It is time to stop being polite…
“We are not sheep or cows. God didn’t create fences for us or boundaries to contain our nationalities. Man did. God didn’t draw up religious barriers to separate us from each other. Man did. And on top of that, no father would like to see his children fighting or killing each other. The Creator favors the man who spreads loves over the man who spreads hate. A religious title does not make anyone more superior over another. If a kind man stands by his conscience and exhibits truth in his words and actions, he will stand by God regardless of his faith. If mankind wants to evolve, we must learn from our past mistakes. If not, our technology will evolve without us.” - Suzy Kassem
I grew up in a world of religious absolutes.
The earth was 6,000 years old, and humans walked with dinosaurs.
Heaven and hell were literal places, exactly as described in scripture.
God sees and knows all and will punish the slightest misstep.
All gay people go to hell.
As I grew up, coming into the full knowledge of who I am and accepting my gender and sexuality, each of those beliefs began to fail. I trust science and technology. I love history and believe that the earth has been here for millions of years, not thousands. I find no evidence for a literal hell. But even more, I began to challenge the very idea of a God who would require those beliefs.
Three months ago, I lived in a world of religious absolutes.
The dignity and human worth of some people requires the approval of others.
The best method to radical inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in an organization was a vote.
As my faith grew up, I started to ask why we needed to teach other people to love. I started to question if we should be out campaigning for single churches and small pockets of people to change their opinions about the inclusion of all people.
I started to wonder why we spend so much of our time and energy trying to change the minds of those who oppose a world filled with space for all to find love and joy. Shouldn't we focus on those who get it and just model what embodied love looks like rather than trying to convince some that their belief and justification of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, religious persecution, and cultural annihilation is wrong.
I started to ask what we have learned from the past eighteen months, but more than that I realized what I had learned. There are people who will call every single person in the world a liar based on their belief in a single voice/person. There are people who will die while denying truth. That we cannot waste any more time trying to change the minds of those so hardened that they have stripped off their own clothes instead of telling the emperor he is naked.
I have learned that I am done wasting my life, my work, my ministry, and my time on convincing those who will never be convinced.
Which brings me to today and a place that I never expected, but that feels right for the first time in my life. I live in a world without absolutes, but I believe:
That humans are called to love, but that some learn to love power over people.
“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” - Mahatma Gandhi
That religions all point to the divine (supernatural being), and even if we do not believe in the same divine, it does not mean that one religion is true while others are false.
“Spirituality is not making walls in the names of religions and prophets but to make more roads and bridges to reconnect with humanity.” -Amit Ray
That great evil exists, but the devil is not some supernatural being working to get into our hearts and minds, but a potential we each carry and must be vigilent to push out of ourselves. Some learn how to do this much quicker than most of us, and spirituality can be a form of inner armor that allows us to center love, hope, compassion, and resilience.
“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” - Henri J.M. Nouwen
My focus will be on living and being as kind to the world as Jesus was, recognizing that kindness is not a barrier to radical love, truth, and a never-ending push towards justice.
RIC Real Talk is a place of transformation. It is a place where we will explore what it means to be human and to have real conversations with each other. When we open our hearts and minds to the potential of change – to listen to others and hear their truths as a reflection of love not of difference.
I began here by trying to preserve what had been – to recreate the known and the recognized. I begin again by throwing out the script.
We are real and being real means admitting when you got it wrong, picking back up, and trying something new that is centered in hope and love.
Walk with me.
Let’s get real.