Friday, January 25, 2013

I Really Just Don't Care About Theology

Ok, Ok . . . so maybe I do. . . a bit. Enough so that I am writing an entire post about it.

I have only had maybe two or three conversations in recent years on theology. It just isn't a conversation that I really jump into when others are discussing it. Thanks to some recent posts by other bloggers that I follow I find myself with a need to define my stance and put it into writing. I also think that sharing it with any readers of this blog will help them understand me and what I am attempting to pursue in my life.

One of the conversation that I recall was a lengthy one with a friend of ours that was concerned for my immortal soul. She was a good friend for a long time and sadly we are no longer friends for various reasons. One of which was her attitude and comments towards anyone in our group of friends who was not of the Christian faith. There was another person involved in the conversation so it lasted a good two and a half to three hours. While it was a great discussion on many, many things, the conversation left her noticeably frustrated. When I asked what was wrong, her response was; "I have just never lost this conversation before." (her exact words). I still chuckle when recalling the conclusion of that conversation. 

That conversation helped me to put words to my stances on various subjects. Words that I still use to this day when asked about my beliefs. It also bears mentioning that aside from this conversation I have had discussions involving other religions or belief systems. 

As I continue to ramble on and avoid getting to the point of this post . . . let me continue to ramble. Let me tell you in brief (or as briefly as I am capable of) where I have been in my life up until now that brought me to my current beliefs.

I grew up in a household where we went to church every Sunday, prayed before dinner . . . and then stopped going altogether when our parents divorced. In my young teens, due to a friend, I began going to church again and was part of a very active youth group. We had great times and I learned a lot. Aside from the youth group I had a friend who became a mentor to me. Not only have I read the bible, but I have also studied it from front to back. Including the Greek & Hebrew texts. Gradually I became more and more dissatisfied with Christianity (that's a much longer story that I won't bore you with) to the point where I began to study other religions. I did that for about two years before I finally cast aside the label of "Christian".  

I spent several years studying Druidry, Asatru, Wicca, Buddhism, and various variations of polytheist religions or belief systems. I went to coffee moots, meetings, gatherings, festivals, and workshops. I attended and participated in rituals. I meditated, made offerings, and even prayed to other gods. I have learned many, many things. Both about myself, about the world around me and the beliefs of a lot of different people. Each time I came away with something new to enrich my own life . . . but it was never the gods, the prayer, the offerings, or the rituals.

After everything that I have seen, tried or experienced what I have found is that I don't care. Now don't get me wrong. I can't honestly say that I'm not curious about whether or not there is something after this life. Or if there is or isn't a higher power/being/beings out there. I'm human . . . I am as curious as the next person. However I don't believe that there is an answer to be found. Not in this life, not in this place.  

The other part of it is that after everything I have learned about other religions, I've found that there is nothing in any of them that makes me want to join that religion. In fact, most of what I've found makes me want to run away from a majority of them. The person that a majority of them would try make me to be is not someone that I want to be.

The one thing that has remained constant is that I continue to question myself. What I know, what I think, what I have been taught by the churches, schools, and the society we live in. I am always questioning and asking myself if it is right, wrong or in between. Does it serve me? My family? My friends? My community?

What I am seeking is not be a connection with gods that do or do not exist. In my life I have family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances with many different beliefs or lack thereof. What I seek is to find a way to better connect with them. To deepen that connection and in turn enrich my own life as well as those around me.

The existence or non-existence of all powerful, all knowing beings (or some variation thereof) will not change who I am and the path that I am following. 

Obviously one could read this and ask a million questions about a million different aspects of this. Should a question come to mind, please ask it. I didn't go into depth or detail further on certain aspects because I am writing a blog post . . . not a book. I've rambled enough, but I welcome further questions and discussions. 
. . . I'm a sucker for intelligent conversation.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

On Labels, Community, . . . and Stuff - Part 2

In my quest to reconnect with myself and learn I have begun following more and more blogs within the “pagan” websphere.  In doing so I’ve found that I tend to skip over a lot of different posts.  Such as the current labeling debate going on.  Pagan or not pagan, hard polytheist or soft polytheist, fluff-bunny or not fluff-bunny. . . honestly, I really don’t care.  

Part of me wants to say,  “Hey!  Guess What!?  You don’t want to be called a “pagan” (capital or lowercase “p”), but you are still in the “Pagan” list on Facebook, the “Pagan” Circle on Google+, The “Pagan” folder on my Google Reader and anywhere else I can make a “List”, “Circle”, and/or “Group”. 

Of coarse I wouldn't say that because that is not what I think or feel, it just would fulfill the want to be inflammatory (and let's be honest, we all want to do that once in a while).  I don't say anything akin to that because another part of me would just rather not get caught up in all of it.  It would also mean that I would have to read all of the various posts, comments and positions on the subject.  Although I have read a decent amount of them. 

My problem with this whole thing is that the mentality behind it all is something I have come to realize is sadly part of the mentality of all people.  Also, in my opinion, the worst trait of any and all human beings on this earth (regardless of label).  What is that?!  Well it is one of the reasons I left christianity all those years ago.  It is the thought of “I’m right and you are wrong.”.  The want and need to be the person in the right.  A superiority complex or supremacist mentality that we as humans seem to default to.  I’m not of a mind that a majority of wars or conflicts throughout history were caused by religion (although yes, I’m certain it had a HUGE roll in it), but rather that the root cause is this way of thinking.

With that said, it is one of the things that irritates me, that mentality or way of thinking.  One that we as a planet could do without.  

My whole intent of this post was to talk about things that I usually “skip over” in my reading and studying.  Unfortunately many of them are hot-button issues such as the labeling issue currently occuring in the online community.  Another one that I avoid is theology where it applies to gods, deities, the universal “Oneness” or “what-have-you”.  Another is prayer and/or ritual.  

All of these things are either things I don’t do, have no desire to do . . . they are moot to me.  They are all things that I have tried, researched, and/or practiced and found that they are of no use to me.  Some of these things I have formed opinions about, and others I do not.  So instead of getting embroiled in a bunch of reading, studying, or debating about things that I am not interested in, I skip over. . . for the most part (drama is sadly addicting).

So what in the world am I doing studying Druidry!?  I can answer that with one word;  Connection.  I am looking to do many things, from reconnecting with myself, to energy, relationships and community.  Druidry is one of the areas that I believe will give me some the knowledge, exercises, resources, tools . . . what-have-you, to start down that path to creating my future self.

The one thing I desire to do is to spend my time studying and learning that which has value to me.  Stuff that I can actually put into play and make an affect in my life, my family, and my community.  My opinion or stance is not to downplay anyone else stance.  I'm not saying that people who spend their time debating, studying, praying, or practicing ritual are wasting their time and breath.  If you think that after reading this entire post, then I have not made myself clear.  

If what you think and do makes your life better, then I am all for it and I encourage you to continue to do and think just as you do.  Just because I don't do the same things, think the same things, or hold certain things with the same regard as you does not mean that I think you are wrong.  It also doesn't mean that I am wrong.  Respect is what it is all about.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Of Labels, Community, . . . and Stuff

In searching to find my own path I have struggled with any attempt to label it. I abhor anything that sounds overly romantic or overly self-important. What I have decided is that I won’t label it, that it doesn’t need a label. It is simply my path that I am choosing to live based upon what I feel is where I want to go in life and what I want to be to those around me.

One thing that I’ve come to realize is what community means to me and what little use that I have for labels. Which is of course a hot topic right now online within the pagan/polytheist/”other” blogsphere. . . . see what I did there. I have been for quite a few years no the fringes of the pagan community. Learning, watching, reading, . . . and making friends. I have a lot of friends from a lot of different backgrounds and ways of thinking/living. The thing is . . . they all matter to me and my life, and have made an impact in one way or another on the path I am on. ALL of these people are part of my “community”, so-to-speak.

In blazing this trail I will be researching many things from just about any and every possible area that I can find. If you have been stalking me on either Google+, Twitter, or Tumblr, you’ll have noticed that a majority of the people that I am following are of a druidic inclination . . . with perhaps a smattering of celtic polytheists. There is a purpose to this as that is the path that I have chosen to begin my research and studies in. In specific, the areas of energy work, meditation and the practices surrounding that. I will not be filtering out any of the other information and content that goes along with the path. I will read, listen, absorb and take notes on those things that stick out to me.

I am following blogs, reading books, websites, and podcasts. All the while attempting to put what I learn into practice and make note of what works for me and what doesn’t. I plan on doing a few courses along the way as well. Along the way I will post my thoughts, reflections, and questions on the this blog and I highly welcome your feedback, comments, questions, criticism . . . etc. I will also share the sources in which I am researching (aforementioned blogs, books, & podcasts), and welcome any suggestions of other sources of information. It doesn’t have to be specifically a druidic source.

I don’t know how long this will take and am not putting any restrictions on it. As anyone who is familiar with modern Druidry can attest, there are just about as many schools of thought as there are Druids. I plan to explore as many as I can. Where I will go from there once I am done with druidic studies is unknown. Perhaps I will look into Reiki or other disciplines or paths that use energy work.

What I plan to learn is more about what my specific talents are within energy work and to cultivate that.

So what do you wish you knew more about?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reclaiming The Road

It seems more common than not in today’s world that we allow ourselves to get too busy to spend enough times on the things that are truly important to living a quality life. For any of us those things that make up the equation of what is “truly important” can vary. Our careers, nutrition, exercise, hobbies, recreation, personal relationships, community, spirituality. There are so many variables that come into play. Each of them a ball that we must juggle to keep a balanced life.

At times we put down a ball to make it easier, less stressful. Then we put down another . . . and another. We forget to pick them back up. When(if) we do, they are dusty, cracked, and unfamiliar in our hand. It takes time to relearn some things we might have forgotten to get familiar with it again.

Boulder Juggler

It is time for me to pick up one of those balls that I have set down. I have neglected it long enough. I can’t call it religion, and I can’t call it spirituality. I honestly don’t know what to call it other than the enrichment of my life in a whole. I don’t know how to explain it now, but perhaps over time it will all become a bit more clear to anyone who reads this.

This is the continuation of the path . . . no, not a path . . . it’s a road, that I started many years ago when I began to question everything I was taught, everything I thought I knew. A road that went from an average childhood, to a teenager devoted to Jesus Christ, to a young father and husband, to a divorced and troubled young man, to the man I am today.

What is next is yet to be seen. The road is yet to be paved, but I have never looked forward to it more than I do now.

In the (hopefully) many many posts to follow I hope to share my journey with anyone who wishes to follow along. I’ll share what I know, what I believe, what I think . . . what I don’t know . . . what I question . . . and what I find.

Thanks for reading.