Dec 19

Chemical Imbalances: Established Science or Mythical Theory?

 

 

Societal Conditioning in the Scientific Worldview…

A number of proposed causes of mental illness have been circling in the air for some time, and one of the most repellant to me is that brains with mental illness, when compared to normal brains, show a chemical imbalance deficiency of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Somehow this theory over the years has gained widespread momentum, and we accept it without any investigation because it has been purported as truth time and time again. But is this a sound scientific theory based on facts?

I had a debate with a friend who was convinced that the chemical imbalance theory had been irrefutably proven without doing the slightest bit of research on the issue. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The theory is based on no conclusively sound, biochemical evidence whatsoever. In fact, not one single peer reviewed article to date supports the claim that there is a serotonin deficiency in any mental disorder; not only that, but many show evidence to the contrary. So why does the majority of Americans believe this theory to be proven true?

Our society has told us that science delivers us the most authoritative comprehension of our world and the most valuable part of our learning experience to the exclusion of all other viewpoints. Our dependence upon scientific conclusions on delivering the ultimate truth to us has shaped our worldview and has become a form of religion, namely that of “scientism.” We look to a few select scientists in the world who we believe have the only capacity of those alive to figure out for us the most important human issues, instead of relying on our own personal experiences to determine and shape the stories of our lives.

So in a world where what we believe with certainty can only be true if it’s backed by science, where things can only be considered part of our reality if they are established through some measuring tool showing some kind of empiricism, how is it that we take all this psychiatric jargon as true when there is no conclusive evidence whatsoever? True science is predicated upon the scientific method; namely, that to be termed scientific, the theory needs to be based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. But what instead has occurred in psychiatric medicine is the exact opposite. It has perpetuated myth.

 

 

Missing Empirical Data

Western medicine firmly asserts that physical, biological causes of illnesses provide the most logical answer to all health problems. But considering how non-local and ethereal matters of the mind actually are for all of us, it is a conundrum how biological theories for mental illness outweigh all others. Many scientists, however, are starting to take a different approach. “We’re certainly not saying that people should ignore biological factors when studying mental disorders,” says Yale professor of psychology, Woo-kyoung Ahn, “but it’s crucial to understand biology as something that’s part of all human experience, rather than something that separates so-called mentally ill people from everyone else.”

In no instance would we accept that we have a chronic physical illness unless there was some kind of proof found through a measurable test. How often do we hear doctors say, “I know there are all these symptoms, but I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” If they don’t have any test results to prove otherwise, we belief there is no pathogen to worry about.

Imagine you suspect you have high blood sugar. You go to your doctor with your concerns. He suggests a test that will determine your levels so that he can accurately diagnose you. If the tests come back negative and show you have proper levels, you are relieved. If on the other hand, levels show otherwise, a course of treatment is suggested. This is how a physical illness is addressed.

In contrast, if you walk into a psychiatrist office stating your list of symptoms, which in my opinion are really feelings and states of mind that have been shaped and triggered by some outside source or inside conflict, no test is given and therefore no results are obtained. The first thing the psychiatrist does is refer to his Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, which contains labels made up of nothing more than observable behaviors from people on the outside. Beyond marking behaviors, knowledge regarding lifestyle, relationships, and family history is not usually considered necessary in making the diagnosis. Frequently it is discussed later on in psychotherapy after the diagnosis has already been determined and the medical code for your insurance issued. A drug treatment plan and a course of action that usually involves trips to the therapist for weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time is then prescribed.

Unlike for physical illness, NO tests determining chemical levels are given to the people who are actually suffering with mental illness symptoms. So how can we know for sure that the mentally ill have irregular chemistry inside their brains if no tests can determine this? Can we call this biological science if it is based merely on assumption alone? This is akin to diagnosing a person with diabetes without taking any blood tests, or attributing cancer to someone without taking a biopsy. Without ever seeing any results from any medical litmus test, how can one fairly assess a morbid state like a chemical imbalance in the brain without looking at scientific evidence?

Quite simply, doctors do not test for these levels because it just isn’t possible to measure serotonin and norepinephrine in the brains of patients. Chris Kessler, author of the New York Times best seller, Your Personal Paleo Code, points out on his blog, “Estimates of brain neurotransmitters can only be inferred by measuring the biogenic amine breakdown products (metabolites) in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid. The assumption underlying this measurement is that the level of biogenic amine metabolites in the urine and cerebrospinal fluid reflects the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, less than one-half of the serotonin and norepinephrine metabolites in the urine or cerebrospinal fluid come from the brain. The other half come from various organs in the body. Thus, there are serious problems with what is actually being measured.”

 

 

Beyond Chemicals

The unsubstantiated chemical imbalance theory is also debilitating within the healing process. The faulty assumption that chemical imbalances are the direct cause for abnormal behavior and emotions, does not lead to positive movement in self-growth. It implies that even after healing has begun, a person has no control over any intense emotional or mental states. The hope that things can change for the better is nullified, and trust that change is within their control is elusive.

We need to reclaim our autonomy in healing ourselves without presupposing limitations that faulty brain “chemistry” might suggest. I was told for decades that I had a chemical imbalance and that this bipolar disease and its symptoms were outside of my direct control, an explanation that offered me little hope to rise above such limitations. This notion can sensibly offer patients short term relief in attributing unpredictable and disruptive actions as involuntary expressions in times of crisis, as they sometimes are. But when things return to balance, holding to the same reasoning only teaches us that our actions are not to be trusted because we lack control over them. Excusing us from all responsibility also takes away the empowering human belief that we own our lives and can direct them through our personal actions and thoughts.

I cannot deny that some extreme emotions may trigger certain chemicals to move to and fro inside our brains. But let’s be clear about something: chemicals in the brain and how they move around do not directly cause certain emotions to appear as if we are machines lacking repair. Whether or not my emotions can be shown to have certain dopamine levels does not negate the fact that emotions themselves are real and exist in their own state of non-local space. My emotions may certainly leave a chemical trail behind them, but they are not merely chemical compounds that exist in neuropathways inside my brain. Emotions live inside the heart.

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Beliefs Shape Our Reality

This imposed belief system by the “experts” reinforces the idea that biology is something that cannot be overridden or changed in any way. All one has to do is look at the yogis of the Far East to see how one has all the power in the world to do everything from dropping one’s breathing patterns into theta states, to sitting in a ridiculous pretzel pose for hours on end—feats that seem practically impossible to most people but are certainly achievable for those who use their minds to overcome natural human limitations.

The mental health and mental illness awareness community have graciously accepted biological explanations regarding mental illness for a number of reasons, and the most obvious one is that the benefits that result for the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are enormous. Entire industries thrive that are predicated on the premise that drug treatment is not only an option, but most often a necessity. A dependency is efficiently created, properly coded insurance claims are submitted, and a lifelong customer is attained.

Another more covert reason is that the theory controls a certain group of the population, namely the erratic kind. Patients who are convinced their brains are somehow chemically diseased not only believe they have no power to change within themselves, but also they lack the belief that they can have the ability to positively influence or change the state of the world in which they live.

Claiming that mental illness is not something within your control — just like getting the flu or food poisoning, or developing cancer isn’t within your control may be true on one level. Mental illness shows up when you least expect it, and you don’t invite it in. During unpredictable times that crept upon me without any warning, my bipolar disorder, (or as I like to describe it: my bipolar personality), caused much upheaval in my life destroying my most intimate relationships and cherished goals. I certainly did not have the power in directing the tornados that from to time crashed through my life. But, and this is a big but, life is meant to be messy, not perfect.

Erroneously, the mental health community believes that stigma will lessen by pointing to factors that are directly outside of our control, (namely our biology), to explain unpredictable and involuntary behaviors, thereby absolving the victims who suffer from them. While all intentions are good, the communities that should be supporting the mentally ill are, in fact, further promoting the mental illness stigma. The idea that we are somehow different than others through faulty biology is demeaning, dismissive and lacks compassion. When a person suffers emotionally and reacts to pain in their lives negatively, I see a normal individual who is dealing with problems with human living just like anyone else, regardless of her biology.

We mentally ill have far more control than we think. We are not disabled people. Convincing people who mentally suffer that they have no control over their illness, is like saying they have no control over the rest of their entire lives. A physical illness like food poisoning goes away, but we will always live with our minds. Our minds are not a chronic condition. But by convincing ourselves that we are somehow chemically different from normal people, we continue to define ourselves as a result of our uncontrollable chemistry and submit to the “mental illness” label as if that’s the only explanation that holds any weight in the equation.

The human experience contains naturally good times and bad. These bad times show up in life and for some of us can trigger some very unbecoming behaviors. In time, any “symptoms” that show themselves can be treated and often eradicated. As time heals wounds, so does applied effort and belief in oneself that one does have the power within to get better. We can use cognitive therapy, prayer, exercise, diet change, medicine, holistic therapies and a whole selection of combined treatments to redirect the course of our lives regardless of any biological framework that houses our neurotransmitters.

Mental illness is within an area that is arguably non-local, meaning it doesn’t have its main expression inside the brain physically. We are not just a skin sac of chemicals. We may have a body, but within it contains a soul and a heart. Because we are tied down to the 3-D world in these “body-suits” given to us by God, (not evolved from pond scum), emotions need to be housed in chemical compositions in a physical container. I see each of us as having unique brain chemistry with a single signature linked to each one of our DNA compositions. Yours is different from mine, and mine is no more chemically clean or dirty than yours. My brain is not a car engine. I am not a walking disease because of imbalanced chemicals in my brain. I am much more than that. I am a human being.

Oct 10

The Passage of Time

Memories Remain…

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We all know time is an illusion. But when the stark reality of passing time suddenly kicks down your door becoming front and center stage, it can give you a rough wake-up call. Instantly time has caught up with us, and all things at once hold a new distinct meaning.

It all began two weeks ago when after painting an estimated 120 kids at a weekend festival, my body ached miserably. I used to be able to do a lot of these gigs when I was in decent shape. Before I became “healthy” and started exercising 3-4 times a week inviting into my life my hamstring pull, my bicep strain, my tendonitis, my hernia operation. Working out had become dangerous. It seemed being sedentary was a healthier state for me these days. So, when the perfect thing happened without my even assisting it in any way, with no forewarning I get adhesive capsulitis, or “frozen shoulder.” Who knew I could be so lucky? So I sit with my bum shoulder on ice for days in reverie, finally having a chance to give myself the excuse to relax.

The recup’s been fun as hell–lounging around in my PJs all day and scrolling on YouTube and Pinterest in between feeble attempts at working on my writing. An article catches my eye about an adolescent crush I had on this rock and roll musician. He had disappeared for decades, then suddenly pops up on the scene 20 years later just a few months ago and gives a surprise guest performance only to disappear into his seclusion again, (for how long no one knows), which ultimately, is what I find so endearing. I get inspired, actually pumped, and while I’m excitedly exploring all his old concert footage, some kind of unbelievable breakthrough is occurring. What it all means is still obscure to me, but nonetheless, it sets my heart on fire, softening my hardened arteries and massaging the flow of blood throughout my entire stiff body, which unbeknownst to me had coagulated into a thick sludge over the years.

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While I watch this incredible  passion drip out of this rock and roller whose talent I admired more than any other talent I have known to date, what I see, (beyond the sexiness of it all), is God’s gift, (I mean a real gift, not that corporately manufactured kind that “artists” of today wear with pride). And I sit there and cannot believe the pure beauty of God’s magnificence. How it shines boldly and brightly through him and how gorgeous it can really be.

Memories flood my mind. This band ruled during the era when rock and roll was real. When musicians recorded together in the studio in real time playing their demos repeatedly on rolling tape until they had the take just right. When vinyl albums were on scheduled release in record stores, and a new release meant a new tour. When you and your friends in order to get tickets were willing to stand on line for hours starting at the break of dawn. All the songs were written by the musicians themselves, and not only the radio hits were on those albums, but the whole LP had tracks that were great. These were innocent days in my life before my break, before my sadness, before my visions, before the knowledge that I disdained gaining as it weighed heavy on my heart.

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To sit in my skin from yesteryear was heaven, indeed. See, I wasn’t like most people who had the fortune of keeping their memories of youth intact. No, I had my identity stripped away from me, and with it flew my memories. I didn’t know who that young girl was from 30 years ago, but through reliving this fascination with this musician, I return there and I see her; and I remember how she once felt inside. I like her a lot, and I want to get to know her again.

Forget about Gestalt therapy, I got down and dirty—listening on and on to the music, sinking into the gulf of sentimental sorrow with no shower, barely eating, lying around in sadness and regret and remorse, with longing for days gone by—and then breaking myself out of it before dinner. Which because of my otherwise very healthy mental state, I see that I suddenly am able to do rather adeptly. Mastering such an emotional discipline was what I’d been searching for my whole life. It certainly wasn’t developed through any psychiatric help or cognitive reprogramming, but rather through applied effort and directed intention over time. I had not even realized how skillful I actually was at this; I hadn’t practiced it in years.

I remember how this young girl would listen to these albums cranked as high as her ears could stand it through massive headphones while sobbing intensely in response to this amazing voice. It was during these heartfelt listening sessions when my soul traveled so deeply that I wanted to explode, when I wanted to be something more, and perhaps find my own God-given talents to express. It was in these private moments when lying on my purple carpet in my room with lights shut and door locked that I would go on a journey to visit that land of melancholy colored in both blue and golden tones, and to later return with good answers and renewed excitement for living and feeling. I was becoming an emotional artist and embracing it. I forgot what it was to access this space. I hadn’t even noticed, but I had long stopped treading in the flowing waters of emotionality.

Although who I was no longer exists, the woman I’ve become grew out of that vanished personality. Sadly I realize that I never fully integrated my spirit of yesterday into my womanhood of today, and the pierce of this wounds me. I had forgotten how wonderful that life energy was because the memories of my past were erased. And for the last 20 years instead of making any effort towards remembering who I used to be before India, I worked on forgetting about her.

  Emotion Overload

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During these few weeks of manageable melancholia, I wade in this pool of sentimentality and sense how fantastic the solitary emotional quarantine feels. I had pushed that kind of maudlin and reclusive behavior away for years, as if that authentic and burning tug of heart was non-essential to the life experience, or to a functional one, at least. Since these behaviors are directly linked to how an artist accesses her feelings so that she can create more authentically, I lost a great deal more than my memories when I was told that the same traits that made me creative were not only ill-fitting to a normal human being, but pathologically symptomatic of mental illness.

Hear ye, hear ye, to mental health! Meditate and be clear-headed. Don’t think or feel too much, and hold a good routine. In the face of stress, anxiety and grief, these are valid goals, to be sure. But the guts of life have been sanitized and scoured away with abrasive steel wool. We have tried to reinterpret natural human emotions by calling them negative, detrimental, unimportant—we are bastardizing the emotional landscape of the heart as quickly as we are convincing everyone that technology is our dearest and best friend.

After the fall, having been broken down by the psychiatric system and deconstructed in my therapy, the “good doctors” convinced me that I had an unfortunate hand in life, that I had flawed genes, a defect, that I had a disorder that was a mental sickness, a genetic anomaly. My “ill” behaviors were identified with emotional states of mind, (since they classify bipolar illness with emotional swinging moods). And although I have it in my DNA to explode into expressing myself in an emotional manner, I began to systematically erase the relevance of these traits in my life, and thus, the beautiful memories contained therein. I became fearful of my own deeply emotional characteristics and was taught for 20 years to suppress any such profound, ecstatic states.

Now, the passage of time has brought me here, abruptly and without warning. My current tearful state is something that most assuredly would convince every one of my family members, (including my husband and some of my long-time friends who insist on “worrying about me” more than taking care of their own baggage), that I am not doing so well. But I’ve never been better. So as I keep this weepiness of mine a secret for the last two weeks, (going on three), I continue to relish every second of it. And as I pray about this confusing stage I find myself in, the clarity I receive is soothing and filled with grace. It’s just the beginning of my coming home to my natural state in mind and heart. If I should so wish, the chance of returning to the pleasure of being a purely emotional creative can be brought back into my life once again, if only I can find the courage within to grab it.

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Nostalgia Inspires

I am inspired and I’m writing non-stop, and when I’m not writing non-stop, I am weepy again. Ah, the circle of deep, emotionally raw creativity: become the dreamer in your imagination, enter the blues if necessary, create, feel that elation, then return to the role of the dreamer to further create…and thus the loop of inspiration continues on and on. This stimulating merry-go-round I’ve been afraid to ride on for years out of paralyzing fear. Now, I gain courage. Even though I have successfully avoided this process, I move forward enthusiastically and delve into a more extensive emotional catalog of pain and joy.

I am learning more about my once-idolized performer. I listen to recent interviews that he rarely gives. His speaking voice sounds like his singing voice, and how beautiful and sweet-sounding it is. Suddenly, I feel as though I am sitting in a college classroom; I’m aware that I’m learning new things through the story of this true artist’s process as he proceeds to share how he worked, how he wrote songs, how they entered his head, how he fiddled with them, how he dealt with his own perfectionism, how he still continues to do so. As I learn more about him and his creative process, I am learning about myself. I am learning about the way of the artist, the blues and joys of it, and knowing that someone else feels this in his own creative process deeply moves me. Could I reach those heights, not necessarily through material success, but in a personal artistic satisfaction if I embraced the process with more honest emotion and earnestness?

Although I’ve entered periods of inspiration before, when it felt easy to write, to paint, to access clarity, it often showed up during times of hardship, of disillusionment, of anger. Afterwards when trying to figure it all out through an expressive creative outlet, I exercised interpretive reasoning far more than allowing my emotions to lead the way. Trying to make sense of those negative states required changing my thoughts to positive ones, which took practice in cognitive therapy. But this time, it was different. This time, my renewed inspiration was flowing from the fountain of admiration for my muse, through heart-filled appreciation, and through the blue melancholy of nostalgia; a type of feeling I have buried so far beneath the surface that I no longer identified it as a real emotion.

In keeping that manic emotional flow constantly in check, I became less real, as if I lived in my own mind but without an emotional body. Yet, in not being afraid to explore depth by listening to my muse, I am rediscovering the part of me that holds passion within. In my sanctioning time to revel and wallow and feel deeply and talk to myself, without my own judgment of my small fits of brilliant madness, things are becoming a lot more authentic. I remember who this person is again, who I lost long ago in giving in to others’ ideas about what my mind’s health should look like, which often nullified the importance of creativity.

 Arc of the Blues

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For all the joy this musician brought to my heart, and millions of others, I later learn that for many years he shut down creatively due to paralyzing emotional pain. It seems that this rocker who was once on top of the world, and who is now turning human before my eyes, suffered on and off depression for the last two decades, the same time frame when I also suppressed deep feelings and often lived in an emotional vacuum. Surreal, but true. And astoundingly poetic. The reality that so much time has passed stings. And it hits me with double the potency because the icon who I once adored seemingly misplaced the same 20 years himself.

When studying literature we have an objective displacement as the reader. We are comfortably able to witness the arc of a character’s life, identifying the thematic threads the author wishes us to follow. We learn the lessons from a safe distance, and witness how the character suffers under his Aristotelian tragic flaw. But in my idol’s case, the author of his life was our Maker. And what a lovely work of art the story of his life has become, exhibiting such romantic relevance. There can be no song written more harmonious than one that God creates for us. What a gift it is to witness all at once the progression of the life of a person who once moved us so deeply. We felt such a missing hole in the music scene from his absence, and yet, what lyrical verse resulted because this man followed his heart and his inner calling into success. And how great it is to see in Act II when our hero follows his heart again, pulling himself away from his glory, taking action not from reason but once more from his heart. He is the man in his own songwriting that falls and then reclaims his soul, and in the end, saves himself from the very dream he most wanted at the start of his journey. It defies analysis and explanation, and although the Greek chorus cannot accept such motivation by the lead character, they certainly are not owed an apology for actions that are personal and sanctified.

Through these realizations about this person, I also learn about patience, about letting go, about loving my individual soul and all the pain I’ve been enriched by, about not feeling afraid to feel that pain and be human, about not being scared of losing my mental balance by revisiting past feelings. Through it all, as I grow in empathy for this lustrous star of my youth, I am accessing empathy for myself.

I realize how the emotional heartland is the shared connection we all have with each other regardless of the things that separate us in a materialistic worldview, like status, prestige, and money. These areas have nothing to do with the range of the soul’s breadth and personality. And now, unexpectedly, as each stage of this emotional opera appears to reveal itself scene by scene, act by act, I find myself mourning. I mourn for him, I mourn for me. I mourn for all people who lose themselves along the way. And I mourn for the passage of time. For time lost and time poorly spent. We are victims of time, but it is a beautiful thing when its grace shows up through something poetic in our lives, something meaningful showing the elegant symbolism of it all.

 Hold Onto That Feeling

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See, I once had the emotional approach to life all figured out, trusting it like nothing else, knowing I was right to deliver myself over to its power across the altar. Truly, it’s what led me to India to begin with. But as time moved away from my grasp, so did all my conviction.

What I have been blessed to see during this upheaval of emotions, is that the passage of time allows us to view God’s plan in a wider spectrum for our lives. In my case, in understanding a sketch from a page in the book of this rocker’s life drama—like a character in a movie, thanks to the internet– through his story, I see myself. And as I see God’s plan in his life, I see it in mine as well. And I now know the pain is not without gain. For both of us.

Because as I see him jumping back into the world with poise stepping comfortably out of his cavern, on his own terms to be sure, there is a perfect timing that has washed ashore onto my own sandy beach. Prior to this experience, I was in a serious writer’s block, in which being honest and emotionally relevant was at a loss for me; yet, here I am writing again, inspired like never before, beyond the intellect, slipping back into my own sensitive skin and passionate heart, gently led there by the Holy Spirit. A wrinkle in time has been ironed out. My inner time clock has restored its original, natural meter after all these years. I seem to be within the same unhurried biorhythm again like others around me who have followed their own rhythm all along, who lived for the last few decades without fear of judgment. My lost decades.

I feel as though I have caught up. In some strange and synchronistic way, now the lens of who I am focuses and I can see myself and my talents and purpose so much more easily, with HD clarity. I see that the youthful, budding and aching passion I once possessed was a deep, sacred space that God never meant to take away from me, for in an unexpected way he is granting it back, years and years later, during a time when I can finally be ever so grateful.

 

Sep 29

Soul’s Lost Desire

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Resurrected Memories…

So, this week I come across some old rock n’ roll recordings from the 70s and 80s, my youthful years during which I soaked in sun-drenched music, wore hot concert t-shirts, and began to sneak in a beer or two undercover. Where had the time gone? Unlike many others in my generation whose days and then years gradually putted along, mine was interrupted by a colossal traumatic break. And this disruption would erase my memory as it completely stripped away my ability to access passion. All those soulful, breathless moments in time when I thought I could not bear a single ounce more, and yet always joyfully managed to somehow drink one or two more in, were ripped out of my chest and thrown away into a trash bin labeled, “bipolar crazy.”

In my immature past, I would have been happy if any one of my clueless peers suffered the same kind of turmoil as me if only to have the chance to commiserate with a single human being who had empathy for me. I felt so alone, desperately yearning to have someone understand. Today, however, I wouldn’t wish the experience upon my worst enemy. I was lost, beaten down by the woes of a massive life accident, which I believed should never have happened, not to me at least. Not in my only lifetime.

I feel inspired by the memories and revise a poem I had written long ago:

 

Time Journeys By

Traveling in the open-windowed car,

Inspiration hits and then stops.

As I soak in the echoes of the resonating radio vibrations,

My chambers of history open up in memory form.

Imaginings in an artful space of ancient time,

The past of mine is so olden but golden.

I take off my travel kimono, powder my face with sunbeams, and remember wistfully.

The red and fuchsia possibilities of new world merged with old.

May I grab my things? May I enter the tunnels of yesteryear?

Bittersweet. But joy-filled.

Gone days true; almost forgotten. But salvaged not too late.

memories

I continue to listen to the rotation of songs, and I feel that my heart is enormous and might burst. I’ve been hearing these songs on and off for years, why now do they throw me into this weepy state with such a massive punch? Is a new day dawning? A change in state I had forgotten existed somewhere in time? One which was annihilated long ago in exchange for balance, steadiness, stability and vapid stillness? Now in this revived state, I sing along with those songs, without mulling over or obsessing about anything, but instead just feeling them intensely through streaming tears down my face. I am reminded of such a happier, simpler time. A time when I was merely thrilled feeling what it was to be alive. A time when passion was not just a concept, but a thing I could feel. And as sentimentality floods into my heart, (something I winced at during many difficult junctures in my life), I slowly reconnect to something more meaningful, much more satisfying than the usual habit I have adopted from our sterile society of aggressively analyzing the psychological story behind it all.

 

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Passion Suppressed

My once passionate approach to life was flattened long ago, slowly and steadily influenced by the deadness of a cynical world. Growing up, a burning desire to feel deeply oozed from every orifice of my being. Everything I engaged in felt fiery and I only followed experiences that possessed that red hot flavor. But somewhere along the line, when the sadness and injustice of reality revealed itself to me, it was almost impossible to hold two directly opposing concepts in my mind at once. Because everything that was once alive with passion, now seemed wrongfully frivolous and selfishly absorbed.

Day by day, it was hammered into my brain that having passion wasn’t normal. It wasn’t healthy or productive, but rather, wasteful, abnormal and even dangerous. In response to the experts in the psychiatric institution as well as my brainwashed family and friends, I was actually becoming convinced that they were justified in being scared of me, as I increasingly became afraid of my own profound thoughts and intense feelings. After spending years in my own solitary, emotional cave of self-preservation, I realized that the only thing wrong with the condition of my mind was that I hadn’t yet learned to trust its remarkable understanding of the world.

In my cooperating in choosing to live a nonthreatening and bland existence, I learned that ordinary, non-moody, self-controlled temperance was the appropriate characteristic make-up cherished in our society. I quickly grasped that if one chose to pursue the impassioned good life, she willingly cut herself off from the rest of the tribe. Disturbingly, an overly enthusiastic and uninhibited person could quickly be thrown into the group with the defects, misfits, and disdained rebels whom no one in our culture took seriously.

The “bipolar” journey, as emotionally extreme as it can be for the average onlooker, is filled with such sublime moments, that any other way to live can feel insipidly numbing. If I had not gone into visionary states, (which the psychiatric institution persists in calling psychotic for their lack of understanding), then I would at least be able to fit into my own warm skin. Because without fear of others’ worry I could be left alone in my emotional moods, both sentimental and melancholy, and could access them whenever I needed to —for my art, my writing, and even for ecstatic prayer. I could travel up and down those corridors of inspiration at will. This would be God’s ultimate gift to me, for it is in my DNA, not as a mental defect but as my whole and natural self.

I am left inside a world that honors the stable flat lines of suppressed emotion, that shakes its head at the thought of tears falling for more than a few moments in response to a sentimental revelation, and that denies the importance of the sighing, breathless skipping of heartbeats created in trances of silent revelry. I’m willing to adjust. I had long ago, but I ponder today at what cost? Of losing all the passion?

 

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Deep Pain Awakens

In the wake of all devastating emotional lapses that weaken our constitutions and alienate us from others, burns a delicate twin flame that resides within the same experience. For it was in my most enthralling visions that I witnessed the magnificent way God’s grace also reveals itself within the depth of the abyss by opening us to the realm of heart-filled emotions in a beautifully exquisite way.

In the deepest heartaches God discloses to us the perfect balance within opposites. A wide-eyed bewilderment can only awaken after a treacherous blow. How can one really reach those peaks of joy if they hadn’t felt the rock bottom and hellish ripping apart of the heart? Indeed it is the only way the heart can learn. Happiness is known only through sadness, and transcendent joy can only be truly discovered through overcoming heart-wrenching pain. In revealing to me the depth of the pain of humanity, wouldn’t he also gift me the ability to feel the enormity of the human heart, the world’s wonder, and the promise of his massive love and wish for our ecstatic happiness? I do believe in that kind of Maker, but calling up trust in such things is not an easy task.

These are the swinging moods and deliberations of the “bipolar” pendulum. And I thank God for their presence in my life, because only through them have I accomplished my best work. Although cold detachment once dwelled within me when my passion for life was extinguished, I labor with willingness at regaining it. I will keep trying. And when sensitivity grabs me, I am grateful. It helps me archive my memories and keep them alive like the recordings of yesteryear sealed in vinyl. Once fearless about following the path of desire, I am today much more tentative. But in choosing to either evaluate my psychological acuity or plunge into passion, I choose the latter. Arriving there may only be a potential right now and not yet a reachable goal, but maybe I can steadily wish and imagine it into being. With courage and hope. And with heart.

 

 

Apr 24

Damning the Least of My Brothers

 

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I cried myself to sleep the other night because a girl on YouTube chastised me in public humiliation. I had defended a radio talk show host, a dear brother in Christ, after she declared him an anti-christ because he happens to reference the New International Version of the bible instead of the almighty King James Version. As if the all-powerful God could only communicate the true spirit of Christ through a single set of rules in grammar and usage in one language based on one Hebrew text, she was horrified by my indiscretion and said to me, “Why do you even bother calling yourself a Christian?” I thought perhaps she might be right. Who am I to believe that I am good enough for Christ, especially since I don’t even own a King James Bible and like to use the English Standard Version instead?

Since I again decided to commit myself to the Lord Jesus Christ, sadly I’ve re-entered a space of self-loathing and self-doubt. I remember this is the very reason why I had left the church to begin with, (and not the first time). It is not under Christ’s judgment that I suffer, for his perfect judgment is above the Law while still supporting the Law.  But, rather, my pain is inflicted by my fellow man with his incontestable interpretations of the law. There is no bloodier battlefield than amongst the different Christian sects of the world. Everyone believes they have the correct and only understanding of Jesus’ words and therefore are the sole inheritors of Jesus’ promised kingdom of heaven. Many Christians believe that they alone, over other ill-informed Christian brothers and sisters, are inferring the exact truth of what God said, meant and intended. Most of all, those who do have the best biblical understanding are by far the haughtiest boasters and the most condemning finger-pointers at sinners.

 

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Spittin’ images of the Pharisees are they. With fervor they uphold the law but forget that it is through faith that we are saved through grace. They cannot see that the story repeats itself continually in every age until finally learned once and for all by humanity itself. These lawful but judgmental Christians are not singled out by God as better. They forget that they are part of this human race and we are all God’s creation. They act as if they have transcended the human state somehow. As if the hierarchy begins with God, then his angels, then his chosen elect. The rest of us poor, unclean bastards who didn’t quite get the complex subtleties of the bible or hear in time Jesus’ calling to follow him, are damned to eternal hell. But where is the love?

While I always saw God as a personal God, I wasn’t sure that he indeed offered a sacrificial lamb, Jesus his Son. I am realizing why. Because although I believed it was truly possible, for God could do anything, I simply could not be who I was, flaws and all, in the world of Christianity. “The rules” were always so hurtful to me and forced me to suppress every part of myself that would unleash my potential and free me from my chains. If I honored my father and mother to the letter of the law, for instance, I would never have chosen to wander outside my front lawn. They were so overprotective that I had to fight every battle with ferociousness to claim my right to move forward into the world and follow God’s voice beyond the boundaries of the church’s pews.

 

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But while these restrictions could be located in the bible text itself, the ways in which others attempted to enforce these rules were the most debilitating to me. Not like Christ at all–so aggressive and disdainful they were spoken, scornfully reminding me of my worthlessness. While Jesus reminded us of God’s merciful forgiveness, I heard from TV preachers repeatedly how we were all going to hell if we did not repent, repent, repent! I was unsure that I had the strength to do so, nor even the know-how. What exactly was I repenting for? Was it breaking a few rules or guidelines in the bible, or something much deeper than that?

A soft-hearted artist, I saw the blessed soul of humanity and the spark of light in everyone; always able to see the good over the bad, I felt this was a virtue of mine. I believed that God spoke to me through many people who crossed my path, and definitely the lowliest—from homeless beggars I walked by on the New York City streets, to low-income, agitated commuters on the buses and trains I rode, to the sad and bitter loners in my art classes who had given up on the cruel world—the real wretched and depressed. I knew that since Jesus loved them, I was ok with associating with this pathetic crowd. And I knew that Jesus would love me also if I should stumble. I had a choice: either I could venture forth into the world amongst the sinners with whom I had compassion, not worrying too much about their influence on me and judging not their acts. Or, I could stay and hang around those who judged me with stabbing, righteous indignation. If I hated myself when I was around other Christians who interpreted the word of God for me, then I would reject Christians and the Word, for it held very little meaning or truth for me if it hated me so much. My rejection was not an act of betrayal of God in as much as an act of self-preservation of my own heart. I might have been lacking in faith, but I had a passion to seek and find the truth. What I knew for sure was that there was a God. I was just unsure about his nature.

My spiritual journey understandably took me into the all-accepting arms of the New Age. I embraced the shared understanding how many of us, so hurt and stomped on by the Judeo-Christian religion, were in need of great healing and self-forgiveness. Through this journey to self-acceptance and self-love, some many beautiful things happened. I learned that I was good enough to be me. I learned that others around me could be good too, even if they had not reached their higher potential yet of their healed and whole self. Therefore I learned to love the judgers. I learned that God was guiding my steps, and that I should listen for his voice, and that in every place I found myself there was a lesson needed to be learned to bring me closer to him. I learned to trust God.

 

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I learned that if I remained still enough in nature, I could hear the whispers of the wind and the calmness of my heart, which was in direct connection to the Great Spirit, or the Holy Spirit. I learned to recognize God’s orchestration in the beautiful synchronicity of all things, his magnificent masterpiece of life’s parts working together. I learned to notice the depth of his divine mind in patterns of his exquisite creation, from the smallest Fibonacci sequence in the most modest seashell to the most grandiose expression of God’s imagination in his infinite expansive universe of the stars in their galaxies. I learned all these things all the while forgetting who Christ was.

And then on one good day, when I was communing with my inner spirit—a spirit that always guided me in safety through dark alleys of drug users, through the Hindi idol-worshipping lost souls of India, through the critical and godless psychoanalysis of Western medicine—I realized that it was the Holy Spirit that was guiding me the whole time. And I believe this is the voice that all those who are pure in heart hear. “For they shall see God,” Jesus said, as I always had—seeing God in everything and everyone.  On that fateful day I heard the words, “Jesus is Lord.” What? I said. How could that really be true? I finally had found the nature of what God really is—the Divine force, the Highest Source, the Sacred Expression of the Universe, the One, the Great Spirit, the personal guiding hand to love. How was there room for a “Son of God?”

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“Jesus is Lord,” I kept hearing. I pulled out a special Time magazine I happened to pick up at the grocery store, “Mysteries of the Bible,” along with a copy of a dusty old bible off my shelf, (one that some born-again Christian gave me in the hopes that I would be saved one day). I asked questions of God all the time and would flip open random books I had nearby to receive just the right answers, and it always worked. I was always fed the spiritual food I had needed. But when I lived with my parents a decade ago and tried to do this with the bible, I was always at a loss. It seemed so sterile and dead, spirit-less and uninspiring. But on this day, all my questions were answered in those biblical words, and through these answers loud and clear was pronounced God’s glory. And then I fell to my knees finally in true repentance.

From that point onward, I vowed to never deny Christ as Lord rejecting all that could not fit in that framework, but allowing to remain all the beautiful things I had gained so far along my personal journey that did not take away from Christ. Many truths I had learned gave life to his words and substance to his message as it added to the grace of his Father in heaven. I realized that no, I should not worship God’s creation, but to honor and respect it with utmost humility and thankfulness, just as the Native Americans had, is God’s wish. Through this sacred appreciation, the awe of God is nurtured and infused into our hearts with gratefulness for his manna of life. God’s true nature is not found in explaining him away in esoteric literature, reading between the lines into oblivion and infinite gnosis, but rather, in the heart. In compassion over judgment, with understanding over close-minded certainty, with love over persecution, with acceptance over exclusion, with humility over self-righteousness. This is how I personally choose to live in Christ. I accept myself in Christ as I know he accepts me, flaws and all. I will each day attempt to grow in sanctification for him, but I won’t imitate the spirit of the righteous, but the humility of the sinners. With appreciation and love, I will come to know many wherever they may be along the road back to Christ.

 

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I didn’t decide one day to repent. God showed me how. And he allowed me to be ready and see what I needed to see. This is God’s ability. He finds us, not the other way around. God will attempt to reach every single one of us in his own way before Christ’s return, and in a way that each person can hear him. It is not by one way alone that we hear God’s voice, and I don’t mean to say that there are many paths to God, no. But there are many paths that God takes to reach US to lead us to Christ. He uses tongues, he uses law, he uses grace, he uses our brothers and sisters, nature, and a variety of circumstances and divinely orchestrated synchronicities so that we may finally notice him and accept him into our lives. Who are we to judge how he reaches all his children? As long as we unite under the one umbrella of Jesus Christ, his Son, who are we to walk in pride and judgment, wishing people to hell, warning them of their certain damnation as if only we can save them from God’s wrath? If there is one thing the New Agers can agree on, it’s that God above all else is love.

The Pharisees were equal to the godless Romans for they both had a hand in crucifying the Lord. And now they continue to do so, for as Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40, ESV). So continue to crucify him my fellow exemplary Christians, for just as Jesus had to reinterpret the Law for the Pharisees, he shall be reinterpreting it for all of us upon his second coming. For it is not because we are perfect in the law that we are promised his grace, but rather it is because of our faith, however weak it may be: “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (Galatians: 2:23-26, ESV).

 

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Be guided by your understanding but don’t be too certain that you know the glory of God’s full plan of salvation. I expect that Jesus Christ and his Father have yet another card to pull for bringing the whole lot of us to our knees in absolute amazement of their glory. For when his true magnificence and exaltation is revealed, when we discover the true might of his forgiveness and depth of his love for all his children, it will not be just those who read the KJV or who adhere perfectly to the law who will be saved. Instead, we will not only shout in repentance for our sins, but we will also collapse in united and dumbfounded humility for our arrogance in thinking that God’s love for us was as little as we imagined. And we will thank the heavens that it was greater than the love we give to one another.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 04

The Catholic Dilemma: Catholic Style

 Catholic Style

 

My mother’s only wish when I had my son Jack was, “Please, just let him make his First Holy Communion so I can see him walk down the aisle in a little white suit.” I had long since relinquished any allegiance to Catholicism, the religion I was born into. And because of the numbness I experienced throughout years of monotonous, sacramental and ritualistic jargon inside the church, much seeming utterly irrelevant to my own life, I had even put the importance of Christ aside. I had accepted him as a good man, an extraordinarily holy one, a social revolutionary. I had no certainty on whether or not he had resurrected; it didn’t seem to really make a difference to me because I had heard of so many ascended masters in India. I even contemplated that he might have been an alien who was sent here on a special mission to improve our human race, to help us wake up into love.

I thought the true path to God was realizing the God within. In my pursuit of many different meditative and mystical experiences, coming to know the “force” of the goodness of the universe, feeling it, sensing it, becoming it, I have come to see that this experience of God-energy is a sad copy of what true understanding of God really is. To my own surprise, within this last year I have relinquished my pantheistic ideologies, because as I continued to study further into New Age texts, I came across some very dark secrets in its foundations, (which I will get into in another article). So I walked away from the spiritual path I had followed devotedly for decades, which sadly in the end, revealed itself to me as a road to nowhere.

Upon coming back home to Christ, I did not come home to Catholicism. I am absolutely aware of the flaws of this massively organized and too often covertly political religion. But here I am 8 years after I scoffed at my mother’s comment when Jack was born, (and an exact 20 years after I ran off to India in the hopes of finding a holy guru), sitting in a Catholic Church pew. I have been attending and even enjoying weekly mass– something only a few months ago I swore I would never ever do again, even if I had returned to Christianity in some fashion. So now that I am a renewed Christian, I want to hear the Word and praise his name. Then why return to the Catholic mass and not attend a bible based church instead? Well because I have a whole internet community of Charismatic video makers, church history and prophecy scholars, and Born-Again bloggers I can learn from. I have the bible I can read myself, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me through it. But to get a fancy feel for Christ? Only a Catholic mass can provide that.

Sitting through the mass can be woefully painful, but when it is done correctly, it can be most humbling and heart-warming. It doesn’t have the jazzy feel of a mega-church, nor the folksy grit as some friendly Protestant sects might. It lacks the spirited heart of Charismatic movers and impassioned Baptist sermonizers. Rather, it is plain and routine. But it has a sort of calm, reverential approach to spending time with God. There’s just the correct balance between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It feels simple and right. But what I truly love most is its beauty and sensory appeal. There is nothing more lovely than Catholic hymns. Smells of burning incense, the sharing of the body and blood of Christ, the exquisitely carved relief storytelling of the Passion of Christ upon the Stations of the Cross all provide for me the bridge between heaven and earth, between God and his creation.

Nothing compares to the awe I feel when gazing upon the massive radiance of beautifully painted stained-glass windows; perhaps akin to watching a visually brilliant movie upon an IMAX screen. Emblazoned on the raised ceiling at my church are masterfully painted details depicting Christ’s heroic tale of betrayal, suffering, risen glory and final kingship on the right hand of the Father. Is this idol worship? Not in the slightest. It is adoration for the epic story of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. And oh yeah, I am also an artist. It’s called appreciation for beauty. Are we artists, even in the name of Jesus Christ, ever going to be allowed to express ourselves without guilt and retribution?

I feel sorry for the rigid Protestant who is afraid to enter the Sistine Chapel for fear of going to hell if his heart should stir when contemplating such artistic talent, a gift that is given by God with the expectation to be used. In witnessing in person the imagery of the angels and demons in Michelangelo’s painting of The Last Judgment, I wept like a baby. For the first time in my life, the Book of Revelations came alive with the breath of God’s imagination and suddenly held meaning for me. Should we not enjoy expressing ideas about God, bringing them into form and sharing these with one another? If the work is truly inspired by the Lord, should we not trust in its sanctity? Michelangelo’s Pieta is far removed from the Illuminati entertainment industry’s idea of art, and yet we invite that into our lives without a second thought. Manmade ideas of heroes and villains in cartoons and movies move us into excitement, but Christians shun compelling works of art that make us think about God because we are associating it with Old Testament references to pagan idols?

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Don’t get me wrong. When I used to take a peek into my great grandmother’s tiny bedroom off the side of the kitchen and see all those pictures and statuettes of the saints of the church, I found it to be revolting. I always sensed a strange spirit essence in the air, like we were all being watched by something enshrouding us in ignorance and deception. Amidst all this weird imagery of holy haloed people, I found none of it to make sense. Praying to them meant praying to one who prays. Why was I honoring someone else for connecting to Jesus? Shouldn’t I be connecting to Jesus myself? Catholic imagery can border on the peculiar and mythical, almost in the same vein as Hindu god worship. But the difference is substantially clear. The saints serve one God, Jesus Christ. And Catholics just dig them for it. Sadly, Catholics often don’t think themselves as “good enough to be a saint,” (a phrase I often heard from my mother), so therefore, they cannot get close enough to hear God’s personal voice.

When I went to India and was befallen with a serious, life-threatening illness, I heard God give me instructions on how to get home. I followed his voice one step at a time, all the while completely scared out of my wits not knowing if the voice I was following was either a devil or an angel, and I prayed to the heavens it was an angel. I got home. I was saved. But it took me years to remember what that voice sounded like again because all around me I was bombarded with strange sensory input. Not only was there the standard old-fashioned imagery of robed and sandaled saints in Catholicism, but now the Eastern fever had moved in. I needed to sort through a whole new pantheon of icons and motifs. Stories of heroes and gods shown through Hindu art, and a whole slew of hocus-pocus paraphernalia that helped you space out into no-man’s land offering you nothing more than drums, trances and yoga stances. It took me decades to recover my connection to the Holy Spirit. Let’s not blame my betrayal of Jesus entirely on pictures of the Virgin Mary. At least that gives you an “idea” of the holiness of God’s Kingdom. (By the way, Catholics do not worship the Virgin Mary as a Queen of Heaven, that’s more of a term of endearment.)

If anything the Catholic Church can be credited with, it’s bringing Christ to community and cultural communities to Christ. Many Catholic countries have been traditionally poor and peasant, many have been from the Mediterranean and Hispanic cultures. So Italians like to get cross tattoos? So what? Jesus loves them. And Hispanic princesses like to wear gaudy crucifixes? Ok, so a white middle-class Jane Shmo from Kentucky might not, but she is no way any better than Lucia. The lifestyle and flair in many of these people’s customs sync well with that Catholic style; not really mine, but that’s fine.

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But as it is my Italian heritage, I can understand the strangeness and not revere it. Just as Jesus sat alongside the prostitutes, I can pray alongside it but not be affected by it or get lost within it. I feel I can actually do more to help them find a true relationship with Christ in communion with them rather than in judgment over them. For Jesus commands us: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)

Fundamentalists, keep to what you do best, teach the Catholics a thing or two about the Word of the bible, (something the Catholic Church has failed to do for many of her people). But don’t judge the Catholics for being preoccupied with imagery. They are by no means confusing the “thing” for the amazingly awesome thing it represents.

Video

Public School Indoctrination

Having left my job over 8 years ago as a teacher in the public school system, I know  too much about the indoctrination program from the inside. Here’s an interesting 15 minute video providing some alternative ideas on how to approach education in the classroom. Hopefully one day, we will move in this direction.

 

Feb 24

Jesus, Homosexuality and Arizona’s Bigots

Arizona lawmakers pass controversial anti-gay bill – CNN.com.

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I’m Trying, I’m Really Trying…

I’m embarrassed. Only a couple of months ago, I decided to return to my early Christian roots after a long pilgrimage of exploring every spiritual view on planet Earth, from agnostic to Eastern philosophy to pagan nature worship to New Age. So I realize Christ is the one and I fall on my knees and crack open my bible with a renewed faith and willingness. Now this. Thanks guys. I guess this is my role as a Christian, right? Teaching others about what it MEANS to be a Christian.

I get it. I used to call them fanatics; but with my renewed love of the Christian worldview and joy of the inspired bible’s Word, and even appreciation for the speeches of Christian charismatic preachers on YouTube, I no longer use that denigrating phrase. I understand that many Evangelical Christians, in their zeal to follow the commands of their Lord, want everybody to understand the Word of God, the choices he prefers us to make, and the consequences of those choices. I get the religious zealots. But, sorry guys. You messed up on this one. Don’t call yourself a Christian, when you are not. You ruin it for the rest of us who are actually trying. This is the very reason for the worldwide apostasy. Anyone can use the bible to defend anything they want. This is why people turn to atheism. It just makes more sense.

It’s so ironic, only the devil could be leading them to do it. Christians in Arizona are not only trying to push a law onto the books to make discrimination acceptable, but also enforceable by law. The discriminator having more rights than the one who is discriminated against, huh? Thanks to Christians the ongoing breakdown of our long cherished civil rights is continuing and gaining momentum at a more rapid pace than ever before. First the Patriot Act, then the NSA, now this. Good Lord, what are you guys doing?

The Christian path is being presented as a mockery. In the name of Jesus Christ, in thinking you are claiming a right to your own religious freedom, you are reverting the American landscape back to the days of Jim Crow Laws. You push your own personal political agenda down the throats of good people, and all civil rights that have been earned over decades of elephant hose attacks and sit-ins at luncheonette counters may be thrown out the window. And we’d even go further back, passed the days of unwritten Jim Crow laws, back to the era where there were real laws in legislation for such discrimination. Thanks to this new bill, we may return to separate water fountains and the denial of the right to vote for women and blacks. Back to the good ol’ days. 

Shame on these vipers to call themselves Christian! If Jesus had not risen, he most assuredly would be rolling over in his grave. Beyond the victimized gay population, I also sympathize with the true Christians of America. For this is not only the beginning of an advance against homosexuals, but unfortunately, it could mark the beginning of a guaranteed and well-earned uprising against Christians. This is precisely why there is a continually growing apostasy of fine women and gentlemen from the church. I, for one, would never have left Jesus if it wasn’t for hypocrites all around me. I couldn’t stand them. Many outside the church love Christ but cringe at bowing to their representatives who claim Christ for themselves. Many ask, “Who wants to share a god with those people? I rather risk going to hell if there is such a place.” As Gandhi even said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I am sorry for the true Christians today. I am sorry for those who really understand Jesus. Whether or not you may believe in his divinity, Jesus had the highest ethical compass of anyone in history. In fact many who do not take Jesus as the Son of God are often better able to understand his message.

 

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Homosexuality, a Sin?

Many religious homophobics claim that their discrimination and downright disgust for any and all things gay is influenced by the Word of God. So, ok. I’ll give it to you. I’ll be open and tolerant to your point of view. You believe it is a sin. While there is evidence for God not liking gay acts, let’s discuss the whole story very clearly here. Even if you think it is a sin, Jesus came for the sinners, protected them, and often respected them much more than the lofty, religious, righteous Pharisee hypocrites who he swore would go to hell before the sinners. Jesus stood by the “sinners,” so I believe that he would have served them in his store since he believed in serving others. But, ok.  

Here are some biblical passages that point to homosexuality as sinful: In Leviticus 20:13:

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

And also in the New Testament, Paul writes in Romans 1:27:

“and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

I can cite passages too. As many passages there are in the bible about homosexuality, there are 7 times 70 passages about judgmental hypocrisy. I like those in Matthew’s Seven Woes to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-4:

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practise. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”

Continuing…(Matthew 23:13-15)

 

“13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

And more…(Matthew 23:23-24)

“23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

Going on…(Matthew 23:27-28)

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

And really, I can cite passages all day long. I can go on and on and on….

So my bigoted, perverted, judgmental friends, I love you but I cannot honor you as good Christians. For right after the aforementioned cited text in Romans 1:27 where Paul points out homosexuality, he also calls out hypocrites….again.

On God’s Righteous Judgment in Romans 2:1-4:

“1 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practise the very same things. 2 We know that the judgement of God rightly falls on those who practise such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practise such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

Woe to us indeed. Jesus did not wish for us to act as God and judge, for that is only God’s job. He meant for us to declare the good news that we sinners, ALL of us, are saved through God’s love and goodness. God wanted us to share the hope of his awesome plan for our eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection. I really don’t think it had anything to do with what kinds of things someone does in the privacy of their own bedroom.

 

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Most of All, I Like Good People

I have some very dear friends who are gay, and in knowing closely the community, I believe that while there may be exceptions, homosexuality is genetic. But most importantly, I do not believe that loving someone who happens to have the same genitalia is an abomination, even though one can point to a few bible passages that support it. (There are many that also support such acts as stoning women to death, the forbidding of slave rebellion, etc.). Jesus’ first and foremost message was to love. Good gay people are everywhere, and because of living with persecution, they know what it is to love fully. Whether or not they have declared Christ as their savior, unlike many so-called “Christians,” they choose fairness for others, respect for all, and love for their brethren over enthusiasm for outward bigotry. 

Since my return to Christianity, I have been praying a lot to God about this issue due to all the madness around the apparently most important Christian topic of today. I told him plain out, “I cannot believe that true love is immoral. Even if you and your mate are gay.” And just last night I heard the answer to my prayers, ever so sweetly as the Lord usually speaks, “Proper love is not immoral.” Then I felt foolish and broke out of my daze that had been fogging my mind after listening to too many charismatic preachers, and I remembered how true that always was to me. And then I prayed that each person who hates gays gets the chance to know some very beautiful people who also happen to be gay.

What people do in their bedrooms with people they truly love is not the abomination that Christ spoke of. In fact, some people would say that Christ never directly spoke about homosexuality. I say he has, and it’s rather compassionate and scientifically advanced as he seems to suggest that it is genetic in nature. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus states:

“For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

You can argue what a eunuch is, but as soon as I heard this, I felt relief; for no good gay shall go to hell. Anyone who knows anything about the long history of eunuchs in other countries knows that beyond the castration association, they are basically gay men. And here’s a further point of contention: In every bible passage that speaks about man laying with man as an abomination, it is intertwined with all other sexual immorality. So, to take things in context, (which many people who profess the bible forget to do), any lustfulness that is extravagant and flagrant whether it be heterosexual, homosexual or bestial is immoral. And our entire society is filled with it. And yet, I do not see these same store owners close the door to any sexy young girls who are practicing promiscuous fornication, which is also a “sin” in the eyes of God. Why? Because it is more appetizing for many of these bigots to imagine the goings-on in a wild woman’s bedroom rather than a gay man’s neat and tidy one. Can we not just let bedroom affairs be bedroom affairs? I find it so boring to constantly hear what all the genitalia of America are doing on a Saturday night. Rather, let’s talk about God for real.

People, STOP using Christianity as a reason for defending heinous acts. It’s tough to defend your stupidity. From slavery, to denial of women’s rights, to social and political oppression, to hate crimes. I am tired of it. Atheists, agnostics, and pagans are winning the battle. They seem much more moral and with-it than Christians, and many understandably do not wish to hang out with hypocrites. They have a good point about the judgmental attitude of many Christians not only in the political arena but in the lack of their display of righteous acts anywhere else that matters. Just wondering, how many of these “saved,” heterosexual Christians DO anything that shows their Christian values, outside of going to church to associate with others like themselves or denying “sinners” the right to enter their stores? I’m curious as to how many of these defenders of this scandalous bill actually feed the poor, clothe the naked and visit prisoners, which are all clear commands of the Lord. I wish to associate with those who practice lives like Christ. I only wish more good-hearted Christians did.

There are a few. The Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe and the Right Reverend Michael P. Milliken, members of the Episcopal Church, wrote to lawmakers of the Kansas state legislator regarding this bill before it goes to the governor. “Our biblically based faith calls us to live out the command of Jesus Christ to love one another. You cannot love your fellow Kansans and deny them the rights that belong to everyone else.”

Thank goodness for real Christianity. True Christians unite and honor your character. Speak out for what is right. Defend the human rights of all of God’s children. Because before you know it, the laws will be written against Christians, and we will be the ones who cannot enter the store of a Jew or Muslim. And then, sadly, because of the errors of hypocrites, the prophecies of persecution of the true Christians will be fulfilled.

 

See the link to the Reverends' letter at: The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas
Also check out what gay Christian blogger, sweettp2063, 
wrote on the topic of biblical Christianity in his article: 
Wrong: Jesus did speak about homosexuality.

 

Feb 15

Scientific Racism: The Eugenics of Social Darwinism—an historical video

To truly understand today’s brainwashing in Psychiatry’s DSM, we must recognize its origins. Social Darwinism, a direct outgrowth of Darwinism, placed human characteristics onto a sliding scale of fit and less fit. Those who constructed this scale of judgment were and are the ones with the most power and opportunities, namely, European white, rich and best educated. Seeing their characteristics as best, they took every other genetic trait in other races and judged it next to their own as being of inferior breeding. Thus the pseudo-science of Eugenics, which directly affected the development of the Nazi concentration camps, was born. Take a close look at this history of anthropology. It is shocking and saddening that we place so much emphasis even today on examining people’s characteristics as if they are objects to be studied.

 

 

Feb 12

Hatred Towards the Christian …an answer to an article.

 

I would hate to meet this Larry Womak and have a conversation with him at a dinner party. He most assuredly would make me cry and have me running home with my tail between my legs before appetizers, ashamed of myself for loving an Almighty God. Why would he have this power over me? Because he thinks he is smarter? So arrogant was Lucifer for embracing knowledge over humility in the presence of God. And here we are doing the same in today’s world of science worship. Tom’s persecuting sentiment is so embarrassingly hypocritical, for he sounds like the very religious hypocrites he endeavors to expose in his own article. He abhors the persecution that some members of the Christian Right inflict upon gays and pro-choicers, but then attacks the group as a collective hive mind with a thousand times the venom.

 

To behave like such a tyrannical philosophical bully in his own writing can only mean that he obviously over and over again has come up against very narrow minded people who read the bible and then support their ignorance with it. This is by no means the way I have ever looked at religious knowledge. I do agree that certain religions are very narrow…but if you notice, he like many, many others hate Christians most. Why?? Because of a few conservative Christians who have political influence? How about calling out all the scientific, unethical genetic mad scientists who are using billions of our taxpayer dollars to reconstruct humanity because they don’t believe in a God? Oh right, wait, science is not a religion…yeah right.

 

I had very negative views on the Christian Fundamentalists too because of the way their rigid ideas are perpetuated in the media. I thought born-agains and evangelicals were the most obviously “crazy” ones UNTIL I finally allowed myself to be educated and did some reading. It is so easy to point to the bible and laugh in this modern age. To refer to all the laws and say in a most juvenile way, “I’m not doing that, don’t tell me what to do, God.” Say with Leviticus, (the book that has been criticized by many apostates because of its listing of over 600 rules, laws, rituals, and religious obligations), it’s easy to point to all the no-nos and say—“Wah, wah, look at all the things God told us not to do! Wah, wah.” But if you really look at the literature, along with so many other “warnings” in the Old Testament, and put it into historical CONTEXT like good biblical scholars would do, then you can see that for that time period, teaching people to be clean, for instance, and not contaminate their food with the blood of other animals, etc, was NEEDED.

 

 

Actually, just as an example, some of these laws seemed to be ancient messages conveyed through God as to how to be “healthy.” Many of these rules mentioned in the bible were actually supported through discoveries made in science and medicine within the last century, but because they were originally written in the bible, many people knew to do it for generations. In time throughout the centuries it became part of our collective consciousness, but not prior to it being revealed in the bible. This is why I am beginning to believe that yes, much of this information, WAS inspired. Otherwise, how could they have known? And extreme warnings were needed too—like, “God will cut you off if you do this, and not that.” He had to because disease could run rampant if they had no health LAWS. Why? Not because it’s fake and mean but because a threat is necessary when children are stupid. I say things to my 7 year old son all the time so that I can get him to DO things…

 

And yes, the New Testament has changed our perspectives of these law obsessions. As a former agnostic and an ex-New Ager, I can’t believe I am quoting scripture here, but here it goes:– (coincidentally, I actually came upon this on my own the other day before reading this article, and it’s rather relevant)–  In Romans 7:6-8, “Or do you not know, brothers–for I am speaking to those who know the law–…..you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead……now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

 

So, you see, it is VERY easy to live in the modern age and say, “Oh, it’s so obvious what you should and should not do, and we don’t need the old bible for that.” Really? And we never did? I beg to challenge that. I don’t believe that people are altogether perfect and inherently wise. You have to work at it. Don’t forget the Cherokee Native American Proverb: “There is a battle of two wolves inside us. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The wolf that wins is the one you feed.” The bible’s suggestions are to feed the good wolf.

 

What I hate more than even a stupid bigot or a fear-mongering homophobe these days, are people who are soooo sure of everything, and think they are so damn smart and everyone else is stupid or “crazy.” And the atheistic community is loaded with them. Ask yourself this question, do you really think that if the idea of God died centuries ago the world would be a better place just because people are naturally moral and ethical, as many atheists would say? ….I say bullshit.

 

We see this in children all the time. They grow up like monsters because there are no repercussions made on behalf of “God” by their liberal parents. (By the way, for the record, my husband and I are “liberal” in many aspects of social justice and tolerance). I never thought I would ever in a million years be talking like this even a few months ago….but I believe all this anger about Christians and their true God is a sure sign of the times–the “anti-christ” times.  Call me doom and gloom, but as I read the bible more and understand its story, OUR story, it is very clear to me that those who don’t read it with an open heart wishing to take in the lessons of all its information, are depriving themselves of a HUGE education—as I had…

 

Feb 10

Standardizing the Masses

 

vintage-school-kids-life-magazine fix

 

Today’s Standardized Education: Are They Learning Anything?

 

Yes, kids are learning. But what they are learning is dangerous to a society who wishes their citizens to grow in critical thinking and innovation. They are learning how to take tests and follow the leader.

For 14 years, as a former New York State Certified Secondary School teacher, I have witnessed over a decade of changes within the school system, and many theories seem to get recycled throughout the decades. But currently, the new Core Curriculum program being installed nationwide is a grave concern on the parts of students, teachers, parents and school administrators alike. Kids are inundated with homework, and their freedom to learn what they are actually interested in is severely limited due to all the new standardized testing that is increasingly expanding.

Education is a creative process, as much an art as a science. It can’t just be distilled into some sterile formula.

With standardizing every child’s education in America, no child gets a chance to learn from an inspirational teacher who needs time to teach something fresh and personal. With tons of homework and no down-time, no child gets a moment to daydream and allow new connections to form to then replace outdated ideas. With few opportunities to pursue personal strengths and interests because of emphasis on core study and limitation of electives, no child gets to discover an alternative path for oneself outside of what has already been predetermined.

Is no child left behind? Or no child left unindoctrinated?

 

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Who came up with this new Core Curriculum?

 

The right approach would have been to involve teachers, child development professionals, and other experts in the education field to assemble a program of instruction based on the ways kids learn best. But these standards were set upon guesswork; there was no cognitive science in child-based learning considered. Largely, bureaucrats made these decisions, not teachers. In all, there were 135 people on the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional. The National Association for the Education of Young Children is the foremost professional organization for early education in the U.S., yet it had no role in the creation of the K-3 Core Standards.

Why is this so important? Because the teaching methods, which will now affect the entire nation’s next generation beginning from the very moment they hit school, were not created on today’s modern education and psychological theories. The most extreme revamping of the education system in the history of America’s schools is, from its starting point in kindergarten, destined to fail because it is built upon unsound and old fashioned education theory that we know does not work.

Many professional groups opposed the K-3 standards. More than 500 early childhood professionals, (educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers), many of the most prominent members of those fields, signed the Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative.

Their statement reads in part:

We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children…. The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades…

Their Joint Statement makes arguments grounded in what we know about child development—facts that all education policymakers need to be aware of. First, that standardized testing is highly unreliable for children under age eight, and there is little and inconclusive evidence that standards for young children lead to later success. Many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, nonacademic experiences—not standardized instruction—until age six or seven.

Second, long hours of direct instruction in literacy and math, or “drill and grill” teaching, is replacing active, play-based learning in many kindergartens, the very methods through which young students learn best.

Third, since didactic instruction and testing crowd out the most successful ways young children learn, the essential building blocks for academic and social accomplishment are lost. Hands-on exploration encourages developing social, emotional, problem-solving, and self-regulation skills. From Kindergarten right through to the secondary levels, all of the most crucial elements of creating a responsible citizen in our world today are the most difficult to standardize, and cannot be measured through testing.

 

fish tree fixed

 

An Assault on Teachers

 

As a sad result of this core curriculum movement, teachers have no time to do what they do best, teach. Most teachers enter the profession because they are pretty darn smart. They loved school and have hopes for their students to love school, and they imagine that they have a pretty unique way they can achieve that goal. This is impossible to achieve in such a rigid educational structure. A creative approach to teaching is practically not allowed under the common core, which essentially aims to make teachers dispensable and replaceable.

Performance-based teaching is ruining the strength of American education. It stimulates schools to cheat on their data, and it encourages a weaker pool of educators to join the teaching force because they can be told what and how to teach. We are teaching skills over real learning with the goal of preparing them for a future in which we can’t possibly know what skills are most needed.

When I was in kindergarten 35 years ago, the idea of having a personal computer or access to instant knowledge at my fingertips through the internet was unthinkable. In grade school I learned basic skills, but we were also encouraged to answer questions that required critical thinking while being given flexible time to be creative. So I learned to love the learning process. And I have never let go of that love, no matter how many jobs were not available to me along the way. How sad it is that our youth may not know this contentment, for we are robbing them of the joys of learning.

It is education’s business to make sure when children leave school they have an interest in challenging themselves to learn new ideas. Rather it has become the business of education that is teaching kids to master a set of skills needed for a certain job—which in all likelihood will be obsolete by the time they are adults in the working world.

This fight against creating a nation of thinkers has been going on for a long time. We run our educational institutions like corporations. Schools are required to meet a set of goals established by someone far removed from the actual classroom setting, determined through numbers and performance-based data. We are setting these kids up to be workers not thinkers.

And it was John D. Rockefeller who said exactly that: “I don’t want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers.” It is no surprise that Rockefeller created the General Education Board organized to dispense funds for education. The next time you look at your child’s homework, think twice about why they are being taught in a particular way. It’s most likely to train their brains for the labor ahead, not to develop and free their minds.

 

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