Monday, July 19, 2010

The Spiritual Series Part VI


Possibly the only thing more difficult for me to write about than Politics is Religion. And yet, those two things likely occupy (at least) 50% of my thought process. Honestly, not an exaggeration . And for what I think are pretty obvious reasons, I avoid this topic most of the time. With the knowledge that this conversation might be for naught (or might hurt me), I still feel drawn to share with you my lastest musings on the complicated, controversial topic of religion as it applies to my life today.

I am at peace who I am spiritually. For most of you who know me, my path has been…well, hard. I’ve had to dig deep and trust fully that God was leading me where He wanted me to go. Repeatedly in my life, my prayer has been “show me your way.” And then, I’ve never had any reason to doubt where my feet have landed. “Ask and ye shall receive,” right? (Do not confuse for “at peace” with “without doubts.” I’d like to meet any person who doesn’t question who they are or what they believe in…)

Christianity is defined as “followers of the life and teachings of Jesus.” I believe, with all my heart, that I am this. That Jesus was here and He loved deeply and wholly. And while we’re not like Jesus, we have an obligation to try. I heard a woman on a KTIS a couple months back. She was telling a story about how she had run out of gas on the freeway and a highway officer came to her assistance. He brought her gas and sent her on her way. In her haste, she didn’t thank him. Her quote, as I recall it, was, “He was JESUS for me today, and I didn’t even say Thank You!” And I went, YEP. He WAS JESUS. Because He’s not just someone who lived. He’s someone who LIVES. So every time you reach out to someone in need, or take care of someone, or pray for them, or take care of the Earth and the animals and all that God made, you are BEING Jesus for someone. I like to think of it as the literal translation to how the spirit still works today.

THIS is my most important mission. What’s to follow in this blog post is less important than any of the above (and includes my own personal grievances), but I’m on a roll. Indulge me.

Obviously, I differ from most Christians politically. To say that this is a difficulty would be a gross understatement. And because both politics and religion are such an important part of my life (see paragraph 1), they’re constantly intertwined. And conflicted.

Glenn Beck is a conservative talk show host. On his talk show last week, he was talking to a caller. I’m going to paraphrase, because I couldn’t find the means (or desire) to go back and listen to the whole program:

Caller: These…people…with these kinds of ideas…

Beck (interjecting): Liberals.

Caller: Yes. Well, they’re really against the Heavenly Father.

Beck: Yes. They are. But you don’t have to worry about them. You get behind Him and do His work.

Conflicted. In a single breath, one of the most listened-to conservative talk-show hosts in the world just said I’m against the Heavenly Father. Not only that, but the whole LOT of us is against God. It broke my heart to hear this clip from his show. Because I could imagine all of his listeners (some of my friends among them), nodding their head in silent agreement.

How can I make this argument? How can I convince you that I am Liberal because I am a Christian? That I think that Jesus loved so deeply all people that he would have done anything for them? That my heart is torn and pulled because you think that because I’m a Liberal, I must not be “behind the Heavenly Father.” Oh, Glenn. You hurt my feelings.

(and off topic, but relevant…when did we start believing that ONLY Christians have a moral compass? That anyone who doesn’t believe in God must then want human beings to suffer and must not have the best interests of Americans at heart…? I’m not so bold as to suggest that my non-religious (or other-religious friends) are anything less than wonderful, strong, loving, caring people.  Especially in politics. I see no reason why a non-Christian Senator would be inclined to do harm to the country he or she has vowed to serve.)

At the end of this day, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you love me or if you understand my heart. But I want you to. I want you to know that I love all people and that I love God. And that I understand the space I occupy on his earth to be so small that it seems to be almost unimportant. I know it’s my pride (ack,sin), but I want you to know this anyway.

I was driving in my car yesterday and was thinking about what kind of newspaper Jesus would read were he still with us on Earth. If he were sitting next to me in my car, would he be ashamed of me? Would he be proud? Would he be sad about the dissention among us…the constant judgment of one another? Would he care that a huge oil company – in order to serve its own (and its shareholders’) needs – spilled an enormous amount of toxic oil into the water He created and killed untold numbers of sea creatures, and eleven human beings? Would He be disappointed that we are turning our heads on people in this very country who are hungry every day? Or would He just pay attention to stories like this one from my aunt’s blog (so heartwarming!)…would be only be interested in the human interest stories in which we help each other?

I don’t pretend to know the answer to any of those; although I suspect I’ll ask Him in one day. And whatever the answers are then, I hope I used my opportunities well. And that, regardless of what Glenn Beck thinks of me, I’ll have answered my call correctly. My humblest and most sincere prayer.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I’ll welcome your thoughts, as always.

God be with you.


Shannon Stonelake said...

As we were talking earlier it does occur to me that Liberals are more helping individuals. You do truly want to help other ppl, all be it with my money, but the thought is still there. I do know that you have taught me alot, helped me stretch my tightfisted conservative ways and I hope to someday be as giving. I dont think being a Christian means giving, in fact I think most take it to mean the opposite. My parents always tried to instill giving into us, to help those less fortunate, but I was not taught that in church. I do agree with the to give is to recieve but its not my nature to just give and give. Maybe most of us are just too selfish. I for one love the thought of someone being Jesus for a day, i might make it a moment :) I am also amazed at this whole Christian mindset that I am better than you because I believe in God. True Christians know we need our God so much because we are needy..less not more. Speak on my Soul Sister!

Leanne said...

Shannon. Thank you. I'm pretty sure I couldn't love you more. It's always my fear that I'll come off sounding like I think I'm better than others, but you know me best and know that's just not true. I'm as selfish as the next person, and it's not always easy to give.

Yeah. I want to give to the poor with your money. LOL. That cracked me up (and politically, it's not completely inaccurate.)

Thanks for your really great response; I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Leanne said...

I do not allow anonymous comments on my blog. Please respost with your name (I would be happy to address your comment, because I think you read something I didn't write!)

Leanne said...

My thought this morning: I'm not a *better* Christian than those who differ from me politically, neither am I a *worse* one.

Leanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie said...

A lot of great insights here, Leanne. Wonderful post- as always.

It's interesting that many Christians can be tolerant of other religions yet they find people in their own religion so threatening. Obviously there are whackjobs out there who will proclaim anything in the name of 'Christianity' but I would love a world where tolerance was extended between political parties and nobody proclaimed Jesus as the leader of 'solely' (sp?) their own party. Obviously, Jesus was an Independent. Heehee. ;)

I can see how the comment by Beck would be hurtful. And I know that you've had to defend your views on occassions- don't be disheartened. Your compass is Love and even though there are times that I might disagree on details in a discussion, it is so obvious what motivates and guides you. It's one of my most favoritest things about you, you know. Love you dear!

P.S. Your aunt's blog made me cry. It is so awesome to see tolerance and kindness like that in young kids. :)

Cory said...

I know we don't have to agree on everything, but the fact that I am in 100% agreement with you just makes me love you that much more!

elizabeth said...

A thoughtful, honest, and warm post on the topic, my dear. I would not expect otherwise. You are good at inviting others in to discuss difficult topics, whether or not they have the same views as you.

Religion is a powerful thing. And it is useful and convenient to believe that you have the power of Truth behind you. I can see why people in positions of (real or assumed) power and authority would use that to their advantage. It adds power and weight to calls to rally against the other side, who are clearly in opposition to all that is right and good and holy. Much like the crusades, only using words as weapons.

In the end, no one really knows who's right - if anyone even is. All we can do is follow our own heart, and love/kindness seems to be a pretty good guidepost.

MindiJo said...

If you have a site meter and notice I have spent an unusually long amount of time on here today, it is because I had to let thoughts from this post tumble in my head like clothes in a dryer. I read and reread your post.

Regardless of religious and political beliefs, we should all be kind and giving and take care of the gifts (the earth, plants, animals, people, etc.) we are given. If you want to call it "being like Jesus", then call it that. If you want to call it something else, go ahead. Either way, it is our responsibility. Financially and otherwise. (And, yes, let me give my money away the way I want. ;) Had to do it.)

Naturally, some people are more giving than others. And we all give in different ways.

As for liberals as Christians?! WHAT?! Just kidding. We are not the ones to make the final judgement, are we? I, for one, do believe that liberals can be christians. HOWEVER. I am conservative because I am christian. Does that make sense? It's just how I believe. As Elizabeth said, "In the end, no one really knows who's right. If anyone even is."

This post sounded so authentically you. I heard your voice saying it as I was reading. Even though we never discuss religion. And rarely even anything political face to face.

People will either love you or not. That's the way life is. And it's okay if they don't. But disagreeing with you, even wholeheartedly, doesn't mean that they don't love or like you. As for me, I kinda like you.

Brent K. said...

Food for thought:

I have more I'd like to say, but don't have time right now. Maybe this evening... :-)

Brent K. said...

...and I don't want that to be taken are disparaging towards liberals (or conservatives). I think it's just important to recognize that most religious people feel it's a good idea to give. Just different views on who should do the giving (or the proportion), depending on your political philosophy...

Alright, maybe more later.

Brent K. said...

*as* disparaging

Leanne said...

I hope I didn't suggest that conservatives aren't giving people. I never said that. The majority of people around me are conservatives and some of the kindest, most loving, giving people I've ever met.

I just wanted to make the point that liberals aren't less moral or "Christian," etc.

Leanne said...

Mindi -

I do have a question: What is it about being conservative that makes you Christian? I'm sincere, I'm very curious. I suspect it's these two issues: abortion and homosexuality, but I'd be curious to know if I'm off base or if its something more...

The reason I ask is another thought I had (but didn't want to bog down an already heavy blog post): what about these moral issues:

Corporate Greed

I'm not saying there are any answers; I just think its an interesting discussion.

Leanne said...

Brent: your link doesn't work. Feel free to email it to me or send it on fb.

I do agree that most religious persons think its important to give.

Brent K. said...

Try this. It might need some explanation, so don't jump to too many conclusions. :-)

ethiopifinn said...

Dear Leanne,
First, I really appreciate your blog, your honesty, and what I call bravery. Knowing my readership truly colors what i share on my own blog, and my heart feels even warmer for you after reading this post.
Liberal or Conservative, our prayer should be that our thoughts are agreeable to God's will. And what man can know the condition of another man's heart? Thankfully there is but one judge in this life, and fortunately it is not Glenn Beck. Or me. Know what I'm sayin'?
I do understand the fear, as I see it in my Mom. She so wants to protect her faith the way she knows it, and to protect her family with that umbrella, and to live in a place with a government she understands morally. She would rather give her time and money to someone under her wing, than a nameless face who might not accept the gift in love, but in entitlement. I understand it when I see the fear through my darling Mother, but i reject it as a whole from the fear mongers.
Part of the weakness of living this earthly life, is the emotion we tie to the opinions of those around us. God created you and to Him you are so precious that he gave His Son to bear the burdens of our sins in hell for three days. I wouldn't even go to jail for you for three days, where it isn't even very hot, plus you get three square meals a day. And I really really like you.
The church is for all Christians, of either side of the aisle, who are imperfect beings. We go there for fellowship, and for guidance, and to celebrate, and live with hope of eternal salvation, to find our name written in the book of life. The election booth is for people from every walk in life, and your decisions inside the booth are anonymous.
I don't think one is the reason for the other, liberal because/conservative because one is a christian. i think you are who you are, made up of your own life experiences and directed by the free will God has given.
Love, Jenny

MindiJo said...

Wowzers. I wish I would have said what dear jenny did. She sees the world perfectly clear, doesn't she?

And, Leanne, you are right. Those are very valid points that I hadn't really considered from a religious viewpoint.

I am going to actually email you, as I want to discuss this further with you, just not here. Muah!

shannon said...

I too love what Jenny said..and your dear husband. You sure know how to pick em. I don't think political party is a reflection of your religious background. My new favorite quote from Kathie Lee Gifford: Religion binds you. Its like being horrendously constipated. Faith breathes. It frees you to become everything you were meant to be.

Anonymous said...

Leanne, I thought about this blog post all day. I was in the car for 4 hours so I had a lot of quiet time. Anyway I got on here and typed a long comment, but wasn't finished when I got interrupted by the 2 year old. When I get back here, there it is, in simple non-wordy form,

"I don't think political party is a reflection of your religious background."

Thank you Shannon. That is exactly what I was trying to say for 2 paragraphs and about 20 minutes.

Leanne, if it makes you feel any better I have been called "a close minded, bible banging, homophobic, Midwestern Christian" when disagreeing with the current health care plan. I give the insulter a point for using all of them at once. :) I don't believe that describes me at all. Well I guess I am a Midwestern christian, but when did that become a bad thing? What I do believe to be true is that God put good people in all different churches, groups, countries, etc. to use when needed as "Jesus for the Day." Love to you and God Bless your courage, Gina

P.S. Jenny is a gem!

Amy said...

Hi Leanne,
This is a great post. One comment.... I don't think your political views differ from "most" Christians... I think they may differ from a more vocal group, but I think that there are many Christians who would identify with your political views... myself included. :)

MindiJo said...

Explain your BP oil spill comment, please. It confuses me. Why do you think they would purposely do that? And who gave you that idea. Not saying it's wrong. This is the first I have heard of it.

Leanne said...

They didn't purposely spill the oil. Of course not. And I'm sure all the details will eventually come to light, but as I understand it, there either was no blow-out protector or it was faulty. A lot of companies don't purchase them because they're expensive. And heaven forbid it affect their bottom line. I'll try to find a link and link to it in my original blog post.

Leanne said...

blow-out *preventor*

Leanne said...

You can click on that portion of my blog post to read an article about the device I was referring to.

Leanne said...

Jenny, Gina, and Amy. Thank you. So much. I know that its hard for me to write, and its not easy to respond. I appreciate your comments. I have learned a lot in the past 24-hours and will follow up in another blog post soon.

Amy Jean said...

(Yikes. I typed out a comment and then lost it when I tried to post. I'll try again.) I always enjoy the discussions here, and I think you have well-thought points of view. Thank you for noting that non-Christians are moral people, too. I do think the fundamentalist approach to religion is unfortunate. When children are taught to not question authority, not think for themselves and to see themselves as separate from the rest of society, this leads to difficulties for everyone. Reading about Buddhism recently I was encouraged by their approach to their spiritual teachings- they encourage everyone to question and think critically about what they're being told and to examine whether or not a particular approach works.

Leanne said...

Facinating. I just looked up information on Fox News on the blow-out preventor and find NOTHING. I find it on many other news sources though.

Again, proving a very valid point I've been making...and a good reason to follow more than just one news source!

Krista said...

Thanks for this post, Leanne. Thumbs up. As you well know, I'm weary of feeling judged in the commitment of my faith because of my political leanings. I appreciate the honest and respectful comments from all here. We can only love in the way we know best.