Friday, September 12, 2008

My Trip Out of Republican Wonderland [Guest Post]

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome my second guest blogger: my very own big brother, John.

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name - wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.

Bethany: Having beliefs isn't good?

Rufus: I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant. (all quotes from Dogma)

I began this blog with every intent of posting an anti-McCain spiel (and probably still will at some point.) But in trying to develop an introduction I felt that I needed to figure out at what point I decided to begin researching McCain and dug up his little "indiscretions."

This began just after Hillary had officially dropped out of the primary, and at first I was excited about both candidates: I liked Obama for his attitude and youth, and (at the time) I thought that McCain was a decent guy, willing to stand up to the Republican majority. (Boy, was I wrong.) I will be voting for Obama this fall.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

But how could a young man raised in a Baptist household, in a Republican (or strongly anti-Democrat as you might say) method, dual-issue voter (abortion and homosexuality of course), hawkish, Rush Limbaugh dittohead go so far the other direction? I feel that I should first address the turning point in my political beliefs.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you know the sort of home that May and I were raised in (if you can call it that.) Like her I bear scars from my childhood, though not perhaps in a way quite so obvious. I have been at various time in my life, under psychiatric care (although a "christian" councilor only made this worse,) suicidal, depressed, sex-addicted, guilt-ridden and for most of my life felt like I was worth nothing.

Most of this was caused and even encouraged in some ways by the cult in which we grew up. As soon as I was able to I abandoned any facade of religion and went as far in the opposite direction as I thought possible based on what I had been led to believe: Heavy Metal music.

Serendipity: I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it.

Through a strange turn of events and the loving of several good friends in my adult life, I have discovered the thing that I had no longer believed a "christian" to be capable of: love. Now of my own free will I have chosen to find the faith that I had heard about all my life but had never witnessed. It feels like my mind was an ancient, overgrown, decaying garden, filled with dead weeds and twisted, blackened trees blocking out the sun and now piece by piece I began to rip them loose, and fill the garden only with beauty of my own choosing, although I believe my sons have added many wildflowers when I wasn't looking. But that's OK.

Most of this ripping up involved the very painful process of discarding all my old prejudice, hatred and misconceptions which had been planted by others and childlike, trying to view the world through new eyes. While in the long process of doing this, I stumbled on an interview with author A.J. Jacobs of The Year of Living Biblically while listening to NPR.

I had to check this one out, as it in many ways mirrored my own quest to find my own spiritual niche. While the book was hardly an epiphany (though damn funny), he did mention one group I found fascinating: "Red Letter Christians."

I was fascinated by this concept, and began reading a book called The Jesus I never Knew. I was amazed! Strangely as I began reading the life of Jesus with a fresh perspective, I found a new person, far different from the angry and vengeful God of my childhood. He cared deeply about the homeless, the terminally ill, and the poverty stricken while saving his fury and vitriol for the church members who considered themselves the moral majority.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

If this was the kind of faith I wanted, how could I continue to support the political party that claimed to be "christian" when they routinely despised the homeless, the HIV infected, gays, and anyone else that didn't fit their pattern of continuous money grubbing or moralistic hypocrisy? Didn't Jesus care about them too? Even perhaps more than those that were rich and "sanctified?" The more I looked the less I could justify remaining with a group that seem bent on:

  1. Making as much money as possible
  2. Doing so at the expense of the world we live in and the people around them
  3. Encouraging a system based on naked greed and envy
  4. Making themselves feel superior about doing 1-3!

Serendipity: When are you people going to learn? It's not about who's right or wrong. No denomination's nailed it yet, and they never will because they're all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn't matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.

So all things considered it's taken me 33 years to get there, but in a strange way I finally understand what all the ballyhoo about faith was about, even if it took me on a far different path from the one everyone told me was the right one. The Democratic Party.

Rufus: Are you saying you believe?
Bethany: No. But I have a good idea.

Related posts:
Protect Yourself From McCain This Election
Does This Mean I'm Crazy? [Guest Post]
Thoughts On Learning By Experience

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Nuke said...

John, May, nice post thanks. And people think Kevin Smith is all pot jokes...

hberciunas said...

John, very well said. Not only am I motivated by your message and story, I am very impressed with your ability to communicate. I hope you write much much more. I will definately read May's posts as well.


Spyder said...

John, I'm curious of the "cult" if it's the same that my husband & other friends were raised in. I'm glad you found your way out & are moving into a healthy relationship with God. One of your choosing & not forced on you.