Archive for the ‘religion’ Tag

The Good Pastor Julian   Leave a comment

WHAT JEFFERSON REALLY MEANT

Did you know the First Amendment of the Constitution says nothing about the concept of separation of church and state?   And when drafting the amendment, Thomas Jefferson actually meant that government should not interfere with religion, but religion is intended to be part of government?  Moreover,  did you know that although every Supreme Court decision ever made on this issue has ruled in favor of separation of church and state and is completely wrong?

People actually believe this.  They call themselves Christians.  But don’t confuse them with the normal, intelligent, giving and honorable Christians of the world.  These are actually Christian right wing fanatics.  Their MO is to re-construct history to fit their religious beliefs.  And if facts get in the way, they simply discount them.  Worse yet, they teach this drivel to their children.   They are actually raising an entire generation who has no idea they are being socially handicapped by their own parents and churches.  Can you imagine if they ever left their comfort zone and spouted off some of this cartoon-like doctrine in public?  They’d be clearing brush off  San Francisco sidewalks wishing they were in Crawford.  Lucky for them Al Gore invented the internet.

ITS NOT WORTH THE EFFORT

I don’t want to get into the same old argument of whether or not god exists.  I learned a long time ago you can not argue with irrational people who conveniently invent or discount “facts” to support their belief system.   Moreover,  I do believe in freedom of religion.   People are entitled to their beliefs.  And as long as they aren’t imposing them on me or anyone else, I say let the prayers to god, the holy ghost, Jesus, Buddha, Islam or whatever deity you are digging on, ring from the mountaintops.  Just please use your library voices because other people may be trying to concentrate on reality.

I’M WITH STUPID

Unfortunately, the other day I found myself in a discussion on Facebook with a Right Wing Christian Superhero named Julian Johnson about why god will make sure Romney wins the election, even though he does not pray to the proper god, which is that of the Israelites.   But, as he explained, Mormonism is closer to Christianity than President Obama’s supposed secular beliefs, so Romney is his man for President by default.   I think we are supposed to forget that President Obama is also a Christian and attends church with his family every Sunday.   Facts being irrelevant, Julian explained Obama is actually closer to Islam.   I almost peed in my pants laughing.

When I saw I was heading for one of those nonsensical theological dissertations that have absolutely no bearing on reality, I told him I was going to sign off.  I also advised him to stop concerning himself with all this theological fodder and do something to truly contribute to society.   All he does is create noise.

Julian immediately spouted off a resume of his extensive Christian theologian training and his pastoring to thirty inner city youth.   Thus he presentled himself profoundly qualified to interpret the word of god and teach children to grow up to be stupid adults.  He sure showed me.

MY JEWISH-CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING

I was born into the Jewish religion.  But almost my entire life I attended a Christian faith-based private school in Pennsylvania.  I sat through more church services than those of my own religion.   We gathered twice a week.  Yet students were taught about evolution and “it was god’s will” was never an appropriate answer on a history exam.

Yes, they did have their resident theologian with his head stuck in the bible.  And, in my senior year of high school I did have to take some kind of old or new testament class, although I still don’t know the difference and doubt that it matters.   But that was about it.  Nobody ever sat on my head until I screamed “Jesus.”   These were reasonable Christians.  There is a difference.

WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT?

Last night Barack Obama was elected President of the United State for a second term.  According to Julian Johnson and all the other online self-appointed interpreters of god’s will, before the election god was supposed to make Mitt Romney win.  Now apparently god has changed his mind and switched into protection mode.  He is now supposed to keep believers safe from the destruction of the United States that will surely ensue in Obama’s second term.

I asked some of the “political experts” bemoaning Obama’s victory on Facebook if god’s word was dependable?  After all, I had on my fire retardent underwear ready for the rapture and that never came; Everyone had a different reason for why it didn’t happened, but god made up for that calamity by letting Obama be re-elected.  President Obama is the new rapture.

After all, God owes right wing Christians a rapture and by god they are going to predict it until there is a horrible natural disaster, terrorist attack or a compromise is struck on taxing the top 10%.  Then they’ll jump up and down like frogs on a lilypad screaming “See, I told you so!   Catastrophe!  God’s will!”

THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE IS SPEECHLESS

My position on American politics has always been consistent.  No matter who wins, we need to compromise with the opposite party.  A single party can not always get everything they want.  And both parties need to take this a lot more seriously.   Children in pre-school can learn to work together.  But Congress and the Senate can’t figure it out?   The orange Speaker of the House refuses to budge on anything in spite of Obama’s attempts to reach across the aisle.  His own constituants should demand his resignation.  He is not participating in government.   He’s trying to derail it with a bad sun tan.  This is not what government is all about.

JULIAN’S BROTHER

Although Pastor Julian Johnson, with his four hundred degrees from Theological Universities and his experience mentoring thirty inner city youth finds everything I say offensively wrong, he still called me “bro.”   Like we are friends just casually jousting.  However I told him I am not his “bro.”  I think people like him are dangerous.   I do  believe in freedom of speech, but not when he is spouting off unsubstantiated claims, baltant lies, revisionist views of American history and proclamations about politics from a god most of the world does not recognize and nobody can prove exists.    Yes, the majority of the world is Muslim.  Oy vey Julian!

And does Julian Johnson have a right to his opinion?  No.  Only those with real knowledge on the subject at hand may have a valid opinion.  Pastor Julian has made everything up.  Well, he says his knowledge comes from god, but since nobody can offer proof he/she exists, he knows nothing.   And none of his circular logic is going to change that.  So he has no right to an opinion.   He’d be eaten alive in a political debate if he could not reach for the god-card.

WHAT I BELIEVE

I believe in the facts.   You want to change my mind?   Make a good enough argument and I’m with you.   I believe in America, freedom of religion, supporting our president no matter who is in office, compromise, the first amendment, compassion, freedom of intelligent speech and all inclusiveness.

But during this election process I’ve seen massive voter disenfranchisement,  I’ve heard 47% of American’s being called lazy and on the government dole by the republican candidate for president,  women being informed if they are impregnated through rape they actually willed it,  gay and women’s rights being threatened with repeal, that the failed Reagan trickle down economic theory will once again be allowed cripple our economy and that Iran is our next Iraq.   However all this would happen according to god’s plan and somehow these asinine assertions will return the United States to the glory days of slavery, beheadings of non-believers, witches and demmy-dems who are also referred to as libby-libs by the more educated republican political pundits.

CAR WRECK ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

Lastly, I believe if there is a god, he or she would be sick to their proverbial stomach the way his/her word is misinterpreted  and twisted for the convenience of a political party and its constituency of Buick owners.   So while I am elated President Obama has another term to finish the hard work he began, I’m fearful of his self-centered fear mongering opponents acting like uncaged baboons trying to bring him down instead of building up this great country of ours.  A place where people like the good Pastor Julian Johnson can go on the internet and actually find people who agree with his preposterous fantasies.   Because if the web is the information superhighway,  Julian Johnson is a wreck void of any real knowledge which needs to be moved to the side of the road.  It’s bad enough I had to run into him.

The Magic of Guilt   4 comments

I remember watching  Master Magician David Copperfield tie himself up in chains and have someone sink him in a tank of water to make his miraculous escape in front of millions of gaping mouthed television viewers.  My mouth was gaping too, because I was lusting over a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips.  Same thing when he had someone saw him in half while in a coffin.  While everyone oohed and aahed I was in the bathroom trying to pop a zit.  The guy had a cover over the escape tank and who knows how many trick compartments were in that coffin?  Now having David Copperfield simply stand there naked on stage while a random audience member holding on with both hands runs a chain saw through his torso and he remains whole, that would have been a real feat of magic.  Or, a really gory viral video on YouTube.

However, I do believe we all posses a magical power within us.  Some are really adept at using it and others just let it chain them up and drown them.  It’s called guilt.  You can use it to manipulate others to do what you want or others can control you with it.  And it doesn’t involve slight of hand, fire, white doves, rabbits or coffins.  Anybody can use the power of guilt with little to no instruction.  In fact, it’s an innate ability some say given by God.  God is actually the embodiment of guilt.  If you don’t believe, bad things will happen.

Coming from a Jewish background, tossing around guilt was practically a sport in my family.  I remember around twelve years old I formally started studying for my Bar Mitzvah.  Even at that tender young age religion and God just didn’t seem believable to me.  I needed to see something concrete.  However four years earlier I’d say the same bedtime prayer up to ten times in a row until it was perfect.  I wanted to make sure God accepted it so all the people I wanted him to bless would not die the next day.  Notice a little OCD working here?

So since I had no more faith, getting Bar Mitzvahed seemed like nothing more than a chance for my battling divorced parents to throw a big party so my embittered waring relatives could shower me with money and gifts and kill each other in a caged wrestling match.  And when I began to push back about having to sing from a prayerbook written backwards and in Hebrew and walk around the synagogue holding a Torah over my head which looked like a double roll of paper towels in an ornate blue velvet and gold cover, my parents threatened me with no Bar Mitzvah.  I took a deep adolescent sign of relief and thanked them.  Now I had more time to masturbate.

Then came out the magical powers.  “How could I be so selfish.  I would break my great grandfather’s heart, who was smuggled into this country from Russia on a boat, not to see his great grandson Bar Mitzvahed.   And being one of only a handful of Jews in my private school, it was my duty to stand up  and accept manhood as a Jew.  It was up to me to represent my religion.”  Then my father snapped his fingers and my mother wiggled her nose like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and I was guilted into having a Bar Mitzvah.  They never even pulled the word God out of their parental quiver.

But here is the thing that many people don’t realize about guilt;  You don’t have to feel it.  You allow yourself to be guilted into something.  If you don’t feel guilty about something, nobody’s words can make you adopt the emotion.  Feeling guilt is your choice.  But please don’t misunderstand, just because you can chose not to feel guilt, it doesn’t make it an invalid emotion.  If you steal, you should feel guilty.  You took something that wasn’t yours.  If you don’t feel guilt there is something wrong with you.  But if you decide not to go to a party because you’re depressed and really don’t have the capacity to interact with others, you should not assume guilt over being bipolar and needing to take care of yourself.

Now of course there are selfish people who do whatever they please and don’t feel a lick of guilt, even when they should.  I have a friend who has cancels on me every single time we are supposed to get together.  This has happened at least ten times.  I’d be utterly embarrassed if I were her.  I doubt she feels guilt or she wouldn’t treat me like this.  The worst part is I really don’t have a burning desired get together with her in the first place.  She was asking me to help her with something.  The humorous part is that she is a deeply religious Christian.   Christians are almost as good as Jews with at assigning guilt.  Doesn’t she know  “Jesus died for her sins.”  That’s some pretty powerful guilt.

I think bipolar people are more susceptible to taking on guilt.  So many times because of depression, medication side effects, mania or just needing to rest our complicated brains, we opt out of social activities and now and then work related events.  We feel guilty because we lie about why we did not participate.  “I have food poisoning.”  “The house flooded and I have to stay with the plumber.”  “My car died.”  Why should we be required to broadcast to the world we are bipolar and need some time to get our heads together?  Women having painful cramps don’t announce their periods in public.  It’s fine to just say they are a little under the weather.  I doubt they feel any guilt.  But because you can’t see Bipolar Illness, we allow ourselves to feel guilty when we have to opt out of certain activities and tell a little white lie. This is the kind of guilt we should chose not to feel.

Unfortunately, one of the fun things about being bipolar is that we often feel things we do not want to feel but they stick in our minds disproportionately magnified until they dominate our thoughts.  We second guess everything we do or say and play it over and over in our heads ad infinitem.  And if someone drops the guilt bomb on us, or we do it to ourselves, we find ourselves in a web of mixed emotions from which not even Spiderman can untangle.  If you are bipolar, it’s very hard to simply chose not to feel that kind of guilt no matter how justified.

It’s like when someone walks up to you who knows you are bipolar and says, “Snap out of it.”  My new response is “Sure, and let me tie you up in chains and submerse you head first in a tank of water like David Copperfeild.   That’s kind of what it feels like to be bipolar.  Then you can show me how easy it is to snap out of it.”   Of course I’ll jump in and save him before he drowns.  Can you imagine the guilt I’d feel if I let someone die in one of David Copperfeilds magic props without permission?

Religion: Adding Another Layer of Depression?   Leave a comment

This past weekend the world’s Christians celebrated Easter, or the resurrection of Christ from the dead.  Every September Jews fast for an entire day while they pray in synagogues from sun up to sundown so they can be inscribed in the book of life.  Last year some people were draining their bank accounts because after the impending rapture money and worldly possessions would be useless.  And all religions warn  if we do not accept god into our lives, we are going to experience some sort of awful discomfort upon death for all eternity.

I’m not here to comment on the validity of people’s beliefs.  I just want to comment on religion’s side effects.  And in my opinion, it causes depression and anxiety in many people with bipolar illness.  Depression if you are not living up to your religion’s expectations and anxiety if you are trying to but tangible things in your life are taking precedent; Like work, therapy, getting enough sleep, exercising, etc.  However if you’re lucky enough to be OCD, religion does provide a constant diet of repetition.

When someone is bipolar they need to keep a constant vigil making sure they balance the right medications in accordance with their sometimes unpredictable mood swings.  At the same time, they have to navigate interpersonal relationships, school, employment, family, friends, bills and all of the daily sagas life throws at them.  It’s delicate work.

Now tell this person in addition to everything else, they have to make it to confession, church, the synagogue or the carpet remnant facing east five times a day or they will be smote down where they stand and/or spend eternity in hell.  (To me eternity in hell is spending all day in Yum Kippur services with an empty stomach listening to my father hum the prayers to which he doesn’t know the words.)  If they believe it,  it’s another hundred pounds of weight dropped onto their already heavy bipolar bench press they have to find a way  to lift.  If they don’t believe it, they are treated to the guilt imposed on them by family and friends of faith labeling them “in need of saving.”  Just one more burden to bear for the already over-extended bipolar mind.

I don’t know if there is a solution.  As long as there is fear of the unknown, there will always be religion.  And some bipolar people will believe, and some won’t.  For those who believe, I urge you to not allow it to take precedent over your bipolar treatment.  Because, if you lose control of your illness, you will not be able to be of service to your religion.  And I don’t believe anyone’s god wants them to suffer physically or mentally.

If you are bipolar and a non-believer, remember that guilt is a feeling you create, not someone else.  People have a right to their beliefs and concerns for your soul.  But don’t take on the burden of someone else’s religion because you feel you should be religious.  Or, because it will keep the family peace.  Focus on yourself and your bipolar treatment regiment.  You are your own first priority.  Sitting in church with your family out of guilt isn’t going to replace missing the group therapy sessions you find so helpful. Or the workout routine that seems to really cut through your depression.  And you should be able to do these things without feeling like your are mortally wounding your family members.

Religious beliefs are a spiritual decision.   But how you deal with bipolar illness is a life and death decision.  You have the right to prioritize your life in order of urgency without penalty.   Then, whatever you religious beliefs, do good works on earth and random acts of kindness and you’re bound to end up in a good place.