Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food: The Mother Who Feeds

Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of food: The Mother Who Feeds.
"In this world, apart from our spiritual practice, there is no other place or power that we can rely on." Supreme Master Ching Hai

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Is "taking it on faith" the way you want to live?

I've been saddened, again, by current events. Facebook is a great place to stay in touch, but in my case, it's also the place where I learn about things going on in the LDS faith, as I would otherwise have no other contact to keep me informed, if it weren't for my handful of Mormon friends.

Normally I'm okay with not knowing who the current "Prophet" is, or what the latest news is on scouting or missionary work, etc. I have two very good friends who have children on missions, and if I have the desire to know about that world, I can check in with them. But seeing the memes mocking the latest handbook entry for LDS leaders led me to investigate things a little more closely.

Facebook and anti-LDS are screaming from the top of the nearest building that the "Mormons are ostracizing the children of gay couples in the church, and not allowing them to be baptised unless they renounce gay marriage."
I've read the actual entries from the LDS church on this, and the news is actually old news. 

Children of non-members aren't allowed to be baptised until age 18 either, because the church's stance is that they don't want to create division within the home, having parents who are non-members be in conflict with an underage child who might be living differently than the people who pay their rent and cook their food. I can see the logic in this. The church is taking that same stance, albeit newly spelled out, for the children of same sex couples and calling it "protection."

The actual wording in the handbook states that in order to be baptised, the children of same sex parents "
must simply affirm the Church’s teachings about sexuality and marriage. To quote the new handbook change, “The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.”

So, lets talk about that wording. According to the Webster's Dictionary, to 'disavow' is to: 

Full Definition of DISAVOW:

1: to deny responsibility for: REPUDIATE

2:  to refuse to acknosledge or accept: DISCLAIM

Now while the children of gay parents are not responsible for their parent's behaviours, they are, in fact, part of a family. Most likely a loving family where the parents just happen to be the same gender. Simply committing to live the teachings of the church and denying that their family is a good, loving, nurturing, healthy family, is asking them to deny and disown the very core of who they are. And many of my friends say they "just have to take this on faith?"

How, can I ask you, could you ever ask anyone to do this? How could you tear apart your family for a religion who says the act of loving each other is a sin? No gay person, who cohabitates or who is married, can be a fully participatory member of the church. ONLY if you put aside your nature, give up the essence of who you are on a genetic level, and choose a life of celibacy, can you be allowed to participate in full church membership. 

So forget about the dusty remnants of years gone by, that horrifically edited collection of stories put together by a group of men, designed to scare the shit out of anyone left living who reads it (aka: THE BIBLE) for a minute. Let's talk about science. Let's talk about life. Every gay person I know has known in their soul, from a very young age, exactly who and what they were. This is not learned behaviour, as my nephew will tell you. Born of goodly parents, and supplied with a pious mother who lived the gospel to the letter despite an inactive husband, she raised him up to be a missionary man, and a loving father. She got a beautifully androgynous, incredibly talented dancer and gay man for a son instead. This is something that takes place on a genetic level people! It is not a choice. 

I have another friend who is openly gay, openly married to a woman, who is the father of four children, and who is so in love with Mormon doctrine that he has forsaken his own PERSON to live the faith. A hard choice to be sure. But doable, if only on paper. He will gladly tell you that he struggles with same sex attraction on a daily basis. And yet he loves his god and will not go against the doctrine of the church. But what if one of his daughters decided she was gay? How would that change him when it came down to letting her live life true to her own person?  Would he encourage her to take his path? Or would he want her to be happy? Because as the mother of five kids, I just want them to be happy; bottom line.

So, do I agree with this latest edict from my once-assigned (I didn't choose, so I call myself a Mormon, assigned from birth to live in a religion that didn't suit me) church? No. Oh, HELL NO. I think it's horrible. It's tantamount to abuse. And it infuriates me and at the same time saddens me that so many of the people I respect and love, who are still members, think they just have to "take this one on faith." Faith in WHAT? What about faith in the brain you were given? The brain that lets you know when something is wrong. If you feel in your gut this is wrong, what else is wrong? There are choices out there, and support of this atrocity doesn't have to be part of who you are or what you believe. Can you not support this and still be a member? I don't know. But the question is this: why would you want to?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hi, my name is Dayna, and.... has to be said, I'm pretty sure I'm an atheist.

I've spent the better part of this week reveling in the nationally recognized equality of marriage act, which now allows my many gay friends to legally marry, no matter where they live. Such a happy week, and yet, I feel like the only person at the party who is standing naked in the middle of a crowded room.

That crowded room is also known as Facebook. Where 99% of my friends and family believe in God, or something similar to a god-like being. Now I cannot deny that there is something after this life, because of THIS, and THIS and many other things that have happened to me throughout my life. But like I spoke about in this post, I thought I related to Spiritualism, which by definition, is a state of believing in a God, or a higher power of some sort.

However, as I stood up for the rights of my gay friends this week against the nutbag, over-the-top right wingers who came crawling out of the woodwork, I had to rethink my position. (I am happy to say, that none of these crazy-pants' were any of my friends. But friends of friends, who were happy to troll about, making people as nuts as they themselves truly are.) During all of this, I became vehemently, adamantly opposed to any kind of God that any of these horrible people would call "their god." The very thought of such a thing turned my stomach.

It made me stop and really think about what I believe. Do I believe in the Bible? Absolutely not. I think it's a misogynistic piece of drivel, created by overbearing men who wanted to control other men through fear, and put women beneath them. And to hear people quoting it like it was the constitution of the United States? Wow. People really BELIEVE that stuff?? So, where does that put me? Definitely not in the Christian camp, or even the Jewish camp, because although Jews and Christians differ in their belief that Jesus is the saviour of the world, they both believe there is a God.

I've said before that I consider the afterlife, of which I absolutely believe; and would be a big huge hypocrite to deny; to be a place of love and wonder. A place where the cares of this life don't even matter anymore. A place governed by love, and not necessarily by ONE PERSON. I think of that place as just a place to BE. To watch over those we love who are still on earth. To agonize over their struggles, to assist when needed, and to fervently wish those left here knew how good it was going to be to leave it all behind in death.

My grandmother died this week too. And I sat in a Mormon church and wished her a lovely, light-filled journey, and tried to ignore the dogma in which I grew up immersed,  as it seeped into my very pores. 35 years in a religion will do that to you, even after you've left it. I wasn't afraid or filled with guilt. I remain genuinely pissed off that my forefathers in the Mormon church were persecuted, tarred and feathered, and pushed from place to place, no matter how misguided I now believe the religion to be. Maybe that's why I have so many gay friends. I always want to help the underdog, the downtrodden, the outcast.

And it boggles my mind when other people go after those very groups that I spend my life and career helping. It makes me really hate people who are well. I feel like screaming: YOU COULD BE SICK!! You could need our help and not be able to get it because you can't afford it! You demonize President Obama, and yet he's the reason my patient got a 7 hour emergency surgery my boss and I stayed up until 1 am performing. And YOU didn't have to pay for it! Non sick people suck. At least sick people are nice, and like you for trying your best.

Which brings me back to the alive-and-well zealots.

Why are people who think they have all the answers so intent on making sure everyone else must have their "truth" to the point of force feeding it? Why do countries go to war, and people die for these so-called "truths?" Inconceivable to me. So there I stand, in the middle of all my Mormon/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Gay/Bi/Trans friends, one of the few people who is not religious, and not afraid to say so. And I find myself referring to Dayna Christison as an 'athiest,' a word I grew up associating with communists, socialists and anyone of the black persuasion. Because I was taught that kind of hatred.

And I refuse to live that kind of hatred. I might not believe in a god, a saviour, or a prophet, but I believe in the inherent good of mankind. I know it's in there. I have seen it. I see it every day in my bosses hands, as he works miracles in tiny places, with tiny instruments, on people who don't appreciate the enormity of his knowledge.  I see it in the eyes of my son, as he watches his daughter growing in the womb of his fiance. I see it in the laughing eyes of my husband, a Christian, who loves me and all of our children, despite the fact that none of us believe in Jesus. And I see it in you, despite our differences. I hope you can see it in me.

I. Hope. You. Can. See.

Because I'm Dayna Christison, and I'm an atheist.