Thursday, May 17, 2018

If I could write a letter to God

I have the good fortune to be blessed with four wonderful daughters who are, in turn, talented in diverse ways. As adults, I am continually amazed at the breath of their various talents and the depth of their capacity for love of their fellow travelers on this path of life. I have decided to occasionally share one or so of their talents with my readers/viewers---with pride. This first example is by my second oldest, Vicky Jungers Sanders. “If I could write a letter to God.”
When Rev. Mike told me the topic for today’s service and asked if I’d like to write a reflection, my first answer was sure, I would be happy to and my second was…but you know I’m an atheist right? I mean being an atheist writing a letter to God, is like, I don’t know, what is it like? Teaching a fish to ride a bicycle? or maybe Jesus writing a letter to Santa Claus? It seems an incongruous idea but the more I thought about it the more I realized that maybe I did have some things I would like to say to God.
To back up a little, I want to confess that I feel I have been an atheist for most of my life, even as a little girl, even if I didn’t really name it that way. I grew up in a southern influenced liberal Methodist household in Wisconsin. We went to church nearly every Sunday. And even then, when I would listen to a Bible story I would think to my very introverted, shy little self, really? The Red Sea? Come on. The loaves and fishes story? Seriously.  But I had no real reason at such an age to question because church and Sundays were nice. We had friends, and went to potlucks and on group camping trips and fun summer camps. So I didn’t question much. Kept such thoughts to myself but always kind of thought God and all the stories seemed a bit far fetched.
Then when I was in the 8th grade two things happened
The first was that my wonderful, beautiful, funny, exotic and hilariously loving Aunt Alyne died at the age of the 39 from multiple sclerosis.  That awful disease took her physical functionality, and her eyesight and ultimately her life, and in the 3 short years that she fought her battle she did so with beauty, grace, humor and style.  But with her death, came a final disillusionment for me regarding God. At  a time of personal loss it is common to question and want an answer. And no matter how many times I asked God. I got no answer. Why would you take her from us God? You say you love us, your people so much, then why? She was a good kind, loving, and also Christian woman, taken in the prime of her life. And even though I could see that the Methodist faith was some comfort to my grieving mother and grandparents, a belief in God seemed to have no value to me. I did not see it as good or bad. It just seemed, in my life, an unnecessary belief.
Then the second thing happened that year. My parents met friends who invited them to the Unitarian Church in Brookfield WI. As a young teen on the cusp of high school, this family event forever changed the course of my spirituality
Now when my family went to church on Sundays it was awesome. We were at a church that was teaching and preaching a belief in which human beings sat at the core of the teachings. That religion was not about God but about people. We had sermons on recycling, and existentialism. We talked about charity and justice in Sunday school and were encouraged
to help at soup kitchen. We went to court to fight for the right to teach our sex education class, which evolved into the Our Whole Lives Curriculum. One time the entire Sunday Service was listening to the Rock Opera Tommy.  We cleaned up the environment and walked in protests. All of sudden for the first time, the idea of actually being comfortable to connect myself with a religion made some sense to me.
Fast forward to today. While I personally feel no stigma, or discomfort in calling myself an atheist, we live in a world where many still feel ostracized in doing so and some countries still execute people for saying they are atheist. And I know there are many, many people out there, not just Unitarians or Universalists who feel almost frightened or guilty to genuinely voice and stand behind an atheist belief. I have friends who find me extremely perplexing, because I am the only person they know who regularly attends church and the only one they know who says she is an atheist.  Honestly, I love being that conundrum. Yet this for me, is why the existence of the UU faith is such an amazing gift. Here there is a place for me. So this brings me to what I would write in my letter to God. Dear God, I don’t really care to ask you why, about anything, because why for the past no longer matters. I can say that I will never understand this idea for multiple religious beliefs, when the core of them all is the message that we should love and care of one another.
I would like to request that you share with your believers the concept that there is no “right” religion. That each person on this planet can live a good and conscious life even without believing in you. Confess that your ego, which clearly exists, got a little grip on you.  This is the only reason I can see that “idolize me and only me” became dogma in so many of your religions. But it’s not working well at all. That ego thing is a big problem today. So my ask of you, to quote one of your more famous followers, Moses, I say it is time to “let your people go.” It is time to free humanity from the confines of rigid, unbending belief. Relinquish the “me” that is you in these belief systems and set people up to desire to live in the present, in support of all humans and appreciate all of the world around them. Not just the limited perspective of one religion or one God. We are too varied, to diverse to all live life under a singular God or religious structure. It’s time to help the world God. Your time here is done. You clearly had a place over time for 1000’s of years but I think now you only make our world more complicated. Consider the value of a world in which questioning without repercussion is the norm. If you really looked at the world today you wouldn’t believe how many people in our day-to-day consider themselves nonreligious. Imagine if you would step out now and influence your believers to embrace open conversation. Conversations about what you believe as a human, not which God you believe in. It is always said that we were made in your image. I personally believe it went the other way. We made you in our image. And as we are flawed, so must you be.
So here is my advice if your interested God. Tell the world these things. To keep always in the forefront of all our interactions that love is our greatest treasure. Remember most importantly that life itself is our most precious gift. Encourage hope because that is what keeps us dreaming.  Promote the use of our intelligence to keep learning and growing. Pursue justice for all people as that is our most worthy cause And lastly teach that compassion, conversation and understanding is the foundation to stand on for these are what keep us connected through our challenges. You had your time in the sun God. It’s time to let us go and be on our own. That’s what I would write to God.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

President Trump and Porn Star

   How is one to assess the endless “porn star and Donald Trump” saga since it became “breaking news” for the last month or so? Is It worthy of the media investment? Will it be the straw that breaks the Teflon coating so lavishly administered by Trump diehards? Not on your life! It ranks at about the same level as having just discovered the wheel.
   Yes, there may be some legal questions involving a campaign contribution and lying but don’t hold your breath---those are but tiny drops in the ocean of Trumps personality disorder---whether has consensual sex with one or a dozen adult women.
   He is a dishonest person, raised in a cocoon of wealth that facilitated and enhanced his bullying tendencies and gravitation to self-aggrandizement and hyperbole. He is a pathological liar. He doesn’t read. He is factually ignorant and admitted making things up.
   In normal speech, without the aid of speechwriters or adult coaches, he has the vocabulary and syntax of a 12-year-old. He views women from that juvenile mind— “You can grab them by their pussy.”
   His seventy years have codified these elements with an impenetrable bubble of narcistic personality disorder (NPD) in which he lives every moment ---and to which he dedicates every action.
Trump once said metaphorically (though that word is not in his vocabulary) that he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and his supporters would not desert him. That is precisely what his core supporters swear by when questioned about the sum of his behavior so far. As a Republican Chairwoman put it recently, vowing her continued support, I voted for him because he could turn the economy around and be financially good for working people.
    That is roughly the equivalent of saying “Well, yes, my husband gropes women, screws around, uses foul language, lies all the time and mostly watches TV about himself---- but, he pays the rent and gives me an allowance. That’s why I’m sticking with him.”

Saturday, August 26, 2017