example, some Christians look so forward to the day when Jesus Christ will appear in his prophesized second coming, that they are constantly trying to interpret every disaster as some sign of the upcoming Rapture and Armageddon. Other people are so disheartened with the world around them that they buy into the newest doomsday prophesy that the world is soon to be destroyed. Read more…

Division as the Root of Conflict

April 22, 2013 7 comments

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonfly1965/5948700943/ (c) dragonflynan1965 2011

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonfly1965/5948700943/ (c) dragonflynan1965 2011

This has been a rough week of terrorism for the U.S.A., in a single week we have witnessed the bombing of the Boston Marathon, and the mailing of ricin laden letters to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. This week was also the 18th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing (04/19/1995).

Those directly effected by the Boston bombing showed tremendous heroism by rushing to the aid of those injured immediately following the attack, and some runners even continued running to the nearest hospital to donate blood… after already running a marathon! The city of Boston as a whole, also seemed to show tremendous resolve and unity during the manhunt for the perpetrators.

However, almost immediately after the news broke about the bombings many people who were not directly effected by the acts seemed to be in a rush to pin the blame on someone. Were the acts done by radical Muslims? Right-wing fundamentalists? North Koreans? Everyone seemed to be in a rush to pin blame on “them”. There seemed to be an intense need to exonerate one’s own group (“us”), as well as justify deep seeded mistrust of “them”. Once it was discovered that foreign born, presumably Muslim, young men had perpetrated the bombing (Perhaps if we add in enough identifiers, each of us can distance ourselves from “them”), I watched on several social network sites, as many people almost gleefully celebrated the exoneration of their group, while armchair quarterbacking appropriate responses and protections.

While it is unknown at this time what exactly triggered the Tsarnaev brothers to commit their act, I can guarantee you at the root of it was division (a classic “us vs. them” conflict). Perhaps they didn’t feel that they fit in to American society, so the entire community composed “them”, perhaps they felt persecuted or marginalized because of their faith or ethnicity, perhaps it was an extension of the Chechnya -Russian conflict. Somewhere, there was an us vs. them mentality at the root. There always is, because regardless of what “group” a terrorist comes from, the us vs. them mentality is the fertile soil that allows the seeds of extremism (darkness) to take root and grow. The division (whether perceived or actual) is necessary for terrorism, because in order to conduct an act of terrorism, you must view your victims as sub-human, or at least deserving of carnage and death, which is not what G*d wants for us, nor is it what human nature dictates. Also, after an act of terrorism, the us vs. them mentality causes friction that prevents true healing.

Read more…

Virtuous Living

December 17, 2012 2 comments

This is my twenty-second post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

Used with permission from Flickr Creative Commons, and Photopin.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106/
(c) Aristocrats-hats 2009

V= Virtuous Living:  Living a virtuous life, a life of high moral and ethical standards, seems to be a rarity in today’s fast paced, and often disconnected world. More often than not, we tend to commend people on their conquests, rather than on their morals and ethics. In many ways virtue goes against the flow of modern life, because it requires one to focus on the means, rather than just on the ends. Virtue requires one to take into account the feelings and needs of others, rather than focus solely on one’s own desires. Virtue also requires one to keep their word, and live in a manner that garners and deserves the trust of others.

Virtue is an essential element for anyone on the spiritual path,  because virtue embodies the concepts of unconditional love and charity that all religions teach. Virtue is also essential for anyone wanting to live a happy and fulfilled life, because one who lives a virtuous life will enjoy less internal conflict, and garner closer and more meaningful relationships with family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers.

In order to practice virtue, you must first learn to control your mind, because the mind is the root of all thoughts and actions. You must learn to control your mind in a manner that will garner positive thoughts, and empathy towards others. While it would be nice to simply say that you only need to suppress unvirtuous thoughts, it can be more complicated than that. In order to cultivate virtue, you must undertake a good bit of introspection, and when unvirtuous thoughts come to the surface, you must be able to discover and deal with the root cause of those thoughts. At times it is also helpful to simply reflect on a situation before acting, so that you can undertake the most virtuous action possible.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” -The Buddha Read more…

Grace in Everyday Life


This is my seventh post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason II, (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2011

G= Grace in Everyday Life: Grace is a term that I often heard in Sunday School and church services growing up. I would hear people discuss the grace of Jesus, or the grace of God, or how by the grace of Jesus/God we could be saved from our sins. However, I never really understood the concept of grace, until I began undertaking my own spiritual path outside of mainstream Christianity. During my journey, I have come to understand grace as the mysterious power and energy that lies just beyond the veil of our consciousness, which gives energy, order, and direction to the material and spiritual worlds (which is basically the concept of the Tao, in Taoism). I believe grace is the loving energy of the creator, no matter what name you call him/her/it by, and it surrounds each of us at all times. Grace flows like a river through our lives, and shows itself through the beauty of nature, as well as in our intuitions, insights, and the countless miracles that surround each of us in our daily lives, including the miracle of life itself. Most importantly, grace provides us with a pathway between the material and spiritual worlds.

A key to living in the now, is balancing our life with, and tuning into, the grace that surrounds us at all times. Grace is the calm serenity of meditation, the warm fuzzies experienced when we help someone in need, the spine tingling energy of intuitions and insights, and the energy that interconnects each of us. Read more…

Forgiveness, Inside and Out


This is my sixth post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son enjoying a kiddie pool, and some puppy kisses!

F= Forgiveness, Inside and Out: Learning forgiveness is an essential tool in living a truly happy and fulfilled life. Every one of us has had past experiences that have caused us hurt and pain, forgiveness involves releasing the power (control) that the memories from these experience have on us. We cannot change negative events from our past; however, we have the power to control how that event will shape and effect us in the present, and in the future. We may never be able to “forgive and forget”, but at the very least we can rise above those past experiences, and not let them continually cause us to feel hurt, pain, anger, and resentment.

Holding onto negativity from our past is a serious roadblock to personal and spiritual development. By hanging on to past experiences, you are only hurting yourself, because continually holding onto anger and resentment is not hurting or effecting the person that caused you pain, instead it is only causing pain to yourself. Also, if you continually focus on the past, you will never be able to fully live in the now, and enjoy your life fully and completely. You must be able to release the past, and forgive those that have caused you pain.

This is something that I have had to really work on over the past few years, because instead of truly forgiving people and events in my past, I merely covered them up and tried to simply “move on” with my life. However, this never truly works, because until you truly examine past experience, and forgive those that caused them, they will continually lurk beneath the surface, only to continually break through into your dreams, waking thoughts, and emotions. I may decide that I don’t want anything further to do with an individual that purposefully caused me pain, but I can forgive them for their actions, and wish them well in their life. Read more…

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