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Letter J for Jehovah

April 15, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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I slacked off and didn’t post anything for NaBloPoMo over the weekend. Friday was my 29th birthday and generally I don’t like posting on weekends so I gave myself a free pass. I let the procrastination go on for too long and lost my momentum. I will try to rebound and continue to challenge myself with the theme of letters. The letter J represents Jehovah. I am trying to remember when I began to study the Bible at home with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m sure it was more than a year ago.

I am often amazed and humbled by what I learn, however I sometimes have core beliefs which hold me back, as it were. For example, I think humans are capable of having good ideas and accomplishing good works. This is often called “making the World a better place.” But this desire of mine confuses me when Jehovah’s Witnesses insist that the political system of things is currently under Satan’s control. When I use my influence as a blogger, as a mother, as a grocery shopper, as a car buyer, as a voting citizen (etc.) I am participating in that political system. Each choice I make is a vote and requires faith. I know that sometimes I will be disappointed or I will become informed of something new that changes my mind, but to me that doesn’t prove anything.

One of the women who is leading our Bible study was trying to explain neutrality to me. Pieces of the explanation make sense, but other pieces don’t. One example is that she chooses organic meat when she has the choice. To me that is like voting and putting trust into a corporation or particular farmer because you believe in ideals and want your belief reflected in your actions. She won’t vote for any ordinances or political officials, but she will vote with her purchasing power. That is something I don’t understand.

I don’t like when people use their faith to justify looking down on other people. I love fantasy and magic and folklore. I also sometimes experience thoughts of violence, the dark side of human nature, and sexually-charged day dreams. I like Japanese horror movies. I also get the same feeling of being “high” from a Björk song or listening to a speech by a politician as I do from a song in church or a preacher’s sermon. I would not give these things up, or purge them from my home in order to prove my faith.

In fact, I think I don’t have Christian faith. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church. Now my husband and I do not associate with any church. On Friday night my husband suggested that we treat ourselves to Caffe Mocha at Starbucks since it was my birthday. I went in and bought two of them and came back out to the car. Our children were hoping for some kind of treat too, but I had only brought back an apple juice split into two cups for them. I guess they were disappointed and started to fuss and whine. My husband drove off shouting and speeding and taking out his frustration on everybody. When we got to the parking lot of Kohl’s, my husband got our son out of his car seat while I got our daughter out. We had our Mocha cups in our hands and my husband dropped his. It splattered onto his shoes and went trickling down the slope of the pavement. There was nothing left for him to drink. I laughed and said, “That’s what you get.” Sometimes energy works like that and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t have faith that people will get what they deserve, but sometimes people can learn lessons. I try to learn lessons, and I notice when the same lesson gets repeated because I have chosen not to learn.

In that way I respect what Oprah intends to accomplish through her show. There was a show that I read about but did not watch about being gay around the world. I really liked what she said. She said the separation that you feel when you think you are superior to others is all in your head. People who label each other and refuse to recognize the true soul of others are refusing to evolve. If we can overcome our desire to feel superior, we can evolve.

Even though I like studying the Bible with my friends, I often answer their questions in the way that I know they want to hear. In the Jehovah’s Witness study guide there are questions after each paragraph to check for reading comprehension. The answers are very predictable, and their beliefs are often too simplistic for me. Last week, the women showed my daughter a drawing of a family playing with an elephant. It was supposed to represent a carefree life in paradise. They asked my daughter if she wanted to live in paradise. She rolled her eyes and said no. I guess she’s been listening in on our studies and had picked up my cynicism. I am like Arwen when she says, “I choose a mortal life,” in the Lord of the Rings. To me, this life is enough. When I imagine living forever I am saddened rather than uplifted. I think it would not benefit anyone to have the cycle of life and death resolved. The possibility of death is actually what makes life so valuable and interesting.

So many phenomena like house fires are confusing to imagine in a perfect world. Having your house burn down is terrible and presumably would not be permitted in a perfect world. Would every pot of rice turn out perfectly cooked? Would there be no possibility of burning dinner? There are certain laws of nature that I can’t imagine would be overturned when God’s will is done. Would water no longer put out fire in paradise? We would no longer need fire fighters or other modern-day heroes. Would we not need to eat dinner? What about the people who truly enjoy cooking? The people who make a living sharing their talent? In paradise many people’s livelihoods would be obsolete. What would be the point of setting goals or breaking records?

In less than half an hour I have a lesson. I don’t know why I continue to be intrigued by Jehovah’s Witnesses and their beliefs. I have the choice to turn them away, but I like the stimulation of regular study and I continue to welcome them here in my home. At least I can have some small connection to people of faith as I find my own way to understand Jehovah.

“If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:18,19)  (thanks to TJ for considering my tendency to fight windmills and cleverly pointing out that admonition to me.)

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  1. April 15, 2008 1:36 pm

    I hope you had a WONDERFUL bday!!!!! I wish you all the best the world can offer!! HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. April 15, 2008 2:22 pm

    FW- this is an absolutely fabulous post. I really enjoyed what you see and feel. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your honesty.

  3. April 15, 2008 2:22 pm

    OH MY!!! Happy Belated Birthday!!!

  4. April 15, 2008 3:57 pm

    gr8tful and Sky, thank you both for the birthday wishes!

  5. April 15, 2008 4:07 pm

    Happy Birthday.

    This is such a great post- so honest and thoughtful. You put it out there so well and without bitterness.
    And i found this comforting.

    i often feel that i am not “christian” enough for christians-
    ~i believe people can, and should, and must, make their own decisions,
    ~i think when two folks love each other and want to get married, they should be able to without there being any picketing or petitions involved,
    ~i think God just wants us to be the best us we’re able to be rather than follow a bunch of regulations and i think He appreciates what he has created,
    ~i strive to surround myself, reach out to and show compassion for ‘any’ rather than just ‘mine’
    ~i say i love Jesus- not that i am Jesus. He’s not in my pocket and i don’t tell on people.

    i’m not all great. i’m pretty awful in fact, but i try to keep these ideas strong and with me because it’s what came out of my first serious reading of the gospels.

  6. April 15, 2008 4:49 pm

    christine, I also read your take on your writing talent. You like to write about dark, painful, ugly themes and you are good at it. Is it unfortunate that you have such a talent or is it fortunate? It is one of life’s biggest questions.

    Anyone who can’t comfortably fit into the Bible’s regulations will end up feeling this way. Am I an abomination? Am I derelict? Am I a mistake?

    I don’t know if I believe in the notion of “perfect” or if I would even strive for “perfection.” I like variety and quirkiness too much. I think I actually seek out imperfect things.

  7. April 15, 2008 4:50 pm

    Great post FW. The Jehovah’s Witness are a mind control cult. They punish outside thought, logic, and any challenging belief system. What do they have to hide? Much like the Scientologists, they seek to break the human spirit and their slave’s minds by denying outside contact.

    Corporations control us through psychological compulsion mechanisms. That is why you are your family felt compelled to shop at Star*ucks and $ohls. They aim to drain your energy and your wallet in furtherance of their bottom line. When we have control over minds (free from political/religious brainwashing), food supply, clotheirs, and energy supply we will be truly be free. Who killed the electric car and why?

  8. April 15, 2008 8:42 pm

    Oh FW, you know I’m loving this post! Question onward and upward!!! We will never know it all but we can know ourselves.

    “She said the separation that you feel when you think you are superior to others is all in your head. People who label each other and refuse to recognize the true soul of others are refusing to evolve. If we can overcome our desire to feel superior, we can evolve.”

    That is profound but it carries the double edge. Do I want to know evil up close and personal? (I’m talking killing, torture, the horrors of man against man.) For me, not so much.

    I believe that God is bigger and more complex than any (all) book(s) could ever hold.

    Are we to look at what God has placed all around us and conclude from it, question it, be thankful for it and can we question those things we can’t see or know is there? Why not all? If He is our Father, does He delight in our understanding or do we lean not upon our own understanding and is that just about Him or His world?

    How utterly and wonderfully complex is He/She/Us?! I really can’t pretend to even know God, but I want to. He is my favorite topic.

  9. April 15, 2008 11:24 pm

    Happy Birthday FW! I have a lot of respect for your ability to meet with these women and get a lot out of the bible studies even when though you find that their beliefs don’t fit you. I’m not sure I would have that patience or openness, even though I like to think of myself as open and patient.

    Here’s wishing a great year ahead for you!

  10. Rick Toone permalink
    April 15, 2008 11:37 pm

    “If you’re honest, you sooner or later have to confront your values. Then you’re forced to separate what is right from what is merely legal. This puts you metaphysically on the run. America is full of metaphysical outlaws.” — Tom Robbins (Still Life With Woodpecker)

    “…the natural process of aging, which according to Dr. Wiggs Dannyboy, is so unnaturally cruel that only man could have ordained it – neither nature nor God would stoop so low.” — Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)

    Which is to say, of course, happy birthday.

  11. April 16, 2008 2:47 pm

    And a very happy belated birthday as well…I get carried away sometimes. 🙂

  12. April 17, 2008 8:08 pm

    Hope it was a good one! I too have a hard time with the concept of eternity, even as a Christian. It is too hard a concept for my finite mind to understand and thus it creates massive amounts of anxiety inside me. When I was 8 I spent a week feeling sick to my stomach because I could not bear the thought of never stopping. Just writing this my heart is beating faster and the back of my neck feels hot & prickly.
    Yet I DO NOT want to cease existing either.
    And as far as what paradise will be like, maybe it will exist on a totally differerent plane beyond the physical that we can’t imagine and there will be no need for things like cooking or even bodies.

  13. Susannah permalink
    April 21, 2008 10:20 am

    Happy belated birthday! I thought of you on that day because I always remember the April babies I have known in life. I hope you had a lovely weekend of celebration!

    I admire you for continuing to pursue a study of religion that you do not feel 100% connected with…I have been toying with my thoughts of organized religion and cookie-cutter types (Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal) for many years. My response was simply to turn away and disregard the entire culture, yet as I get older (are we really 29 now?!) I feel myself beginning to search for something of my own. My husband and I have similar feelings about traditional church environments and the hypocrisy we see in so many who label themselves “Christians.” Perhaps we all reach this stage in life. I think I’m content to outline my beliefs and to study the Bible (among other religious works) independently for now…maybe I’ll find the piece that fits my puzzle, someday, instead of the other way around.

  14. May 12, 2008 9:47 am

    Thank you all so much for your support on this post and in other moments as well. Yesterday I started reading a book that has instantly become important in my spiritual journey. I am able to re-read my blog posts and see my missteps so clearly. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

  15. May 13, 2008 7:07 pm

    My husband just finished that book and found that there was wisdom within.
    We both like panning for gold, meaning nuggets of truth can be found in different places.

    i’ll be reading it now. He came to a certain conclusion and i want to see if i agree.
    i’ll let you know.

  16. May 13, 2008 8:49 pm

    The following comes directly from his website about the book:

    “Building on the astonishing success of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle presents readers with an honest look at the current state of humanity: He implores us to see and accept that this state, which is based on an erroneous identification with the egoic mind, is one of dangerous insanity.

    Tolle tells us there is good news, however. There is an alternative to this potentially dire situation. Humanity now, perhaps more than in any previous time, has an opportunity to create a new, saner, more loving world. This will involve a radical inner leap from the current egoic consciousness to an entirely new one.

    In illuminating the nature of this shift in consciousness, Tolle describes in detail how our current ego-based state of consciousness operates. Then gently, and in very practical terms, he leads us into this new consciousness. We will come to experience who we truly are—which is something infinitely greater than anything we currently think we are—and learn to live and breathe freely.”

    What I hear just from this piece (I haven’t read it…just blurbs) makes me pause. Tolle has “good news” that “he leads us into this new consciousness.” Sounds like he is setting himself up to be the next Jesus or Mohammad to me. I think I’m more a “nugget of truth” gatherer (thanks c I like the sound of that). Honestly, I don’t mean to be critical of everything he is saying cause I haven’t read the book.

    FW, it really saddens me that you’ve reviewed your blog posts and see where you’ve had missteps. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. You are a wonderful woman, smart, witty, thoughtful, creative and more. I care about ya, hugs Deb

  17. May 13, 2008 9:06 pm

    christine, I am really going to want to know what you think of that book. Especially because you said on your blog that you had deleted parts of yourself. I thought of you specifically when I read chapter 4.

    CG, what I mean by missteps is that I thought my thoughts and words were “me” when they are not. So I was operating egotistically. Having a blog is egotistical. Checking my blog stats and hoping for comments to make me happy is egotistical. That is all.

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