Friday, September 24, 2004

Sparring partners

The [other] Pink Kitty had some very polite things to say about yours truly on her blog… me being a weirdo notwithstanding. :) I’m not weird. I’m eccentric.

She asked me some questions that I would like to respond to:
Do I like old-school country music? Yes. Johnny Cash is the man. Bluegrass music (a la what you heard in O Brother Where Art Thou?) makes ya feel good. A lot of country music looks like pop music (Shania, Keith Urban for example). Now, I like the both of them but there are times when I don’t want to hear something over-produced and all happy. It needs to be about the music and the song.

Is my degree really a placemant? Not really. Neither one of them have served me any professional good. I’ve yet to hold a job where the minimum qualification was a bachelor’s degree, let alone a Master’s degree. Both are in a drawer in my room. As much as I spent on this most recent degree, I’ve yet to see any Vanderbling from it. And I doubt I ever will. I will probably run off and start my own business first. Ideas welcome.

And I do like vodka. I have a great collection of mixers and other spirits I inherited when my dad passed and recently expanded my wine collection after visits to some small wineries in Virginia and East Tennessee on my vacation. Drinking isn’t a sin. Drinking in excess is just plain irresponsible and can lead some pretty bad consequences that are sin (killing someone in an accident for example). You have to know your limits and your family history. My family has a history of alcoholism. I have maybe 1 drink a month. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been completely lit like a Christmas tree. Elena and Duke Diva don’t drink but they don’t stare at me when I decide to order a glass of wine at dinner. They won’t let me drive though. Being friends – being responsible.

To borrow from Aristotle, there is a golden mean. Everything should be in moderation – to deny oneself or over-indulge is a vice.

Now onto a more intellectual response to the discussion of religion ThePinkKitty (TPK) and her sister, The Ted Chronicles (TTC) have opened:

To the issue of re-dedication, I first accepted Christ when I was 11. Without any support at home, church, or at the Christian school I attended, I fell by the wayside and became an agnostic by the time I was 17. After visiting a non-denominational church in Colorado, I saw that church didn’t have to be oppressive and full of back-stabbing idiots. When I was 24, after some of the lowest periods of my life to that point, I poured my heart out to God as He was the only one left around to listen to me. My life didn’t change but I felt better. I joined a church and felt like I really belonged, which came in really handy when my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer 3 months later. I read Job and Jonah a lot during that time. At the visitation for her funeral, three women from my small group – who never met my mom – came to support me. I’ve tried to imagine how I would have made it through if I hadn’t fallen down before God in August 1999. I think I probably would be dead from the stress of dealing with the estate (and now estates of my dad and grandmother). At the very least emotionally dead if not physically. Without prayer and the support of a church family (there is a reason why we call each other brother and sister in Christ), I wouldn’t have made it through. Enough about me…

TPK states that she believes in God, was baptized, tries to live a moral life and wonders if I think she is a heathen. Since I don’t know TPK personally, I can’t say whether or not she’s a heathen. The decision as to whether or not you are a Christian is between you and God. How I know is how you (in the generic sense) you live your life. Do you say one thing yet live in another way? I’m sure there are times when my own behavior would cause people to say “No, she isn’t a Christian.”

Just as intolerant, hateful idiots have co-opted religion for personal gain, they’ve stolen philosophy and political thought as a mask for violence. As you stated, you have to make up your mind for yourself. See if what is coming from the pulpit is lining up with Scripture – taken in its proper context.

Now TTC, why am I not worth your time? Seems a bit dismissive and premature to me. Regarding your faith: to deny that any god exists means you are an atheist. An agnostic says they don’t know and that it is impossible to know. How in the world can you make a decision about the here-after when you are dead? To say such implies that you think there is something after this life. If so, is it good or bad? Is it pleasurable or punishment?

Is there a heaven? A hell? Do we have a soul?

Do we become something else? Wandering around as we work of karma? Is this life a one-shot deal?

The major difference between Christianity and all other major religions is that no work is required for salvation. The change in a Christian’s life is the fruit of their relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit working through them. Belief that Jesus Christ died for you, that he is the Son of God, and that you repent of your sin (whole-heartedly) is what is required for being a Christian. How we treat others and how we live is a response to the grace from God for the forgiveness of our sins and for the continued blessings we receive.

Yes, there are people who say they are Christian and don’t act like it at all. I grew up with these people at the prep school I attended. They were a large part of my decision to say to hell with organized religion in my late teens. They are mean, hateful people. But do you condemn the hateful people who co-opt Islam (terrorists), Judaism, Hinduism (the nationalists in India who advocate attacking Christians and other religious minorities)? I’ve found in a lot of discussions about religious bigotry, they only cite Christians and fail to show other instances of it globally – it is just Christians that are bad.
Now, years later, I am still skittish about attending a denominational church service. But I am slowly opening up to it, particularly looking into liturgy and orthodoxy. There is a trend of thought in non-denominational churches that unless it is a “praise and worship” song, they shouldn’t sing it in their service. Our own musical director catches some heat for choosing to use a “great hymn of the faith” such as “Great is thy faithfulness” after a bit of tweaking to make it a little more contemporary. I find a lot of value in those great hymns that have stood the test of time and speak from generation to generation. It goes hand in hand with post-modern thought; they are deconstructing the church musical history.

Group prayer like you find in the Episcopal Church (where Duke Diva and I went to church while on vacation – leader reads a part and the congregation responds) is another way to pray and think about God, as well as interact with a community of believers.

Now, y’all tend to have more to say when I talk about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy than the times I actually take the time to write something… - hint hint- I look forward to hearing others on this topic.

Pink Kitty: 23 and not stupid...