Category Archives: freewill

click story


I have an old Mac laptop that seems to be running on last legs. I didn’t update the operating system like I should have (read: at all) and so this old 2005 machine is still running OSX Tiger. Knowing that it’s only a matter of time before it decides it just can’t bear to come to life even one more day, I’ve been transferring files to an external drive. In doing so, I ran across something I had posted at a blogging buddy’s place back in early 2010. I thought I had cross post it here but I can’t find it.  I thought it was worth sharing again so here it is.

To give a little context, this friend had a blog where occasionally she would have blog friends contribute what she called a “click” story… a personal story where the writer had learned some grand lesson.  Below is my contribution.
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Leslie asked me months ago if I would write a click story for her and I quickly said yes.  I feel bad for having put it off so long.  Sorry Les.  The thing I think that has disrupted my ability to do it is she inadvertently placed some heavy pressure on me by saying, “I’m sure you have so many stories to tell.”

Gulp.

Do I?  Ugh.  I couldn’t think of anything that would compare to the others that have been published here.

I began rifling through the mental files of stories I have where I learned a lesson… you know, trying to find one where I learned a really big lesson about myself or life  but none of them seemed to be so profound as to be earth shattering.

I thought of my trip down the aisle (the first time) and how my voice cracked and my eyes welled a little as I repeated the vows the preacher told me to say… a tear came not because I was happy but because I knew!… right then and there I realized with absolute certainty…

I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I realized that we humans sometimes make poor choices, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves and we have to live with the consequences.

I thought I could tell of the time during Marine Corps boot camp when my platoon was learning how to throw hand grenades.  A drill instructor and I were in a concrete bunker and he handed me a live grenade with the pin pulled.  He said, “recruit! You make sure you throw it over this wall like we taught you…

and far! You understan’ me!”

I stood there with a live grenade in my hand… explosions were going off from my fellow recruits lobbing theirs down range.  I looked at the grenade… my hands shaking.  I stared that DI in the eyes, then looked at it again as I heard in a deep, garbled, slow-motion sort of voice, “yewwwww ohhhhkayyyy reeecrewwwwt?”.  It seemed like lifetimes passed as I pondered my ability to heave that piece of metal over a seven foot wall of cinder blocks.

As I pulled my arm back just like they taught me, I was thinking my life has the potential to change or end right now.  In that moment I realized some events in life are deliberate, calculated actions. Other times a completely random, unexpected bit of happenstance careens life toward other places.

I also thought maybe I could tell of a lesson I learned from the time I got fired from a retail job I couldn’t stand.  While in the parking lot after leaving the store I immediately called my editor of my part-time freelance photo job.  I told her what happened, I told her I was desperate and that I was available to shoot anywhere, anytime, and anything.  She gave me work… lots of it. A few weeks into it, my younger brother invited me to a basketball game through company tickets with some co-workers of his.  One of them asked, “so what do you do?”  I got that roller coaster feeling in my stomach.  I hesitated a little in my response and I almost said, “uh… I’m in between jobs” when it occurred to me, “no. I have a job.”

I said confidently, “I’m a photographer with The Houston Chronicle.”

It felt good. It felt DAMN good and I realized we make our own destiny.  WE make things happen in our lives if we push ourselves towards them. And I survived working six and seven days a week until I found another job seven months later.

I could tell the story about Hurricane Ike blowing through town in 2008.  I could tell you how I saw thick, heavy branches from two different trees that missed my house and my vehicle by inches and my property came away relatively unscathed; yet neighbors had fences crash through windows and roofs blown off.  There was one person I met in my neighborhood who had lights on in just a few days but the house right next to him waited four weeks in the sweltering September weather of the Gulf Coast Plains of Texas.

From the hurricane, I realized sometimes shit happens that we have no control over.  God didn’t get angry.  Karma wasn’t reacting.  The Tao wasn’t balancing things out.  I didn’t come away unscathed because I said the right prayer the night before and the other guy didn’t.  Just sometimes… shit happens from no fault of our own or anyone.

And I thought about telling my story of when I went to see my brother and future sister in-law get baptized at their Baptist church.  Coincidentally it happened the Sunday after the planes crashed into the World  Trade Center buildings.  While in that church, watching what should have been a great day for my brother, I saw a preacher point his finger at his congregation and heard him yell… yes, yell at them “it’s because of you and you and YOU that this happened.  Because YOU ARE A SINNER!!! America has lost favor with God and He made those planes fly into those building because of you!”

I realized that my concept of God does not fit that mold.  I don’t believe in a God like that at all.  My God loves me unconditionally.  My God doesn’t control my actions or the actions of others.  My God gave me freewill and reason.  I realized I don’t believe in a devil or that a devil can make people fly planes into buildings.  I realized some people are just jerks and assholes and they do evil things.  And my God weeps when we do crappy things to each other.  That is when I realized there must be another way of thinking about the nature of God compared to what this guy was preaching and I took my first deliberate steps ever towards spiritual awareness and where I found myself on a road towards UU-ism, Buddhism and Deism.

I’ve read most, if not all, of the click stories here at Leslie’s place and they have been amazing, beautiful, heart-wrenching, glorious stories.  Wish my click story were as amazing as those.

Sorry, Les… I got nothin’.

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the hypocrite


One thing that really, really pisses me off are hypocrites… but particularly hypocrites of a Christian bent.

That BULLSHIT about “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” is the most disgusting, self-serving, spineless, greedy saying I’ve ever heard.

One of my sisters, who got caught up in evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity at the young age of 16, apparently is a perpetrator of the above saying and using it for personal ill-gotten gain. After 20 years of hearing the teachings of her religion, she apparently sees it as ok to knowingly break the rules because she’s “forgiven”.

I can see the difficulty in some situations like breaking the “thou shall not steal” rule when freshman philosophy students consider the question “Is it ok for an out-of-work mother to steal a few cans of soup so she can feed her children who are hungry.”

But when my sister stuffs her iPhone in a bag of rice to suck out the moisture and conceal the damage done after she dropped it in a bucket of water, then goes to the retail store and avoids telling the truth when asked “did this phone fall in water?” by stating “well how would that happen!?” so  she can avoid paying the two or three or five hundred dollars it would take to replace it….

THAT IS FLAT OUT LYING AND STEALING!!!

She knew she was doing it. She deliberately lied, deceived and conned someone to save a buck.  This is from a person who is making about 80k a year.  She prostituted her integrity for the cost of an iPhone. That isn’t about being falable. That isn’t about being tempted by The Enemy. She is an adult… a thinking, reasoning, conscious adult who has heard the commandments “You shall NOT steal” “you shall NOT lie”. She deliberately deceived another person for her personal gain and justified it in her head by replaying the bumper sticker saying that she is “not perfect but saved”.

You’re not saved… you’re a liar and thief.

poking at believers and non-believers


I was listening to the Pacifica Station here in Houston yesterday. I normally don’t.  But as I was changing from FM1 down to AM, I had to punch through FM2 where 90.1 KPFT was playing. The DJ caught my attention by saying the next song was brand new. So I paused for just a second to hear what it would be.

It’s by Regina Spektor (who I’ve never heard of) and was released about a month ago.  The lyrics made my ears perk up immediately so I listened to hear what this song was about.

I think she’s making fun of those who don’t believe in God (perhaps a UU or two?) but when shit hits the fan… well, as she said, “no one laughs…” And I think she’s poking fun at those who believe God grants wishes like a genie.

I’m curious about your thoughts.

That’s more than the number of UU’s


So The Deistette takes the quiz over at BeliefNet.com and I think, “what the heck… I’ll try it again.”

Hm. Imagine that… 100% UU.

But I was surprised there was no Deist category.

There was no place for us lowly, uncounted, blip of believers who count as our kindred spirits the founding fathers of this great country. (ok, so we count ’em as our own but according to Steven Waldmen, it ain’t true. What the hell does he know, the damn heathen) : )

So in that second link above, what I saw in the title of that article was “12% of Americans [blah blah blah] Deists”

Hooray!!! I’m not alone. Take that suckahs!

Well as I looked into his attribution, the research and the stats, I realized I failed to see that the title of the article actually said, “12% of Americans MAY be Deists”

😐

The stats come from the website The Pew Forum on Religious Life. It’s pretty interesting to take a peek at… well, at least to me it’s interesting.

This is interesting, too. According to this USA Today article many denominations are losing ground.

I would think in tough times people would be looking for solace anywhere they could get it… even in the pews. Apparently I’m wrong.

Although, a few weeks ago President Obama said our country is not specifically a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. nation… the fact is, a HUGE majority of people in the U.S. if asked would say they are Christian. My own personal opinion is most people probably mean they are Theists and don’t necessarily believe Jesus is God but a redemptive tool of God.

Anyway, in conversations I’ve had with family, co-workers and acquaintances most, if not all, believe in a God that has a plan for us lowly scabs of humans and believe in a God who can and does make things happen either as reward or punishment.

Doesn’t surprise me a whole lot. I mean we hear it all the time… “everything happens for a reason.” Whether it’s characters on tv shows, movies, books, articles, music or in conversations, we hear that statement implied or verbatim… “everything happens for a reason.” I imagine it’s comforting to believe there is some Grand Designer who intervenes on our behalf and when something shitty or out of control happens it’s nice to be distanced by believing that God’s grand design was at work.

It’s just as comforting for me to think that He/She/It is somewhere just watching… letting me call all the shots, cheering me on, applauding my efforts, getting pissed when I screw up, on the verge of tears when something awful happens to me or being very disappointed when I miss the mark.

It is comforting to me to be a Deist.  It meshes well with my Buddhist tendencies and my yoga-loving, bible-passage-using, season-observing, prayer-bead-wearing, talk-to-God-every-morning spiritual path.