Walking with my God: why I believe what I believe (and how it’s changed me).

My entire life, I felt at odds. In rebelled against the force-feeding of biblical views. The view that Jesus Christ is God, and performed all kinds of miracles and feats is not the view I have ever seen.

I once had a dream. In this dream, I was sitting on Jesus’ lap and asked him, “Is the Bible all about real events?”. Jesus smiled and replied: “Yes, and No”. Puzzled, I then asked Jesus, “Did the stories in the New Testament really happen?”. Jesus again smiled and replied, “Yes, and No”.

The dream has stuck in my head most of my life.At the time I had the dream, I had been closer to being ‘Christian’ than anyone I had known. The dream threw me off-balance, and changed my perspective on many things. I came to accept that Christianity was really all about the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Teachings.

Jesus was a teacher. A wise man with many good views and ideas on how we should treat each other. Should I observe him as the ‘Son’ of God? Aren’t we all really the children of God? Are we simply basing our beliefs on faith that some book that was written by mortal hands and minds is flawless?

The Christian view: God is a jealous and vengeful God.

My view: God is a loving and forgiving God.

The Christian view: Everything is about sin.

My view: There is no sin. To believe in sin is to believe that God is a vengeful, angry, unforgiving, and jealous God.

The Christian view: Jesus is God incarnate.

My view: Jesus was a wise man, a benevolent teacher with many great teachings. But he was a man. Nothing more.

The Christian view: Jesus’ death on the cross is proof that our sins are forgiven when we ask.

My view: The cross is an idol image, as mentioned in the Ten Commandments. It’s a very common image in churches, books, bibles, and jewelry. Given the example Christian view, anyone wearing a cross or any place or materials bearing the image of the cross are praying and worshiping a false and/or graven image. Asking a cross for forgiveness identifies a sinful pattern.

Christian view: If you renounce Jesus, you renounce God.

My view: Because I renounce belief that Jesus was superhuman, I instead direct my faith toward God, who I serve with all of my heart and breath.

Christian view: God Bless America.

My view: God Bless the World. Why be selfish? God isn’t.

Christian view: Repent, or burn in hell’s fire.

My view: Hell isn’t a physical or dimensional place. It’s a state of mind that we subject ourselves to when we feel guilt.

Christian view: So, you don’t believe in heaven, either?

My view: I believe in heaven. Heaven is a child’s laughter, the sun shining, the rainy day, the waves rolling in against my feet, and the sound of silence.

Christian view: Your God doesn’t sound like the right God. Sounds like you made him up.

My view: When I pray, I pray for equal rights for all. I pray for peace. I pray for love. I pray for clean hearts and minds. I pray for an end to oppression. I pray for a safer world. I pray for Gay Rights. I pray for Childrens Rights. I pray everyone will accept everyone without prejudice or hate. I pray for an end to domestic violence.

When I pray, I pour my heart into my prayers. God is good to me, and touches my soul. I feel her soothing touch. God is real. God is good.

I am not a ‘Christian’. I am a child of God, who views Jesus’ advice as commonsense and cool.

I can only imagine the flack I would get from the fanatical right, and the Christian devoted.

Which is why I’ve chosen to post my views without feedback. My convictions are rock solid. I am unwavering. My God is my God. She is Just, gentle, and loving.

Posted in Ramblings

In the vicinity of cuteness

Meet Madeline (or ‘Maddie’), and Dancer (or ‘Dancer’). We just adopted them from Family Dogs New Life Shelter, a no kill dog shelter located at 9101 SE Stanley Ave, Portland, Oregon 97206.

Both of these girls were transplanted from a shelter in Yakima, Washington. If a pet isn’t adoptable in one area, they often are moved to another area. This is generally a good practice, and worked out good for us.

Dancer has social anxiety. She follows Maddy’s lead, often ending-up being social in the end. While the picture’s are cute, they don’t do justice to how these two are interdependent of each other. Maddy needs a canine to be social with, and Dancer needs a crutch to be social with humans.

In the circle of life, we all depend on each other to grow and overcome our fears and anxieties.

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The art of scrupulous banking

There is a trend in the banking sector that noncustomers must pay a fee to cash a check that is drawn for that bank.

The fee can range from $1, upwards to $10.

Let me put this in a different perspective:

A check is made out to me for services rendered by you. You are a customer of your bank. I go to your bank to cash said check. Said bank agrees to cash said check, but only if I agree to give them $6 from said check for agreeing to cash the check that YOU, as a customer, made out to me for services rendered.

Of course I can deposit the check at my bank and wait 1-2 business days for the money, or for the check to bounce. I choose to cash the check asap, to avoid any potential accidents.

Here’s what it feels like to me:

As a private contractor, I pay taxes on what I earn. As a contractor who has performed services and has been given a check, I also pay a fee for processing a payment. Have you seen the process? I sign, stamp with my fingerprint, the funds are verified, and the check is cashed. Should I pay $6 to $10 for this process?

Once upon a time, the mafia controlled through fear, intimidation, and extraction of funds for services.

Most banks today remind me of a corporate and legal mafia.

I appreciate banks that don’t charge a fee to cash a check. My customer’s who bank at the mafia institutions pay extra for services rendered. I keep a current list of which banks charge which fee’s, and charge extra accordingly. I reward my customer’s who bank at decent banks (no check-cashing fee’s) with a 10% discount.

Am I the only one who feels banks have gone mad with check-cashing fees?

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Working together

Honestly.

The so-called “Evangelicals for Mitt” (Mitt Romney, for those hiding under a rock the last several years, is the former governor of Massachusetts) and their pink piggy banks that scream “Elect a president who won’t break the bank” are made-up of the same conservative republicans who were content with George W. Bush spending trillions on a war that was quickly losing steam.

That’s right. Trillions.

Apparently, it’s easier for the party of ‘pointing fingers’ to blame the team trying to clean up the mess.

When voices were raised stating that education was taking a slide, the economy was beginning to go into a recession, and that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with freedom inside the Bush cabinet, who was listening?

I wonder how much trillions of dollars could do for education and the economy?

The conservatives and the republicans want anyone and everyone to view anyone who opposes the trillions spent on war as ‘socialists’, or ‘hippies’.

Trillions could have been spent on education. Trillions could have been pumped back into the economy.  That’s trillions of dollars that everyone was warned that our grandchildren’s children would be paying off. It seems like the republicans would rather point fingers at the current administration than take the blame for the former administration’s failures. Because somehow, the Bush administration is above recourse or fault.

Out of that trillions of dollars spent, how much was directed to offshore accounts for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? It might explain the missing billions that was to be directed to the war, yet never was accounted for. I don’t want to sound like another conspiracy theorist, but neither Bush nor Cheney do many speaking engagements, and yet they seem to be doing financially well…

Apparently, it’s much easier to be jaded and spiteful and so full of pride, than to admit you made a mistake. I wonder what the bible says about pride?

The problem at hand is not an uncommon one. When we see a so-called ‘minority’ janitor working hard to clean up a mess, we forget to be grateful, and often point out their failures and faults. The republican party is a party of pointing fingers, which is where it fails in its attempts to recover from a devastating 2008 loss.  They lost, then immediately started pointing fingers. When recovery from the worst financial crash since the Great Depression is running a little slow because there are trillions of dollars that we can’t recover in three lifetimes, they point fingers at president Obama.

See the pattern? The ‘janitor’, in this instance, is Barack Obama. Yes, he was rightly and overwhelmingly elected in a fair and unrigged electoral process.

It took eight years to make a mess and joke out of the highest office in our nation. We can’t expect any administration to fix it all overnight (or even within four years).

That would take an evangelical miracle.

I challenge everyone to pray for success. We are a proud and mighty nation that has seen many unique struggles. We failed in Vietnam. Was failure a proud moment then? We failed to stop a recession from happening. Is failure really that good of a thing?

During the many republican events lately, how many so-called ‘minorities’ were on-hand to clean-up the mess? Was their patronage honored? Were they shown any respect or love or kindness? Were they praised? I’d like to believe there are good people out there who feel the way I do, and have a respect system for those whose voices are drowned out by pointing fingers and lots of loud “LA-LA-LA-I-can’t-hear-you”.  I doubt anyone cared enough to say “Thank you”. Some might say, “They are paid well to serve us, and they have jobs. They should be thanking us”. Trust me, you want to thank the servants who bring you your food and beverages.

I challenge everyone to stop pointing fingers, and to pull a finger when it is pointed at you.

1 Peter 2:13-17

13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

Opposing stances on topics such as abortion or gay marriage should never mean we aren’t united in helping each other in this period of recovery.

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Core belief system

Over the course of more than 40 years, I’ve experienced a broad spectrum of theological views. I’ve also developed a solid skin against bible thumpers and closed-minded, bigoted, and generally deluded idealists.

I am a member of the Unitarian Universalism faith (most people of the ‘Christian’ faith balk at us, calling us the ‘Hippie Faith’).

After 40 years of exposure to differing views, I made the decision to develop a firm and unshaken pact with God to follow my own path, and seek to understand my core theological beliefs. I will embrace and defend these beliefs. I will remain strong, steadfast, and unwavering in how I communicate my core theological beliefs. If others cannot respect the fact that my core theological beliefs are my choosing, then they stand outside my circle.

I am not blind. I can hear just fine.

  1. God is the center of my faith. God is a being without form. God is not given a sexual designation (‘He’, or ‘She’). God just ‘Is’.
  2. God is a forgiving, loving, and accepting being.
  3. With number 2 in mind, the following must apply
    1. God is Love.
    2. God is not a hateful being.
    3. There is no ‘Hell’, or ‘The Devil’, or ‘Lucifer’, or ‘Satan’. Those are states of mind we subject ourselves to. There is no ‘Sin’. Because God loves all, and God accepts all. Regardless of our transgressions, we are all beautiful and acceptable in God’s eyes.
    4. There is no ‘Messiah’. Jesus was a human being with a lot of insight into how people should treat each other.  With respect, with love, with kindness.

Treat each other in peace, kindness, respect, and love,

Tony

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Buddha

Today, less than a month after losing Missy, we’ve adopted a cat.

**BURP** What gog? I sees no goggie :p

His name is Buddha. He’s a domestic long hair with green eyes. He weighs 21.4 lbs, and is BIG.

And he is very adorable and loving. Riley and Sheryl both love him, as well.  He follows us around like a dog.

Peace,

Tony

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Missy

Missy came to my partner, Sheryl, from a rescue shelter. She was adopted a week before Sheryl and I started dating. She had the unusual cuteness of being a Boxer-Black Lab mix, and displayed the traits of drooling, droopy bug-eyes, and a very large, thick, and painful tail that we often wished we could humanely remove from her. The echoes of her tail hitting the wall “THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP”, were not as painful sounding as the sound of her thick tail thumping against the metal grill on the hallway wall heater, “THUMP-DING-THUMP-DING-THUMP-DING-THUMP-DING”. The sound often made me cringe.

Yet for all of her negative traits, Missy had two positive traits. She had so much love for her family, she helped make sure we always had a clean carpet, and she rarely complained about the lack of attention when it was just the three of us at times.

The truth is, I wasn’t always kind to Missy. I’d get mad at her, and even raised my voice at her at times in frustration. In spite of all of these things, one fact stands true:  Missy was our baby. She showered us with love, laughter, and life. And she rarely asked for anything in return (well, except to be fed, walked, and shown an abundance of love).

On March 15th, we had to make the hardest decision. Missy’s health had declined in a matter of weeks, and she became someone who didn’t recognize us anymore. She had started suffering seizures 1-2 times a day, and they went from lasting 5 minutes to 25 minutes. She wasn’t eating anymore, and could barely hold her head up. Many tests were done, but none were conclusive. The general consensus was that Missy had a tumor in her brain, and it was only a matter of time before a large seizure may happen. It could happen while we were at work, and she would suffer for hours before finally succumbing and dying. We consulted our veterinarian for options, and chose to have her come and humanely euthanize our eight year-old puppy. The hardest part for me, was watching my partner’s eight year-old daughter beg for something to be injected into Missy that could make her get better. I knew that Riley’s reaction would be tough. She cried, I cried, Sheryl cried. Heck, I think even Missy cried during those last few moments of life.

Missy’s death has taken a large toll on our family. There’s no Missy to greet us when we get home. I miss her very much. There were times I was embarrassed to be her dad. But I don’t think there’s ever truly a time when a pet mom or pet dad isn’t embarrassed of their pet child. In the end, it’s those embarrassing moments that stand out as the moments we cherish and loved them the most.

Missy is missed and loved, so very much.

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